Birthday Bash On A Budget

Throwing a birthday party for kids doesn't have to break the bank. Real Simple magazine editor Kris Connell stopped by The Early Show on Friday to share some great tips on organizing a children's birthday party that is fun, easy and inexpensive. It was the final installment in our week-long series, based on the magazine's special family issue.

Invitations:
Connell says store-bought invitations are fine — but if you want to have a little fun and get creative, consider using printouts of a digital photo. Write details of the party on a large piece of paper or poster board, have the birthday boy or girl pose with the paper and snap a digital photo. Then simply print out multiple copies of the photo and mail them in envelopes.

Games:
Some old-fashioned games, like the draw-a-face relay race, can be crowd pleasers.

Connell says you can tape two large pieces of poster board to a wall and draw a big head-shaped oval on each. Divide the children into two teams, line them up, and give the first person in each line a crayon or a thick marker. When you give the signal, the first person in each line runs to the wall and adds a facial feature — a mouth or hair, for instance — then races back, handing the marker to the next child in line. The first team to complete a face wins.

Another game is called "Pass The Parcel." Connell says wrap up some little trinkets, such as a Slinky or other age-appropriate item, in different layers. Continue until you have a big package with enough treats for all the children attending the party. At the party, play music and pass the parcel around. When the music stops, the child holding the parcel gets to unwrap a layer and keep what's there. Be sure to stop the music at the appropriate times so everyone gets a prize.

One game appropriate for kids age 4 to 6 is called "Mystery Bag." Simply put different objects, such as cotton balls, a little bit of clay or an avocado, inside a paper bag and pass it around. Let the kids guess what's inside the bag.

Cake And Ice Cream:
Once the candles have been blown out, there is often a mad dash for the birthday cake. Sheet cakes are fairly easy to slice and serve, but round cakes often present more of a challenge. Connell recommends an easy, quicker way to cut the cake. Try using a long, sharp knife to cut a smaller circle inside the larger one. Cut the outer ring into wedges, then cut the remaining, smaller cake as you normally would. Give the frosting-laden outer wedges to the kids, and interior pieces to adults. This method is easier and faster than trying to remove slivers from the cake, and will allow you to get more servings.

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