Birthday party competition can be fierce between parents and kids, but we like the idea of getting back to basics. How about doing it old school and getting the kids involved in planning and preparing for their party? Here are some fun and fairly simple DIY party and decoration ideas that can help alleviate the stress and help soothe that aching wallet.
Kids Birthday Party Ideas
Summer & Fall: Local parks are a boon for thrifty party planners
If you don’t have an outdoor space suitable for a backyard birthday party, local parks offer free amenities and an abundance of wide-open spaces. Groups of 25 or more looking for a picnic table are supposed to book ahead and pay a rental fee at many Toronto parks, but unreserved tables are up for grabs, and it costs nothing to bring a few picnic blankets and create your own picnic area.
High Park is a great spot for a celebration, with endless possibilities of things to do. The High Park Zoo has animals like huge rodent capybara, Highland cows, bison, and more. The “castle playground” (Jamie Bell Adventure Playground) is an awesome mix of ropes, ladders, slides, and nooks and crannies in a wooden castle-like structure. The recently renovated splash pad has buttons and mists and lily pads and spitting frogs, and there is also an outdoor pool with a slide and gradual entry. Take a scenic, 30-minute drive through the park on the trackless train, or get dropped off at your next destination for $4.50 for adult passengers and $3.50 for kids.
Riverdale Farm, in Toronto’s east end, is a complete, working farm within the city. They do offer rooms for birthday parties, for $150 to about $250, depending on size, plus $80 for a farmer demo. However, rooms are only available starting October and only on Saturday or Sunday mornings and right now they’re booked until at least November. No worries though! There’s plenty of space on the lawns or beside them in Riverdale Park West to throw down a blanket and pitch your birthday lunch right there. The farm has a number of animals, like horses, goats, sheep, pigs, and more, and there is a free farmer demo for the public every day at 11:30 am. You can visit the animals, wander the trails through wooded areas and beside ponds, or pitch in with some farm chores. And, after all that walking and chores, sweaty kids can cool off in Riverdale Park’s splash pad.
Toronto Islands are another fabulous destination in the city, with the ferry costing $9.25 for adults and $4.45 for kids under 15 (purchase these online to skip the line). Birthday parties at Centreville are north of $550, but there’s so much to do on the islands that you can create your own party. Bring a picnic lunch, check out the animals at Far Enough Farm, go swimming at the beach, splash in the splash pads, visit the William Meany Maze and the Franklin Children’s Garden, and go on a ride or two at Centre Island. That’s one full day!
Grab your water guns, frisbees, bubbles, and baseball bats, plan some old-timey games and races and supplement those fun park birthday parties.
Winter: Indoor & Outdoor Options
Other seasons take a little more thought when it comes to creating a simple, straightforward DIY birthday party because of the lack of outdoor space. Local community centre pools can be rented out so that your group gets it all to themselves for about $100 for an hour. Swimming parties in the dead of winter? So fun.
Skating and Tobogganing Parties
These are always winners, as well. Just bring plenty of hot chocolate! Have a snowman-building competition, build snow forts, have a snowball fight, and make sure to offer somewhere warm to recuperate. Have a post-snow pizza-making party! It might get a bit messy but you’ll avoid hearing whining about someone not liking a topping. And you don’t have to make dinner!
At-Home Birthday Party Ideas
There are plenty of party suggestions that you can do right at home – a crafting party, party games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey or bobbing for apples, a DIY Photo Booth (just create a basic backdrop – like paint splatters on an old paint tarp – put out the Hallowe’en costumes and some kooky party favours, and set up your camera on a timer or to take pictures remotely).
So, save your pennies for that European vacation and create a fun and memorable birthday party that your kid will love. And join the revolution to take the birthday party back to its humble roots!
Easy Birthday Party Decorations
Decorating can be a fun and easy thing to do with your child. A few, well-placed, colourful decorations can go a long way at a birthday event. You don’t want too many bits and pieces getting in the way of your partying kids, but a few key design elements can transform your house into party central.
Bunting can be made as elaborate or basic as you’d like. Some construction paper and yarn can create a great birthday sign or just perk up a room with colourful borders. Add some large pompoms, paper fans, or a balloon arch for a wow factor, and brighten up the cake table with some rainbow water (just different colours of food colouring in mason jars containing a cheery wildflower).
To add a real bang to your birthday bash, a paper mâché piñata will do the trick. It may take a couple of days to make, but a homemade piñata will break open much easier than a store-bought one and it’s a lot of fun to construct. You can come up with your own shape or character and add tissue strips to the finished product for some movement.
As an element of your birthday party (or perhaps as the entire theme!) it’s always a treat for the kids to create a take-home craft. If you’re working with a knight or a pirate theme, make a simple cardboard shield or a cardboard cutlass with a duct tape handle and let the kids decorate their own as they come into the party. It’s the perfect way to get everyone engaged right from the beginning and to allow for stragglers to catch up with the early bird arrivals.
Other straightforward crafts to tackle are cardboard crowns or magic wands to decorate, necklace and bracelet making with beads and wire, or cheap birdhouses (from the dollar store) to glitter glue, colour, and paint.
Now you have the location, you have decor ideas and craft suggestions, and it didn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Take that nap! And dream of the perfect DIY birthday party for your happy child.