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Ten Ideas for a Birthday Party at Home

Having your kid’s birthday party at home is a great way to cut costs and still have a great time. But it’s hard to come up with ideas for a birthday party at home. Finding ideas for a birthday party at home that are cheap (or free) and easy can be difficult, but here are ten ideas for a birthday party at home that are sure to make your guests have a great time.

Grin and Bear It

For a great party for younger kids, invite them to bring their special lovey to the party—after all, they don’t eat much and probably won’t make much of a mess. Buy doll-sized t-shirts in a variety of sizes and have the kids decorate a shirt for their special guest using fabric markers, glitter or appliqués. When it comes time to eat, set a special small table so the loveys can all get to know one another.


For older kids, you can do a bear-stuffing party at home, thereby avoiding the lines and crowds of an in-mall stuffing session. Many online outlets offer packages—adollysworld.com offers unstuffed 15-inch bears, a “birth certificate” and a “wishing star” for just around $9 each. The bears require no sewing, though you do have to buy your own stuffing.

Find Fame

An “American Idol” party lets kids rock out (without having to worry about Simon.) Rent a karaoke machine and discs—while you can use karaoke CDs, the machine will show the singers the words in case stage fright strikes.

Make the invitations look like the famous “golden tickets” “Idol” hopefuls get when they make it to the Hollywood round. Gather up costumes so kids can transform into their rock-star personalities. (Now might be a good time to resurrect those 80s fashions hiding in your closet.) You can easily find cheap sunglasses and boas, as well as temporary colored hairspray, for those all-important makeovers.

For a great favor, take each child’s picture post-makeover. Use an instant printer to print it out, and have kids decorate a blank frame (available at any craft store) for a perfect memento of the day.

Zap! You’re It

Boys in particular are a big fan of laser tag parties—and they’re easier to throw than you might think. You don’t need a giant area, as most local companies are used to dealing with normal-sized yards (and you can also bring the party to a local park if you really need more space.) Appropriate ages range from around seven to the early teens.

Or make it more old-school with a good ol’ water pistol fight. A game of Capture the Flag gets even better when Super Soakers and water balloons are added to the arsenal—just make sure to have plenty of towels ready for the guests’ drippy car ride home.

Send in the Clowns (And the Moon Bounce, and the Pony)

Many companies bring extras to your house, meaning you get cool stuff with much less work. You can find everything from historical interpreters to moon bounces to clowns to magicians in our Birthday Party Directory on page 24. These professionals know how to keep the attention of party guests and will work with you to provide the best party possible.

Head for the Hills with a Camping Party

Add a new element to the sleepover by pitching a tent in the backyard. Even though you might not get everything you’d experience on a camping trip (open fires aren’t the best ideas in residential areas), you can roast s’mores over a grill, play flashlight tag once the sun goes down — and of course tell ghost stories! Our hint: get a book of ghost stories from the library and commit one to memory (not word for word, but the general plot.) Then add your own local elements—make the monster come from the Chesapeake Bay, or have the crime happen at the house down the street that’s now for sale.

The Hunt is On

This is a party that grows along with the birthday boy or girl (trust us—even teenagers can get into a scavenger hunt. ) Divide the party into teams, with each team getting a different list. For smaller kids, either plant the objects around the yard or make them easy to find. For older kids, make the sought-after prizes harder to find, or make them require creative thinking.

A great getting-to-know-you activity is making the kids themselves the objects of the hunt. As guests arrive, hand them their own list with instructions like “find someone who has the same color eyes that you do” or “find someone who is the oldest child in her family.” Then when it comes time for the main hunt, kids have gone from strangers to friends.

Be a Party Animal

For an older kid who’s looking to do something nice for others, an animal rescue party might just be perfect. In lieu of gifts, ask guests to bring things your local animal shelter needs (they’re often in need of food and kitty litter, but be sure to call in case there are special regulations.) Serve cake and ice cream in (new, obviously) small dog or cat dishes.

Dance the Day Away

If you’ve got kids addicted to “So You Think You Can Dance,” this is their time to shine. For older guests, divide them into teams, have them choose a kid-friendly song, and then let them go crazy with choreography! Have fun costumes like tutus, boas and leg warmers ready; their performance will be the final act for when parents arrive to pick them up! For younger kids, hire a teenage friend who’s on the local dance team and have her come and teach the kids a simple routine. Or show the guests what dances you did back in high school—it’s time to bring the Running Man back, anyway.

Sit Back and Relax

Throw a spa party—a sure hit with girls ages seven to teens. Make homemade facial masks (see our video on ChesapeakeFamily.com) and bath salts for activities, then settle in for a nail-painting party—older guests can paint one another, while younger girls will need some help (bribe some friends so they’ll help you out.) Mini bottles of nail polish, body glitter and pretty barrettes make great favors.

All The World’s A Stage

For a birthday boy or girl who’s been bitten by the performing bug, putting on a simple show is sure to bring applause. First, play some theater improv games (check out episodes of “Whose Line is it, Anyway?” on YouTube) to get everyone warmed up. Then it’s time to let the lights shine! Younger kids can stick with simple fairy tales; older kids can probably put together a skit on their own. For an added bonus, record the final performance and make it available on YouTube so the guests can remember what a good time they had!

By Kristen Page-Kirby

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