Big Brother’s birthday is tomorrow, so I have had birthday parties on my mind recently! Last week I wrote about why we have simple birthdays, and I was surprised by all of the feedback that I received. Many moms want to give their children fun, simple birthdays, but it seems like the cost of even a small birthday party can get out of hand.
Is it possible to save money, while still throwing a party that your kids will enjoy? Absolutely! Here are 5 ways to save on birthday parties:
1. Bake Your Own Cake
In my neck of the woods, even a simply decorated cake from the bakery of our grocery store costs more than $25. Compare this with the price of a boxed cake mix and frosting, and it’s easy to find the savings. If you know how to make a cake from scratch, even better!
A couple of years ago we invested in an inexpensive cake decorating kit that included bags and a variety of tips–all for less than $15. Even a creatively challenged person like me can make decent words or flowers by following the directions in the kit. (My husband is really good at it, but don’t tell anyone I told you!)
2. Simplify the Decorations
If you have little kids (or boys of any age!), chances are they aren’t going to notice most of the decorations that you put up. So, save yourself the hours of making them and the cost of materials. Opt for simple decorations instead.A few balloons and streamers can be all that is needed to set the mood.
If you’d like to save even more money, avoid the themed plates, cups, and party favors. Purchase paper goods in a single color. We generally buy plain napkins and cups and let the birthday child choose plates in a theme of their choice.
For his fifth birthday, Big Brother wanted a dinosaur-themed party. We had blue cups, napkins, and streamers with dinosaur plates. We then put several of his toy dinosaurs on the tables, added some balloons and streamers, and called it a day. He loved it!
3. Location, Location, Location
We have been invited to several incredibly fun birthday parties in many locations. Children’s amusement centers. Swimming pools. Pottery classes. Pony farms. And, they were fantastic.
However, these places all cost between $100-$300 to rent. That is simply not in our budget right now.
Instead we have thrown birthday parties in our local parks and at our house. The cost? $0-$25. That is huge savings. And, honestly, all of the kids had just as much fun. They ran around with their friends, played on slides, chased each other in games of tag, ate hot dogs from the grill, and sported frosting grins.
4. Timing is Everything
Food can become a major expense at any party. To keep the costs down, time your party carefully. We have found that 3:00-4:30 is our sweet spot. It’s after nap times (we have many friends with infants and toddlers, so we try to consider this when planning parties) but far enough before supper that no one expects a full meal.
This means that we can stick with cake or cupcakes, chips, and drinks. Simple, tasty, inexpensive. Win-win-win.
5. Fun and Games
Party entertainment can quickly add up. This is another reason that we love doing birthday parties at parks–built in entertainment! Kids in the ten and under crowd can easily entertain themselves for an indefinite amount of time at a park.
We have also played traditional childhood games (ones from my camp counselor days!) at parties. At Big Brother’s dinosaur party I led the kids in “Triceratops, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus!” which was just a version of “Duck, Duck, Goose.” Next we did a relay race involving dinosaur eggs (small balls). We rounded it out with “What Time is it, Stegosaurus?” which was a version of “What Time is it, Mr. Fox?”
Months later I was talking with a parent of one of the boys at the party, and he said, “Oh, I remember your party. You had all of those great games. My son loved it!” Sometimes the best things in life really are free!
Tomorrow we will celebrate my son’s birthday. It will be simple and inexpensive. And, boy, will it be fun.
How do you save on birthday parties?