Every year we love to have a party for our kids. However, by the time you add up the cost of the cake, the decorations, the party favors…..and then a gift! Well, it can get out of hand very quickly!
If you are smart with your money and get a bit creative, you can give your kids an amazing party, 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. I’ve found some fun ones there (and even added one how How to Have Super Mario Bros party, Minecraft Birthday Party and even one for Wreck it Ralph)! 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!
HOST / HOSTESS SAVINGS
Decorations. These are where your guests might see the tone for your party. However, they can quickly add up too! There is no need to buy the fancy table decorations, balloons or other items with a character on them (as those are priced the highest). Why not opt for colored accessories instead?
For instance, if you are having a princess party, find decorations in pink, purple and white. Going with a super hero theme? Get decorations to match the colors of the costume. Now, if you can really plan ahead, you might find these items on clearance at the end of holiday seasons. For instance, you can find red and green items after Christmas. Look for red, white and pink after Valentine’s Day. If you need red, white and blue – then shop after Independence Day.
Of course, that may not be an option, so don’t go to the party store to shop. Instead, stop by your Dollar Tree or other dollar store where you’ll find items priced very reasonably.
You can even skip balloons (although these can also serve a dual purpose and be a party favor for the guests when they leave ….and then you don’t even have to clean things up)!
Party Ware. This is an area where your costs can add up quickly. While you could stick with the basic white (no one will even notice – I promise), you could opt for just a little bit of color instead. Go with the white plastic forks, but pick up red plates. If you really want a character themed place setting, don’t get the cups, plates and napkins ….. .just pick ONE item as the feature and then get colored items to accent it.
For example, if you are having a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle party, get the fun character plates and then pick up green napkins and clear silverware. You can even do plain red cups or clear ones. You’ve easily pulled in the character to your party, but have kept the budget in check.
As mentioned above, skip the party store for your plain colored items. Stick with your local dollar stores or even shop after each holiday for items that might be on clearance!
Party Favors/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. You can find them on sale quite often (and again – don’t forget to shop the dollar stores)! I remember one year, for our Wreck it Ralph party, each child received one of the red balloons and we had also made “red brick” rice krisipe treats. My son handed them out to each child as he left. They received a little something from him, but it was not a bag filled with stuff the would never use.
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 asPicMonkey or Canva to make your own. Once you do, upload them to your local Walgreens or Walmart to get 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. You might even consult a creative friend to help you with your design process.
Cake.While professionally decorated cakes are fun, why not try your hand at doing your own? Use some fun icings, 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. Here are some that we’ve made for my kids over the years (I am totally not a professional, but my kids have absolutely loved and appreciated what we did for 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 catterpillar cake. It was a lot of work, but so, so worth it!
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!
Snacks. Another easy way to save is to get a smaller purchased cake (if that is what you really want) and then use treats as not only decorations, but also to fill up those tummies! Just think about a way to turn a snack into a party item – like using blue M&Ms as diamonds for a Minecraft party or pretzel sticks as Olaf arms for a Frozen themed party
Find even more great ideas to plan your party! This eBook – How to Throw an Awesome Birthday Party for less than $100 – shows you how to do that on a budget!
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 – here’s how:
R.S.V.P. 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.
Gifts. You don’t have to spend a lot to give a child a great gift. 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.
Gift Wrap/Cards/Bows. Why not stop by the dollar store and pick up a roll of paper and card ? They always are just ripped apart 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.
One final thing that I want to share is what we are doing with our kids. Every two or three years they get a BIG party — otherwise, it is low key. Sure, we invite friends, but we keep the costs low and then can save so we can do something extra special for those years with the big “to-do”. We might pick up a balloon or two during the off years, but most things are kept simple and inexpensive. My kids learned this very young. We still celebrate. They still invite friends over. However, we don’t blow the budget for 2 hours of fun.
Now that our oldest is ten, we’ve migrated from a big party to just taking a couple of friends out to dinner and then taking them somewhere to play games. It will not only cost us less, kids are so busy that trying to find the time to have a party when many can attend is much more difficult. This way, she can have a couple of friends with her to celebrate (which will actually cost mom and dad much less money)!
Finally, I don’t compare myself to other parents and what they do (or do not do). Everyone has their own budget and own ideas. It is not for me to judge what they have done or not done at their child’s party. As long as my children have fun and more importantly the birthday boy or girl has fun, then that is all that matters.
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!
Before you go, check out these ideas: