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Inexpensive 2 Yr Old Birthday Party Ideas WANTED

My daughter will turn 2 in April and I am looking for inexpensive party ideas. At this age you also have to entertain not only the kids, but the adults and it starts to add up. I am not opposed to doing the party at home, but it still gets pricey with all the food, drink, party games,or bouncer, goody bags. Any and all your suggestions are welcome.

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WOW!!!! What an overwhelming amount of ideas for all of you. I got great ideas and used many. We ended up having it at our house in the backyard. We had a bubble theme party. I bought a bubble machine at KB toys for $11.99 and borrowed another from a friend. We had the bubble machine going with blue and white balloons everywhere. I bought the balloons and then had them blown-up it was cheaper then getting the balloons already blown up. I bought bubble wrap at UPS for really cheap and laid that out on the ground for the kids to jump and pop on. We got a pinata and played hot potato. I gave bubble guns from KB $4.99 as the prize for winning the game. I bought suckers and bubbles at the Dollar Tree for 3 for a dollar and put those in clear baggies for the goody bags. I ordered pizza online the night before so I wouldn't have to remember the day of the party or try to guess what time to order it so it would be delivered on time. Got all the drinks at Smart and Final. We have a park behind our house so all the kids wanted to go there. The party went well, but I have to say I could of skipped everything, but the food if I just did the party at the park as some suggested. It would have been easier and cheaper!!!! Next year just pizza at the park for the party!!! Thanks for all of your suggestions.

Featured Answers

I have a suggestion for the gifts/goody bags-
we went to a party with a request for
"no gifts- please bring a new wrapped childrens's book and there will be a book exchange"

everyone brougth a book, and everyone went home with a book!!

I loved the idea- it eliminated that pile of plastic toys and candy that you always get in bday party goody bags!!

and do the bouncer if you have the space- it is the easiest, cheapest and most fun entertainment

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You can find inexpensive craft ideas at discountschoolsupplies.com. I bought some great crafts that were age appropriate and the kids loved it!

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I did my son's party at home and the most expensive part was the food (pizzas). What worked well that many friends told me they liked was I held it in the morning 9:30-11:30 so the kids would be in a good mood (including my own) and everyone left ready to nap.

For entertainment-I just put out a lot of different toys in the backyard and the house, and even with 20 kids everyone was entertained. Two year olds are so easy to entertain. I'd say don't spend money on a bouncer or games. I had out a table with crayons, borrowed a friend's slide and thing with balls, etc. The parents just had a good time playing with their kids. Good luck!

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If your daughter likes trains, I'd suggest having it at Travel Town. There is no fee to get in and the train ride is only $1.50 to $2.00 per person. There is lots for kids of various ages to do there. I didn't reserve one of the special party cars because there are plenty of picnic areas. I just got there about 10 minutes before they opened and grabbed my spot. I did pizza and salad which is one of the most inexpensive food options. You could also hold it mid-afternoon and then not need to do lunch food. - just snacks.

1 mom found this helpful

You can find inexpensive craft ideas at discountschoolsupplies.com. I bought some great crafts that were age appropriate and the kids loved it!

1 mom found this helpful

I have a suggestion for the gifts/goody bags-
we went to a party with a request for
"no gifts- please bring a new wrapped childrens's book and there will be a book exchange"

everyone brougth a book, and everyone went home with a book!!

I loved the idea- it eliminated that pile of plastic toys and candy that you always get in bday party goody bags!!

and do the bouncer if you have the space- it is the easiest, cheapest and most fun entertainment

1 mom found this helpful

Go with a potluck. Maybe you provide the drinks (try to filter your own water if you have one in a big pitcher to avoid expensive bottled water. you can float some orange slices to give it a flair) or make ice tea. try to have the party in the day to avoid a "meal time". I bought plastic headed fly swatters and cut holes in them and had a bowl of bubble solution and the kids loved making bubbles outside, but we live in Hawaii so it may be too cold for where you live? Go small on the number of people. good luck, relax & have fun!

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I love throwing parties for my daughter (she's also 2). Getting a theme is the first part...that way you can plan around it.

I usually do something simple for adults; wraps, sandwiches or a self-serve sandwich station. Then you can just offer veggies or fresh fruit. For kids, the food should be minimum...most kids don't eat at parties. You can make mini corndogs (from costco) or even just pb&j sandwiches; Here's a creative way to serve them...grab a piece of bread, slather peanut butter and jelly on one side, then roll. You can wrap them in cellophane and twist the ends so that it looks like a big piece of candy! I did this for my daughter's 2 year b-day party and it was a huge hit! and cheap! I also offered fresh fruit kebobs (keep it simple, grapes, canteloupe balls and banana) they look adorable and are also inexpensive. You can also serve goldfish crackers and such finger foods which kids love.

I like setting up stations based on the theme of the party. A sandbox, a painting station, a craft station, bubble station, face painting etc. Sidewalk chalk is a great too and inexpensive. You can get really creative and not spend a lot of money. You can even use your daughters own toys sometimes. 99 cent stores and Wal-mart are great stores to get little inexpensive goodies for these stations.

Goodie Bags:
I order my stuff from www.orientaltrading.com, they have inexpensive toys and goodies as well as goodiebags. You don't have to STUFF these bags. Usually 3 toys and 2 pieces of candy are enough...moms don't particularly appreciate candy filled goodie bags if you know what I mean!
A nice touch to these bags are labeling them with the kid's names...they love that!

You don't have to buy matching plates, cups etc. I think it's a waste of money. For instance if you're doing sesame street themed party...don't buy everything elmo and big bird. Instead buy inexpensive colored plates and cups that match the theme (red, yellow, bold colors). You can have some themed items like napkins or balloons etc.
I also use pictures to decorate...for instance my daughter's 2 year old party was "Little Einstein" theme...I made a big presentation poster filled with her "travel" pictures. Adults love going over and looking at the pictures and captions.

I also go on Google image search and save some pictures (that go with the theme) and I print them at Costco and hang them up or do something creative with them.

Anyway...I hope this helps!!

Mom of 2 1/2 year old and coming soon boy!

