Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!
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
Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here: http://www.thriftyfun.com/post_myfrugallife.ldml
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.
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.
Small crafts make a great activity at a party. Even something as simple as a construction paper cutout that the kids can decorate with markers, stickers, stamps, etc can be fun and created to suit your party's theme. We made princess crowns out of recycled soda bottles one year and paper rocketships another. They were a hit and the kids had something to take home to remember our fun day. Check out family friendly craft sites for ideas and instructions. We love FamilyFun.com.
Our local firehouse will allow you to use their public utility room free, if not already reserved. 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.
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.
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 ...
Rather than buying expensive themed party supplies, decorate plain or colored plates and cups with stickers that follow the party's theme. We used metallic star stickers for our fairy and wizard themed birthday party and we found them at the dollar store in packs of 500!
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.
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
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
My mother always gave us great birthdays with lots of friends and we were incredibly poor! She made homemade cakes and we always gave away packages of bubbles as party favors. Sometimes we did a craft or played a party game. You can make a cake from the box if you can't from scratch -- two boxes can be less than $2. Make icing from confectioner's sugar, butter, a little milk and vanilla. Another $2 tops. Buy bubbles at the dollar store and figure out some little game to play. Or have the kids do a craft and let that be part of their favor. You don't need to spend very much money to have a sweet party!
How about a pyjama party? Have children dropped off with their sleeping bags in the evening. They all sleep in the same room with your little girl. All you need is popcorn...have a movie ready. Cake before bedtime & some toast for breakfast. Cheap enough & loads of fun for little ones. Have fun.
You could do a princess party. Crowns and wands could be out of construction paper. the handle of the wand could be a straw or popcycle stick. Which they could deocrate with crayons or markers. maybe some glitter. this would take be something for them to take home and an activity. I've seen all these items at the dollar store.
You could even make the cake look like a crown by making a rectangle cake and cutting triangles out of one side to look like a crown.
I'm always done house parties for my kids(who will turn 9 in may) and aside from a craft, they spent alot of the time just being kids and playing and last time one kid said it was the best party she had been to. Last party we asked the guests to come in a night gown or pj's. The kids loved it, it was not a sleep over but a daytime pajama party. .
I have given several birthday parties for $20 or less. I made bean bags from scraps of fabric and dry beans that were too tough to eat. We played games with them such as tossing the bags into a (clean) waste basket. We dropped clothes pins into a canning jar (old fashioned and none of the kids had ever done it before). I bought a candy bar for each guest and tied a really long piece of yarn onto each one, then wound the yarn all over the living room. Each guest found an end (marked somehow--a bow? I don't remember now) and unwound the yarn to find which candy bar was hers. The candy bar and bean bags were part of their take-home bag. We decorated lunch bags for take home bags and that was also another party activity.
For food we made English muffin pizzas (muffin, sauce, cheese, pepperoni) and decorated homemade cupcakes for another activity and dessert.
The kids had fun and it was cheap, cheap, cheap.
If you have a can get enough empty small dish soap bottles. Cut the top off and wash out dry let them make flower vases with a little glue & glitter. about 2.00 for a lot of vases.
I also think a princess party is good. I just had one for my daughter and we acted out the story of Cinderella. We drew pictures and tacked them up on the wall for decorations. The girls brought their own princess dresses. They started out by wearing old aprons and scraps while they "cleaned" the house with dusters etc. like Cinderella did then they had the ball and they all got to dance with the birthday girls daddy and each other then opened presents then we had a craft where we decorated crowns gotten free from Burger King and then had lemonade and cake (home made) and then they got treat bags with coloring books from the dollar store. It was very cheap and we all had a blast. I also invited mommy's to stay and there were many photo ops. I took pictures of the girls dancing and mailed them to them as thank you cards.
TC in MO
A great website with lots of different ideas is: http://www.birt party_ideas.html
There are over 100 types of the parties listed there, surely you'd find something! Most of all, have fun!
I saw a post on here a while ago where someone had an old fashioned 'tea-party' for their daughter and a photo was included. The girls all looked so cute dressed up in hats and heels with necklaces etc. For food you could use kiddies teasets or maybe borrow one (or 2) and serve tea with cupcakes and simple sandwiches which you could cut into cute shapes using cookie cutters. I'm sure that wouldn't cost too much. And little girls do love to dress up. How about getting adults involved in giving them mini-makeovers...like putting on make-up and nail-polish etc.
