With four kids, we are always celebrating a birthday. And you know what? Birthday parties can get expensive, if you let them. Yesterday, we celebrated one child's birthday at an ice skating rink. And today, I read this post from Travis at Enemy of Debt, How Much Would You Pay For A Child's Birthday Party?
Travis' question got me thinking. We've had very, very cheap birthday parties, and we've had expensive birthday parties. I'm not sure that the overall level of satisfaction is any higher for the expensive parties, though there are some experiences that you just can't replicate at home. As long as it fits in your family's budget, I don't think there is anything wrong with splurging on a pricey event. However, that isn't always possible.
If you're on a budget, and trying to keep costs down, here are 10 ways to save:
- Have the party at home, or at a public venue like a park. Paying a room fee is really ridiculous!
- Skip the goodie bags. The parents don't want the junk at their house, and kids don't need any more treats.
- Plan the party between meals. Even if you do provide food, you'll need to provide less food for a party that runs from 2 to 4 pm than a party from 11 am to 1 pm.
- Make your own cake. A box of cake mix and container of frosting costs only a few dollars, less if you use coupons or shop the sales.
- Be creative with games. Homemade pin the tail on the donkey is cheap, and you can customize it to suit the party theme. The internet is absolutely full of inexpensive and fun games.
- Don't schedule every minute. Younger kids enjoy the chance to run wild, older kids like to just hang with their friends.
- Offer an alternative to a party: a special event with just one friend. Perhaps your child wants to go to an amusement park or concert?
- Keep decorations minimal, or at least inexpensive. As much as I hate crepe paper streamers, my kids love them and they are very cheap. Decorating becomes part of the fun.
- Skip the paper invites, or let your child make them out of craft supplies that you already have. They'll enjoy the activity more than just filling in the blanks on a pre-printed invite. Do the same with thank you notes.
- Plan ahead and shop clearance items. My April birthday daughter loves the color red, so I stock up on tableware and little prizes after Valentine's Day. I keep a box of birthday party gear in the attic, and add to it when I find ridiculously cheap items that can be used.
A birthday party doesn't need to be a burden on your budget. Save your big splurges for a year in which your finances are a little more solid, and you'll be able to enjoy your parties even more.