Ask Miserly Moms: How Can I Save Money on Birthday Gifts and Parties?

by Jonni McCoy

When it's time for a special occasion, we tend to throw out the budget. Some of us even resort to using our credit cards for these events since we had not planned for them in our budget. With a little foresight and creativity, we can handle these gift-giving days as well as we handle our daily expenses.

One way to give gifts that are not expensive is to watch sales and thrift stores all year long. We do this and stock up on both children's and adult gifts. Then when the parties arrive, we have something on hand.

With a little creativity, gifts can also be made instead of purchased. For younger children, we stock up on roller pin/baking sets when they are on sale at "dollar days" sales and wrap it with some homemade "gak" and play dough. For adults, we buy baskets when they are on clearance, and fill them with a theme. Some of our favorites are italian cooking (pasta, sauce, herbs, and a wooden slotted pasta spoon), or bath time (sample sized shampoos, bubble bath, and a loofa sponge), or coffee (a mug, some coffee beans or homemade instant cappuccino, and a flavored syrup).

Another way to reduce the cost of the adult gifts is to draw names at holidays so there are fewer people to buy for. Also, send cards instead of gifts wherever possible. People are usually very understanding if you explain that gifts are just not possible that year.

For your children's party, do as much of it yourself as you can. Bake the cake from a mix. Have the kids make simple crafts that they can take home instead of giving expensive party favors. Play some simple games that require little expense.

And to make next year's expenses a little easier to handle, plan ahead. Write down how many gifts you expect to buy next year, adding a dollar maximum you want to spend for each. Add up all of those gifts and divide by 12. This is the amount you need to set aside each month to be prepared.

Jonni McCoy, Author of "Miserly Moms-Living On One Income In A Two Income Economy" and "Frugal Families-Making The Most Of Your Hard Earned Money!" Visit the Miserly Moms Website at

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