The Budget Birthday Bash

by Lisa Reid

There is a truly huge amount of fun and inexpensive things for kids to do in this world. When I see yet another way to provide kids with fun without spending much, I am always amazed at what great reviews these activities get from the kids themselves.

We recently attended a birthday party that was organized around a hill of dirt. Thanks go to my friends for letting me share the details of this very successful party.

First, the invitation built up some anticipation because it told the guests to wear jeans because they were going to get dirty. When the guests arrived at the party, there was no talk about the "getting dirty" activity at all. In fact, cake and ice cream were served right away, and I eaves-dropped on a few kids whispering, "Well, when are we going to get dirty?"

Finally, the adults told the guests that they were going to be taken on a walk to "Horse Hill." They were led on a path that took them over a wooden fence and along old boards laid along the ground, and finished by hopping across a stump walkway. These are things that this family had lying around anyway and is a good example of using whatever you have and using creative presentation to brew up fun for your kids.

At the end of this path was a big mound of dirt with a flag flying from the top that said "Horse Hill" and had a picture of a horse on it. It was made from a dowel and a piece of old sheet. Next to the mound of dirt was an incredible variety of building and digging materials. Not even one of them had been purchased. There were twigs, pinecones, dry grass, flower petals, popsicle sticks, tin cans, and sawdust and wood scraps that were free from a cabinetmaker's shop. There were old serving spoons and digging implements that had been gathered from the sand box and the gardening shed.

The guests were each given two plastic horses (50 cents each). Then they were instructed to find a place on the hill and build a stable for their horses from the materials laid out. Those kids fell to their tasks with great gusto! Such a molding of dirt and creation of shelter took place.

Many trips to the materials pile were called for. They worked for an hour ad a half, accompanied by the birthday girl's favorite tape playing on the portable tape player.

When it was all over, they had created a vast community, with connecting roads, a theater, a meeting place and rules about visiting one another. No one wanted to leave!

At the end, the parents gave out party favor bags and a cupcake each made from leftover cake batter and icing. The birthday girl was left with a wonderful horse village, created by her friends, to play with as long as she liked.

And it all started with a pile of dirt.

Lisa Reid is the author of Raising Kids With Just a Little Cash. You can purchase the book at

True or False

We're still paying off last Christmas and worry how we'll afford the holidays this year without charging it again! Tell us: Yes, we could use help getting out of the debt trap we're in! or No, debt is not a problem for us but I'm always looking for ways to trim my family's expenses further!

Stay Connected with TDS

It's tough raising kids today!

Dollar Stretcher for Parents is a weekly newsletter designed just for parents that will help save your family both time and money.

Little Luxuries

And get a copy
of our ebook
Little Luxuries:
130 Ways to Live Better...For Less
for FREE!

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Get Out of Debt