So you’ve taken the first money saving step by mustering the courage to host a kids’ birthday party at your home. Now you’re wondering, how do I keep this group of kids entertained, make the party memorable and stay within my budget — all at the same time? From princess and pirate parties, to superhero and spa sleepovers, below are some cost-saving ideas that can keep kids engaged and occupied.
- Put on a scavenger hunt. A scavenger hunt works well for all age groups and both genders. Use army men or fake coins purchased from a dollar store. Any smaller items you have around the house will work, too. Before guests arrive, scatter them around the house or outside. Depending on the age of the kids, you can leave them out in the open or hide them to make the game more difficult. Tell each kid they can find up to 10 items (or more) or have them break into teams to play. To make the hunt more challenging for older kids, have it take place in a dark room or outside at night with kids using flashlights or glow sticks. If the kids want to play a second time, let the first person to find 10 items create the scavenger hunt for the next round.
- Create a music video. Take advantage of those FREE iPhone or iPad applications. The Video Star application by Frontier Design Group can be great for parties. Video Star is easy for kids to use, works with any song you have downloaded and can be stopped or started at any time, making for really cool choreographed music videos (or really silly, as the case may be). You can create a music video contest with a theme chosen by the birthday kid or have a showcase of all the creative videos once completed. The best of all the masterpieces can be easily forwarded to friends and family for future viewing.
- Make an obstacle course. This can be done in the yard, in the garage or even inside the house. It may take a some prep work, but it gets the kids moving. Your course can become a princess challenge or superhero training. Include some type of balancing act, jumping back and forth, climbing through and climbing over — but only using items you already have at on hand. The course can be timed with either an individual time or group time with the goal of improving upon the initial time each successive try. Creative challenges can always be added, going through the course backward, on one leg, hopping, holding something, blindfolded, etc. The sillier the added challenge, the more fun.
- Build forts. This all-time favorite works well with all ages, and especially for sleepover parties. Use blankets, pillows, sheets, chairs and other miscellaneous furniture. You gather what items you have on hand and the kids will creatively build their fort inside the house. See who can build the fastest masterpiece or biggest fortress possible.
- Play a group guessing game. Use traditional methods or with the electronic application version. My favorite is a hybrid version of Pictionary. Stock up on some poster board from the dollar store and tape it to the wall. The kids (or team) will take turns drawing the item to be drawn/guessed within the time limit. You come up with the list of items based on your birthday theme and adjust for difficulty based on age. Other favorite guessing games include Charades or Family Feud. A special twist that works well for older kids is to use the jelly bean threat: The team that wins gets to pick a jelly bean flavor for everyone else to eat.
- Make a stop-motion movie. Using technology can be educational and fun. Stop Motion Studio by Cateater is a great FREE application (for Apple or Window devices) that can be used for any gathering. My 8-year-old especially likes it for Lego creations. One idea for older kids is to give each “team” a bag of Skittles and see which group can make the best moving motion design out of skittles in 15 minutes. Once they see the end result and how easy it was to make, the possibilities are endless.
For more ideas on how to save money on kids’ birthday parties by throwing your own, click here for savvy and easy ways to cut costs, from making the cake to buying the paper goods.