Creative and cheap birthday party ideas
Blow Out the Candles, Not Your Budget!
by Kimberly Danger
A Great Birthday Party
A Frugal Party to the MAX!
Happy Birthdays on a Budget
Frugal Birthday Bashes
Children's birthday parties are a big deal. Anyone with a kid under age ten knows that they're anticipated as much as Christmas. What theme to choose? What games to play? What birthday supplies to bring? Who to invite? These are the big questions that kids begin to ponder months in advance.
With birthday parties even bigger and more expensive today than ever before, a frugal mom may feel defeated before she even puts her guest list together. However, the real focus of your child's party should be spending time and having fun with friends and family, which doesn't have to cost a lot. Here are some suggestions to keep the budget down, while turning up the fun.
Keep the Guest List Small
Don't feel guilty about limiting the size of the party. Experts recommend that the number of kids on your guest list should match your child's age. Your child will have just as much fun with a few close friends to help him celebrate, and no one will be overwhelmed.
Compare Costs of Locations
In most cases, the most economical place to hold your party will be your home. However, some places like gymnastics schools, museums, bowling alleys, and pizza restaurants offer birthday packages that are worth considering. Be sure to ask what their price includes. Most don't include decorations or party favors, so you'll have to add that when figuring your cost. Other ideas include a fire station tour, visiting a pet store or animal shelter, or a simple visit to the park.
Don't Do Go Overboard on Themed Merchandise
Barbie or Spiderman may be your theme, but that doesn't mean you have to buy the plates, napkins, and invitations to match. Buying all the stuff on the party aisle can kill your budget. Instead, look for a few choice items with your child's theme, and fill in the rest with matching colors. For my son's recent Thomas the Tank engine party, we bought one simple Mylar balloon (these are often available at your Dollar Store) and filled in with coordinating plain red and blue napkins, balloons, cups, etc.
Make it a Cake-Only Party
Planning your party after mealtime serves two purposes; kids aren't going to be hungry (translation: cranky), and you won't have to incur the cost of a meal. Instead, focus on the cake and ice cream. Making your own cake will save even more. There are some great websites with instructions on simple cake-making for every theme imaginable. If you're not all that creative, a simple sheet cake can be made to look "professional" with some sugar sprinkles (great for covering up a bad frosting job) and some small toys or inexpensive objects (matchbox cars, silk flowers, dollar store trinkets) that serve as cake toppers.
Homemade invitations add a personal touch and can be a special keepsake for your child. For themed parties, look for coloring pages on the Internet that can be scaled to fit an invitation, cut them out and have your child color them. A simple photo of the birthday child dressed to fit your theme or holding a sign that says "Come to My Party" can be a fun way to get the word out.
Save on personalized party supplies every day at Shindigz
Make-and-Take Party Favors
Simple craft activities can keep your guests entertained, and provide them with a nice keepsake to take home at the end of the party. For loot bags, buy plain lunch sacks and have guests decorate them with stickers and markers while waiting for others to arrive. Piñatas can be easily made with balloons and paper mache. Other fun activities include decorating a terra cotta pot, a craft foam picture frame, beading a bracelet, etc.
Kimberly Danger is the owner/publisher of Mommysavers.com, an online resource for parents interested in saving time and money. Portions of this article are excerpted from her book 1000 Best Baby Bargains, available online at Amazon.com. Ms. Danger lives in Southern Minnesota with her husband and two kids.
Take the Next Step
- Shop for party supplies and decorations at The Oriental Trading Company
- It's tough raising kids today! You need every time and money saving idea you can find. That's why you'll want to get our free weekly Dollar Stretcher for Parents newsletter. You'll find great ideas designed just for parents that will help your family 'live better...for less'! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.
- Visit our Let's Have a Party...For Pennies board on Pinterest for more frugally fun party ideas.
Discuss "Frugal Birthday Parties" in The Dollar Stretcher Community
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor
We're still paying off last Christmas and worry how we'll afford the holidays this year without charging it again! Tell us: Yes, we could use help getting out of the debt trap we're in! or No, debt is not a problem for us but I'm always looking for ways to trim my family's expenses further!
Money-Saving Tools for Families
Trending This Week
- 5 big bills you can cut fast
- 5 frugal ways to expand your living space
- 4 steps to a simpler (and more frugal) life
- Ways to reduce the financial and emotional costs of a divorce
- Surprising reasons to have family meal time
- Will your family be taken care of if something happens to you?
- How to teach kids about compound interest
- This week's Readers' Tips