Easy Breezy Party Decorations

Parents and Kids Magazine
June 2011

View PDF of original article here.

Your child’s birthday is fast approaching – so much to do; so little time. In addition to mailing out invitations and planning a menu, you also have to consider party decorations. A parent can spend a small fortune purchasing banners, streamers, table decorations, and matching plates and napkins. However, with a little pre-party planning and creativity, you can create most of your party decorations yourself for a fraction of the cost.

Kids love any excuse to play with construction paper and glue. So why not enlist their help along with their friends? Spread out some old newspapers and have an impromptu arts and crafts session right in the middle of your kitchen. Consider buying a roll of butcher or craft paper at your local office supply store and have the kids create their own “Happy Birthday!” banner. You can also cut out letters from magazines or newspapers, enlarge them using a scanner or color copier, and have the kids glue the letters to colored paper. You can then help them string the letters using kitchen twine or yarn to create a unique whimsical banner. Not only will the kids have a blast making the decorations, but they will be thrilled when they see all their hard work on display during the party.

Balloons are a cheap way to decorate a room with a lot of impact. Rather than tying a few balloons here-and-there around a room, buy them in bulk and tie them together in groups. A balloon border around the perimeter of the room will certainly make an impression. Again, enlist the help of a few volunteers or dig out your old basketball pump so you aren’t stuck blowing all those balloons up yourself.

Table decorations could not be easier to make. Buy a few plain white paper tablecloths and have the kids decorate it with crayons, magic markers, or scraps of paper. Another idea is to save the comic section from your newspaper and tape the pieces end to end to fit the table. If you have any old flower pots collecting dust in your garage, consider using them to create a candy topiary for a centerpiece.

Candy Topiary:

  • 7-inch flower pot
  • 6-inch Styrofoam ball
  • Styrofoam cone (18 inches tall by 6 inches wide)
  • 18-inch-long, 3/4-inch-diameter dowel
  • 4 to 5 bags of assorted fun-size candy bars
  • Hot-glue gun and glue sticks
  • Artificial moss or plastic Easter grass

Place the Styrofoam ball into the flower pot. Push the wooden dowel into the center of the Styrofoam ball and then affix the cone over the top of the dowel. You may need to use a little glue to secure the cone in place. Starting at the bottom, decorate your topiary by gluing the candy in rows along the outside of the cone. As you start the next row, overlap the candy slightly over the first row. Continue until the entire cone is covered with candy. Cover the Styrofoam ball with artificial moss or Easter grass.

Finally, don’t throw away those old newspapers. Recycle them into your very own homemade piñata.

Basic Piñata:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 large balloon
  • Several sheets of old newspaper
  • Paint, crayons, or markers
  • Colored crepe paper
  • String
  • Old paper towel or toilet paper inserts

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and water until it makes a smooth paste. Blow up the balloon and tie off the end. Cut or tear newspaper into 1-inch long strips. Dip the newspaper strips into the flour paste. Overlap the strips all over the balloon, being sure to leave a hole around the balloon knot. Apply two to three layers of paper maché. For a stronger piñata, allow 2-3 hours drying time in between layers.

Give the piñata 2-3 days to dry. Once the paper maché has set, pop the balloon and pull through the opening. Punch two small holes on either side of the opening. Loop a length of string through the holes, leaving enough length to allow you to hang the piñata. Decorate the outside of the piñata with poster paint, construction paper, crepe paper, etc. Once the decorations have dried, fill the piñata with candy and trinkets. Stuff the opening with tissue paper or crepe paper. You piñata is now ready to be hung!