1 mom found this helpful

How about a teddy bear tea party? Invite the guests to bring a teddy friend. You can serve little sandwiches cut into cute shapes (use metal cookie cutters) and serve lemonade and iced tea. Another fun food to serve for this age (and through grade school) is rainbow toast. Provide each child with 3 or 4 "paints" made from food coloring and a little milk. Give each child a piece of bread and a few q-tips. The kids use this to paint the bread, then you put it in the toaster. (Try this with your daughter -- you might yourself making it very often!)

The party doesn't need to be more than 1 - 1.5 hrs for a 2 year old, so you don't need much to fill the time. Kids can make simple crafts with the help of their moms to take home and will double as party favors. Some of my favorites for that age were baker's clay creations (again, your cookie cutter will come in handy!), maccaroni necklaces (you can dye the dried pasta first with food coloring), and making musical instruments, such as bean-filled rattles or jingle bells on pipe cleaners, looped and twisted together. If you must have an entertainer, see if you can get a children's singer to do interactive songs and games with the kids. BTW, w/the baker's clay, you can have the moms help their little ones make hand and/or foot prints in the clay, then bake them to take home as a keepsake. This works very well in sculpey, too, and is more permanent, but also a bit more expensive.

If you really want to have a game (kids are still a bit young, though), provide each child with a flower pot or plastic pail of sand with a couple of little toys in it (like plastic dinosaurs, play jewelry or what every your daughter and her friends are into). The kids for dig for their personal treasures, which they can keep for party favors along with the pail and shovel (the dollar store is a great place to find this kind of stuff).

I found that cake at my kids' parties went mostly uneaten. Kids prefered ice cream. Another favorite was fruit "lollipops." Get out those cookie cutters again and use them to cut fruit into shapes which you can push onto a popsicle stick (get these at Michael's). Moms might appreciate that the snacks are healthy, too, and that their tots aren't ramped up on sugar for the rest of the afternoon!

Finish off with inexpensive paper products and maybe some streames if you have a place to hang them. I always had my kids' parties in the park, so no clean up was necessary at my house. I never spent more than $100 on a Bday party (saved up for the Bar and Bat Mitzvah that way!)

The most important thing about the party is: have fun and take lots of pictures! Try not to have so much going on that your daughter or her playmates are overwhelmed and end up spending most of the event crying.


1 mom found this helpful

What a great request. First of all, your daughter probably won't remember her 2nd party other than looking back at the pictures. If you feel the need to have a large party, schedule it between lunch and dinner and state "light refreshments will be served" (which would be chips/dips, vegies, appetizers and salads). If you serve kids drinks, you could use cheap sippy cups as their goody bag gift. Use a paint pen to write their names cutely on them. This way you can make big pitchers of lemonade, punch and tea for adults.

Perhaps hold it at a local park so the kids are entertained and all you have to do is have the light refreshments, one activity for the kids and cake. Parents will appreciate a quick party b/c we all have busy lives while at the same time will enjoy a brief celebration of your child's birthday.

At that age, kids usually enjoy stringing fruit loops on a string of yarn to make an edible necklace. Or oriental trading sells cheap ready-to-go- craft kits for various ages if you don't want to create your own. Instead of cake, the kids could decorate their own cookies with frosting and sprinkles. Think outside the Party City box.

Have premade thank yous made to hand out as the kids leave, perhaps enclose some cute age-appropriate stickers.

KEEP IT SIMPLE...if you choose to have a bouncer, this would be your biggest expense. You, as parents, choose whether a party gets out of hand financially or not. It's not a contest. It's a celebration of your child.

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Hi E.,
When my son turned 2 we got a clown (www.sparklestheclown.net) & she wore light makeup. It just so happened to be a freak storm weekend in September & the power went out, things went really bad, but the clown saved the party! All the kids & parents (suprisingly) loved her. We made sandwiches w/cookie cutters & a few people brought sides to go with the food I already made. I also made cupcakes for everyone.

1 mom found this helpful

My advice is to have both sets of grandparents over for dinner, have a birthday cake with lots of pictures of baby blowing out the two candles with surrounding loved ones, and enjoy the day as a family.

I had 3 children and decided early on that the year clipped along very quickly, and birthdays happen often. I decided on certain years that would be big parties, and the rest were just for our family.

Significant "party" birthday years for our kids were 1, 8, 12, and 16. This was much easier on the family budget, and in my opinion, gives kids a good sense that they are indeed special, but not so special that the whole world as they know it revolves around the day they were born every year.

Birthday celebrations can become complicated with needing to make each child feel as special as the other too, so I recommend to simplify as much as possible, and don't set trends that will be hard to keep up with . . . .for the child's future spouse as well.

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Don't put too much pressure on yourself! Your daughter will have a great time if you have the party at a park, let the kids run, climb and play, then serve cake and punch. There's no reason to provide a meal if you don't want to. Don't worry about entertaining (or impressing!) the other parents. They'll be fine just getting some time to talk to other adults.

I gave one of my children a crayon themed party when she turned 2. We put plain paper over the kids picnic table and let the kids color for a "structured" activity. We used crayon candles on the cake (cupcakes are great!) When present time came, as the birthday child opened gifts we handed out boxes of crayons and coloring books to the guests. It's also possible to wait and open presents after the party, since 2 year olds might have a difficult time if the presents were opened at the party.

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You should look into MYGYM they offer inexpensive party packages and provide all the games and entertainment in a safe, indoor and educational environment. You can usually order pizza through them, they should have a discount a with local pizza place. Then all you need to bring is the cake, maybe a couple of appetizers before the pizza, some drinks and giveaways. One inexpensive giveaway is crayons and coloring books, you can purchase them at Target and Walmart.
My daughter had her first birthday at MyGym and loved it while the older kids played along and the parents interacted with the children.

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We did my duaghter's 2nd bday at Cool Baby, unfortunately a crane fell on it a couple months ago so it's still closed. however, i recommend painting. We just went to LACMA boone children's museum. They can paint and color and glue and play with large squishy blocks. And it's totally free! doesn't get alot better than that. and then the goody bags are their artistic creations. You can't have food inside, but they have picnic tables right outside or you can migrate everyone to the huge grassy area nearby for food and cake. Good Luck!

