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5 frugal kids' party games

Inexpensive doesn't have to mean boring, especially when bubbles and balloons are involved.

By Karen Datko Oct 27, 2010 10:27AM

This post comes from Craig Ford at partner blog Wise Bread.


My daughter recently turned 5. In case you don't know, birthday parties are a big deal to a 5-year-old.


Our family lives in a Third World country, so we knew we'd have to get creative when it came time to plan our frugal birthday games. In the end, we came up with some great games that the kids absolutely loved.


My wife and I loved the fact that we spent less than $10 on the games.


Frugal doesn't mean boring

For some reason, people think that frugal must mean boring. Planning a frugal birthday party just means you're going to find the best activities that don't cost a lot of money. However, make sure the games you pick are unique. Most of these homemade games will work once, but perhaps not every time. The novelty is what is exciting to kids.


As a parent, you need to set the tone. We were really excited about the birthday party, my daughter was excited, and that was infectious. Everyone had a great time playing these birthday games.


Homemade bowling. Take six empty 2-liter containers and fill them up with a few rocks to weigh them down. Set up the containers like bowling pins and have the kids stand several feet away. Give them a ball and sit back and watch. I was responsible for setting up the pins and my wife fetched the ball.


As a side note, we didn't have a ball so we used a coconut. Unfortunately, after about 15 minutes, one of the girls threw the coconut instead of rolling it -- no more ball, so no more bowling.


Create balloon animals. Yes, you could spend $100 or more to hire a clown, or you could get online and learn how to make balloon animals. In our case, we chose the latter, and my wife had all the kids make their own balloon animals. It's amazing how simple it is to make a little puppy dog out of a balloon. The kids loved the challenge and kept laughing at how different each dog turned out.


Funny face competition. Pull birthday guests out one by one and have them make a funny face in front of the camera. (Don't take them to a different room. Just pull them to a corner.) Ask one of your adult helpers to take pictures of each kid making a funny face. Load the images on the computer and invite everyone to judge which picture is the best, most creative, funniest, etc. Keep making up categories until every kid is a winner of one category. (See also: "35 practical uses for a digital camera.")

Pin the nose on the clown. For this game, you'll need someone with an ounce of artistic talent. Draw a clown picture on a large piece of paper, and then tape the picture to a wall. One by one, each kid gets blindfolded and spun around with a sticker in hand. The winner is the person who puts the sticker closest to the clown's nose.


Bubbles mania. On that warm and slightly windy day, we gave each of the kids a little bubble container. Of course, anything involving kids and bubbles is sure to be a success. After the kids play independently, you can stand up on an elevated porch, ladder, or pickup truck and blow bubbles. Encourage the kids to pop all the bubbles before they touch the ground.


What frugal birthday games have you played that were a success?


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