Birthday Parties on a Budget

You Don’t Have to Break the Bank to Throw a Great Party

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When you have kids, you get familiar with shoveling out loads of money for so many different things.

School clothes, sports, art classes, new shoes because their feet just won’t stop!

Kids’ birthday parties are no different. With the development of Pinterest, there is a constant need to be bigger and bolder and better!

But, why?

My kids are just as thrilled with the simple parties as they are with the over-the-top-beat-those-Joneses-to-the-ground parties.

Actually, I think they may even be happier with the simpler parties. They aren’t so overwhelmed with the mass amounts of people I feel the need to invite. Or with the elaborate activities and need for participation.

A couple fun things to keep the little ones occupied, a game or 2 for a big kid’s party, and bam, a group of happy kids.

Kids’ birthday parties do not have to burn holes in your pockets.

What’s the key to staying on a budget or watching those totals when there is a party on the horizon? Planning!

Plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead.

I get it, when your kids turn 1, 2, and sometimes even 3, there are friends and family members you want to invite to share in the celebration.

But, the bigger the guest list, the bigger the that hole in your pocket gets.

I get it, though. My kids’ first and second birthdays were huge. Each party had an unbelievable number of guests, considering it was a baby’s party.

There’s nothing wrong with big parties and there’s nothing wrong with small parties.

Both are fun, both are work, and neither have to break the bank.

There are little things you can change in your party plans to help save money.

My favorite money saving tip is not to schedule your party during a meal time. At 11a.m., noon, even 1p.m., lunch is generally expected. Even if you plan to just order pizza and throw together a few sides, the cost can surprise you.

A party at 2p.m. or 3p.m. can easily be a “cake and ice cream will be served” event.

You don’t have to buy 13 Costco pizzas and figure out what to do with all the leftovers…Although, I’ve never had to twist anyone’s arm to take a pizza with them.

Another thing to think about is activities, games, or free-for-alls.

Of course, free-for-all parties are the cheapest way to go. They can also be a recipe for disaster. Kids run rampant, get bored, break toys, get into things they aren’t supposed to.

You don’t have to plan elaborate entertainment for a kid’s birthday party. Plan something your child really enjoys and would have fun doing with friends.

For my son’s 2nd birthday, I filled a small plastic pool with sand, buried some dinosaurs and gold coins, put some small construction trucks in there and let the kids do their thing.

The sandbox is my son’s favorite thing to play in outside.

I set up a Playdoh table for the big kids.

All the kids (and even some dads) were entertained and happy, and all the parents got to mill around talking and enjoying themselves.

It was a win for all!

My daughter loves to paint, she loves princesses, and she loves fairies. What better than a fairy princess party?

For her 5th birthday, my daughter invited around 10 of her friends over for a fairy house painting party.

Small wood bird houses, cheap paint brushes, paint, dixie cups and paper towels added up for one fun party. As the girls finished their houses, they ran into the playroom, put on fairy wings and crowns and had a blast.

That was an afternoon party, so cupcakes and ice cream were a perfect finish.

You can plan a great party in 5 easy steps.

  1. Make a guest list – if your child is still too young to list out their friends, you get the honor of putting together the guest list. It’s hard to narrow it down, especially for a 1 year old and 2 year old. Pairing your list down to your child’s friends and your closest family members may save you a pretty penny. My kids 1st and 2nd birthday parties were huge! Now that they are older, they get to pick the friends they invite.
  2. Date, Time, and Place – Obviously, weekends are great for parties because the kids are out of school and the parents with 9-5s are off. Don’t forget to think about what kind of and how much food different times of the day entail. Having parties at home can be a great way to save money, but there are other cost effective options also. Trampoline parks have some great party packages that are very affordable and comparable to throwing a party at home. Look around, think about what would be fun for the kids and compare prices.
  3. Food or Dessert? – What time of the day is your party? Finger foods or something that requires knives and forks and sturdy surfaces? Uncrustables for the kids? A variety of sodas or water and iced tea?
  4. Activities and Games – Think about the things your kids like to do. The Playdoh table I set up at parties is a serious hit. It keeps the kids so happy and busy for so long! Who would have thought! (My mom, my mom thought. She gets the credit for that one.)
  5. Party Favors – Party favors are getting out of control these days. These things don’t have to cost a fortune to be fun. A set of fairy wings and a wand cost around $4 a girl for our fairy party. They loved them! A small bag with a few trinkets in it is sure to get you nothing but smiles as your guests head out. Check out the dollar bins at Target. There are some great finds mixed in that chaos!

Remember to keep things simple if you’re looking to plan a party on a budget. You don’t have to overwhelm yourself and your guests with decorations, elaborate food, or expensive entertainment. Your guests are coming to celebrate with you and your child.

Price things between stores. For most of our parties, Party City has had the best prices on most things I needed. Getting the rest of the things there was easier, a time saver, and really a money saver because I didn’t have to waste gas going from store to store to just pick up one or 2 things. Amazon also has great prices on party supplies. Napkins, balloons, and favor bags are great Amazon buys.

Send out your invites and ask for RSVPs about 7 or 8 days before the party. This will give you the time to pick up the party favors.

When you have your guest list, you’ll save money on these and the food because you’ll have an actual count. You won’t be planning a party based on the number you invited, you’ll be using the number coming.

Make things easier on yourself; set as much up for the party as you can, the night before the party. Prep any food that can sit in the fridge overnight.

On the morning of the party you’ll have to get yourself and most likely your kids ready. Save yourself some time and stress, prep the night before.

You certainly don’t want to still be throwing the party together when your guests arrive.

Happy partying!