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Try this trick to create a kids party for peanuts

Planning a birthday party for your young one? Melinda Konopko of offers tips on how to do it without breaking the bank.

Got a birthday party to plan, but don't want to break the bank trying to do it? Well, the good news is you don’t have to refinance your home to make your child’s birthday celebration a happy one. Melinda Konopko of was invited to appear on "Today," to offer some ideas. Here she shares some tips:

Step right up to the greatest cheapskate party on earth
You don’t need to spend a fortune to create a magical, memorable children’s birthday party. The key to a successful party begins with selecting a theme and letting your imagination run wild. You don’t have to look further than your own closet, attic or backyard for some clever ideas. The way to distinguish your party is to spend the money on a handful of accessories that will give the party your own unique imprint, while building upon the chosen theme by incorporating recycled items from around your home. We encourage collaborations among all family members as well as friends. Not only does this inspire a sense of participation, but it also saves the expense of hired help.

Circus parties are’s most popular children's theme, due largely to the universal appeal and the endless world of possibilities they offer. Here are some quick, inexpensive tips that can be adapted to virtually any space, either indoors or outdoors.

The invitation sets the tone of the party. Some clever cheapskate ideas are:

Use an empty animal cracker box and fill with “admit one” tickets. Write party information on the back of the tickets. You may also include peanuts and a clown nose to create the circus mood. Guests are encouraged to bring the tickets to the party for prize redemption. (Note: the animal crackers can be used as refreshments at the party). Write party information on an inflated balloon, and then let the air out. Guests will inflate the balloon upon receiving it, revealing the details. Print clip art faces from the Internet on card stock, inserting a red balloon as the nose. Write party details on the back. Send online e-mail invitations. This works particularly well when planning a last-minute party.

Imaginative party decorations can be created on a shoestring budget. Some unique ideas include:

Construct an animal circus train using empty cereal, pasta or cracker boxes. Cut out the front and back; insert animal picture (either clip art or photographic image) or small plush toy. Use drinking straws to create a cage motif.  Wheels can be added by decorating circles of foam core and attaching with glue. Craft a circus tent centerpiece with cardboard or foam core and colored pipe cleaners; decorate with markers or glue images to the cardboard/foam core to create a circus motif. This centerpiece can then be used as a dome for the birthday cake. Attach inflatable animals or plush toys to beach balls or decorated paint buckets, creating mini animal circus acts (you can also use colored sand pails for this creation). Decorate a backyard clothesline with bright color streamers and crepe paper to create a circus motif. Make it a BYOSA — “Bring your own stuffed animal” — party. Have each child bring their own favorite stuffed animal to create an animal circus parade. Purchase party supplies (plates, utensils, cups, blowers) at post-holiday sales. The variety of colors will fit perfectly with the circus theme. If a local store is having a grand opening, request the banners or pennant decorations when the event is over (these double as a great circus decoration).

It doesn’t get any cheaper than circus cuisine.  Hot dogs, popcorn and peanuts fit perfectly with the theme. Make clown cupcakes using ice cream cones.

Involve friends and family members in the party activities and entertainment (e.g. face painting) rather than hiring professional help. Have your guests visit a “clown makeover” bar equipped with makeup, old clothes, sunglasses, clown noses and wigs. Build your own beanbag toss with foam core boards. Decorate as clowns or circus animals. Make your own beanbags using dried beans and old socks. For summer outdoor parties, a water balloon toss is an ever-popular activity. Create your own circus-themed variation on pin the tail on the donkey, such as "pin the ball on the seal's nose" or "pin the nose on the clown." Lay a "tightrope" (jump rope from your child's closet) out on the ground for kids to test their highwire skills. Award tickets throughout the party that kids can redeem for prizes at the end. Prizes can consist of fun items purchased in bulk, such as kazoos, whistles, key chains or bags of popcorn.

It really is possible to throw a spectacular kid's circus party for peanuts. With a little bit of ingenuity and imagination, your child can have a truly memorable birthday celebration without breaking the bank. 

For other clever party ideas, check out or call 800-227-0314.

Party on!