Special Touches Cost Next to Nothing

Birthday parties have gotten out of hand. With five kids, I could go broke planning and throwing birthday extravaganzas. For my first and second, I went overboard. I’ve since reined it in, but have worked to not let any of the “special” be lost. I’ve taken tips from friends and family, so the birthday boy or girl has an extraordinary day once a year, whether or not they deserve it.

Here are some simple tips to make a birthday wonderful and not break the bank.

streamers, party1. Balloons or Streamers to welcome the day – My sister hangs streamers in the doorway of the birthday kid while they are sleeping. When they wake in the morning, it is the first thing they see. Throw a few balloons around the room, so they can kickstart the fun.


2. Birthday Pancakes – Who needs to wait for cake? Our traditional birthday breakfast is pancakes with syrup, whipped cream, sprinkles, candles and a crusty-eyed rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Amy, our finds editor, wakes them up with a piece of birthday cake and breakfast in bed.



girls eating ice cream3. School Treat – Cupcakes are sooooo yesterday. Mix up the school snack. Kids love when their classmates love their birthday treat. Try ice cream sundaes — even in the winter.Keep it simple. Buy the little dixie cups of half chocolate, half vanilla. They cost a couple dollars for 12. Bring whipped cream, chocolate syrup, caramel, and sprinkles in different flavors. Be sure to check with the teacher first of course. Put the cup on paper plates to collect the overflow and don’t forget the spoons. If you are feeling a little ambitious, chocolate covered strawberries, homemade cookies, cupcakes made in ice cream cones and doughnuts in the shape of your child’s new age are always a hit.

family, happy, toasting4. Dinner – The birthday kid always gets to pick their favorite. My kids always opt for Grandma’s Chicken luckily because it is a snap to make. But, if they wanted duck a l’orange, I would make it for them. We break out the wine glasses and have an official non-alcoholic toast (for the kids, anyway) to another year older.


kid, child present5. Presents – Here’s my take on birthday presents: When they are old enough to understand, at about 6, I either do a nice present or a party – not both. More often than not, my kids can’t even think of something they want. The siblings make cards, we all say something we love about the birthday kid, and if there is time, he or she gets to pick a movie.

From morning to night, my kids feel like a king or a queen on their birthday. Then we call it a wrap! Cost: Minimal  … Memories: Maxed Out!

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.


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