Birthday Bashes on a Budget

by Nancy Twigg


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It's your little one's big day. Are you afraid that you will have to spend a fortune to make it special? If so, here is some good news for you. You can plan a magnificent party for your child's birthday without breaking the bank. Friends, food and fun. Your child can have it all. And you can rest easy because you won't have to take out a second mortgage to pay for it all.

Planning a birthday bash on a budget generally requires two things: creativity and a little extra effort in pulling it all together. Try these suggestions for combining the two.

  • Plan party activities that are multifunctional. Plan a craft for guests to make; this serves as both a party activity and a party favor. Or provide all the fixings and allow guests to make individual pizzas, sub sandwiches or banana splits. This will keep the kids busy and take care of a majority of the party food.

  • In the months following a holiday, watch store clearance tables for items that can be used for birthday parties. Candy, colorful gift bags, and small novelty items can be used in making party loot bags. Watch also for useable decorations such as streamers and balloons, as well as colored napkins, cups and plates.

  • Use photos as party favors. At the beginning of the party, take a digital group photo of the birthday child and guests. Arrange in advance to have a helper sneak away to the computer and print out the pictures before the party is over. Then slide copies of the photo into inexpensive paper frames for guests to take home as a party favor.

  • Hiring a professional clown or magician may be out of your price range, but do you know an aspiring entertainer who would provide the entertainment at a reasonable price? Another entertainment idea is to ask a friend with a special talent (a potter, gourmet cook or musician) to do demonstrations or lead the kids in fun learning activities.

  • If you want to keep the party food simple and low-cost, mid-afternoon is a great time to plan your child's party. Serving only cake and ice cream is a practical solution since the kids have already eaten lunch and it is too early for dinner. If you want to serve more, light fingerfoods (pretzels, popcorn, fruit slices) should suffice.

  • Look for free or low-cost activities that could serve as the theme and entertainment for the party. Does your area have a children's museum? Coordinate your child's party to take advantage of any special museum programs. Is a local library hosting a free puppet show or craft class? Take the group to participate in it and then go to a local park for a picnic lunch and birthday cake afterward.

  • When funds are low, use bartering to get what you need for the party. Work with other parents to swap skills and services you can provide (babysitting, housecleaning, or housesitting) for services they can provide for your party (cake decorating, entertainment, use of their pool, etc.).

  • While we're on the topic of saving on birthday parties, don't forget that your child will also be invited to other children's parties throughout the year. Watch clearance sales for items that can be used as birthday gifts. Maintaining a stockpile of bargain-priced gifts is a great way to save money on presents for parties your child will attend.

Nancy Twigg is a Christian speaker and the author of Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions

Take the Next Step

  • Look for bargains at your local party supply store and online as well. ShindigZ's Party Supply Outlet Store regularly discounts their supplies.
  • Don't forget to take plenty of pictures!
  • Subscribe to our weekly "Surviving Tough Times" newsletter. This free html newsletter will provide ways to survive in this challenging economy. Each issue features articles to help you stretch your dollar!

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