Edit* Here is the invite I sent out with some selective info left out. ;) I made it using some free digital scrapbooking supplies found online. I could not find where they were from, please tell me if you know! I printed them on 4x6 photo paper.
I decided I would take them to Bouncin' Off the Walls (a bounce house near our house) for a couple of hours. This place is as fun for the parents as it is for the kids and you get a serious work out chasing around the rug rats! What kind of circus would it be if we didn't have a bunch of "animals" running around?! All the kids loved it and I loved the price!
To rent it out for a private birthday party with the works it is $200. I was not about to spend that on my 2 year old's party so I called and said I wanted to do his party there, but could not afford it. After talking for a few minutes, they offered to let me have it for $100 ($10 per kid with a minimum of 10 kids) if I brought my own stuff (cake, favors, etc)! What a deal! It never hurts to ask for a deal! But, when I realized the size of our guest list (9 if every guest showed, which they never do) I still couldn't justify it.
So, lucky for me, they have a Mom n Me bounce for 5 years and under that is only $5 per kid and parents are free! I had been to this with my friend a few times and the most that were ever there were two other mom and kid duos. I decided this semi-private time would be just the ticket. Funny thing is another mom thought the exact same thing on the same day for her 2 year old son so we had a ring full of 2 year olds! It cost me $30 for everyone to bounce and play for 2 hours. There is no way I could have done a party at home with decor, cake, games, for that much!
Since I did not rent the party room, there was obviously no cake allowed, that makes it super easy one me! I just whipped up some party favors with some toys, stickers, and a snack to eat on the way home. It cost just over $2 each for the favors. I got the stuff at Zurchers (box, toy), Target (dough, crackers), and Shopko (stickers). The little guy would just open the presents as people came to get their party favor. Super easy, super fun!
Find your local kid fun spot and check out their deals. Most of them have a discount day. My sis had her little girl's party at Classic Fun Center (skating, bounce house, jungle playground) on the $2 night. Usually all the activities are $7. She had her party with pizza, etc for like $50.
Seriously, let yourself take the easy, low stress road for once!