Not a week passes that one doesn’t hear about another “birthday party production”, costing more money than fits into most budgets. How about a party at home like those we used to have as kids? Here are some ideas that might encourage you to take on the simpler way of celebrating your child’s special day.

A suggestion from one of the parents in our preschool was such an obvious first step in reaching a comfort level for home parties: limit the time to one and one-half hours instead of the usual two or more. Start with a good activity and by the time the presents are opened and the goodies eaten, the party will be at its successful end.

Activities

For children, ages 4 and under, lots of fun can come from arranging a miniature preschool setting. Choose a room or yard and set up different activities that children can explore. Outside, it could be painting with water, tossing beanbags, a sand or water table, or a colored pencil drawing table. Inside, it might be groupings of play figures, cars and trucks, a sticker art table, or a puzzle table. Give about 30-40 minutes for free play. End the activity time with a penny hunt. Give each child a bag and tell them to find 15 pennies. Have your adult helpers on hand to count the pennies. By stopping them at a certain number, there will be enough for everyone.

A craft making party for those aged 5-8 can double as party bag prizes to send home. Oriental Trading (mail order Company) has the most reasonably priced craft activities. Choose those that require minimal assembly and involve mostly decorating skills. One craft you can make is to give each child a hat with a glued band of velcro around the base. Have children decorate their hats by sticking (also velcroed) objects of their choice to the velcro band. Objects for decorating could be just about anything interesting that will hold a piece of sticky velcro.

Instead of pre-made (by you) party bags, set up a store where children may line up and select a specific number of items, using pennies from a penny hunt or tickets. Again, Oriental Trading is a good supply for these kinds of party bag fillers.

For older children, how about a twist on the scavenger hunt idea? Give each of two teams a list of unusual things and a Polaroid camera. Ask them to take photos of the items on their lists. Send the teams out around the block or to a local park with the adult team leader and be sure to have prizes for everyone.

Happy Birthday!