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Once upon a time there was a little girl with eyes the color of the sky and hair the color of gold. She was a friendly child with many, many friends and she often asked her mommy for lots of sleepovers and tea parties. Even though her mommy had very little money, sleepovers were easy and tea and cinnamon toast were cheap, so the mommy always said "yes".
One day, when the little girl's birthday was drawing near, her mommy began to worry how she would be able to have a party large enough to invite all the little girl's many, many friends. "Oh dear" she thought, " How can I afford to entertain so many children?"
Then she had an idea. "I will have a scrap craft party!" And that is exactly what she did. She gathered together all kinds of pencils, papers, crayons, old magazines and colorful junk mail. She rummaged through drawers and boxes for bits of ribbons, laces, and buttons. She got out the scraps of old holiday wrapping paper and tags and bows. She put glue and scissors and rulers in a couple of shoe boxes.
She bought a little glitter, a few sequins and manila folders , which were perfect blank "canvases", at the dollar store, along with a box of plain note cards. Then she sent out the invitations. "Come to the Craft Fair" it read, along with the time and place. "Bring your ideas, your dreams and a large brown paper bag".
Well the children were intrigued and excited by the mysterious invitation and everyone of them RSVP'd with joy!
The day of the party, each child was greeted at the door by the mommy and the little girl and handed a sheet of instructions and ideas for items they might make. "These are just suggestions" it read."You are encouraged to create!"
Then the mommy covered the kitchen table with layers and layers of newspaper, laid down over a big black garbage bag, so the table wouldn't be harmed even if someone spilled the glue!
The children had a wonderful afternoon, creating and comparing one another's art-work. There was no need for party favors, because each child had made their own! The food was simple, cupcakes, lemonade ( the fizzy kind, made with seltzer) and cream cheese and jelly sandwiches cut into triangles. Everyone said it was THE BEST PARTY ever! And it only cost me, (yup, you guessed, I am the "mommy") $20.00 for 15 children, including the postage for the invitations!
Oh yes, the brown paper bag? That was to carry home the treasures they had made. :)
By Laura from NJ at the beach
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We went to a friend's birthday party which we did at the fair for free. We got to see all the animals and exhibits. We then found a picnic table and the mom had packed 16 cupcakes in a plastic shoe box. She then stacked in a tier on a plate and topped with candles. After singing Happy Birthday, each child got a cupcake, a juice box and a goody bag with bubbles, candy and balloons. All the kids had a great time for only 15 dollars. All this from a backpack; simple,fun,and frugal.
We are campers. Years ago, our youngest daughter asked if she could take a group of friends from school (this was just after her freshman year of high school), and we agreed. She wanted to both boys and girls. At first we were hesitant, but we laid down a few guidelines.
First, we had to have parents' permission. Second, we got 2 sites - one for the boys and one for the girls (and no going in each other's tents). Third, guests were limit to 10 total. We ended up having another family join us on another site.
We then set out the cost and food rules: we would cook 3 meals (basic stuff - hot dogs, hamburgers, lunch meat, eggs, sausage etc.). Each kid was to supply their own snacks and soft drinks - so everyone had what they liked. We included milk and juice for breakfast. The food bill and campsite cost would be divided by all, including us and our daughter.
We went for 3 nights - Thursday through Sunday. The cost ended up being about $20 per person. We even supplied fruit, which was the biggest hit and ended up doing several runs to the store for more fruit.
Our first thought when planning was, "ARE WE NUTS?" However, we had the best time with the kids. They were very, very well behaved, and we continued this tradition even after high school. We ended up doing it for 6 years. Most of the kids had never been camping and really enjoyed it. We ended up having other parents join us at later camping trips.
We wished we had thought of it sooner. We thought that this would have been a great birthday party idea, no frantic cleaning before the party; then the cake, drinks, etc.;and the cleanup mess. We figured for what a party would cost with everything involved, camping would be cheaper and last longer and more memorable and give some kids an experience they may never had had.
By Nancy H.
Our local firehouse will allow you to use their public utility room if not already reserved free. You can purchase very reasonably red party accessories. Often, they will give you plastic firefighter's hats, or you can purchase them in bulk cheaply. They will even allow the children to tour the firehouse, talk to them about fire safety and if available, play in the model house used to teach about fire safety.
By JACQUELINE from South Carolina
I had a very frugal carnival party for a 6 year old. All the games were made from items we had on hand. Prizes came from Freecycle but you could do the same for a very little more expense by purchasing from Oriental Trading (or the Dollar Store). Games were bean bag toss, fishing booth, basketball, bowling, duck pond and candy walk. The main costs were the cake and punch, and candy for the candy walk.
By Randa from San Marcos, TX
There are great ways to save on children's parties and still make the kids smile. Whether it's a birthday party or a themed slumber party, save money and gain smiles.
Cupcakes can be arranged to make all sorts of shapes. To make a pine tree, ice the cupcakes with green icing only and then set them up in a triangle (don't forget to put one at the bottom to make a tree trunk!) Add a few cinnamon hearts on each for ornaments, and you have a cake that doesn't need cutting. Try arranging some brightly colored cupcakes in a circle with a few inside to make a smiley face. You can even try to spell your child's name with the arrangement of cupcakes.
