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A local indoor soccer center hosts parties and was reasonably priced, especially once we split the cost in half! It was a large enough space that both kids could invite as many friends as they wanted. The soccer center provided someone to host games on the field for the first hour and we had use of their party room for the second hour. They even cleaned up our pizza boxes and recycling after the party.
It was a great value for the amount of time we got and there is no way we could have fit that many kids in our backyard. Both sets of parents came away feeling it wasn't that much work or too expensive. Working together with another family really paid off.
By Jess from Hillsboro, OR
OFor those of you who are sending invitations to your child's birthday party, think about asking them NOT to bring a gift. (This is what my daughter does) That way, those with multiple children in the family that go to a lot of parties or those with low incomes, or have a parent who has recently lost their job can afford to come! This is so very important in these days of layoffs and hard times! I raised 4 children on a "shoestring" and can remember sometimes telling my kids they couldn't go to a party because we couldn't afford to buy another birthday gift. (That was in the days BEFORE dollar stores)
If you are a parent on a super-tight budget, you can do what my daughter did: Get a bag and fill it with 5 toys from the dollar store. She recently did this and it was the birthday girl's favorite gift!
For our daughter's 6th birthday, we did a paint your own clay pot activity, we bought the pots of 33 cents each there.
I buy one or two large gift bags for table center pieces in the theme of their choice like "Dora" or "Thomas Train". Everything else is just solid colors to match. 2 packages of punch Kool-Aid with a can of frozen lemonade make a gallon of drinks kids love. Simple finger foods and homemade cake for food. Small candies with a bottle of soap bubbles can go into dollar store theme gifts bags.
By Dee Bee
It was the beautiful simplicity of the arrangement of food that got me. Instead of wearing themselves thin cooking, or having it catered, there was just a large table covered with a while cloth. On the table was a huge haunch of cooked ham, several loaves of crusty bread, butter, pickles, mustard, cheeses, dried apricots, dates, etc.
This was followed by fruit salad and cream, and the birthday cake. It was a lovely, simple meal and a really good night.
I always begin with a party budget allowance, and try hard to stay in it. You can really go overboard with party buying. Then I create lists for a party: food list, game list, decoration list and a guest list.
Don't forget to send out your invitations in plenty of time, we like to send ours out at least 2 weeks ahead of time, sometimes 3 weeks or a month if your guest lives out of state.
I try to have plenty of fun too while I work. Kids know when it's "work" for you, and you're all stressed out. I like to do as much as possible ahead of time, and I like to also delegate some of the work. For example, get someone else to do the cake. Get the kids to do the decorating, teens like this.
It also helps to have phone numbers for small kids, and a first aid kit on the side for any age.
If you plan to do something that takes a particular outfit, like a hay ride, or a finger painting contest for the smaller kids, always state on the invitation to bring a cover shirt, or wear casual clothes for the hayride for example. My kids love to know ahead of time when something unusual is planned so they can dress appropriate.
And above all, have fun, control the disagreements between the kids, and encourage them to have fun.
The younger to teens love bag races, and the teens love pie eating contest, and apple dunking. Keep plenty of activities, but not too much. You want to keep the party moving. Don't let the party last too late, or you'll have some tired grumpy kids on your hands.
Make sure with younger kids, they're rides are pre-arranged. Even if you have to make a list for that.
I was asked to help with a party and then I was told to make a party for some one on my own. There were no supplies or an idea, just a date and time and a person.
When my daughter was little, the Dollar Tree didn't exist. I found things at thrift shops and made things. I always made sure it wasn't "age specific". In other words, the streamers, banners, etc. were generic.
When purchasing paper products for children's birthday parties, I buy only 1 package of napkins, plates and cups with a theme on them and then a coordinating color for the rest of the packages.