With my older children I put lots of effort into their parties to make up for the lack of money spent. I planned and organized their birthdays like Julie the Love Boat cruise director.
(image from hallk.blogspot.com)
For example: When Boo turned six, she chose a Native American theme. She hand-decorated each invitation with a drawing of an Indian princess.
At the party, we made feathered headdresses, and beaded necklaces, went on a "bear hunt" and had a "papoose race." Also we played "rain dance" and I read a story complete with hand motions. The goody bags were also Native-American themed and designed to hold the crafts the children made. All of these things I created myself from dollar-store materials and a lot of time in the weeks leading up to the party.
But for the twins' fifth birthday last weekend, I didn't do any of that. I'm just too tired for that stuff these days.
Here are the preparations I made:
I rented a bouncy house. I made cupcakes. I invited every kid they know.
About twenty-five kids descended on my house and ran amok for two hours. They bounced in the inflatable castle, played in the dress-up chest, and enjoyed the twins' toys. They ate cupcakes and ice cream. They "assisted" with gift distribution and opening, and then happily played with all the new toys.
The place was utter chaos. Moms looked on in horror as I did nothing to corral the craziness. Julie from the Love Boat would have died of shame.
I think the kids had a great time, though.