Saturday, July 12, 2014

(At Home) Summer Birthday Party Ideas

*a repost*

Birthday parties at home are a dying breed.  It's a lot of work to host a dozen (or more) kids and entertain them for a few hours.  Even worse?  The prep and clean up.  It's a lot easier to book a birthday at a bowling alley or gymnastics studio and call it a day.

The trouble with parties outside the house is they are expensive.  You'll be hard pressed to find an exciting location that will run you less than $150 for ten kids.  Add in goodie bags and the cake? you're pushing $200.

This past weekend, we celebrated my son's 8th birthday.  I bit the bullet and hosted 12 kids at our house.  I'm happy to report it was a blast, and the entire party, (start to finish) cost under $100.00.

Goodie bags, prizes and party supplies - $35
Pizza - $40
Cake - $16.99

Here are my tips for a fun (affordable) at home birthday party.  I've included keep sane as well as moneysaving ideas.

1. Limit the guest list to 12.  Time frame? Two hours.  Go over these two numbers and you'll be trying your patience.

2.  Kids love games, and you'll need at least two organized activities to keep your party moving.  

This weekend we did an obstacle course (which we ran through twice) and the toilet paper Mummy Wrap.

Our obstacle course was fun for boys and girls.  We used things we had in the garage, such as Kan Jam cans and Ladderball, as well a footballs and buckets.  We made two equal teams, and the kids had to run through the course one at a time, tagging the next player as they finished.  As kids finished they went to the end of the line and sat down.  First team to have all players through, and seated, won.

The Mummy Wrap game needs six or more players.  Teams of three compete to wrap a "Mummy" in toilet paper (ankles to shoulders) and have their mummy jump across the finish line.  This game requires skill, because players need to be quick but not rip the toilet paper as they wrap.

Other great activities?  Bingo, scavenger hunts, crafts (more popular for girl parties), wiffleball tournaments and  old school games like hot potato.

3.  Along with games, kids love prizes.  Add these two loves together, and this weekend I decided to make a raffle table.

At the Dollar Store I bought  foam footballs, bouncy balls, giant boxes of candy, slime, and other goodies.  I made up cellophane bags with the help of my daughter and we set up a raffle table.  I had 12 prizes in all, and we made one brown paper bag for each prize to collect tickets. 

Purchase or make raffle tickets, and have each guest start with the same amount of tickets.  As teams win games, they get extra tickets.  After all the games are finished, give the kids time to look at the raffle table and put their tickets in the bags they like best.

The trick here is to have a few small prize bags made up for the kids who don't win anything, since you don't want anyone to go home empty handed.  I also limited the winners.  Two bags was all you could win to keep the winners diverse.
4.  Make goodie bags for all the guests.  Having a party at home leaves a little spending room and kids love the parting gifts.  Think seasonal to add to the fun.  Bubbles, bouncy balls and chalk are great for Spring and Summer parties; football cards, flavored chapstick and Halloween stickers for Fall; and indoor fun for Winter such as crayons and small play dough containers.  Toss in some lollipops and candy.  

5.  Stay sane timeline:

First half hour: arrivals, casual games outside (weather permitting).
Second half hour: first party game, if kids have fun play two or three times.
One hour mark: pizza/food/raffle table time
One hour fifteen to thirty minute mark: second party game, raffle table time
Last half hour: Cake, raffles, open presents 

*If you must host outside the home, try a craft store.  We rented a room in Michael's Craft Store one year for my daughter.  The rental was $50.00, and I managed to dream up a craft that was a few dollars per child.  Add in food and a cake and you're going to stay under $130.00.* 

Happy planning, share your party tips below!! 

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