Ask Miserly Moms: Save Money on Birthday Parties and Gifts
Budget Birthday Bash
Overly Expensive Birthday Parties
I'm wondering if my fellow frugalians have any ideas for kids' birthday party favors. I am tired of my daughter coming home with the usual junk that is expensive and usually ends up in the trash. Her fifth birthday is at the end of February so I'm in need of some sensible and cost effective ideas for her party's treat bags.
For my grandson's 6th birthday party my daughter bought each child attending two $1.00 McDonalds' Gift Certificates. She typed a note that said, "Thanks for attending my party. Enjoy yourself at McDonalds." She stapled it to the gift certificates and signed my grandson's name. She had the table set for the cake/ice cream part of the party and had one of these on each plate.
It was cost effective, as she did not have to buy party bags and all that "junk/trinkets" to fill the bags. Many of the mother's attending with their children were impressed and said they were going to do the same thing. It usually costs more than $2 to fill one of those party bags and is more time consuming to say nothing of filling different bags for the girls and the boys. This way it took a minimum of time and money and they were sure to get used.
A fun and personal party favor could include having each guest design and decorate a t-shirts at the party. Or, you could make t-shirts commemorating the event with computer software beforehand. Then have all the guests autograph each shirt. They would have a unique reminder of the special day. My nieces have several of these and they were a real hit each time.
We like to purchase inexpensive picture frames or picture mats and as an activity at the party we decorate them. We also take a picture with each guest and the birthday girl at the party. When we write our thank you notes, we include the photo so they can put in the frame.
I have found that the best party favors are the ones that children can use again such as a small box of crayons or a book or coloring book from the Dollar Stores. For my daughter's 4th birthday I was able to get 4 mini children's storybooks in a pack for $1 (thus 25 cents each) and paired it with a pack of crayons bought during the back-to-school sales (19 cents each). So each party favor bag cost 44 cents per bag. Or you could purchase a package of stickers and a pack of pencils and divide them up in the bags.
My granddaughter always has "make and take" party favors. One year the girls painted and decorated little terra cotta pots. Then they planted seeds in them. If you use this idea, it is best to spray paint the pots white ahead of time. Then the children can use paint and stickers to decorate. Another year the girls painted designs on little tote bags. Your local craft store will have many ideas.
If this idea won't work for you, you might fill the treat bags with items that would spawn creativity in the children. For example, a small tablet, a gel pen and some stickers would be one idea. Little girls also like things that make them "pretty". You might buy tiny bottles of nail polish, temporary tattoos, hair bows or clips, and inexpensive Chap Stick or lip-gloss. If you buy large packages of these things and then split them up, your investment will usually be less.
In response to your reader looking for party favor ideas. I found two wonderful websites:
If she is doing a theme party she can incorporate a craft project that each child can take home as a favor. I like to give out things that kids can use, like pencils or gift certificates to local fast food chain, and a project that they made at the party. You could even give each child a slice of cake along with the other things in the goodie bag.
The web sites above give ideas for theme parties and birthdayexpress.com even gives you recipes and pictures for theme party cakes. For example, if you are doing a Madeline party, they show you how to make a Madeline cake in the shape of Madeline's hat.
For my daughter's birthday party last month we came up with a unique and fun idea for party favors. We bought some soap blocks and soap making molds at a craft store. We then purchased small "prizes" to put inside of the soap when we poured the molds. We used very small Christmas Santa ornaments, but you could use your imagination to put other surprises in the soap, like small beaded bracelets, shells, or silk flowers. The girls had fun making the soap, which involved melting the soap block in the microwave, pouring it into the molds and popping their Santa ornament into the soap. After about 1/2 hour the soap is cooled and can be popped out of the mold. We then put the soaps into baggies and tied with a bow. The girls had a great time doing this project and got to bring their own handmade soap home.
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