You don’t have to fork out hundreds of Rand to make your child’s birthday party a great one. All it takes is a bit of creativity and you can engage all the little party guests (adults too) in fun, unique and memorable activities.
Comic Strip Wrapping
Save your comics from the Sunday papers, these are great for wrapping presents or making up a pass the parcel. Kids never take time to slowly open a gift, they just rip off the paper, so save your pennies and do some recycling at the same time. This is fun, it’s helping the environment – a great way to educate the kids from early age, and it is cheap!
Decorate your own Bags
Pick up some calico shopping bags and fabric paints from an Excitement Store (sponge rollers are great for this activity, but paint brushes work just as well). Get the kids to decorate their own bag. They can either paint a picture directly onto the calico, or even do hand- and footprints. Just remember to lay down some newspaper in between the two layers of fabric. Why not gather some leaves, feathers or other things from the garden to create a great stencil pattern? Use paint on a sponge roller to paint over the top of the leaves, then peel them away at the end.
These bags are fun to make and come in very handy for library books, sport clothes or for shopping. You could even do a similar thing using pillowcases. The kids will love making a present for their friends, and again it teaches a great recycling message for valuing our environment.
Boxes and Frames
Get some plain wooden jewellery boxes or photo frames. Glue on some beads, buttons, shells, or get your kids to paint them and give them as gifts. Pop in a photo of your child and their friend. Again you can get all of this stuff at thrift stores, too easy!
Treat bags can be costly and often are filled with sugar-laden lollypops and sweets. Go lolly free! I am sure the other parents will love you for it. Try these:
Small organza bags filled with sunflower seeds. A huge bag of seeds will only be a few Rands in the supermarket, use the left-overs to scatter at the park or in the backyard to feed the native birds. The kids can the go home and plant the seeds and grow amazing sunflowers. These need very little water to get them going. You might like to use lavender or rosemary instead to make fragrant pouches; easy and cute for keeping your clothes smelling nice.
Make your own colouring-in book. Have your child help you pick out about 8-10 pictures of things they like to colour in. Cut out from colouring books, get them off the net or even draw them yourself. Print or photocopy them two to a page set in landscape, fold the collated pages together to form a book. Either staple, or grab a hole punch and some curling ribbon, like you use to wrap gifts, and tie the pages together with a bow. You might like to add a small pack of pencils and pop it in paper bag which you can have your child decorate. There you go an easy treat idea that your child can make themselves.
For girls a great treat is a small organza bag, about 12 beads or so depending on the size and some hat elastic. Then the girls can make their own bracelet. For younger kids, use bigger beads, about the size of grapes, to avoid a choking hazard. Maybe get the kids to make them together at the party as an activity and they can then take them home.
Get the kids back to living in the 70’s with some tie dying! White t-shirts, aprons, calico bags, pillow cases even cotton serviettes. Grab some cold water dye, some salt (it helps to set and keep the colour) and loads of rubber bands. Have the kids roll up the t-shirt, and place rubber bands along the rolled up garment. Or you can make little scrunches all over the item and put a rubber band around each scrunch to make flowering pattern type tie dye. You can make gifts for other kids, or make some tie dyed serviettes or table cloths for mom for mother’s day.
This is a great one for school bazaars etc. Even do this as a party game: at the very beginning of the party get the kids to roll up the t-shirt, pop it in the dye for 1 hour, then rinse under water and pop it in the dryer for 20 minutes and it should be ready for each child to take home by the time the party ends! When you are doing the dying remember to wear gloves and if you have other items of clothing around the house that could use a bit of brightening up, like lightly-marked white kids clothes or babies bibs, pop them in too!
In the Garden
Kids love gardening. It’s great to get them out into nature an understanding how things grow from an early age. Give a child a gift of some bulbs or seeds and pair of gardening gloves; they are easy to get in kids sizes. A good tip is to give a plant that will flower when a child has their birthday, it will remind them of who gave it to them and it’s a lovely birthday treat from nature.
You could also give a pot with seeds or established seedlings that kids can water and help grow. It’s great if you live in a town-house or have a balcony garden. Kids can easily grow herbs like mint and parsley or easy veggies like carrots. It will get them into gardening and healthy eating at the same time. It’s easy and cheap.
For more information see Kids and animals or Parenting.