Your child’s birthday is right around the corner and you would love to give a theme party. If the price tags on those themed treats and trinkets are giving you second thoughts, here are a few ways to make party planning less painful:

If your little angel loves Barbie™, you can have a Barbie party without spending a lot. Use one or two themed accessories and color-coordinate everything else. Buy a pink tablecloth and streamers, use Barbie plates, but choose plain pink cups and napkins. Using different shades of pink will add visual interest, as will sprinkling some silver glitter or confetti on the table.

For a game that goes along with the theme, purchase a large package of off-brand 11 ½” doll shoes in different styles and colors. Take them out of the package and put them in a container before the party (do not let your daughter see the non-Barbie package). Have the girls form a circle then throw all the shoes into the air, letting them land at will. The girl who gathers the most pairs of shoes wins a prize.

If your little super hero is all about Spiderman™, have a spider themed party. Plastic spider rings from the Halloween section or hairy rubber spiders from a novelty shop are sure to be hits. Choose a solid blue tablecloth with red plates and napkins then buy Spiderman treat bags.

Instead of pin the tail on the donkey, draw a spider web on poster board with black marker and have the children try to place toy spiders in the center of the web.

Adding just a touch of theme elements and filling in with other items keeps the cost down while still allowing your child to have the party of his or her dreams.

Another twist is to create a theme that doesn’t require any trademark items. A horse theme works great for boys or girls, and there are plenty of horse items to choose from that cost far less than trademark items. You can use your child’s favorite colors to develop a color scheme, which will add a nice personal touch.

Make a simple but cool horse cake that will add to the theme. Using regular cake mix, bake a round cake. One layer is easier to decorate, so you may want to make two separate cakes or set one layer aside, instead of making a layer cake.

Frost the cake with chocolate icing, then make a thick stripe of white frosting down the center. Put two small dabs of frosting near the top of the cake on each side of the stripe. Top each dab with a chocolate chip or small candy to make eyes.

Next, frost a cookie with chocolate frosting and place it on the cake near the bottom, in the center. Place two chocolate chips or small candies about one half inch apart near the bottom of the cookie (nostrils). Cut two cookies into triangles and frost with chocolate frosting. Add to the top of the cake. These are the horse’s ears. You can add a bit of white frosting on top of the ears if desired.

For games, use a hobbyhorse for relays, or play “horse” with a basketball.

A little creativity goes a long way towards creating a terrific theme party without breaking the bank!