Editor's Note: Here's the link:
we have an art contest with chalk on the sidewalk and ask the kids to draw a cake, water balloon toss, hot potato. guess how many beans etc, have a scavenger hunt,
I have some inexpensive birthday ideas that the kids will love. The kids love the game, Wrap the Mummy. Buy the six pack rolls of cheap toilet paper at the dollar store. Pair off the kids and have one be the wrapper and one be the mummy. The wrapper has to wrap the mummy before the timer goes off. Whoever wraps the best wins the game. I bought tihe little 10cent candy sticks at Cracker Barrel for the prize. We also played the game, whatever you pull out of the bag you have to wear and model for all. Place funny items in a bag, and pass a ball around and whent he timer goes off, the one with the ball has to pick something out of the bag (without looking) and put it on. I placed funny hats, dresses, anything the kids may think would be funny in the bag. If the party can be moved outside, you may want to buy a pack of balloons from the dollar store and a roll of ribbon and blow balloons up tie a 3 ft. piece of ribbon on it, then tie it to the kids ankle. The object is to pop the other kids balloons while protecting their own. This game is fun and wil wear out the kids! Hobby Lobby has strreamers 3/1.00. Makes inexpensive decorations. Hope it works out!!!
Have the party start at like 2:00 in the afternoon and put on the invitation that cake and ice cream will be served. Then the guests know to eat lunch before they come. Also, have the party at a nearby park ... you can play pin the tail on the donkey, games (volleyball, soccer, etc.) and then there is always the park to provide entertainment. Our children should never know how really poor we are ... we as parents do the best we can and we make it work.
I too love the bubbles idea and have used it for a great party favor. Also, face painting-paint available (cheap) at discount stores and everyone has a great time getting their face done. Homemade cake is the best anyway and is not expensive at all. Dollar stores have $1 banners/balloons. Have an old fashioned water balloon race if you can get outside...kids love a great time..not the amount spent! I'm incredibly poor too, but always remember to have fun..thats whats important for the kids!
Little girls, as well as big girls, love a pamper party!
We invited girls and their moms and had different stations for the girls: a manicure station, a pedicure station [we used a couple of the moms' foot waxer and foot soaker], a picture frame station [The girls decorated paper mache frames from a bulk supplies catalog with foam shapes; a picture taken at the beginning of the party and developed at the local one hour developer was inserted so they could take home a remembrance of the party], and a jewelry-making station where the girls made friendship bracelets with the help of one of the local teenagers. All of the supplies for the party were purchased either during sales, at the dollar store, or in bulk from a bulk supplies catalog. All of the girls and moms said it was the best party they had ever attended. In fact, we did a similar party the next year!
Your house is ideal for games of tag, sock hops, tea parties using thrift store (non matching) colorful tea cups in imaginitive colors (you should send these home with the kids as favors.) boston creme pies are always a favorite (store bought cake mix, made in a round pie pan, then cut in across (to make a top and bottom of the cake, then smooth vanilla pudding in between the two layers, put them back together and put lots of chocolate frosting all over it) hand out something simple as favors, like bubbles, crayons & small coloring books. do lots of drawing/coloring/painting crafts with the kids. musical chairs is a must.
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
I just had a party for my 11 year old. Instead of water balloons, I bought 4 long car washing sponges at the dollar store, cut them in half, filled up a couple pots of water, left the sprinkler running and they had so much fun!
Another is a scavenger hunt, either door to door or at the park.
The dollar store is a great resource for crafty ideas, goodie bags and games.
We also baked cupcakes the night before, and let the girls decorate them with homemade icing, candies, etc. - Jackie
I love dollar stores because you can pick up party
favors as well as accessories for a dollar. They often have any color you may want. also they sometimes carry Barney or Batman stuff. If not you can always dress up the party with streamers and balloons, cups, plates, tablecloth, etc from the dollar store in your child's theme colors and then spend the money for big ticket items like pinatas or certain decorations with your child's theme at the party stores you frequent. for example streamers are usually $1.49 at the party stores but only a buck at the dollar stores. Hope it helps. - Jackie
Depending on the age group-
Let them make place mats out of paper sacks and crayons
Let them frost and decorate their own cupcake or cookie (sprinkles of assorted kinds, etc.)
Let them shave a balloon with an old bladeless razor
Play pin the nose on the clown (draw a clown face on a piece of posterboard/oaktag and cut our red circles for noses- put the child's name on the back of the nose so you can tell who came the closest)
The library has a ton of "cheap party" books that you can tailor to your age group and you can get the ideas without even leaving the library
Try old fashioned games that the kids have never heard of - mother may I - pom pom pull away - blinds man bluff
Get some face paint at the store and paint a butterfly etc. on their faces - let the bigger kids take over this job - they love it
Get several shapes of macaroni and let the kids glue them on to shapes that you have cut out of poster board/oaktag - such as a chicken, flower, boat
This should give you a start. Most of all have FUN giving this party. - Judy
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
Where is a really really fun place for a 6 year old girl can have a blast without spending so much money. I want her ro remember her birthday and how much fun she had.