A year ago, I wrote about planning an inexpensive birthday party for a child. I talked about why we:
- Keep the guest list small,
- Plan easy craft projects and activities that utilize supplies we already have on hand,
- Make our own cake,
- Host parties in our home,
- and shop for supplies at inexpensive stores.
At the end of the day, those strategies allowed us to pull off a birthday party last year for less than twenty-five dollars. It was really fun. Our daughter and her guests had a great time. And nobody complained that it was not fancy.
This year, we planned another inexpensive birthday party for our youngest daughter. She wanted a Hello Kitty theme this time around, which made me a little nervous. I worried that we would end up locked into purchasing expensive party supplies and paper products that would not be available at the dollar store. And I had no idea what games or craft projects might be fun and cost effective all at the same time.
Thankfully, I have a Pinterest account. I use it very infrequently, but in this particular situation it was very useful. I waded through all the pictures posted by mothers who hosted Hello Kitty birthday parties that must have cost about a million dollars and found real ideas. Then I adapted those real ideas to meet the needs of our family.
We chose a Sunday afternoon to party. Eight friends were invited. Five were able to attend. Since the party was not over a meal time, we opted to only serve cake and ice cream.
Invitations & Thank You Cards:
Our daughter really likes to create craft projects, so I opted to have her assist me in making our own invitations. We printed this free template from Pretty Practical Mom and glued it onto pink construction paper we already had on hand. Then we sprinkled glitter on the invitations. Last, we made small pink bows out of ribbon we already had on hand and glued them in the upper right corner of the invitation, Hello Kitty style.
The invitations were cute, but certainly not art museum worthy. And that was ok! My daughter had so much fun making them that it did not make a difference to me whether or not we achieved perfection. The same was true when we made thank you cards. My daughter made them herself and they were heartfelt. That was enough for me.
- Total cost: Free (Made from craft supplies already on hand.)
- Ice cream: $2.08
- Cake: Free (Made from baking & decorating supplies already on hand.)
- Lemonade: Free after coupon
- Total cost: $2.08
Paper Products & Gift Bags:
One of the things I noticed on Pinterest was that Hello Kitty is really easy to draw. As long as the background is white, she can be reproduced by just about anyone on any surface. Because of that, we decided to purchase white paper products at the Dollar Store and turn decorating those blank surfaces into a party craft.
The kids decorated plates, cups, and gift bags like Hello Kitty. We used markers, foam stickers, and other craft supplies we already had on hand. I was a little worried that some of the kids might get upset about decorating the plates and cups, only to throw them away a few minutes later. That did not seem to bother anyone, though. Instead, they had fun and gladly disposed of the trash.
- Plates, cups, & gift bags: $3.00
- Gifts for bags (bubbles, candy, pencils, etc.): $6.00
- Total cost: $9.00
Activities and Games:
We had a long list of games and activities for the party. All of them were kitty-themed. Because we had so many options, we were able to move from activity to activity fairly quickly and no one got bored. Aside from the headband craft, all of these activities were done with items we already had on hand.
- Headband Craft. We bought a package of headbands at the dollar store and decorated them with ribbons to look like Hello Kitty. For the one boy in attendance, Todd used craft supplies to help him make a bow tie.
- Hello Kitty Bingo. This is a game that our family has had for several years and it is one of our daughter’s favorites. We had just enough Bingo cards for everyone in attendance.
- Pin the Bow on the Kitty. I took a large sheet of butcher paper, drew a Hello Kitty head, and hung it on the wall. Then I found a Hello Kitty bow template online and cut out one for each child. At the party, everyone colored their own bow however they liked before we played the game. The picture below links to The Stone Rabbit, where I got the idea.
- Coloring sheets. Todd found templates for Hello Kitty coloring sheets online. He printed out several so that everyone had options.
- Purr, Purr, Hiss. Think Duck, Duck, Goose or Duck, Duck, Gray Duck (whichever you call it). Except we said purr and hiss. The kids thought it was fun.
- Kitty Tag. This is a variety of the game freeze tag. When the person who was “it” tagged someone, the tagged person would freeze like a cat with its fangs and claws bared. Then a friend would come and gently scratch the cat behind the ears to release them back into the game.
- Find the Mice. We have about a million stuffed mice from IKEA in our home. We put them to good use at the party. The kids took turns hiding the mice around the yard (in the shrubs, behind trees, under the garden hose, etc.) and then everyone else would hunt for them like cats.
- Hello Kitty Chalk. I drew several large Hello Kitty outlines on our driveway. At the end of the party, when the kids were waiting for their parents to pick them up, they used sidewalk chalk to fill in the cats. We also had a variety of yard games that we already owned available for everyone to use.
- Headbands, $1.00
- Total cost: $1.00
Grand Total: $12.08
Of all the birthday parties we have hosted over the years, this was probably one of our most creative. And yet, it is hands down the least expensive. While we have spent way to much on a party or two in the past, I am firmly convinced that a big budget is not necessary for fun. With a little ingenuity and some time spent on Pinterest, a really fun Hello Kitty birthday party can be had on an almost-zero budget.
What are your favorite free (or almost free) birthday party ideas? Let us know in an email or comment below!