Cheap Star Wars Birthday Party ideas

What’s the difference between a third child and a first child? The first child has a “Star Wars fourth birthday party” and he’s never seen Star Wars. The third child can hum along the Clone Wars theme song before he can even speak.

With a new Star Wars movie on the horizon and Clone Wars available on Netflix, our children will be battling with lightsabers into the foreseeable future. Since I’m both a big cheapskate and a big fan, I wanted to round up some of my favorite birthday party inspiration. Here’s my take on The Perfect Star Wars Birthday Party on a budget!

Step One: Choose a sub-theme. I’m not kidding. There are so many directions in which to steer your party. Examples below.

Step Two: Pick your activities. Truly any of the activities can be mixed and matched into the different themes. Give some thought to where your party will be and work from there. In your own house? In your backyard? At the park? Celebrate your constraints because they give you boundaries to what would otherwise be a limitless universe of choice.

Step Three: Tie in the decor and food. Once you’ve picked your theme and manageable activities, tie it all together with food and decor. For low-cost decor items, work with what you already have. I have a funky tin lunchbox, an R2D2 mobile, and Darth Tater already, so I’ll start there. You could feature a Millennium Falcon piñata or decorate with any toys from around the house. Print out large character masks or just hang up your tee-shirt collection. Anything goes! ps For a Star Wars party on a budget, your next step is to find printables.

Star Wars birthday party themes (on a budget)

Clone Wars:

The modern take on Star Wars includes cartoon characters your kids know but you probably don’t. Yes, there’s Yoda but no Darth Vader. Your party favors are these temporary tattoos. And, yes, lots of lightsabers!

To eat:

Fruit lightsaber skewers are a healthy Star Wars birthday party treat. Wooden skewer + duct tape handle + Sharpie = adorable fruit sabers.

Fruit lightsaber skewers are a healthy Star Wars birthday party treat

Your dessert is flipping-awesome clone trooper cupcakes. These clone trooper cupcakes from Maija Moments are easy enough that I could do them. Customize your jumbo marshmallow with food-safe markers to be clone troopers (or storm troopers with a slightly different design). And done! Optional extra, she gave each child a birthday candle in their cupcake for wish-making and to head off any lightsaber envy.

Storm / Clone trooper cupcakes by Maija Moments

To do:

Padawan Lightsaber lessons – You can teach choreographed lightsaber fighting moves based on your own knowledge or a quick youtube search for fencing 101. Invite a Clone Wars villain to come and give the children a turn at dueling (Not Vader, ok? He’s still a good guy). See these examples from

Princess party:

Princess Leia and Queen Amidala commingle with ladies in waiting (perfect for your not-so-girlie girl!) doing battle, hunting for treasure, fabricating their colorful costumes. Mom should definitely wear this cinnabon wig. This party is crafty and kicks butt.

To do:

To amp up the glamour, Ashleigh gave the girls spa treatments before meeting a Princess Leia impersonator and dueling outside. I think this is soooo cute. About as close to this as I can get is painting my son’s toenails Elsa blue (outside, of course!).

Star Wars glamorous birthday party with Princess Leia

Pin the {hair bun / lightsaber / jet pack } on the {Princess / Sith Lord / Bounty Hunter} — In my experience, this game takes about 4 minutes and many kids are surprisingly freaked out by the blindfold, so don’t let this be your only activity.

Amy Friend from During Quiet Time made this Pin the hair bun on Princess Leia for her daughter’s party and created a C3P0 mask to cover the kids’ eyes.

Princess Leia Star Wars Birthday Party

Teresa from Capturing the Days another (easier?) version of this game. Marie from MakeandTakes created this Pin the Lightsaber on the Jedi for her Star Wars party using a picture she already had and a few colored slips of paper.

Classic Star Wars:

All the best characters from your own childhood, your mission is to destroy the Death Star piñata, your children will drink blue milk, and Yoda knows everything. Kids Padawans can decorate lightsabers and learn sweet fighting moves.

To do:

Lightsaber creation and battles — My pal, Wendy, turned me on to the idea of turning pool noodles into lightsabers with a little duct tape and some SUPER STRONG scissors. For best results (and cheapest execution) cut them all the way in half. Let kids bash each other’s heads with the weapons or work together to keep a balloon off the ground. OUTDOOR.

