Kids Party Ideas: At Home & On A Budget

Birthdays are a big deal to some while others think it’s just a regular day. In our house, we like a good ‘ol party to celebrate 365 days around the sun, so here’s a rundown of what happened on Zara’s fifth birthday since the original Uma-themed bash went flying out of the window.

Ps. I should start this post with a disclaimer. In true mom-form, I was too busy making sure my new five-year-old had the time of her life to take decent pictures! This is definitely something I would hire out to a professional if you’re trying to capture memories like that. You already have so much to do when planning a kids party. There are some highlights linked at the very bottom of this post.

Why was Zara’s party cancelled?

Zara got into a little bit of trouble at school two weeks before her birthday and a canceled birthday party was part of her consequences.

Although we canceled the party, we still wanted to celebrate her in an intimate way. I  was worried that I would be scarring her for life by forgoing the huge party (because everyone else is having one). But with some serendipitous action, she got the celebration she wanted in the end.

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Instead of a huge party, I scaled back and executed the original theme which was all things Uma! Uma is from the Descendants 2 movie if you weren’t aware.

After seeing how much fun she had with the people who she cared about, I realized that this was the better plan anyway. Now that I have learned that lesson, here are my tips on planning an intimate and meaningful kids party.

  1. If there is a theme, instead of buying a mountain of themed decor,  just order a costume for your kid to wear. We ordered Zara’s “Uma” costume from Amazon and she could not get over herself. Something tells me that wearing that costume all day meant more to her than any of the little kitschy themed decorations I would have ordered for a big kids party.
  2. You could order a cake but homemade cupcakes decorated by the birthday boy/girl go down as a treat. Zara actually went on Youtube and wanted to try a cookie cupcake recipe she found. We watched it with her and decided “ain’t nobody got time for all of those steps”. We made regular vanilla cupcakes with frosting and decorated with store-bought vanilla wafer cookies decorated with guess what? More frosting! When it was time to sing the Happy Birthday song, we just put a candle on one of the cupcakes and let her have her moment. She was beaming!
  3. Stay home instead of bending over backwards to find a kid-friendly venue which is probably going to be loud and noisy anyway. If you’re always home and want to make it special  – you could pack up your party and visit your favorite picnic spot.
  4. Invite his/her bestie. As a surprise to Zara, we invited her best friend to join in on the fun at home. It was our favorite moment of the evening! She even wore a Descendants 2 costume. This was much better than hosting a big party and entertaining tons of kids AND their parents.
  5. Order or make their favorite meal. We asked Zara what she wanted to eat and got it for her. In this case, she wanted pizza. Easy! Zara and her bestie enjoyed having a private pizza party on the patio playing their music of choice.  We chose The Descendants 2 soundtrack to incorporate all things Uma.

I didn’t grasp it fully at the time but Zara was having the time of her life. Not once did she mention missing out on anything. We were able to focus on what she wanted and had enough money leftover to for extra goodies on her birthday wish list.

To complete the celebrations, there were a few activities but mostly they just played in Zara’s room, sang their hearts out to their favorite songs, decorated cupcakes and colored together. You can easily put on their favorite movie, make some popcorn or have a small ice cream party. The possibilities are endless.

We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves as parents to have these elaborate events to celebrate milestones – (5 is big deal! ) – but really kids just want to have the most fun with their favorite people. We are the ones that spend way too much time trying to make these grand gestures that 5 year olds care nothing about!

Save your coins girl!


Of course, there are times when a huge celebration is in order but if we choose them wisely, the kids will appreciate them much more.

How do you celebrate milestones in your family? What birthday traditions do you have?

P.S. To check out some highlights from Zara’s Big 5, check out Zavi & Zara’s Instagram account and click on #Zaraturns5 in the profile highlights. Click here

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