You do not need a major budget to plan a great birthday party. One of the easiest areas to save is with activities. Create a lineup of cheap party games and creative activities that spark the imagination, and children will not miss the expensive packaged prizes and favors that often wind up lost or broken soon after the party.
Classic cheap and free party games include musical chairs, pin the tail on the donkey, duck duck goose, scavenger hunts, relay races and charades. Board and card games work for slumber parties or a quiet moment. If you have a backyard or park birthday party, consider a water fight, hide-and-seek, freeze tag or dodge ball. Dance and music games include the hokey pokey, heads shoulders knees and toes, and freeze dance, in which children dance until the leader turns off the music. The children must freeze, and whoever moves becomes the new leader.
The goal of cheap birthday party games is enjoyment, so make them funny and imaginative. Create an obstacle course that involves jumping over water, climbing over a tower of pillows and crawling through a labyrinth of cardboard boxes. Make a game of beat the clock. Fill a hat with folded papers listing different tasks such as doing a handstand or coming up with five words in Spanish. Children must complete the task within five or 10 seconds. For older children, try a game of singdown. Begin with a subject, such as love or money. Every player must sing a lyric of a song with the chosen subject.
Budget party games keep the focus on friends and fun rather than competition and prizes. Set up some affordable sports equipment and supplies, such as hula hoops, a bouncy ball, soap bubbles, jump ropes, marbles, jacks and chalk for hopscotch, and the children will make their own party.
One big activity can serve as the centerpiece for your child’s birthday party. Host a neighborhood treasure hunt that has the group finding clues in mystery spots. The prize can be a tower of birthday cupcakes or cool craft supplies and fabric scraps for decorating plain paper party bags. If you have a slumber party, tell ghost stories, play hide-and-seek in the dark with flashlights and project a movie on a sheet in the backyard.
Party games do not have to come out of packages. Make a pin-the-tail game that matches your party theme, such as pin the patch on the pirate. Paint a poster of a party-theme characters, and cut out holes for a beanbag toss. Play free party games that inspire laughter, such as charades or Simon says.
- chamboule tout image by Nath Photos from Fotolia.com