Get creative for birthday fun

by Katelin Whiddon

Being a parent comes with lots of celebrations, but sometimes those celebrations can be pretty pricey.

I have a summer birthday, so birthday parties were always easy with warm summer days at the pool. However, my children have winter/early spring birthdays, so planning birthday parties has required a little more thought.

Birthday parties today seem to be a big production with always trying to top your last party and competing with other parties. That can mean costing your family a pretty penny! I want to help give some ideas of ways to celebrate without breaking the bank.

My daughters love art – my 6-year-old’s birthday party was a painting party. Our schedules didn’t match up with paint bar schedules, so we did our own. We had a family from our church bring in paint, canvases and supplies, and the kids painted unicorns and dinosaurs. The kids had a great time and instant party favors with their paintings. This could even be modified to decorating T-shirts for the kids to take home with iron-on patterns, stick-on letters or T-shirt paint! If you’re really bold, you could even let the kids tie-dye their shirts. 

Perhaps your children love to read. Try a storybook character party. Have the children dress in costume and play games to guess who each child is. Have the children bring a book of their favorite character to share with the rest of the party. If girls like to play with dolls, have them bring over their favorite doll and let them have a tea party with their dolls. Lay out blankets for a picnic with the children and their dolls.

Don’t have access to a pool for a party? Maybe a water party would be fun and keep the kids cooled off at the same time. Water guns, water balloons, a Slip ‘N Slide, sprinklers, etc. could make for a fun party for kids on a hot summer day.

If your child likes to cook, have a cooking party. Let kids make cake pops, melt chocolate and pour into fun shape molds or decorate cupcakes or cookies. There are so many other fun options for kids to do (and feed them too)! Feel free to take it outside or put down plastic tablecloths to make clean up easier.

Another fun adventure for children is a scavenger hunt party. If kids aren’t old enough to read, but old enough to understand and participate, the clues could be pictures. This could take place inside or out and allows numerous kids to play at the same time while being spread out. If you have even more children at the party, allow them to pair up and compete as teams. Disposable cameras might be a fun way to let kids snap pictures of their adventures that day and send them home as party favors.

Even if these ideas aren’t for you and your children, I hope you can think outside the box and get creative in planning a fun party that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Get out there and celebrate! 


A Conway native, Katelin Whiddon is a nurse practitioner at the Conway wound clinic for Arkansas Heart Hospital. She and her husband, Daniel, have two daughters. A University of Central Arkansas graduate, she has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and has worked previously in pediatrics.