Having four children meant a lot of birthday parties and since we didn’t have the money to spend on going out to places for their birthdays, there was a lot of home birthday parties. Not everyone is keen on the idea of having multiple children in their home when having a party, but when money is short, sometimes it’s your only option. The funny thing is is that my kids remember those parties with a lot of fondness. I don’t think they feel they missed out not having birthday parties outside of their home. Instead, they remember the things we did when we had parties here at home.
Usually when we prepared for a party at home, we always included an activity that we were going to have all the kids do. A favorite was T-shirt painting. Walmart was great for this because I could buy three T-shirts to a pack usually for about $5.00. Now, they sell 2 T-shirts for $7.00. Sometimes, when Michael’s has their plain, coloured T-shirts on sale they sell for $3.00 each which is cheaper than Walmart. Then you can pick up fabric paints that come in a tube or marker at Walmart as well. The marker style of fabric paint is the easiest and cleanest, and Walmart has a variety of colours and types. If you have a large space or table at home, this is the best place for the kids to work on. If you need to protect the surface put down an old tablecloth, newspapers or cardboard. Let the kids design and paint whatever they want on the T-shirt. Hang them up to dry when the kids are done painting, and by the time the party is finished, the paint will be dry and they can take them home as a keepsake. This was one of the more favourite things my kids did for their parties. We also did this with wooden boxes, especially for my daughter’s parties. You can buy unfinished wooden boxes or even unfinished small jewelry boxes to paint on. This project is a little bit more expensive. Crayola makes washable kids’ paint in many colours. Ten jars is $6.97 at Walmart. If you buy two or three packages, you have enough for all the kids (depending how many children are at the party) to paint at the same time.
Another project is to buy the unfinished wooden alphabet letters. Buy one for each child who is attending the party using the first letter of their first name. They can then paint and decorate these to take home. Each letter costs about $2.50. Sometimes I would buy some of the cheaper stencils to have on hand so the kids could use those to decorate their boxes or letters. The dollar store is another avenue to pick up items they can decorate their shirts or boxes with. You can buy googly eyes, pipe cleaners, ribbon, and stickers to use for decorating. Stay away from glitter – you’ll never get it out of your house!
My second oldest son is born in May, so for his party we were able to take everything outside. My husband had a long plank of wood that he stretched between two small ladders and all the kids were able to paint together and not worry about the mess.
If the weather is warm, you can buy some silly string and have the kids use it outside. We used to make a game of tag with the silly string. Whoever got the most people “stringed” won a prize. Little cheap prizes can be picked up at the dollar store such as gum, stickers, puzzles, markers, pens, yo-yo’s, or any other small item. I would suggest only doing this if the kids can go outside in your backyard. Silly string is pretty easy to clean up but you will have a lot of it if you have a number of kids at the party.
Food was kept inexpensive with frozen pizza and frozen chicken nuggets. I could make them in my own oven and serve them hot. Sometimes we would barbecue hot dogs and hamburgers depending on the time of year. My youngest son is born in July so this worked out great for his parties. Not the most healthiest foods, but kids like it for parties. I usually always made a cake or cupcakes. Some parties, we would have an ice cream bar. Buy a couple of kinds of ice cream, usually chocolate and vanilla are the best to have on hand. I would then buy different toppings such as Smarties, sprinkles, chocolate pieces, sour gummies, Skittles, whatever your kids like, along with caramel and chocolate syrup and marshmallow fluff to put on top. The kids love the fact that they can make their own ice cream sundae. I think they enjoyed making it more than eating it. Again, Walmart is not too badly priced for different candies. Bulk Barn is another place you can find lower priced bulk items.
Decorations can get expensive but you can print some right from your own computer. There are so many sites now where you can make posters, cards and banners. Canva.com is one where you can print your invitations. The dollar store has a number of party decorations for no more than $2.00 each. I used to go to our local dollar store to buy everything I needed. I also used to have party favour bags to hand out at the end of the party. Partystock.ca has a number of options for bags and stationery while partypro.com has a number of small party favours you can buy for your favour bags. There are a number of websites where you can buy all your party needs. When I was throwing parties for the kids, we had a warehouse close by that sold all kinds of things including party decorations and favours. Check in your local area for these type of bulk stores that will sell at much lower prices than the big-named stores.
A Birthday Mess
There was only one year that I rented a place to have a party. My second oldest son wanted so badly to have a party at a paint ball facility. I gave in. It was one of the worst parties we had. We had a group of 6 or 7 kids. This party stressed me out to the max. They had to take turns on the paint ball field with other groups so the kids weren’t consistently playing on the field. When they weren’t on the field, I had to bring them to one of the party rooms where they were still pointing the guns at each other. Then the paint ball facility ordered in pizza for our party. This pizza was so dry and there was only enough for each child to have one slice of pizza, and you had to bring in your own cake. Finally, when the kids were done with their guns they were instructed to bring them to the front desk and stay with their gun until an employee checked their gun back in. Of course, one of the kids plopped his gun down and left. I was told I had to leave my credit card with the facility until all their guns had been accounted for and it wouldn’t be returned to me until tomorrow. I refused to do that. Unbeknownst to me, the child called his mother who then came to the facility and left her credit card. What a complete mess! I felt like I had no control over what was happening. I refused to ever go out for a party again, not to mention that the price was expensive, so much so I could have thrown three parties at my house. One mother I knew told me afterward that when she heard I was taking the kids to this place, she felt like telling me not to bother because of her own bad experience there. I wish she had – it would have saved me a lot of grey hairs!
Parties are great at home, not only in saving you some money, but it is safer there. You can actually keep an eye on all the kids, and there are no strangers walking around your home like at a party place. The food is better tasting even if you are making pizza and chicken nuggets. Kids don’t care about how expensive their party is, they just want to be with their friends and have some fun. Our at-home parties were what the kids remember and have enjoyed over the years. Even as they are older now, they enjoy when their aunts and uncles come over for some food and cake on their birthday. Parties don’t have to be expensive. Check out many of the websites that offer all your party needs. Walmart is great for buying party items at a lower price and look for stores in your area that sell items in bulk. These stores are great when you have a number of kids coming over for a party.