Class parties

By Mir
October 26, 2006

Tis the season for just this sort of question, methinks.

Hello pretty talented clever Mir,

Please provide any advice regarding how to get the most bang for your buck when hosting a class party for 5th graders. Somehow I was elected Room Mom and will be organizing 3 parties this year. I am not very creative but am an organizer! I will probably have about $100 dollars to spend on all three parties and hope other great Moms will donate some goodies.

A dedicated reader,


Wow, I’m impressed that in your school system you get any money at all. Around here, parents are expected to donate everything. Not that I’m bitter. Ahem. Anyway, I’m sure you can whip up a great party with the help of the other parents and a few careful bits of shopping.

The first thing you do is get comfortable with delegating. You’re the Room Mom; get out your class list and start making phone calls. Susie can bring a package of plates and Betty can supply the forks and— you get the idea. Most of what you need should magically appear if you herd the other parents appropriately.

The mecca of party-supply-crap, of course, is Oriental Trading. They’re cheap, they have a huge assortment of all manner of kid-friendly baubles, and they tend to offer free shipping fairly regularly (because it’s the shipping that’ll kill your budget) on larger orders. Right now you can use coupon code RT1XY06 through October 31st to get free shipping on your $60+ order.

It seems like it would be hard to get up to $60, there, when you’re busy oohing and aahing over things like a dozen sticky eyeballs for just $3.49/dozen, but the trick is to buy everything you need all at once. Buy supplies for all three parties (as well as anything you might want for birthday parties or holiday gatherings) and you’ll have no trouble meeting the minimum. I often shop with a friend when they have a free shipping code; we combine our orders and everybody’s happy. This does, of course, require that you purchase in advance.

If you don’t have the time to shop Oriental Trading, but need some goodie bag type stuff, go cruise the endcaps at your local Target or hit the dollar store. I often find little toys or things not in the party section, at Target, that I’m able to pick up on clearance and use as party supplies. Just keep your mind open.

Even though I suspect I’ll have to go out and buy some jeans that come up to my armpits and maybe a minivan after I tell you this, it needs to be said: Go check out the party ideas on the Family Fun website. They are my favorite resource for recipes and crafts that real people can actually do (on a budget, even). I mean, I’m sure that Real Simple has some great ideas, if you feel like making pâté for 10-year-olds. If you want quick, easy, and cheap? Go to Family Fun.

Don’t overlook the possibility of a craft that may seem more expensive, on the surface, but can easily both be a party activity and a favor without breaking the bank. If you plan far enough in advance, you can let the class know you’ll be decorating t-shirts, for example—and you can tell the kids to bring their own shirts. Then if you shop the various local “40% off a single item” coupons at craft stores, you can buy all the paints or whatever for very little. Or consider doing iron-on transfers using special paper than can be fed through your computer’s printer.

I know younger kids love the sort of build-your-own-snack kinds of things, too, although perhaps they’re too cool for that by 5th grade.

If you have a janitorial supply place near you, that may be the cheapest place to get paper supplies (unless you just want to ask other parents to donate them). You can get a gigundo package of plates or cups for not very much money, and then you have them for all three parties this year.

I hope that gives you some ideas, Stephanie! Party on!


  1. I love Oriental Trading. And they’ve also got %15 off when you use code WC75485. Just saying…

  2. Mir –

    Our school asks for a “donation” of $10 per child to cover the cost of all the parties – because the property taxes we pay couldn’t possibly be expected to cover the cost of some fun, now could it???

    Family Fun – great kid party ideas. I also like the Enchanted Learning site and Kids Domain site – some overlap, but good, cheap ideas.

  3. Thanks dude, you are brilliant, just as I expected! The family fun site has great ideas!

  4. No new ideas here, but I liked the comment about “Real Simple” – the few times I catch segment of theirs on entertaining, on a morning show, it looks far more fussy, complicated and expensive than anything I’ve done in my life!

Bargain Hunt





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