A Recessionista mom's guide to Birthday Parties

By Piya Mitra

birthday-cakeI don’t need to tell you that there is a recession underway. Headlines scream “The worst recession since the great depression”. These are uncertain times and everyone is tightening their belts. While cutting down expenses is the need of the hour some things can not be cut out completely, like the occasional get-togethers and parties, specially birthday parties for children.

So if you are on a budget and still want to throw a fun party the thing to remember is that more money spent doesn’t necessarily equal more fun.

Here are some fun and budget-friendly ideas:

A Hiking Party

This one can be tons of fun for older kids 9 yrs and over.

Venue: Park with Trails. Choose a short hiking trail and let the group enjoy a picnic at the end.

Food: Bring simple picnic foods. Hot Dogs/sandwiches, salads, corn on the cob, Gatorade, fruits etc. Here’s a link for picnic food ideas.

Activity: Choose a short hike so all kids can keep up.

Favors: You can give each child a drawstring backpack with a water bottle, Trail mix or Granola Bars and visors to protect from the sun. Oriental Trading has some good deals on these items.

A Cooking Party

This one is for older kids too, over 6 yrs.

Venue: Home-Kitchen

pizzaFood:Pizza: Buy some Pizza dough from the grocery store and a bunch of toppings. Pizza topping ideas: Spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese, shredded pepperoni slices, ham slices or Canadian bacon, pineapple chunks, pepper slices, sliced mushrooms, sliced olives etc.you will need 8” Disposable aluminum foil pie tins (Mark each child’s name on it with a sharpie), a few rolling pins. Roll out the pizza dough into small rounds and put it in the pie tins and let the kids put toppings on them.

Cupcakes: Bake cupcakes and let the kids put icing on them and decorate them with the toppings of their choice.

Ice cream sandwiches: Make Ice cream sandwiches using two chocolate chip cookies and ice-cream let the children choose the flavor of ice-cream they want from two or three different flavors or they could add all the flavors you provide. See how proud they feel eating the meal they prepared!

Party favors: As for party favors aprons and chefs hats, check your local craft store or good old Oriental trading has them by the dozen.

Another alternative “Cookie Mix In A Jar” with the recipe attached to it.

Nestle has recipes on their site.

Art Craft Party

Venue: Home-Garage

Choose some art projects for kids to do .Two or three different projects so they don’t loose interest in one. Crafts must be age appropriate for the kids to enjoy. Here are some craft ideas for preschoolers.

Or how about one big masterpiece?  Get a roll of art paper available online or in educational supply stores, lots of crayons/water color. Spread out a drop cloth in the garage, lay out the paper roll on top, give the kids some idea as to what you want them to paint say animals in a zoo or “under the sea” (you might even want to make an out line. Let each child sign an autograph on one corner and this could be a keepsake for the birthday child. Be sure to ask parents to send their kids in washable clothes in case of any color spilling onto clothes.

Talent Night./American Idol/Indian Idol

idolVenue: Home (economical) or Restaurant

Invite: Send out invites asking parents to help prepare a 2 min special act for each child to perform. Song, dance, comedy routine anything they  want to do. Here is a free printable invite.

Invite all the parents to join you 1/12 hrs after they drop off the children. Let them do a dress rehearsal for the show. Choose a MC(You’ll always have  a few kids too shy to perform). Once the parents come in let the show begin.

Favors: Give each child a small trophy after the show. You will find  many American Idol themed party favors at Party stores.

All these ideas can be budget friendly as long as you make a budget and stick to it. It is very easy to go overboard when planning a party. Just remember all kids need to have fun is the company of some good friends.

Piya Mitra or is an event planner whose company Elegant Eventz organizes events throughout the Bay Area. Her blog can be found here.

1 thought on “A Recessionista mom's guide to Birthday Parties

  1. Suzanne

    Nice guide – very economical and innovative ideas. Will use for my kid’s birthday’s. I have used Piya’s ideas in the past as well.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Happy Mom.




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