Kids birthday parties - there's nothing more stressful or rewarding for a parent to organize. Sometimes it's hard enough to keep your own children entertained, let alone a bunch of other guests too. They aren't cheap either, with one study estimating parents can spend as much as 19k on birthday parties over the course of a lifetime. It's a market that's seen many cunning entrepreneurs start businesses to fill the need for more and more extravagant parties and entertainment.
Never fear though, we've gone out our way to collect a mix of fun and EDUCATIONAL activities that will keep little minds and hands busy and help them excel in key areas. From timeless classics to some ideas that are a little more 'out there,' we've got all budgets and needs covered. Parents assemble!
This game is a winner with all ages, but also a stress-free and super simple game for kids to enjoy too. 'Who Am I' just requires some sticky notes, good memory, and description skills. Each child has to come up with a celebrity they'll know - or this honor can go to the adult - and attach it to the head on the player next to them, making sure they can't see. The group will then take turns trying to guess who they are with yes or no questions. Full rules can be found here.
Get those creative juices flowing with a bit of balloon painting. Art can be an expensive and messy affair, but by erecting a few balloon stands and grabbing a selection of cheap paints, you've got a makeshift art class on your hands that'll be entertained for ages. A great idea is giving the kids challenges such as 'drawing the craziest face' or portraits of friends.
Get those dexterity powers strengthened with this classic Chinese New Year’s activity. Simply fill a bowl with some small candies such M&Ms or Marshmallows and place another empty bowl 6-8 feet away. Now the challenging part, the child or team has to carry said treat from one bowl to the other using only chopsticks. Frustrating but good fun.
With the help of a projector and some fine weather, kids can easily put on a screening of their favorite film outside. You can prep popcorn, chairs, and even cute little tickets to hand out pre-party. It's a great way to teach little ones some organizational skills and some entrepreneurial panache. It's a brilliant way to unwind at the end of the party, and home projectors come in a brilliant array of prices and power nowadays.
Another thirst-quenching idea is setting up a drinks stand for some kiddie cocktails. Having the kids learn a few tasty recipes gives them a sense of responsibility and makes them far more involved in what's going on. There are some delicious recipe suggestions here.
If you're lucky enough to have a good-sized garden or are hosting the party in a park, then you can't go wrong with a scavenger hunt. Form teams and send the kids forth to collect the treasures you've hidden. Adding a theme, be it pirate or Pokémon, will help keep young minds interested.
We won't lie, you may come to regret this, but a little karaoke is a fantastic way for kids to boost their confidence, improve their literacy and show off (or not) their musical talents. A karaoke machine is hardly needed either, with a host of colorful karaoke video games available on consoles like the PS4.
Hide and seek might seem a little basic or old-fashioned to many, but add a theme, especially a SCARY one, to the game, and you can transform your playing area into something adventurous and fun for kids to enjoy. With a little imagination and some arts and crafts elbow grease, you can create all kinds of engaging things for players to hide behind or below.
Cakes can be very expensive, especially when they are festive. Why not make your own, and utilize some of the ingredients you probably have stored away in your cupboards? The cost of buying a few more things, creating a unique cake, and entertaining you and your family for the afternoon, greatly outweighs that of a shop-bought treat.
We've all been there; you've prepared the food, set the table, but you've spent far too much on decorations. It is possible to create your own decor with everyday household objects that still look professional! It's even a great activity to get children involved with.
Whether you're young or old, everyone loves a theme! Selecting the right theme can open the doors to a tonne of games and outfit choices, all based around a particular topic. With a space theme, you can have a planet-shaped cake; a wizard theme can make outfit selection really easy, or even combine the two for some wacky crossovers!
Invites are expensive, and in our digital world, are mostly for show, so why spend a tonne of money when you can get creative? Get down with some arts and crafts and make your own invites, or think outside the box and make a unique and thoughtful video invite.
Goody bags are often an afterthought and can either cost a ton or lack real thought or attention. The solution? Get the kids to create their own goody bags with fun arts and crafts activities throughout the day, and fill up the rest with some homemade treats at a fraction of the cost!
Budgets aren't just for adults, and they don't have to be boring. Having a budget can save you so much money, and you can get your child involved in fun and creative ways. Learning how to spend and save money effectively is a life skill your child will use forever.
This one may not seem fun or educational, but setting party limits can take the pressure of you and your guests. If everyone knows when to come and when to pack up, they can avoid the awkwardness of hanging around for too long. This also teaches kids that limits are good, and there is such a thing as too much fun!
You've heard the boy scouts' famous slogan, 'Be prepared!' Listing what you need before a party and before purchasing anything let's you know exactly what you need, and what you never knew you had! Children can search the house and find things they want to use for the party, teaching them to be resourceful and creative.
Party shops are expensive, and they often mark up the price of things that can be found for cheaper elsewhere. Encourage your children to create things they need in preparation for the party such as; party hats, banners, and outfits. For everything else, shopping online can often be cheaper.
Upcycling sounds fancy, but it's straightforward and a great way to teach kids how to use old material and make something new. Upcycling means reviving and bringing back to life furniture and household objects that have seen better days. In preparation for the party, see what you can use and get the kids involved!
Spotify, YouTube, and online games, all of which are sources of free entertainment that can be utilized to make your party better. Get the kids involved in the planning process, and make them build their own music playlists and video entertainment.
Connections can be super important when planning a party. If you know a cake maker, try and ask for a discount; if you know a police officer, why not try and get some uniforms or props for a themed police party. Knowing how to ask can teach kids to be resourceful and ultimately leave you with a better party!
About the Author
Sam Walker-Smart is a British culture journalist currently based in Bristol. His work has appeared in CLASH, The Huffington Post, Vinyl Me Please, Barcelona Metropolitan, Little White Lies, and other outlets. He enjoys writing about inclusivity in gaming, fun for seniors, educational apps, and entertainment for all. In his spare time, he enjoys weird folklore, sad songs, and good beer.