Birthday Parties on a Budget
This year, consider giving your child the ultimate birthday party, one where he can play, have fun and just be a kid. The added bonus is that you get to keep your sanity and money. Follow these steps (some of which go against everything you’ve ever read about birthday parties) and you’ll have a stress-free celebration everyone can enjoy.
- Either call family and friends or visit Evite.com to save the cost of invitations and stamps. Invite them to your home or maybe even to a park shelter you reserve in advance. Set the party time for 1:00 so guests know lunch won’t be served (think of the cost plus setup and cleanup!). Make the pickup time clear; a couple of hours is usually plenty of time for a good shindig.
- The night before the party, bake the cake or cupcakes (from a box, of course). Feel free to get fancy on the cake if you have that talent; otherwise, most kids are just thrilled to have sugar in any form. You could even bake a special small cake, maybe heart-shaped, just for the birthday kid and let him decorate it himself.
- On party day, don’t worry about setting up a craft or handing out costly goodie bags for the kids. Most parents these days are into decluttering and find their kids have way too much junk. Craft and goodie bag paraphernalia will likely just get thrown away later. Parents will appreciate not having to take home anything except for their child and won’t feel guilty because you spent more on a goodie bag than they did on your child’s gift.
- To kill some time, consider a piñata (filled with something quickly disposed of, like candy or fruit snacks instead of junky toys). Otherwise, kids don’t need every minute of their day scheduled for them … running wild is what they are best at, especially at a birthday party!
- Assign one adult party-goer to take pictures and one to take video of all the fun, including the opening of gifts and blowing out of candles, so you can concentrate on celebrating with your child and keeping track of the other kids.
- Make the decorations simple, especially for younger kids who probably don’t watch enough television to even have a favorite cartoon character. Colored paper plates work great, as do regular plastic forks (recycle those forks if you’re going green!). Rather than buying expensive Mylar balloons, blow up some store-bought colored balloons yourself and tape them to walls and doorways or leave them loose on the floor.
- Speaking of gifts, are you tired of your kid’s receiving so many gifts at a birthday party that you can’t even find a place to put them all? Melissa, mom of one, says she asked guests to bring canned goods for Harvesters instead of gifts. What a way to teach the birthday boy or girl, as well as his or her guests, about gratitude and going green!
Kerrie McLoughlin (TheKerrieShow.com) lives in Peculiar, MO, and enjoys throwing five birthday parties a year for her kids!