These days, kids’ birthday parties need to have some kind of a theme. Gone are the days when a birthday party consisted of a simple cake and games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Musical Chairs. Now, they’re elaborate celebrations involving extensive decorations and entertainment that can really break the bank. However, they don’t have to. With some creativity and maybe a trip to the dollar store, you can throw your child a fun and memorable birthday party that everyone will love. Your only limit is your imagination.
If you have a child that wants to be a firefighter, this party will be a hit. Have the kids train to be a firefighter by setting up an obstacle course in your backyard. Use pool noodles, buckets, balls, and cardboard boxes for them to jump over and climb through. At the end of the course, use colorful chalk to draw a “fire” on the side of a fence or a small piece of plywood and have them “put out the fire” by spraying it with a garden hose until it’s gone. If you have a playset, include that in the course by putting a stuffed toy at the top of it that needs rescuing.
You may be able to find cheap plastic firefighter hats at the dollar store or a party store that’ll be fun for the party as well as for the guests to take home. Call your local fire department ahead of time and ask if you can stop by with the kids for a tour. Many firehouses welcome the chance to show little ones what they do and will give them a tour that may include sitting in a real fire truck!
For food, cupcakes with orange frosting for flames will be gone quick! If you prefer a cake, you can adorn a simple one with red trim with an inexpensive toy fire truck that the birthday child can keep after the party.
This is a great idea for a sleepover party. Have the guests bring sleeping bags and flashlights and pitch a tent in the backyard for everyone to sleep in. If you have a fire pit or a safe spot to build a small fire, surround it with logs or chairs and let the kids cook hotdogs on sticks. Of course, also supply them with graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars for everybody’s favorite campfire treat. Alternatively, you can be more elaborate and set up a table with a s’mores bar on it with different flavored marshmallows and a variety of candy such as peanut butter cups. Once the fire is out, flashlight tag is always fun, and dollar stores usually have glow sticks and glow jewelry that are always popular at sleepovers. Make a “campfire” on a simple chocolate cake using chocolate-covered pretzels for logs and orange and red gummy candies for the fire.
The best thing about an Olympic-themed birthday party is that you can choose whatever games you’d like and they don’t have to cost much money. A three-legged race, watermelon seed spitting contest, water balloon throwing contests, jumping over an inflatable kiddie pool of water, egg toss, and relay races are a few ideas. The kids may even have some ideas for their own Olympic events. For the closing ceremonies, paint three wooden boxes white (or use any sturdy boxes you may have) for the winners to stand on to receive their medals. You may be able to find cheap medals at the dollar store or party store or make your own using ribbon, cardboard circles, and gold, silver, and bronze paint. Save a medal to adorn the top of the cake or use different colored frosting to make the five Olympic rings.
Television singing competitions are more popular than ever, and kids love performing. You can use wood to make a large platform, but if you have a deck or a garage, you have a stage. Hang a sheet for a curtain and use a positionable light such as a desk lamp for a spotlight. White Christmas lights strung around the stage give it a glamorous touch. If you don’t have a karaoke machine or you don’t know anyone who does, don’t fret. Many popular karaoke songs exist on YouTube. Send out invitations that look like VIP passes.
Think musically for your treats, such as cupcakes with musical notes on them. Check the dollar store for things that might add to the fun such as feather boas and cheap sunglasses. Don’t forget a microphone! A clean hairbrush works, or you could make one yourself out of a thick wooden dowel painted black with black foam or fabric glued to the top.
Mad Science Party
A mad science party is perfect for summer because you can do it outside. After all, science can be messy! Paper (disposable) lab coats are a fun touch, and you can purchase them online through a lab supply company for a dollar or two apiece, or hit up the local thrift store for some long-sleeved button-up white shirts. Fill glass jars with water and food coloring and add things from around your house to look like they’ve been preserved, such as thick spaghetti (worms) or a head of cauliflower cut in half (a brain). You may be able to find some things from your Halloween decorations that may fit in with the mad science theme, such as body parts. Many printable decorations exist online, such as the periodic table of elements.
Lab supply stores also sell cheap plastic Petri dishes, which are fun for making science treats. Pour red gelatin in them and add gummy worms or candies to look like bacteria. Fill jars with brightly colored candies and print labels for them that say things like “radioactive particles” or “protons and electrons.”
The best part of a mad science party is hands-on experiment time! Give them each three small paper cups. In the first cup, pour 12 teaspoons of white vinegar; in the second, pour one teaspoon of baking soda; in the third, pour a drop or two of food coloring. At the same time, have the kids pour the cups containing the vinegar and baking soda into the food-coloring cup and watch the reaction! Let them make Oobleck (find the recipe here) and Gak (found here), and with some help from an adult, let them try the Mentos and Diet Coke tricks (here)! Grown-ups will have as much fun as the kids at a mad science party!
Dollar stores sell a lot of the same party supplies that party stores do such as plates and cups, yet much cheaper, and they’re a goldmine of ideas for a fun summer birthday party, whether you have a theme in mind or not. With a little imagination, you can throw a birthday party on a budget that your child will remember for a lifetime.