Party expenses for a preteen's birthday can add up and leave an imprint on a parent's wallet. If you're the parent of a child who's not quite a teen but definitely not a baby, consider planning a budget-friendly party for her this year. Several party games and activities can be altered to be less expensive for your budget.
Use Household Items
Household items that are readily available in your home or that can be purchased at a discount store can be used for tween games. Set up a table with household items, such as toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo. Let the birthday child be the first to select an item and make a silly 30 second commercial for the item in front of her friends. Encourage her to be as funny as possible to give others a good laugh. When she is finished, she will select the next person to do a commercial and so on. For a different game, let the tweens use inexpensive rolls of aluminum foil to create foil clothing attire for a runway fashion show.
Skip Candy Favors
Instead of giving out individual candy favors which can get quite costly, use one large candy bag for preteens to get treats. Pour a bag of individually colored candies into a large bowl. Let each preteen close her eyes and select two candies from the bowl. If she selects the same colored candies, she can eat them and is out of the game. If her candies are different, she can keep the candies but let her close her eyes again and give her another chance to select two matching candies. Continue playing until every preteen has two matching candies. Every preteen will have some candy to eat.
As another inexpensive game option, hide wrapped bubble gum around a dark room. Let the preteens use flashlights to search for the gum.
Make Party Food
The cost of the menu for a birthday party will be hefty to your pocketbook to satisfy the appetites of the preteens. In place of buying all the party foods, assign an ingredient from a recipe for each preteen to bring with her. All the ingredients will be used together as a fun party activity. The preteens will help create their own food. For example, if the food is pizza, just provide the dough and assign the preteen guests to bring the tomato sauce, shredded cheese and toppings. Give each teen a step to complete for the recipe such as sprinkling on the cheese or spreading on the sauce. For a party snack, have a popcorn bar and let each preteen bring an ingredient, such as nuts or candy. Provide the popcorn in paper bags and set out the ingredients with spoons for preteens to choose from to make their own snack mix.
Keep Crafts Frugal
Crafts are common activities for birthday parties and preteens are no exception. Find several plain inexpensive white t-shirts from a craft store or have each child bring one with him. Preteens can take turns using a set of fabric markers to create original designs on their shirts. Place a piece of cardboard in the shirts to keep the markers from bleeding to the other side. Let them model their completed t-shirts or have a contest for the most creative t-shirt. For a different craft, put old magazines laying around the house to good use. Let preteens create stickers. Let the preteens cut out the pictures they want to use for stickers. Simply mix together a package of unflavored gelatin and one-half cup of warm water in a bowl until the gelatin dissolves. Let the preteens use paintbrushes to brush the mixture on the back of the pictures. Allow the stickers to dry on foil. Preteens can lick the backs of the pictures to stick them on notebooks or folders.