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One party I went to had white T-Shirts in various kids sizes and paint pens and the kids made their own T-shirt designs to keep. That was theirs to keep. Also see if anybody has an old spin art device. That was a big hit at a party for kids under five. I have also seen parties where kids could play dress up and get their picture taken with one of those old Kodak cameras, but with digital stuff out their now, maybe someone could just print the digital pictures for you. That was a lot of fun with princess hats, scarves, boas, high heels and play jewelry. Also, make cupcakes. Easier to handle and cheeper! Have fun!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi E.,
Let me share from what I have learned: First and foremost, is that the kids are happy to be together. It matters much less to them than it does to us. I found that all the stress that I went through was so for nothing. I had parties in my backyard, and put on music, and put out some outdoor toys, and they were happy as could be. I've been to other parties where the same was true. Here are my suggestions:
Bring out a boom box and keep music playing all the time.
See if you can find someone who can lead the kids through some fun dances like the freeze dance. Perhaps a preschool teacher who'd like to make a few extra bucks, or a teenager.
Have some sort of craft activity.
Have tattoos. You can order them for really cheap from Oriental Trading Company online. Again, find a teenager, or even an elementary school kid (someone's older sibling?) to handle them. Pay them 5 bucks or so.
For food, basically, pizza, fruit, cheese cubes, goldfish crackers, and chips should suffice.
You can buy the food and cake at Costco.
I know how the guest count can add up for that age because of adults. Another thing I've realized is that basic food is just great with everyone. It is a kid's party, after all.
Oh -goodie bags. Target now sells lunch bags in solid white, and solid blue, so you get a package of 50 for $1.50. You can decorate them with stickers and markers (stickers at Oriental Trading).
You can buy little cans of Rose Art brand play doh at Michael's. They come out to about 20 cents each. Stickers are always popular. Oriental Trading is good for that kind of stuff.Oh, and you can add a fruit snack (the chewy ones that are sold on the cereal aisle). They come in all sorts of characters, and are cheap at Target.
Good luck!

Hi E.! On my website, www.SanDiegoBargainMama.com, I have a few articles that give suggestions of how to have very affordable parties for kids! Regards, S.

One thing I found that was fabulous is the website birthdayinabox.com. They have every sort of character/theme out there and all the pieces to the theme...prices are great and you can return things you ended up with surplus of.

For the children, interactive games, face painting (someone can volunteer to do this). Adults, have someone volunteer to bbq burgers & hotdogs, add macaroni or potatoe salad, precut veggies and fruit (Costco), fish crackers, chips and cupcakes to the mix, punch for the kids etc. 99cent store has great stuff for goodie bags & target has the 1.00 section of goodies too. Kids love crafts they can do and take home with them, so long as you have a few folks willing to help out it can be a great for parents to help out too so everyone gets involved, they can do a piñata together or paint a picture frame (you can buy them at Michaels or Ikea) then purchase rubber stamps, paints, glitter etc. If you have access to print picture right away they can take the picture too.

There is hope! I have a girlfriend who is QUEEN when it comes to fun and easy parties. She does a bouncer in the back yard, she did sandwiches with the crust cut off (peanut butter and jelly for the kids and turkey for the adults) served with chips (pre bagged from Costco.) She always does cupcakes homemade. I love her parties because it focuses on the kids playing together while adults get to chat and get to know eachother. No organized games - just social fun. Usually for a goodie bag she does a fast food gift card for each child. I found it very helpful when we were rushed one evening and needed a quick meal! We have also done the park barbeque and let the kids play on the play ground. Our guest gifts where reusable lunch bags (from Wal-Mart for .98 cents) and we put a hot dog, drink and bag of chips in there for each kid. We even put a punch balloon in there for a toy. That way when the guests showed up, the kids got to sit and eat right away allowing the parents to get a hambuger and eat it while it was still hot!! Easy and cheap. You can even have family help out to pot luck it.
Remember: simple truely is always best.
Good luck.

Just have the kids play with toys, maybe some musical instruments (so they can make noise).
Make a big deal about singing happy birthday. That's really all two year olds care about.
As far as food, I always have a "kiddie" snack table with cheerios, pieces of tangerine, cheese stciks and crackers.
HAve some more subtantanial food for the adults and make sure they have a place to sit. IT should be a great party!

Our daughter had a birthday party for our granddaughter when she turned 2 years old. Our granddaughter is now 3 1/2. They had the party at their home. My favorite part was our daughter and her husband blowing bubbles on the front lawn while all the two year olds were in front of them back a bit, watching the bubbles, trying to catch the bubbles, what ever each child wanted to do with the bubbles. It was fun and inexpensive.
Years ago we made bubbles out of dish washing soap. You can use that if you already have the circle wand and container to blow bubbles.
L. R.

Costco all the way and www.orientaltradingcompany.com for cheap favors.

Another option is having the birthday party BETWEEN lunch and dinner that way it's just snacks, cake, and drinks. I haven't actually tried this, but I keep threatening to (with rising costs of birthday parties).

chuckee cheese!!
I do not have to clean up after everybody is gone, there is plenty of fun stuff for the kids.

E., Have a Pinata for the kids and order the cake, platters and alcohol from Costco. They have really inexpensive cakes and platters that can feed quite a few people. You can also buy your own fruit and veggies and make platters with dip yourself. You can also get cheap crafts for the kids at 99 cent store, something to keep them busy!

I have learned from watching others that young children don't need birthday parties. My girls had their first party when they were 12 and were old enough to handle all of the excitement and the planning. For all of their previous birthdays we did something special as a family, whether it be a trip, a day at the beach, going to the movies, going bowling, or whatever. The most important thing is that we made the whole day special from start to finish and did not have the stress that comes with a birthday party in terms of planning, cleaning, shopping, etc. My girls have loved all of their birthdays without parties and then were happy to have a party this year when they were fully ready for all it entails. Good luck.

Hello there. How fun.......
My sister is also planning on her daughter's 1st Birthday Party. I suggested her to go to the Dollar Tree, they have great kids' party supplies.
I live in Palmdale, but love going to the .97 cent store in Santa Clarita (On Sierra Highway & Soledad)They are also incredibly stocked with all sorts of party supplies & if you are looking for a theme, they have it.... Give it a try.
Party World can end up costing an arm and a leg!!!!
Thanks & have fun at the party

cake and ice cream at the park . Also when they are turning 2 even just a few friends is a party for them . They enjoy the playtime with other kids . party supplies at biglots,and 99 cent store are cheap . Have fun .

