Monday, May 6, 2013

Birthday on a Budget

Happy 5th birthday!

In an effort to write about more than just wrestling on this page, I've decided to share some "Daddy" blogs too.  I wrote this originally on my old website, but updated it a bit and hope you'll find some of the tips here useful.  Considering many of us are on budgets, any time we can find a way to save some cash, we jump on it.  This is how we celebrated my daughter's 5th birthday a few years ago.

I had planned out this party pretty much on my own because at the time my wife had just gone back to school and was working as well, so she was more than a little busy.  Plus, I really do enjoy putting together birthday parties for our kids, and now that our boys are older my daughter is the last of themed birthday party children.

Brooke decided she wanted an “Under the Sea” party.  Let me start right now by saying my parents took care of the paper products, goodie bags, and the giant chocolate chip cookie Brooke requested.  So that left me to do the planning of the party and the execution of the games.

Under the Sea Bracelets

Under the Sea Bracelets
As the guests arrived, I had a table set up for the them to create their own bracelets.  Luckily, we had a ton of beads.  Not sure where they came from, but they actually fit the theme perfectly.  We had fish, dolphins, and sea turtles.  The assorted color beads also had different colored stars in them.  I told the kids to pretend they were starfish.

They used pipe cleaners to feed the beads through.  Again, something we happened to have on hand, so this craft really didn’t cost me anything.

As they finished up this project and we were waiting for other guests to arrive, I printed off some “Little Mermaid” color pages off the Internet.  They colored those as we waited to continue on with the festivities.  Again, something that didn’t cost anything because we had the printer paper already on hand.

We also played a round of musical chairs.  We already had the chairs here at the house, and I played “Under the Sea” from the “Little Mermaid” soundtrack for the music.  Making this a fun game for the kids to play and not costing us a thing.

Pin the Tail on the Whale

Pin the Tail on the Whale
The first game I created was Pin the Tail on the Whale.  Luckily, the boys got new desks earlier in the week, and there were some large pieces of Styrofoam and cardboard.  For this game, all I did was draw a whale (minus the tail) on a large piece of styrofoam.  Then I painted the whale with blue paint.  Next, I added some ocean water using a mix of blue and green paint.  Brooke added the smile to the whale’s face.

Then I cut out tails from blue pieces of paper.  I drew the shape of the tail on one side, folded the paper and then cut along that pattern.  That created the tail and made it super easy.

I printed the phrase “Pin the Tail on the Whale” on a piece of yellow paper and cut it out in a circle to look like the sun.  The last thing I did was add some tape to each tail prior to the game.  I think all the kids had fun with it.

Pitch the Pearls

Pitch the Pearls
Another game I had fun creating was “Pitch the Pearls.”  I drew a clam on a piece of cardboard.  Then I mixed some blue and white paint to give the clam his shell color.  Red and white paint mixed gave him his mouth color.  Then I painted the surrounding area.  The bottom is supposed to look like sand, but the mixing of the paint turned it more purple than brown, so we just went with it.  The top is a dark blue.  My daughter added a pair of googly eyes to him ( you can’t really see them in the pic).

I  cut a small round hole out in the middle of the mouth, where the kids would then toss pitch the pearls.  The pearls for this game were nothing more than a half dozen ping pong balls.  That was the only thing I didn’t have around the house, so I bought them at WalMart.  I think the cost was less than $1.50.

The Octopus Pop

The Octopus Pop
The Octopus Pop is the only other game that cost me anything to create.  That’s because we didn’t have any balloons around the house.

I bought the usual round balloons to represent the head of the octopi.  Then the long, twistable ones for the legs.  But a warning, those balloons are NOT easy to blow up.  Luckily the boys had one of those pumps, otherwise I don’t think I would have gotten them blown up.

As you look at the photo, you probably notice my octopi only have four legs.  That’s because I was running out of time and patience to do eight legs (or 4 balloons)

The object of this game was simple, I just spread the octopi on the floor and encouraged the kids to stomp on them.  Or sit on them.  What they could do to pop them.  The heads were easy to destroy, but the legs proved to be more difficult.  I’m not sure that anyone was able to pop them actually.

But it was a lot of fun and let them be a little destructive without getting in trouble.  Isn’t that what all kids want?

Shark Attack!

Shark Attack!
Using another piece of cardboard from the desk boxes, I drew a picture of a shark with his mouth wide open.  I mixed some blue and white paint for his skin.  Red and white for the interior of his mouth, and just plain white for the teeth.  I actually just spray painted the area around the shark.  The idea was to give it the effect that he was breaking through a boat.  Mason suggested a pirate ship. : )

Then I cut a whole out in the middle of his mouth.  All I did for this was have each guest stick his or her head in that hole and took a picture.  It’s supposed to look like they’re inside the shark’s mouth.
This could have easily been turned into a game as well.  Just toss a bean bag or a ball into the hole.  Maybe call it feed the shark or something.  Again, this is something I think the kids had fun with.  I will email the picture of each child to their parent to have as a little memory from the party.

Best part about this one, it was no cost again.  We had a plethora of paint here and the cardboard came with the desks.

So the total amount I spent on the games was just $6.20.  That was for the package of ping pong balls and three packages of balloons.  

Not too shabby, IMO.


  1. Cool ideas. In such a small amount you have arranged a fabulous birthday party that kids will never forget. I got so many ideas also. Thanks and I really appreciate your creativity.
    birthday videos for kids

  2. Your ideas are so cool! I wonder where those ideas came from. Nevertheless, I think you nailed it to make your daughter's birthday really special without spending a fortune. May I know how did you make the cake? It's pretty cute! Anyway, I think you're the coolest dad. Well done! :) -Nita Digirolamo