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DIY Party Decorations

Life with kids is hectic, and parents have precious few hours of ‘me time’ every night. While DIY parties are a great way to save money, most parents want to spend their nights relaxing rather than slaving over decorations. Here are some party projects that achieve the DIY trifecta: they are quick, easy and inexpensive:

Candy topiaries

1. Buy a styrofoam ball at Michaels. Put it on a stick.
2. Buy some lollipops and shove those suckers into the styrofoam until it’s covered. Done.

This project serves double-duty because it’s a decoration, and the kids can eat it (just don’t let them chow down on the styrofoam). This means you can cross snacks – and maybe even loot bags – off your list!

You can also use other styrofoam shapes. For instance, you could make a row of lollipops in a styrofoam brick. Add some paper leaves, and you have a lollipop garden!

You don’t have to use lollipops, though – look for other candy or small toys that you can tape to toothpicks, and you can jab those into styrofoam too.

Poster board

1. Buy some poster board (it’s cheapest at the dollar store).
2. Cut it up into cool shapes.

Think big for maximum wall coverage – maybe a giant number for your child’s age. Cut out some giant spirals and hang them from the ceiling. Or cut circles and fold them into fans. For bonus points, add glitter to anything.


Balloons are really cheap, and can have a big impact if you use them the right way. Instead of hanging one at a time, tie lots of them together and stick the resulting bunch to the wall. If you want something more structured, think about shapes that fit your party theme. You can make flowers, caterpillars, snowmen... anything with round bits!


Both duct tape and washi tape are available in all kinds of colors and patterns. Wrap some juice boxes in neon duct tape, and suddenly they match your color scheme! Take a plain paper bag and get your kids to help you make it stripey with washi tape – voila, a fancy handmade loot bag. Give cheap cups and plastic dishes a makeover by wrapping pretty washi tape around them. Depending on your venue, you could even stripe your walls or create shapes with bright duct tape.

Cardboard boxes

If you are a parent, you already know that a cardboard box is the best toy ever. But if you can get some giant ones, you can turn them into party decorations too! You can wrap them in paper and tie big bows on them so they look like giant presents. Depending on your theme and the size of your boxes, you can turn them into castles, superhero caves, cars, playhouses or spaceships. Bonus: your kids can help decorate them!


Garlands are basically just strings of anything. Look around at the store. What’s super cheap? Can you tie or glue that to a string? Does it fit your theme? Buy it! Garlands can be felt or paper cut into pennants, but you could also use beach balls, plastic dinosaurs or other lightweight toys. Like the topiaries, these can be disassembled and used for loot bags at the end of the party.

You may want to look around and see what’s available before you decide on your theme. To generate ideas, visit your local dollar store and the clearance aisle at Michaels, and think about things that will have a big impact with very little time invested. Then spend that extra time having fun with the birthday kid!

Katie is a mom, librarian and researcher. For more ideas about birthday parties in Calgary, visit her at

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