Some parks will let you rent space for about $50. Or, if someone is willing to get up early, you could have them rope off an area for the party at a public park, and have a morning party from say 10-12:30. Then, if you get pizza, some fruit and vege trays possibly from Costco, and some cake, that shoud be more than enough food. For drinks, get soda and juice boxes. For the kids, bring sand toys for the sand, and have a craft available for them to make. You can also make musical intruments and have a small "circle time" while singing familiar songs. You cold take a large craft stick, punch a hole at the top, and tie a bell on with a bright color of ribbon. You could also have a coloring table set up with paper for the kids to create a picture. I hope this helps you.

It is very tempting to go with the rest of the crazy country and do this fabulous party for a two year old. My children now full grown have no memories of parties that I knocked myself out for and with added expensies I could not afford so you have to have a good think as this wee one does not have a clue and I would teach her what is truly important. FAMILY. Have the family over and if you cant afford to do all the food then ask for their help in preparing some dishes. Some balloons and a home made cake what could be better. You need your family ALL of your life so invest in that. Friends should admire you for not falling prey to "the expected" If they don't then their priorities are so misguided and they don't have you in their best interest.
I am now a grandma and every moment I can spend with my grandsons are precious and hope they never forget me as they will their parties. J. Parle

We had a party from 3pm to 5pm, so it was just snacks, not a full meal. We also got a sheet cake from Costco with no decoration on it, and one of the activities was to decorate the cake. I got sprinkles and icings from Smart n Final. Then, we asked the local fire department to swing by around 4pm. The kids (and the moms) went crazy. It was a great party.

Dear E.,

I am not so much a party person. I did big birthday parties for my kids when they turned one (when the babies really could not care less!!!) - I did silly things like roll 150 taquitos, and make my own pot of beans, Spanish rice, and guacamole. I tended to prefer to keep the party away from home, taking it to the park so the kids could run around and play, and I didn't have a huge mess to clean up afterward. At one point, we started inviting a few family friends to a place such as McDonald's where we could have lunch, then the kids could play (we were recently going through pictures and found many of these birthday parties.) I made and took my own cake. As the kids got older (school age), I let them invite a friend or two to go to the movies or some such thing with us rather than have a party. So much easier!

I know I wasn't much help for your party this year, and I'm sure you will get wonderful ideas form the other moms, but I do like the idea of going to the park. And when my friend has her son's party, (he's now 5) I always volunteer to bring something (it's usually potato salad - it's my "specialty") - is there anyone who can help out (time and money!) by bringing their specialty?

Good luck! and Have fun!

We had the same dilemma. We'd rather save the money for a birthday they really remember than throw a party for all the adults. At this age they don't have real friends yet, so think about making it a family thing. We had a potluck/family gathering for my son's 2nd. We have a huge family so there were more birthdays in that month to celebrate. I made cupcakes special for the kids, and we all sang happy birthday. A party can be very overwhelming for a toddler. This way, he wasn't too overstimulated. My husband and I took him to the zoo too. It was his first trip, very memorable and not too expensive. Now my daughter turns 2 in March and we're brainstorming on fun idea's she'll like, not the adults at a party. Also, if you are planning on having big parties for birthdays, think of investing in your own bounce house. The rentals add up and you'll save money in the end. I wish we'd done it sooner. Goody bags are overrated, go to the $1 store and get a few little things. Kids have fun with just about anything. I'd stay away from anything you wouldn't want your daughter having. Enjoy planning!

birthdaypartyideas.com is a great website. you can read what others did for a 2nd birthday and get some creative ideas. Good luck.

she's 2, not like her 1sr b-day where all the family members have to be there

take her and a playmate to the park and let the kids get dirty

if you have to have cake with everyone, do it after lunch before dinner with chips and dip or veggies sticks and don't go all out

if they want to do something big, let them, you don't need the stress. after all you are the mother of a 2 year old

hello, depending on the weather and were you live for my daughters second birthday we rented a snow cone machine which was only about $40.00 with the flavors and cups and just bought a little plastic pool for the kids to play in, they had a great time and it was a nice outdoor at home party, when present time came we brought them outside onto a blanket, if it's cold you could always do a popcorn machine (also pretty cheap) and maybe finger paint at a table in the garage, then each child will have something to take home to their parents. good luck

Why do you need a "prop" to give joy to a 2 yr. old? Are you just trying to keep up with what you suppose the "neighbors might think?
Make a cake, buy some balloons, if the weather is nice, go outside-- if your house is too small, go to a park, put a tablecloth on the ground if no table available. Play ring-around the rosie, or London bridges, --even two year olds can follow the leader somewhat-- laugh and enjoy the age. Food? simple hot dogs, or carrot sticks and celery. Don't forget ice cream or jello-- that's enough.

If there is a "Little Ceasars" near you their pizza is $5 for a large cheese pizza (no delivery).
Have it at your home. Keep the guest list down. Get goody bag stuffers from the 99 cent store.
Games: pin the tail on the donkey and duck duck goose

Hi There...
Some ways to cut costs are to just have a large jug of lemonade instead of juice boxes and soda...for food...buy $5. Little Caesers pizza and for a fun craft...buy a bag of smooth, round rocks from home depot garden dept. and paint them and have stuff to glue on them that fits your theme. also you can buy "themed" plates and napkins and then buy the cheaper solid color plates and table cloths, blowers etc... to accent the 'themed' stuff instead of buying all the 'themed' stuff.

For activities...a bubble machine is a big hit with 2 year olds....or buy a parachute (not expensive at Lakeshore learning teacher store) and play games with the parachute by bouncing a stuffed animal on it...etc...
hope this helps

For my daughter's 2nd birthday a week ago, we did a pajama party, based on the book Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton. We hung sheets around the room to look like a fort, we spread blankets and pillows on the floor and asked everyone to wear pajamas. We played kids DVDs. I invited four other girls from 1.5 to 4 years old, and their Moms. No one seemed offended that men weren't invited, and it was an easy way to keep the numbers down. We served mini-bagel pizzas, dino-shaped chicken nuggets, apples with yogurt for dipping, and made cupcakes they could decorate themselves. (Cupcakes were baked in ice cream cones, which makes them very easy to hold.) Kids had juice and milk, Moms had "adult beverages." One Mom brought a dish (fingerling potatoes with bacon, gargonzola and herbs), so that was a nice adult touch. Our gift bags included toothbrushes (2 for 97 cents from W-mart), kids toothpaste, Dora bubbles (4 for approx. $3), a teddybear from the dollar store, and fleece blankets. My mom purchased fleece material and cut blankets for the girls with matching blankets for their bears. She cut "fringe" on the ends to make it look finished. (Hint, the girls liked the cats and the ballerinas better than the dolphins, but no surprise there.)

