Hosting a child’s birthday party on a budget doesn’t mean you have to leave out the fun. In fact, half the fun can often be in the planning.
One word of warning: ‘do it yourself’ does not always mean ‘money-saving.’ Here are some tips to keep it all under control, within budget and fun for parent and child!
If you are planning to go crazy on all the fairy ideas that are bursting forth from your creative mind - you have read all the websites with ideas for games and spent hours figuring out how to make fairy wings from nylons and coat hangers (good luck with that one!) - you’ll find that your bank account will be protesting, and you will be putting in a last-minute emergency call to the fairies to bail you out.
There are some things a fairy can’t do without: wings. That’s it! Glitter is optional; so are wands. Not all fairies carry wands. If you are going the Disney Fairy route, you’re going to have to read the books and watch the whole movie (without escaping to the kitchen) just to get your facts straight. You don’t want to get caught with a “you’re not Tinkerbell!” My advice is to make your fairy party one to remember because the children used their own imaginations. The guests can be invited via phone or email (at no cost), or you can print off a coloring page online, have the birthday child color it, roll it like a scroll with ribbon, and deliver to their friends.
Decorations can also be done at low cost. Use things you already have. For example, white holiday lights make a magical atmosphere. Take a big sheet of paper. As the guests arrive, they can color a fairyland scene, you can then use this for the tablecloth. The Calgary Herald has rolls of newsprint that they give away for a small donation to charity; you just need to call ahead to book a pick-up time.
Crafts are always a good idea, as it eliminates the ‘goody bag.’ The guests take home their creations and will continue to play with them. Keep it simple with crafts. You can create a wand with star wire and ribbons. Use wooden spoons instead of dowels. For wings, use thick paper or cellophane, cut two sets of wings (one big, one small) and fold in the centre (like a fan). Staple or tape together. Fix to a child’s shirt with small safety pins.
Fairy Houses are a great activity, which can cost you just a few dollars for the baskets, and a little more if you want to get fancy. If you plan ahead, take the birthday child for a walk and gather up some supplies: twigs and feathers; bits of bark. Find some decorations around the house or at a craft store: ribbon, shells, etc. You can kick it up a notch by buying just a few colors of modelling clay to make fairy food. One square of clay in three or four colors will be enough for a whole party. The kids can make teeny tiny fruits and vegetables. And while they’re eating their cake, you can bake the fairy food (follow package directions, it is a few minutes on a low heat). Let the children know that if they leave their fairy houses outside in a sheltered spot, the fairies will come and visit. When a fairy touches the pretend food, it becomes real to them.
For fairy games, all you have to do is adapt regular games with a fairy twist. We play ‘duck duck goose’ and ‘telephone’ with different names. Make sure the guests have some activities with movement as well as some sitting down.
With food, make things small. Little sandwiches cut into shapes, cupcakes, fairy S’mores (shreddies, mini marshmallow and a chocolate chip, wrapped in foil and left in a warm place for a couple of minutes). Get the fancy china out, put the juice in a teapot and enjoy your fairy tea party!
The biggest money-saving tip I can pass on is to keep the guest list down. A perfect size for a party is eight to 10 children, enough to make the games more fun, but also not too many to make it overwhelming on your sanity and your budget. Also, keep the time to about two hours: one hour for games and crafts, and one hour for food and gift-opening.
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