Thrifty Thursday: Birthday Parties on a Budget

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We just celebrated LuLu’s 4th birthday (sigh), so I thought a post about ways to save on birthday parties was in order. 

Birthday parties have become a more extravagant than when I was growing up.  My parties consisted of  family members and maybe a few friends coming over to my house and enjoying homemade cake with ice cream and opening a few presents.  Today,  parties are a lavish affair costing hundreds of dollars and the need to “one up” other parties attended. 

Ways to save on birthday parties

1.  Location, location, location.  Hold parties at home or at a local park.  Choose establishments without fees to reduce your cost.  Summer parties are a bit easier with the warm weather.  Monkey Boy has had 4 parties at my mom’s pool.

2.  Think simplicity.  All kids love party decorations, but decking out the house with $50 worth of supplies that will just be trashed is unnecessary. Use plain colored streams for $1, a few strategically placed themed decorations or make your own.  My mother-in-law makes the kids a personalized banner every year on her computer.  It’s so much cuter and personalized than anything bought at the store.

3.  Reuse and Recycle.   Purchase party decorations that can be reused such as plain, wipe-off table covers. Get simple “happy birthday” banners that can be reused each year (we have pink and multi-colored for the kids).  You can also use items that you have on hand to decorate. 

LuLu had a My Little Pony party 2 years ago.  We decorated the house with her supply of Pony’s plus I purchased 2 more on sale that I used as part of her gift.  This year Monkey Boy wants a Lego City party.  He has already figured out some of the Lego creations he wants to make to decorate the house.

4.  Time of day. Consider the time of day when planning a party such as mid-afternoon (after lunch and before dinner).  If you plan a party during meal times, you’ll shell out more to feed guests a full meal instead of a bag of chips and a cake.

5.  Make your own cake.  You can save a significant amount of money by making your own birthday cake.  It usually tastes better too!  Cakes can be a simple sheet cake or something a bit more extravagant.  Whatever you decide, the kids (and adults) will enjoy it and won’t think twice about your lack of cake decorating skills.

6. Use free invites.  Save yourself the cost of invitations and a stamp by inviting guests over the phone or online.  Cute invitations can be sent for free on sites such as evite

7.  Shop ahead. Planning parties in advance will not only save time, but money as well.  I’m always on the lookout for party plates and decorations on clearance.  I also purchase plain paper plates, napkins and cups throughout the year, so I always have something on hand.  I have a stockpile of plates and cups that I picked up for FREE after a sale and coupon.  

8. Shop at The Dollar Tree.  This store is a great source for decorations.  Did you know they sell Mylar balloons?  I bought all LuLu’s balloons there this year, including a huge Princess crown.  That balloon alone would have cost several dollars!

9. Combine an activity with a party favor. Crafts are a great way to keep kids entertained plus you don’t have to buy a bunch of junk to fill a goody bag.  Monkey Boy went to a Pirate themed party where they decorated paper bags for their “treasure”.  The kids had to find golden coins hidden all over the yard and then traded them in for candy.   He had a great time and the cost of the coins was the biggest expense. 

Remember to relax and have a good time!  The kids won’t remember how much money you spent, just the quality time they shared with you and the fun they had.

This post is shared at My Coupon Teacher and Life as Mom


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