Feedback from the Moms was, "This is great--it's so relaxing just to sit around in your PJs!"

Also check playhousedisney.com, cuz they have tons of party games you can download, themed according to their shows. (I'm thinking of doing a Bunnytown party near Easter.)

Expect chaos, don't stress, have fun!

About me: Single mom with 2 year old living on Kauai.

Hi E.;

I will let you know about me. I have four children and stay home mom. My eldest daughter is 25 yrs old and married, had 18 mths old daughter. My 21 yrs old son lived and studied in NY with Video and Game Designer, my 16 yrs old is Junior College, my 14 yrs old son is freshman in High School, involved in Marching Band, Boy Scout, played 5 musical instruments. My two daughter's are also played 5 musical instruments and my 21 played one musical instrument but he is the artistist in the family. If you wanted to have an inexpensive party for your 2 yrs old daughter, you needed to be a practical because she is only 2 yrs old. In fact, having a party in the house is cheaper than having a party outside the house. I like to have my children party at home than somewhere else because it is cheaper and everybody enjoy the atmoshphere at home than commercial places. You can be also creative by doing all the stuff by yourself, all you have to do is buy some of things you needed for your party like party favors. Buy some brown bag from smart & final then decorated it and tie it with colorful ribbon. It is a party favor already. You can buy a ballon and blow it up with yourself and tie some string to it and spread it in the chairs,table. You can make your own drink by mixing different fruits drink with vanilla ice cream and slices of oranges. If you know how to cook, then cook some healthy and delicious food instead of buying from the restaurant or cater which is much more expensive. I love to cook and entertain. Make two main and heavy dishes for your adults guests and for the children, if you know how to bake a cake or cup cakes then you may do so. Kids only like to eat cake,ice cream, chips,pizza and fruits slice,drinks. With games you can also create your games according to the age of your guests. Good luck and have fun.


Hi! I always had as many years as my child was that was how many I invited to the get together that way at the young age I too got to enjoy the party and rest because taking care of a toddler is no easy relaxing job and my young one was not overwhelmed by too many friends and she had a good time with two good friends to play with and at that young age separating their attention between the two was all she could handle at the time, We had a relaxing time at our home with a play room, great pictures for her baby book and me to enjoy till this day, cake, and ice cream after I fixed her favor et food of mashed pot, sweet cream styled corn and a roast to chew on with green peas for color. I enjoyed talking with the other two mothers while we watched our little ones interact. God bless.

I did everything I possibly could to simplify my life and I didn't have big party celebrations for my kids until they started asking for them. The only celebrations I did for my young kids were with family and it was basically cake and ice cream...very simple.

Good Morning E.,
Those birthday parties can get really expensive. As the mom of three, I can tell you the pressure from other parties can also make it hard as they get older. My survival and how to help my children enjoy and learn about celebration goes like this: As youngters, your childs age, we had family parties. As they become more social we don't invite the whole class. Instead we look for who they would like to include in their special day. They can invite one child per year of age they are. For example: five children when they are five. The party is held after lunch so we can have healthy snacks like cut up orange slices, and mixed nuts and veggie trays all of which you can make up and keep cost down. Then cake will be the main event. I like parents to be part of the celebration if they want to be included, but I don't make different food for them. This is my childs celebration, not a adult party. As far as goody bags go, I try to find one really fun thing and put them in a nice basket then have my child give them out before the guest go home. Some years we make the little "give a way," My idea is to make is something to remember the party, not a bunch of plastic throw away things that you get from the party online store. They do have some good stuff, but most of it is junk! I believe in nurturing friendships not stuff getting. Having a bounce house with minimal children makes it more fun anyway. The children aren't thrown into a frenzy rather they can spend some time building friendships and that's what I want for their future too.
Good luck. Remember if you're not stressed out and can bring joy and playfulness into the day, no-one will go home disappointed. Be the blessing.

I live in Hawaii and we all do pot luck. Meaning everyone brings a dish to the Bday party.
You just provide cake and drink and maybe the BBQ
Also only invite people with kids that are close to your child.

Another way which was good. Offer only finger food which is cheaper to make and less time to prepare.
Good luck

April is a nice time for a party in the park. Entertainment is built in. Some park shelters can even be reserved if you are worried about getting the space. Don't worry about going overboard on food. You don't have to do a meal, but if you want to, pizza is an easy and inexpensive option. Try a cake from Costco (they are good) and get some waters and juice boxes and you are all set. Good luck, and have fun!

pick an non-lunch time. Serve child only snacks, goldfish, fresh fruit slices, string cheese. Have simple games - ring around the rosey, hokey pokey, pin the tail on the donkey. Have your birthday cake and ice cream, present opening, party favors simple, even make it a little craft that the children do, or a DollarTree stuffed animal. Simplify! As a mother of 6 I have had many parties, and been to many parties, and I think we need to enjoy one anothers company instead of the activity

Since it is April and the weather is soo unpredictable you will probably want an indoor event. Have you considered a paghetti dinner?? You can play pin the tail on the donkey, make fruit loop necklaces, have cake and goodie bags. It's inexpensive and fun.

We had our 2 year old's party at a local park (so we opted for a Sunday to keep it from being too busy). This way, we didn't have to have any party games/prizes - all of the kids (ranging in age from 1 to 13) had a great time playing on the playground! We had it at 2:00, so we weren't expected to provide lunch - just fruit salad, chips, and cake... plus, since it was at a park, no one expected any wine/beer (which some of my friends do expect at birthday parties surprisingly and really adds up!) And I kept the goodie bags light - just a couple cute little things that I picked up at Party City (which, surprisingly, is very inexpensive!)

Anyways, it could have been a nightmare as far as expenses go (especially since literally EVERY person that we invited came and we ended up with about 25 people!), but the park idea really worked. We're doing it again for #3 this year!