Light sabers from pool noodles by wendolonia
photo courtesy of Wendy Copley,


Jedi Training course — my go-to activity is a Dagobah-inspired obstacle course that can involve whatever obstacles you have on hand.

To eat:

Designer and mom, Kristy from Libbie Grove Design, made very cute authentic badass Star Wars printables for her son’s party and happily shares them with you. Her selection includes food labels, Jedi Knight certificates, and more!

Vader Veggies, printable by Libbie Grove

An easy (enough for me) alternative to cake-baking is cupcakes arranged as a lightsaber. I love that Stacie Ann Smith fulfilled her son’s wish for a double-lightsaber this way.

Light saber cupcakes


I can’t stop, won’t stop!

Like I said, the themes are limitless. Now that all the dudes are LEGO’fied, any story arc goes with a LEGO Star Wars theme. This works especially well for younger ones. Coloring sheets make easy placemats and can keep preschoolers occupied while you set up other activities.

What about Bounty Hunters? Think space-age pirate party. For kids too cool for the traditional themes, do it up with Boba and/or Jango Fett with some sort of scavenger hunt. A Boba Fett helmet (or a jetpack) is essential to this party (I hope you can find a good deal on one).

These are the Droids you’re looking for! Build-your-own robots with cardboard boxes and lots of tape.

Other stuff: For plates and napkins, I strongly suggest buying a solid color to match with the rest of your decor. Sure, I’m lucky to have all boys, but I also find my ample collection of blue napkins works for Father’s Day and Hannukah.  You could also pick up just a few thematic plates to serve the dessert.

When I settle into following my own advice and hosting my next Star Wars party, I’ll share my pictures.



We are at a conference for the rest of the weekend, so I am re-posting this one from a couple years ago.

Baby and Toddler Room Sharing

Heather and I both live in Berkeley where houses are small, and expensive nonetheless. Our neighboring city Oakland is pretty much the same.  If you’ve seen the show Parenthood, which is set here, well, let’s just say that the houses in which those characters live would be in the top 5% for spaciousness.

The other day I went over to my friend Karin’s house for the first time since she’s been married and had two sons. When she opened the front door, the first thing I saw was a queen-sized air mattress taking up her entire living room floor. I asked if she had weekend guests, and she sheepishly explained that she and her husband actually sleep on the air mattress and let their baby sleep in their room while their toddler hogs the room that is intended to be shared by the brothers. Eventually.

They were struggling to figure out how to put two kids in the same room such that they would allow each other to take their naps and sleep at night.

I had no advice for her, although since my kids are older and have been sharing a room for a long while now, I could hardly register the situation as a problem.  I remember letting Scarlett cry it out and Julian, age 3, just slept right through it.  I now realize every toddler does not sleep as soundly as Julian, who could be carried into a playdate if he had fallen asleep in the car, plopped on the host’s couch, and be jumped on by his excited little friend, and sleep through the whole thing. As I drove home from Karin’s, however, I suddenly remembered a few scenarios that may have comforted her.

Documenting a lost battle: Scarlett naps on the floor in my room

When Heather’s baby #2 Milo was born, she worried that his night wakings would disrupt Holden’s sleep, yet she and Alec had learned from their rookie parenting stint that they prefer not to sleep in the same room as the baby. Therefore, baby Milo slept in his infant “bucket” carseat in the office area just outside their room. Every night. For four months.

When my own second child was born, we made half of our bedroom into a babycentric space, expecting her to stay with us for a couple months.  She tricked us by being a good sleeper for about a month, but then lost her knack for staying asleep past midnight. Taking a cue from our good friends who called their children “swing babies”, we set up the automatic swing in our bedroom, and there she slept, swinging at full speed, all night long. For three months.

And Julian? He slept swaddled and strapped to a changing table pad on the floor when we visited our parents for the first few months.

My point is that we do a lot of crazy shit as new parents. We sing potty songs, attach electric pumps to our breasts, and read books to kids who can barely hold their heads up. Sleeping in your own living room is the least of it. (That reminds me…  my second cousin’s husband used to sleep on the porch.)

If you’ve got two children who share a room, tell us more.  How did you do it?


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