I understand that throwing an event at home could be more work and more clean up but it's worth it to host a real event instead of an empty one!
Here are some ideas for parties from the experts at glamagalparty.com/vaughan that are suitable for children who are preteens that you could explore. They don't cost a lot, and you don't have to hire entertainers.
Halloween Clown Party: The kids should dress up as clowns. The activities could include juggling contests as well as painting their faces to look like clowns, creating clown masks balloon blowing, and more. Simple, enjoyable, and simple.
Sports Parties: The best part is that they are energetic and enjoyable. You can choose a sport to be your theme or design your own sports carnival. Have fun with some races and challenges for skill. Imagine egg races with spoons banana relays (gets slippery, but it's hilarious!) Crawling races and tunnel balls, and the list goes on. Be sure to make the games appropriate for those who are impaired' so that everybody will enjoy a great time.
Party Nights: Music and bright lights can create the perfect instant dance party. Include glowing tube necklaces and dim the lights to create an atmosphere. These are also great prizes. You can try some dance contests that are simple and have them perform their best in the Nutbush as well as the Macarena.
Idol Party: What child doesn't wish to become famous? What about singing? What about Play Station Sing Star? Put in fake microphones as well as plastic sunglasses and imagine what a cool star can they be? You could be paparazzi and take photos as they perform. Print a few to keep in their bags of loot.