Every year we love to have a birthday party for our kids. But, it the costs can quickly add up. There is the cake, the decorations, the party favors and you still have to buy a gift! And, of course, in between your kids’ birthdays, they will be invited to their friends’ parties. The costs can quickly get out of hand.
If you are smart with your money and get a bit creative, you can give your kids an amazing party without hurting your wallet. which doesn’t hurt your wallet! I definitely recommend that you check out Pinterest for some absolutely amazingly creative ideas if you have a set theme. We’ve had lots of fun with our Minecraft party, Super Mario Bros party and Zooptopia party themes. Sometimes, you just need too think outside of the box and find a way to make ordinary items fit into your party!
Of course, themes aren’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have an amazing party. Here are some ways you can celebrate your child’s special day – without spending too much!
THROW AN INEXPENSIVE BIRTHDAY PARTY
Stick with solid colors
The decorations and paper goods often set the party theme, but they can also quickly add up. Skip the character cups, plates, decorations and ceneterpieces. Use solid colors instead. Use pink, purple and white for a princess party and red, yellow and blue for your superhero themed get together. Pull colors from the characters or show to use rather than paying a pretty penny for expensive items.
You can also save money if you plan ahead as you will find paper plates, cups and other items deeply discounted at the end of each season. Find pink and red items after Valentine’s Day, green after St. Patrick’s Day and orange and black after Halloween.
Make sure you also check out your local Dollar Store where you can also find solid colored decorations are reasonably priced. These items are $1 each every day and since they’ll go into the trash as soon as the party is over, there is no need to spend more than you should.
And, to really save money, skip the balloons completely! Or, if make them serve a dual purpose as decorations and party favors. Send each child home with a ballon and it is less for you to clean up.
Skip the party favors and hats
With 3 kids, I’ve dealt with my fair share of goodie bags. To be 100% honest, we throw almost everything away when we get home. They are often very cheap toys that do not last. If you really don’t want to do one — don’t. There is no written rule that states you must give your guests a goodie bag. So, if you do not want to build them, please don’t feel obligated to do so.
Of course, many love to create them and so you will want to make sure that you keep not only your budget in mind but also the items you give out. Items such as stickers, lollipops, sunglasses, matchbox cars, chapstick, etc are items which most kids will love, but will not make Mom roll her eyes. Check out affordable options at your Dollar Store or the Dollar Spot at Target.
Make your invitations
The main point of the invitation is to let your guests know the Five “Ws”: Who, What, Where, When & Why. You can get a simple, more plain invitation for about a third to one-half of the cost of fancy, character invitations.
If you want to get creative, you can use sites such as PicMonkey or Canva to make your own. Once you do, upload them to your local Walgreens or Walmart and pay very little to have them printed. If you need a bit more design help, sites like Vistaprint and Winkflash have designs ready for you to tweak and make your own. Or, ask a creative friend for his or her input to help you with the design.
Bake the Cake
While professionally decorated cakes are fun, why not try your hand at doing your own? Use fun icing, candles and candy decorations and your child will probably not even know that he or she is missing out.
There are lots of great photos and ideas out there to help you decorate your own. I’ve done my kids’ cakes for years. And, while it is very obvious I’m not a professional, they’ve all loved every one of them.
This was the cake I decorated for our daughter’s first birthday –
complete with dollar store decorations!
This was a John Deere Cake I made for my son’s 4th birthday. Just used the plastic hay bales
in his toy bin and one of his trucks to make it look like the baler was hard at work!
My youngest loves Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and all she wanted was a cake with them on it.
When my oldest turned 4, she told me she wanted a bumble bee cake. So, I made her one!
For our son’s first birthday, we made him a caterpillar cake. It was a lot of work, but so, so worth it!
Baseball cake using a circular cake mold for my son’s 9th birthday
These are just a few of the cakes I’ve made over the years. As you can see, mine were FAR from perfect (not even close), but my kids still talk about those awesome cakes to this day….which makes me know that it was worth it!
Stick with only cake and ice cream
I have been to parties where they served all sorts of snacks and even sandwiches or pizza. Unless your party is during lunch, there is no need to serve the kids anything other than cake (and maybe ice cream). Plan your party between lunch and dinner and you won’t have to serve anything more than cake.
Limit the number of kids
As tempting as it may be to invite every child in the class, that means more cake, plates — everything. Limit the number of party guests not only saves money, it gives the kids a better chance to play closely with their best friends.
Print party themed items for free
You’ve got to love free, right? Many sites, such as Disney and Nickelodeon offer free printables you can use to decorate your party. A quick Pinterest search will yield hundreds (if not thousands) of ideas you can use to print items for free. You can find invitations, centerpieces and even party favors for the kids.
Have a big party every few years
Because kids love to have a large party, consider a small parties with one or two friends and have a big one every few years. We did this with our kids and it really helped our budget. They’ve each had no more than three large parties that cost more money. And, truth be told – the ones they say were the most fun were those we had at home. Go figure!
Use a free venue
As tempting as it is to have a party at the bounce house or jump park, it can be expensive. Try free venues such as a park or your backyard. If if summer, get out sprinkler and slip and slide and let the kids have their own fun playing in the water.
Know your budget and stick to it
Wether you have $25 or $100 to spend on your party, know that amount and don’t go over it. The simple way to do this is to get cash and place it in an envelope. When it’s time to pay, use the money in there and don’t be tempted to swipe your card. When the money is gone, you are done shopping.
SAVING MONEY GOING TO BIRTHDAY PARTIES
So, now you know what you can do to save money when throwing a party. But, what if you aren’t throwing a party – but attending instead. Can you save money? You bet!
You might be thinking how does this save me money? Honestly, it does not. It can, however, save the host/hostess money (especially if it is being held where they pay a cost per child who attends). In case you do not know what it means, it is French: Répondez s’il vous plaît. Not sure of the translation? It simply means – Respond if you please.
If you or your children are invited to a party, you should have the courtesy to call and let the host/hostess know whether you will be attending or not. This is not option. It is respectful – plain and simple. Think of it like this – if someone invites 20 people and purchases food, etc and plans on that many and only 4 show up – look at the wasted money. On the flip side, if you plan on 20 and 25 show up, you don’t have enough to feed your guests.
In addition, many parties are held in locations where the family pays per child. If you do not show up or, if you even show up without letting them know, can cost the family more than expected (Oh – and whatever you do – don’t bring siblings to parties when they are not invited – unless YOU are paying for them to participate).
By taking the time to call the host or hostess, you can essentially save them money so that they can do proper planning/spending. I know as a mom I GREATLY appreciate this more than my guests know.
Smarter birthday gifts
You don’t have to spend a lot to give a child a great gift. Check out this list of great ideas for kids that aren’t toys! Some other ideas include books, coloring books, crayons, puzzles, games – these are all gifts that seem to have gone to the wayside, but can be found at a really great price.
Try to buy gifts when they are on clearance and stock a gift closet. That way, when it is time for a gift, you have one handy.
Skip the fancy wrap
Stop by the dollar store and pick up a roll of paper and card. Gifts are ripped open in minutes and no child really cares how the package looks – they just love opening packages. After all, it is the gift that matters and not the packaging. You can even find plain colored paper and bows after Christmas and stock up to cover your party needs throughout the year.
Whether throwing or attending a party, there are ways to save. The most important thing is to celebrate how much that person means to you. Do you have any great party money saving tips? If so, please share!