We had a magician come to our second daughter's 1st birthday. He was totally entertaining for everyone (adults, little kids and older siblings). It cost us about $175 for 1-1/2 hr entertainment and we had everyone bring something to bbq for their family. That way we just had to supply snacks and drinks. Plenty of friends volunteered to bring apps and snacks too. Spread the tasks out, people like to bring things to the party and then you give them this totally fun entertainment. The guy we got was so fantastic, our friends all got his card and they still talk about it (my daughter is now 2). Have fun!

My daughter is also turning two soon. Unless you have older kids and there will be older kids, you probably don't need a bouncer. At my son's 4th birthday we had a bouncer and the kids didn't really use it that much, they were all more interested in my son's toys than the bouncer. I have done Subway party subs for several of my kids birthday, and that works great. I usually have them do half with the works, and the other half just turkey, cheese, mayo for the kids. They run about $65, and I have had 40 people eat and still have left overs. I usually make a few salads for the parents too, and buy snack bags of chips and sodas/juice/water at Costco and feed everyone for under $100. Another idea I have done is brunch, and have the birthday at 10 am. I got donuts, bagels and cream cheese, fruit, made some muffins, and some egg casseroles, and it was SUPER cheap. The other clever party I went to was also in the morning (around 10) at the Balboa Park Carousel or train. The tickets per ride are fairly cheap ($1.50 or $2.00) you can buy everyone one ride, and then have a picnic with pb&j and cake. My mother-in-law always marvels at our generation and how we feed full meals to kids and parents. She was saying when we were kids birthday parties were cake and punch, no meals. I like that plan! Good luck!

I did my son's party at home and the most expensive part was the food (pizzas). What worked well that many friends told me they liked was I held it in the morning 9:30-11:30 so the kids would be in a good mood (including my own) and everyone left ready to nap.

For entertainment-I just put out a lot of different toys in the backyard and the house, and even with 20 kids everyone was entertained. Two year olds are so easy to entertain. I'd say don't spend money on a bouncer or games. I had out a table with crayons, borrowed a friend's slide and thing with balls, etc. The parents just had a good time playing with their kids. Good luck!

Aloha E.!

My daughter just turned 2 at the end of january and my baby turned 1 in mid december.....also, my fiance and i are getting married in may!!! so, i know how it feels to look for a bargain! I don't know where you live, but we went to a beach park. The fiance and I went down early in the morning and borrowed some poles and tarp from the in laws and set it up. We decided on a potluck.....close family and friends.....about 50+ people. Everyone brought something to eat and some gifts. It was a real easy day. We brought the grill, some meat and a cooler of drinks. We didnt even ask for certain dishes....but it all worked out well. The outdoors and beach are game and entertainment enough for the children. We brought some blankets and a radio for easy listening and it was all good! ......Hope this helps....you could do the same at a local park or in your back yard too! Just set up a pool for the kids.....Thats how we do it Hawaiian style!


A Little about me: Mother of 1 & 2 year old girls, wife-to-be real soon!

you can try a "movie party" and rent a movie for the kids to watch. that would take up about 90 minutes or so and then afterward just have cake. most parties are only 2 hours so the timing would be good. you could also have it earlier in the day, like 10am so that way you don't have to have a full lunch, just some snacks for the kids. i went to a kid's party and the mom just made a big pot of soup (it was a cold day) and snacks for the kids. you could also combine an activity and the goodie bag by having them make some sort of craft like a paper hat or puppet or book mark and then that would be their gift to take home. my best advice is to have fun with it, not stress. don't worry about entertaining the adults, it's just a time for the kids to play together and have fun.

good luck.


For my first daughter, we had a party at Chuck E Cheeses. I saved so many coupons, and my family brought me their stash of coupons. For a party of 40 people, we spent less than 200 bucks. We all had a great time. We got lots of tokens especially with the 10 dollar coupon.

And this year for my other daughter, we are having a party at the park, there is the playground, and we are having sandwiches and pizzas. (Mamma mia 5 dollar medium pizzas from pizza Hut, cant beat that.)

Good luck.

first of all its NEVER about the adults they can entertain themselves. why not chucky cheese they can do all that stuff for you? or peter pipers they're less though not as glitzy as chucky cheese.

We skipped parties when my daughter was 2 and 3. She had no idea she was missing anything! Then for her 4th, when she was old enough to want one and appreciate it, I did an "afternoon tea" in our backyard. I planned it for 2:00-4:00 so it would be clearly after lunch and before dinner. I had some drinks and a tray of cookies for the parents and it helped keep the cost low. So if you do go ahead with a party, my advice would be to avoid meal times altogether. And remember that kids that little don't need much entertainment, so don't overspend and over plan because you don't need to — they'll just run around and be happy to see eachother!

Why don't you do a Princess themed party? Borrow a few princess costumes, set them out on a makeshift clothes rack, set out some hair accessories and jewelry, get the play shoes, and there you go. My cousin did this for her little girl, and she just invited 3 kids and thier moms and that was it. The kids had a blast, and it was a small enough affair that her daughter wasn't overwhelmed with the party.

Having a 9 year old and looking back on all those expensive parties I wish I would have done something different. The kids are too little for goody bags and a container of bubbles with a big bow is sure to please them. Don't do the party at meal time and then there is no expectation of a meal. Have a bowl of gold fish crackers, etc. The party is really for the kids. I had a friend who got a bunch of plastic pools and water toys and the kids played in the water together for a couple hours. Keep your focus on the kids (not the adults) and you can make it happen. Good luck!

Hi E.,

Just a quick response. For a child's birthday, it is recommended that you invite as many children as the child's age. That's because they get totally overwhelmed if you overdo it. If you want more children than 2-ok but it is not your job to entertain their parents. Instead have some age appropriate activities like a small exercise trampoline, some pillows and a mattress (covered of course) to make a soft play area and some toddler appropriate activities, children's musical instruments and scarves for dancing, a bin of water (2-3 inches deep) with some shells and perhaps plastic marine animals (larger than 3 inches for safety reasons), paper and perhaps some chocolate pudding to do finger painting. Warn the parents that this event will delight the children but be MESSY. It will be best if they wear play clothes and, if they feel the need to bring a change of party clothes for after they cleaned up, do so. The parents will need to supervise so they won't need a lot of entertainment. The children will have a blast and it is vital to remember that this is a 2 year olds party and the only ones you need to please is the children. Simple foods like pizza cut into tiny bits for kids, will still please adults, small bites of veggies and Hidden Valley dip and a salad is all you need. Put kids music on and encourage dancing with instruments and scarves, then let play jump and climb on trampoline,etc and then do the finger painting. Save the water play for last because it will help them get cleaned up a little for the cake portion of party. Remember toddlers put everything in their mouths so don't be shocked if they drink the water in the water tub etc. I would have enough toys so if someone is mouthing them, pull them and replace so don't share too many germs. Good luck and remember- this is for your child's enjoyment. If you do too much with too many people, your daughter will just get exhausted and fall apart. A good party favor could be sturdy straws with a paper star attached to the top and some ribbons hanging down for a fairy wand.


