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Your make-at-home, super-simple kids birthday party craft guide

Planning a fun and engaging birthday party for your kid should be a fun and engaging experience for you, too!

If you’re trying to avoid getting sucked into the big box stores' themed party supply aisles, here are a few seasonal and adaptable birthday party ideas that don’t rely on a franchise or character!

Autumn harvest party

  • make popcorn for a snack

  • decorate pumpkin candle votives

  • make a scarecrow and turn him into a “pin the tail on the donkey” game

  • tootsie pop ghosts


Winter wonderland party

  • decorate sugar cookies

  • styrofoam ball snowmen

  • paper chain countdown (to a holiday or the New Year!)

  • plant tulips in pots for early spring blooms


To save yourself money and time, have a stash of reusable party decorations that can be combined or quickly altered to meet specific themes or colors.

Here are a few quick DIYs that you can do with your kids to build up your party pantry. For maximum utility, choose colors and sizes that you know you’ll be able to use time and again for different themes and settings.

Finger-knit garland


To make 1 finger-knit garland, you’ll need:

  • your hands

  • yarn (at least a few yards)

  • time!

  • scissors

Finger-knitting is essentially knitting by using your non-dominant hand as one needle and your dominant hand as the other. Youtube tutorials are by far the best resource to consult if these directions don’t do it for you.

Create a slipknot at the beginning of your yarn and fasten the slipknot around the pointer finger of your non-dominant hand, with your palm facing towards you. You don’t need it too tight, and it should be placed around the middle of your finger. Take the yarn behind your middle finger, over your ring finger, behind your little finger, and then around your little finger and back, so that it goes behind your ring finger and then over your middle finger. Keep the yarn even and taut so that the first loop through your fingers is below the second. Repeat this until the yarn is looped around the front (palm side) of each finger twice.

Now, starting with the little finger, lift the bottom loop over the top loop and off of your finger. The top loop should remain on your finger and the loop you removed will be one of the first links in the chain that becomes the finger knit garland! Continue removing the bottom loops until you’re back to your pointer finger, and then wrap the yarn through your fingers again like you did above. And then repeat, forever, or at least until your garland is as long as you want it!

Once you’ve reached the end, without removing the last loops from your fingers, cut your yarn off the skein or ball, leaving a tail at least six inches. Thread the tail through the loops as you pull them off, and then tie a knot at the end. That’s it! It gets easier and more mindless the more you do it, and you can create many different garlands to use together or separately for all kinds of occasions.

Fabric tassel garland


To make 1 fabric tassel garland, you’ll need:

  • solid color fabric

  • a ruler or measuring tape

  • scissors or a rotary cutter and cutting mat

  • jute or other heavy-duty cording

This is a great way to use old t-shirts that are destined for the donation bin or rag bag! I used the bottom portions of 2 t-shirts for my tassels. You should use solid colored fabric that won’t fray too badly, because with the tassels you see both sides of the fabric, and it can get a bit tangly. Choose your fabric carefully and make sure you have enough for the number and size of tassels you want.

Measure your fabric into rectangles based on the size and amount of tassels you want for your garland. Your tassels will be half as long as the fabric you use to make them, and the thickness of the tassels depends on the width of your fabric. So, for 5 tassels approximately 10 inches in length and not very thick, I cut my fabric into 5 rectangles about 20 inches long and 6 inches wide.

Fold the rectangle of fabric in half and cut strips about an inch wide, stopping 2-3 inches before the fold. Unfold the fabric and lay it out flat. Starting from the center of one of the long sides, roll the fabric up. Untangle the tassels as you go if necessary, and keep the roll as tight as possible. Once it’s all rolled up into a tube with fringe on either end, fold it in half so that the fringe ends line up and the edge of the fabric is hidden by the fold. Secure with a scrap of fabric; wrapping it around a few times and tying a knot is sufficient, but you could probably use fabric glue or stitches to keep it even more secure.

Repeat until you have as many tassels as you like, and then string ‘em up on your cord! Tie a knot to secure each tassel to the cord if you want them to keep their placement while hanging.

Happy birthday bunting


To make a quick 2-strand bunting, you’ll need:

  • felt

  • yarn

  • colorful cardstock

  • a pen, pencil, or marker

  • glitter glue

  • craft glue

  • scissors

  • hole punch or needle

Cut out 13 triangles from your felt. Line them up along the yarn with the spacing you like, and then cut the yarn to size.

Write “happy birthday” in block letters on your cardstock, using different colors for the letters if you like. Embellish the letters with glitter glue and let dry. Once the letters are dry, cut them out and adhere to the felt triangles with the craft glue. Once that dries, probably overnight, you can attach the triangles to the yarn in a number of ways. I recommend using a tapestry needle to thread the yarn through the top two corners of each triangle so that the letters all hang straight. You can use a hole punch and thread the yarn through by hand if you don’t have a tapestry needle! The glitter and craft glue will last quite a while if you store the bunting safely between celebrations- I’ve had mine for 5 years!

Paper or fabric bunting


To make 1 paper or fabric bunting, you’ll need:

  • paper or fabric in a variety of colors and patterns

  • thread, yarn, or ribbon

  • a needle

  • scissors

  • a rotary cutter and cutting mat (optional)

  • a sewing machine (optional)

  • an iron (optional)

If you’re using fabric, you may want to use an iron and sewing machine to turn under and finish the raw edges of the pieces of your bunting. Measure and cut your pieces with a seam allowance if you’re planning on doing that so that it ends up the size you like.

Measure and cut triangles from your fabric or paper. If you’re using your sewing machine, you can use quilt binding or ribbon to hang your bunting. Fold the binding or ribbon in half and pin each triangle to the inside of the fold, so that it’s sandwiched, and then run it through your machine. If you’re doing this by hand, you can either hand stitch the triangles to the ribbon, or use a tapestry needle and thread, ribbon, or yarn, through the top corners of each triangle to string them up.

You can make a mini version of this bunting and attach it to dowels for a sweet cake topper, or simply attach some scrap fabric to a dowel for a smaller topper!

Butcher paper tablecloth

Another great and excruciatingly simple decor DIY for any sort of party is a butcher paper tablecloth or runner! Get a length of paper and tape it to your table. It’s a great drop cloth for the crafting activities at the party, or your kids can decorate it in advance.

Sarah Carlisle is passionate about learning and making, and spends most of her time in Portland, OR running a creperie, growing food in a cooperative garden, participating in community kitchens, and creating and crafting at home. 

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