By Selena Garrison and Nicole Irving
We completely understand the struggle of planning and executing a fun birthday party on a budget. Thankfully, limited funds do not have to mean limited fun! There are lots of ways to cut back on cost, while still providing great memories for your kids.
The most important thing to remember is that no one is comparing your kid’s birthday party to any other kid’s birthday party. A lot of times us parents get really caught up in making sure that we look good in front of other parents. The president of the PTA had pony rides at her son’s birthday? Fun! You have a $20 slip-and-slide from Walmart and a garden hose? Just as fun!
When it comes to actually planning the party, there are tons of ways to cut down on costs, but here are my top five tips.
- Location. Choosing the venue for your child’s birthday party can be a big expense. If you are trying to stick to a budget, you can host a great party at home or at a nearby public park. Many have covered pavilion areas that you can reserve for free or a nominal fee. For information on facility and park reservations in Gainesville, visit Cityofgainesville.org/ParksRecreationCulturalAffairs. If your kiddo has his sights set on a particular venue, try connecting with the parents of a friend who has a birthday around the same time. You may be able to host the party together and split the cost — a true win-win!
- Invitations. There are so many ways to save here. The least expensive way to get invitations out is digitally via Facebook or email/text. I like Facebook events because I can easily manage RSVPs, interact with guests leading up to the party and post any last-minute changes due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. If digital invitations are not your style, my next favorite option is the dollar store. You can get eight to 10 cute party invitations with envelopes for $1! If you want specifically themed invitations, you can check online for free printables that you can print at home, just keep in mind that the cost of paper and ink can add up! How many you invite also adds to the cost of the party. If budget is an issue, keep the party small and intimate. Invite as many kiddos as your little one is turning. If he is turning 7, invite seven friends!
- Decorations. Again, the trusty dollar store has a TON of party supplies. Go with solid white plates, napkins, cups and add hints of color with balloons and table coverings (all available at the dollar store). Want to go big on the balloons? Purchase a helium tank and blow up as many as you like for minimum cost. If you are having a party that revolves around your kiddo’s favorite theme, such as Disney’s CARS or dinosaurs, then use their actual toy cars or dinosaurs as part of the decorations! Just make sure not to use their absolute favorite, in case it gets lost during the party! Then, check online (hello, Pinterest!) for free printable theme items like birthday banners, signs, cupcake toppers, etc.
- Food. Keep it simple! Consider planning the party for mid-morning or mid-afternoon so that you do not have to serve a full meal. Stick to homemade cake and ice cream, and call it a day! If you choose to go for a timeframe close to lunch or dinner, pizza is always a hit and you can have the slices double cut — little tummies fill up quickly! Skip the soda cans or juice boxes and instead use plastic cups. Write each kiddo’s name on their cup in Sharpie and have water and lemonade to serve.
- Favors. If you do favors, keep them simple (and inexpensive). Again, the Dollar Tree has all sorts of cups, bags, candy and toys that you can use to put together favors easily for under $2 each. Online sites like Oriental Trading also have great deals on large quantity items.
Party for one
Instead of doing a huge, blowout party, offer to let your birthday boy or girl invite once close friend over for a sleepover. Then you can treat the two of them to dinner and a movie.
Limit the parties
Have birthday parties only on the even, odd or “big 5” years. On the other birthdays, stick to an intimate family dinner with their favorite meal. Just make sure you do the same for all the kiddos in your family!