I work with preschoolers and toddlers.

We don't throw major birthday parties until the kids ask for a party. We usually have dinner and then cake after we open presents. It lasts about 2+ hours. Parties for kids are so overdone and it's nice to just relax with the people who love your child. I, personally, hate being invited to a small child's birthday party - it fels more obligatory with all of the hooplah, so this way - it just a small group of family members and maybe a friend or 2. People come, enjoy each other's company and get to go home...like the good old days.

We had a dinner party at home for my daughter's 1st birthday. I made spaghetti, salad and garlic bread. It was fairly inexpensive and we had about 35 people there.
We only bought her a cake and we had pumpkin pie for dinner (we'd had my son's 12th earlier that day so cake twice wasn't too appealing)
For my son's party, we had a scavenger hunt and then we ended up at a park. I found a local band on Craig's list wanting to promote themselves so they played for free. I only had to buy the goodie bags, cake and the noise permit for the band ($25)
Anyhow, hope it helps!

we're having an at home party, and it's getting out of hand already... I wish (but I've already send out invites) that I kept it simply, park and cupcakes... last year we had his party at The Little Gym, I think in the end, it was cheaper and NO CLEANUP!

Good luck!

Hi E., in my opinion I don't care for the bouncers I have seen many kids injuried in them, the younger they are the more Ihave seen them get hurt, at two years old they have no control how they bounce and end up bouncing into each others heads. The 99 cents store located all over Calif has tons of party decorations, I bought a sesame street table cloth cut the charators out of it, and glued them on a back of some construction paper and used them as tape the earnie on the wall. Each kid was rewared with a 8 inch 99 cent colorful ball, they loved to play with, as far as the food goes, I went to cost co ordered a cake, with some vanilla ice cream. I put out a plate of chips * veggies with dip made some ice tea, with some fruit punch and that was it. A party for kids that small should not last no longer than 2 hrs .

I know what it's like to only have so much money for a BDay party.
I have had 2 of my son's Birthday Parties at local pizza parlors.
They usually offer party packages with pizza, salad, and pitchers of soda or beer.
That way if your guests would like something that you aren't providing they can go and order it for themselves and you don't pay for it.
Another great thing about pizza parlors, is that there are usually games for the kids to play.
It really is a great place to balance out entertainment for both children and adults.
Hope this helps you!

We went through the same thing last year. We decided that she could have two or three of the girls that she seems to have a connection with at her preschool. We had it at the park with Costco pizza. The park equipment seemed to be a great thing. Very inexpensive but you could also just invite a few over to your home and have cupcakes. Very simple. Don't ever feel like you have to do what ever the other moms are doing. They get kind of crazy here in San Diego.

Hi E.,
I just want to give you a great website for birthday party ideas. www.birthdaypartyideas.com I have used them for all of my kids birthdays, there is just a wealth of information written in by other moms who have thrown the parties. Just relax and have fun, and don't forget to take lots of pictures because your daughter is only going to be 2 once in her life.


A. Nichols
Work At Home United
Personal Mentor, Mommy of 3

Believe it or not Chuck E Cheese was the least expensive party I have ever thrown. My daughter is almost seven and I just refused to do Chuck E Cheese in the past. I did parks, clubhouses, pool party, even a party at the Sant Ana Zoo and everyone ended up costing a fortune. I would say I have spent upto $500 on food and facility rentals. This past Ocotber my son was turning two and I had so much going so I have no time to plan a party or prepare for it. Reluctantly, I decided on Chuck E Cheese. Oh my gosh, it was so cheap. We had about 10 or 11 kids and 14 adults. I provided, pizza drinks and tokens for kids and adults, I even ordered two cakes. The only thing I brought myself were the party favors. The total bill was $168.00. An added bonus was that I had absolutely no clean up. One tip for you is to look on their website for coupons for the adult food and drinks. The coupons really helped keep the price down and added extra tokens at no cost. Good Luck.

I use Familyfun.com for most of my party games and decorating ideas. You can find alot of craft ideas that the kids can do with their parents. And the website has everything by age group too! A party bouncer will be expensive but the kids will be completely occupied! You may not be able to get them out to eat! As for the parents, just feed them. A 2 year old party should be no more than 2-3 hours.

Hi E.,

Go get the Rachel Ray magazine on stands now! There are really cute party ideas for all the kids food-wise. They have a jumbo cupcake, milkshake and nacho ideas. You could have a "jumbo" theme and think of other things as well. I would google it to see what else comes up that's inexpensive. Start saving your Michael's 40% off coupons from the Sunday paper because those could really come in handy!

Dear E.,

For goodness sake, don't do the bouncer. It isn't safe for 2 year olds, and it isn't necessary. Having the party at the park is a lot more fun and healthier and cheaper and better. Just do a low key one. Be a trend setter, all of this hoop ta da is a lot of made up stuff and doesn't bring happiness. Closeness with friends and relatives is much more rewarding, and the pictures taken are priceless...as they say, truly. So buy extra cameras and develop the pics and send some to each child that was at the party. With the date and occasion written on the back. Now that is priceless too.

C. N. (76 years old and cranky with all of this spending money when things are getting hard for many families in this country, and around the world.....think ! )

One of my friends did a Maggie Moo's party. It was short,but sweet! Everyone got ice cream. Maggie the cow came to visit. And everyone got little goodie bags with another coupon for ice cream...and a few other things.

E., please don't buy into keeping up with... well, whichever people we all think we need to keep up with. A space outdoors, a bubble machine, some simple food, mabe music and a craft or something is great fun. I've even considered buying a play parachute. It may be a little expensive but my kids love them. Greg and Steve have a few children's cds that are fun for parachute games.

