This is a page for my domestic side. I love throwing children's parties, and I feel really accomplished when I can throw a good party without spending a fortune. So, on this page I'll offer some ideas I have used in the past. One idea for all parties... Don't spend a fortune on character dinnerware. Buy one item with the characters, say napkins, and the others (plates, cups, utensils) in matching colors. Any extras can be used at future parties because the colors always come around again.
Dora (or Diego) Theme
A pinata is great for a Dora party, and it's easy to make a backpack pinata for under $10. Because I made this one for a toddler party, I used pull strings to break it open instead of hitting it, but it could easily be adapted to make a regular pinata.
You will need a rectangular shipping box, some purple tissue paper (or orange to make Diego's backpack), a purple sheet of construction paper, white paper, markers, ribbon (cut one for each child attending & long enough for them to reach when the pinata is hung), scissors, glue, and duct tape.
Poke two holes in one of the shorter sides of the box, and insert a length of ribbon to hang the pinata. Tie the ends in a sturdy knot inside the box. Tape up the box, and cut off the two top corners at an angle. Use duct tape to cover the holes. Cut out three sides of a rectangle that will be the door on the bottom of backpack. Tape the ribbons to the outside of the door. Draw backpack's face (or print template from Nick Jr. and glue it to the front of the box: http://www.nickjr.com/printables/doras-backpack-map-template.jhtml). Tear the tissue paper into small pieces, crumple them, and glue them closely together until you cover the entire box. Tape the purple construction paper to one of the sides to make a pocket for map, and cover it with tissue paper. Use the template above to make the map and insert it in the pocket.
Once we had the pinata we were able to make the party revolve around it. I made a map that my daughter helped to decorate and we had a Dora adventure to find backpack. Using brown grocery bags, we cut "stepping stones" to make a path to follow. We made paper flowers out of tissue paper that I taped in a group to the floor, and hung a bunch of blue streamers to represent a waterfall. We had to go past the garden, through the waterfall, and that's how we got to backpack. Once we got there, the children opened the pinata. The props for the game doubled as decorations, and the candy and tattoos that filled the pinata were the party favors. We also played pin the bracelet on Dora, and Diego Says: Diego says "act like a bear, a dog, etc".
Sesame Street Theme
Strawberry Shortcake Theme
For decorations I found some Strawberry Shortcake posters (with stickers that could be prizes or favors) again in the $1 section of Target. I also printed a few picture from the internet to put all around. I also made a strawberry tablecloth by drawing black dots on red tablecloth and cutting an old green one into leaf shapes to tape in the middle. I was also lucky to find a lot of party favors (hats, party blowers, and bracelets) on Ebay for next to nothing.
Girls and Dolls Tea
I used two old tea sets (one mine, one my daughters) to set a picnic tea for the dolls. Then, we did three activities instead of games. The girls each started wherever she wanted to. We made food for the dolls out of clay, and they put on their dolls' plates. A friend made matching girl/doll purses for us out of some excess fabric and ribbon, and the girls decorated these with markers and stick-on gems (from Joann Fabrics with coupon only $2 for 100 gems). Finally, they made matching bracelets from pipe cleaner. I cut the ones for the dolls in half, and each girl picked two different colors in full and half sizes to twist together. Then, I did the final wrapping twist to hold them together.
Ice Skating Party
This one requires minimal work. We held it just after lunch, so the only food I worried about were pretzels & popcorn for snacks, fruit juice & sodas to drink, and cake & ice cream. Click the link above for more details.
More to come...