My daughter’s 3rd birthday is coming right up, so I’ve been busy planning her birthday party for a while now.
Children’s birthday parties can get really expensive and when you consider that you need to have one every year for 18 years, the total cost could probably pay for a year of college. If you have more than one child, these costs are even higher. With a little bit of creativity, it’s actually very easy to plan a phenomenal children’s birthday party on a budget.
There are plenty of ways to save money on birthday parties without losing out on any of the good food, decorations and fun! One of the best ways to save money is to start planning a few months in advance. I know, you don’t know how you are going to find the time to do this, but I can promise you that you will not feel as frazzled at the end if you start early enough. It is the best way to save money and you can pick up items when you see them on sale or on clearance at the store.
The first thing everyone does when they are beginning to plan a party is figure out where they want to have it. While the local bowling alley or trampoline place is a great idea for a venue, they are often really pricey. It would be much cheaper to have the party at your house or a local park or YMCA. The park or YMCA would have quite a bit more space than most houses do and there are playgrounds and large areas where games can be played.
Most people enjoy sending out invitations by email now, but if you are the type of person who likes to mail or hand them out, you can find ways to spend less money. Instead of purchasing invitations that are already made, you can make your own on the computer or have the kids help and make them by hand. If you need a lot of invitations or this is a really special occasion, then you might want to look into ordering them on Vistaprint. They usually have special pricing throughout the year and you can personalize them with pictures as well.
Choosing a theme for a birthday party is always a challenge, but some themes can cost a lot less than others. For example, a beach theme would cost much less than a Star Wars theme. It would be costly to go to the store and buy everything related to Star Wars, but beach items can be found very inexpensively at the Dollar Store or Walmart.
Once a theme has been chosen, it is very easy to plan the decorations, games and the food. All of the decorations do not need to have specific characters on them. It is much cheaper to buy tablecloths, plates, cups and napkins that are a certain color and as long as the color matches the party theme, you will not need a lot of specific theme decorations. When it comes to a happy birthday sign, try to find one that will go with any type of party, so that you can reuse it for years to come. Or buy a couple and rotate between them. I’ve always kept a bin in my storage area with reusable party supplies and have even thrown parties using just those items.
Games and activities are always the best part of the party, not counting the cake. It is possible to create all of the games and you probably have much of what you need in your house. There are many printables available online that you can use as templates for different craft projects or for a pin the tail on “whatever your theme is”. You can also have a scavenger hunt, three legged race and any other activity that might get the kids tired out. Use your imagination and Pinterest and you will find that you can do a lot of activities for very little money.
The next thing you will have to decide is what time works best to have your party. If you have the party at 2 in the afternoon, you will not have to worry about serving everyone a full meal. You will be able to just serve cake, ice cream and drinks. Instead of buying a cake from a bakery, try to bake your own and decorate it for the theme of your party. You’ll be amazed at what you can do with Legos, all of those little plastic animals and cars, Barbie dolls, and any other small toy that the kids have laying around. It is easy to make different colored frostings too. Just mix vanilla frosting with food coloring until you get the shade you want. If you want to serve juice or soda, do not buy the individual pouches or cans. Buy the largest containers that you can get and pour it into cups for everyone. It is usually helpful to label everyone’s cup with their name using a Sharpie, so that people know which cup is theirs. If not, you’ll have a lot of cups with liquids and everyone will keep pouring a new glass.
If you absolutely have to serve a meal at the party, go with something easy. Do not order pizzas, because that is expensive. It is cheaper to make ziti and meatballs with a salad or hot dogs with a salad.
Party favors can be tricky because of the age of the children. A few favorites of mine are bubbles, sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, crayons and coloring books. All of these items can be picked up inexpensively. The sidewalk chalk usually comes in a large tub and I’ve always taken 3 or 4 pieces and tied them together with a ribbon for party favors.
Another way to save money on parties is to borrow or trade items with family and friends. There is no reason why everyone needs to have 5 party serving bowls for chips and other snack foods. Check with people you know, before you go out and buy things for the party, especially if it is something that you know you will never use again.
The most important thing to remember about birthday parties is that they are supposed to be fun. Your child isn’t going to remember how much you spent on the party, but they will remember all of the fun activities. And if your cake turns out looking weird, well, they’ll remember that a whole lot more than they would remember a perfect looking cake!