As for the adults most of the ones I know are most interested in enjoying their kids or hanging out with other adults. What ever you end up doing you'll have freinds and family there. Have fun!

Hi E.! I also think it's kind of hard to plan 2 yr old parties...sometimes it's hard to pick a theme and the child doesn't have an opinion at that age as to what they want exactly. Anyway, I really feel like kids birthday parties are just that.....kids parties. I don't feel the need to "entertain" the adults. The party is for your child and she needs to feel special on her day. I've been at several kids birthday parties that end up being "adult parties" and the child gets lost in the craziness as does the message that it's her birthday. Not my thing, but everyone is different. To make it more of a kids party, you can limit the timeframe- invitations say from 11-2 or 2-5, whatever. 3 hrs is plenty of time for 2 yr olds and many still nap, so limiting the time is actually nice for everyone. You can do an early party with breakfast/brunch- juice, fruit, bagels or an afternoon with pizza and fruit. Adults can eat all of these foods (and really, the party isn't for them). Party favors can get expensive, but the website orientaltradingcompany.com has GREAT deals, also party theme ideas, party supplies, favors, etc... 99 cent store is good too, especially for 2 year olds. There's lots of great suggestions for activites in other responses. It also depends on how old the invited kids are too, that makes it a little more tricky, I think. Keeping the kids busy. But, if it's mostly 2 yr olds, keep it simple!

Curious of some of the ideas you were receiving. Thanks

I had about 20 kids under 5 at my son's 1 yr. old and I was afraid that my original plan (which by the way, is also cheap and fun!) of playing in the sprinkers and 2 baby pools (just a little water in each) would be ruined by rain. Sure enough, it was too muddy to run around in the sprinklers but I had also planned for the kids to decorate their own individual cakes. You could do cupcakes as well, but I had a train theme and had purchased a Nordicware cake pan that made 9 little mini trains. I did a couple of batches of duncan hines and then made a train track out of black licorice, posterboard, icing and green sprinkles for grass. Each kid got to take a train off the track and decorate it (I pre-piped icing into snack size ziplocs and pre-bagged candies into snack bags too). It saved the rainy day problem as the kids got to play with their food and then eat it :) I got mini train whistles from oriental trading company online and paper conductor hats. I didn't do a lot of party favors because by the end of the party, your $100 worth of party favors are usually trashed on the floor and then thrown away. So I only wanted to spend a little bit on one or two throwaways and then something indestructible. Parents have told me that their kids LOVED the wooden whistles and still play with them today. Hope that helps!

Well, I don't know if you'd be interested but... you could do it during the week from say 9:00 - 11:00. That way, you'd only have to offer bagels / donuts and perhaps only one parent per child. Or from 2-4 when it's snack time. And these times are probably better than the lunch hour when many two year olds are napping.

Also, instead of big goodie bags with a bunch of stuff parents toss when they get home, try a book. You can find them pretty inexpensively and the kids will get more use out of them.

For two year olds, you don't need to spend much money. Have stations set up with things you already have. You can have a play-doh station in the kitchen or on the patio, a bean bag toss in one area, a reading corner, things like that and encourage the kids to rotate. Or better yet, have it at a park and you already have a couple of built in stations.

I think parents sometimes make the parties for other adults instead of what the little tykes like and it really can be inexpensive.
Good luck!

Agree with all the fab suggestions that it need not be any big deal. Just family and nice memories - some decorations, games and photos. A couple extra kids.
Parents drive themselves mad over stuff the kids could care less about!!
Have great time.

It is so easy to get carried away with birthday parties. Remember it is for her and she is only 2. KEEP IT SIMPLE! If she goes to school, send cookies or cupcakes. AT home, family and if she has a couple of playmates then invite them. Don't go crazy - she will prefer to have the freedom to run and play her own way. My grandson loved going to the park. HE was able to run and play on the equipment, and the adults brought their own chairs and were able to relax and talk more. WE BBQ'd hotdogs and burgers, but a sandwich platter would work just as well.

Have fun and enjoy. Save the jumper for when she is 5!

I don't know where you live but we took my 2 year old daughter to Adventure City in Stanton (near Buena Park) and she loved it! Very inexpensive admission prices.

At this age all you need is friends at the park or your house and a cake or cupcakes. Hold the party in the afternoon right after nap and before dinner. Provide coffee and a light snack for the grown ups, juice and fishy crackers and raisins for the kiddos. Forget the bouncer, games and goodie bags. I have a 5, 4, and 3 year old and have never given out goodies bags or rented a bouncer and people love our parties. If you go to a park, the playground structures are entertainment enough, if you end up at home, then the toys are as well. You could play music for dancing to as the activity, how cute to see a bunch of toddlers dancing around! You could also provide a "coloring station" with simple paper and crayons. Decorate with balloons and give one to each child to take home rather then a goodie bag.

Hi E.,
I just got done with my sons second birthday party in October and every one there had a blast- at least from what I was told (but some of the moms actually asked me to plan their childs next birthday party, so I'm guessing it was a big hit.) For the games, I had a bouncy, which we all know is the best thing in the world. I also had a big Sesame Street (that was our theme) wall hanging thing (I got it at Party City) and had the kids stand in front of it and took their picture with a polaroid and then had a table set up for them to decorate foam frames to take home with them. It turned out that the parents had a much better time decorating the frames then the kids as all the kids rushed back to the bouncy after taking their pictures =) lol... I also ordered those sports cup with the straws for each kid from Oriental Trading, and you could decorate them. So each kid got to decorate their own cup to use for the day. I had a pinata, which is always fun and instead of filling with candy, I bought a few little toys (like little rulers, yo-yos, bouncy balls) and fruit snacks. For the goody bags, I bought small activity books and crayons, I put a few pieces of candy in that, like little bags of m&m's and then the kids got to take home their cups and their pictures. For food, I volunteered my brother in law to bbq for us =) lol and had hot dogs and hamburgers, with a few salads and a fruit/veggie tray (Sams club and Costco are the best places to shop). It was a really fun day and not that expensive. Oriental Trading has great fun, inexpensive craft kits for activities, also Birthday Express has some great ideas and party supplies. I hope this helps and Happy Birthday to your little girl!
Take Care,

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