Another cupcake idea is to theme the cupcakes to the party. Buy cupcake wrappers that match the party colors. Avoid the expensive hard frosting decorations available at stores. Instead, visit the clearance aisle of the toy store and pick up a bag of army men, farm animals, miniature cars, plastic rings, plastic coins or other small items that reflect the party's theme. Top each cupcake with a token, and each child will feel like he receives the centerpiece of the cake.
Previous parties can create new and exciting party decorations. After a Mardi Gras party, suggest its theme to the children who might want to have their version of the adult party a few months back. Luaus are fun for any age, try to double up on your supplies and use them for an adult and a child's party. Use old wedding shower decorations as new Valentine's Day decorations. With some creativity you can find a bevy of supplies right under your roof.
Get together a couple of gallons of ice cream, some toppings and bananas for banana splits. Have Dad or a male friend dressed up like the Gay 1890s, handlebar mustache, straw hat, vest and white shirt, white pants to make the ice cream for the kids.
Dress the tables in red, white and pink. Ice cream soda centerpieces can be made by taking a soda glass and filling the bottom with clear glass gems (will look like bubbles from the soda). Then add a pink or red carnation in the center of the glass and surround it will 3 or 4 white carnations. Then add two drinking straws in with the flowers, flowers can be can be real or silk.
Set up a croquet set and let the kids knock the balls around or if they are old enough teach them how to play. Another fun activities would be kites for each kid. Or a good old fashioned game of hide and go seek.
By Debra in CO
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Here are questions related to Frugal Kids Birthday Party Ideas.
I'm trying to plan something for my daughter who will be 6 on April 9th. She is in Kindergarten and I would like to invite some kids from her school to do something on a shoe string. Everything that could go wrong has in my family the last few years and time have gotten even tougher to the point of poverty. I'm trying to spend less than nothing.
So any ideas were I could make something that you would normally have on hand or that might cost less than $20-$50 for the whole party would be greatly appreciated. I'm leaning more towards the $20! Times are pretty rough, but I don't want her to miss out on this with her friends. We live in the country and no neighbors have young children, so I'm trying to meet some of the parents and children. Any frugal fun 6th girl Birthday Party ideas would be much appreciated. I also live in a small farm house without much room. I was thinking just about cake and ice cream, but is that too cheap?
Dustmopkoski from MI
By Lisa (Guest Post)06/11/2008
Unfortunately b-day parties have become a huge $ pit. When did it become necessary for the guests to get presents (treat bags)? They come because it is their friends b-day and they want to share in the celebration with cake, ice-cream, and fun. Plan a few fun games that you only need things around the house for such as; a sack race (use old pillow cases), scavenger hunt using nature (items could include: certain color flower, acorn, pine cones, be creative), red rover is a classic!
For girls, play dress up in mom's dresses and high heels like we did when we were kids. Lipstick and your cheap jewelry and they are set. Make your best home made cupcakes and serve with punch. You could even have them make their own sundaes!
The important thing is that they get that time with their friends to celebrate. The guests don't need a treat bag. Their treat is the cake and ice-cream and before you know it you will be at their b-day party presenting them with a gift on their special day.
Does anyone have any frugal ideas for kids birthday parties?
By Mary Frances
By Susan Sanders-Kinzel 07/01/2001
Here are some ideas:
Make the cake yourself and then go to the toy store. For a few dollars you can pick up a little figure and or playset of whatever character your child is fond of. Wash these and then arrange them on the cake. Using a toothpick trace out the words you want on the cake before using the icing. Mistakes are much easier to fix this way. One year I got a complete plastic Winnie the Pooh party set and put it all on the cake. My little boy loved it and he got to keep the toys after the party.
Make a Happy Birthday Banner yourself. Find a simple shape about the size of your hand that is in the theme of your party. We used rubber ducks for my daughter's first birthday (put a rubber duck on her cake too!). Trace and cut out many of these. You can trace on the top and then cut through a stack of construction paper with a good pair of scissors. You then hole-punch twice and thread on curling ribbon (you could staple too). Before you do using glitter glue (or glitter and glue) you write out HAPPY BIRTHDAY (Child's name) one letter on each shape.
Helium balloons are a must but don't go to the Party store unless they are having a sale. Call your local rental center. Many of these rent out helium tanks for parties and often will let you come in and fill your balloons there for very little. I bought good balloons at the dollar store and filled them for $.23 a piece. Also get your party favors at the dollar store. We found a amazing set of hair accessories in one pack for $1. This was a big hit at my daughter's party.
Think about having the party at a local park that has a good play ground. This took care of the entertainment for us for the most part. We still played some games but the kids enjoyed the "big Toy" the most. This time of year having the party at the local wading pool for the younger kids would be thrilling for all concerned.
Some might disagree but I think children younger than 6 should not open presents at the party. They tend to be just a bit too honest about presents they do not like. If the guests are also under 6, they don't quite understand the concept of giving away that marvelous toy that mom wrapped. You'll find fewer tears if you tuck the presents away until after the party.
One more thing, I'm a Brownie leader and I've gotten into the habit of having parents sign out their kids with me. At my daughter's party in May, I printed up a quick permission sheet and had the parents sign it before I would let them leave. It gave me an emergency number and permission to seek treatment in the rare case of an accident. Nothing happened but it made me feel more comfortable. The other parents thought I was brilliant, but it was really just common sense. I did not know all of the children present very well and certainly would have had no idea on how to reach anyone if I needed to.
Hope this helps. - Christine from Spokane, WA