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24 Hours of Fun Without Breaking the Bank!

Birthday parties can be expensive, if you don’t watch your bottom line. But, surprise! You can throw a 24-hour slumber party for your child’s birthday that won’t break the bank or cause mom and dad to have a nervous breakdown. Here’s how:

Use Evite. Save on follow-up calls, postage and invitations by using for your party invitations. The site offers a wide variety of digital designs and costs nothing to use. All you need to do is round up email addresses for your party guests. After everyone has RSVP’d, you can easily follow up about party details, such as what to bring, allergy or medication needs and pick-up times.

Don’t decorate. Think home protection rather than party decorations and invest instead in plastic tablecloths, eco-friendly plates, napkins, straws and silverware. If you want to make the sleeping room a bit more magical, why not pull out a couple strings of Christmas lights and twinkle up the windows? If you want a birthday banner for your guest of honor, make the creation of one with whatever craft items you have on hand - the first order of business. Just spread the craft supplies out on the table and have the kids jump in.

Give goods. Gather small gifts for your guests that go with your sleepover theme. Check out a dollar store or dollar aisle at a local department store for ideas. Manicure or pedicure kits might be perfect for a nail art party. A pair of mini-binoculars would work for a spy-themed party. An eye mask makes a good choice for a spa party. And rock star sunglasses are a fun touch for a Karaoke party. Give the gifts to guests as they arrive to put a smile on their faces and get them engaged in the fun.

Pizza is perfect. It’s not really a slumber party without pizza (and this is good news for mom and dad). Pizza in bulk is cheap and satisfying but if you prefer to cook yourself, make everything the morning of the party and simply reheat at dinnertime.

Make the cake (or go with fondue). You can make the cake as little (cupcakes), wide (sheet cake) or tall (layer cake) as you like. And you can also make it as heavy (pound or Bundt cake) or light (sponge or angel food) as your guest of honor prefers. Or skip the cake and go with chocolate fondue instead! Dunk pieces of pound cake, strawberries and bananas into 8 ounces of chocolate chips melted with 1/3 cup of half & half.

Give progressive gifts. Instead of spending on the party separately from your child’s gifts, combine the two. Make some of your party purchases tie in with the party theme. This way, your party is not a one-shot expense with nothing left to show for it afterward. For example, your nail art, spy, spa or Karaoke items can be opened as gifts. Group games, like Twister, also work well. Or wrap a new DVD to watch around 9pm to help everyone decompress before bed. An assortment of Mad-Libs can offer something silly to do once everyone is in their sleeping bags.

Fill tummies for better sleep. Offer a midnight snack with a glass of milk. Ice cream sandwiches make a nice midnight snack when contrasted with homemade hot chocolate. Or get a roll of slice-and-bake cookies or scoop-able cookie dough, and fill the house with fresh-from-the-oven, before-bed bliss. For the uber-ambitious, make the dough the morning of the party and refrigerate until bedtime.

Breakfast on the cheap. Pancakes from scratch are inexpensive. Cook up some bacon or sausage for protein and put everything in the oven to stay warm while you work on cranking out pancakes with a choice of bananas, blueberries or strawberries cooked in.

Kick ‘em out of the house. You need a chance to tidy up before parent pick-ups begin. So have everyone get ready to go and then send everyone out for a game of tag or dodge ball while you clean up.

Ask your sleepover guests to bring:

Sleeping bag
Stuffed animal
Indoor clothes/shoes, boots that can get dirty
Outdoor clothes/shoes, boots that can get dirty

Slumber party themes:

Nail art
Spy kit
Spa night
Trashion show
Magic tricks

And there you have it. A perfectly fun, budget-friendly and only slightly exhausting slumber party that everyone will fondly remember for years to come.

These days, author Christina burns the midnight oil writing books, but she still fondly remembers her first sleepover.  Her latest book is The Writer’s Workout for Writer’s Digest Books.

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