How To Plan A Birthday Party on a Budget

Kids Birthday Party

It used to be that birthday parties were simple. Mom would bake a cake and a few kids would gather at the child’s home to ride bikes or play outside. Today’s birthday parties hardly resemble the good old days. Today’s kids expect to have their party at an arcade, a bowling alley, a themed restaurant with play land, or a skating rink. What can you do if an elaborate off-site party is not in the budget for your family? You can host it at home!

A party that you host at home can be even more fun than one where you pay several dollars per head. You get to control the atmosphere, the noise level, the food, the games, the birthday gifts and more. Everyone has a good time and it didn’t cost you a week’s salary.

Depending on how old your child is, she may not even notice a difference between her party’s location (your home) and her friend Brittany’s party (Chuck E. Cheese’s). If you are blessed with small children, you will find that they love a party anytime anywhere. So, hosting at home is not a big issue.

If you have a tween who still wants a birthday party but fears it won’t be cool enough if it’s held at home, have a nice conversation about it. Sit your child down and say that you would like to give him the option of having a birthday party at home or taking one friend out to dinner with you.  He will feel he has had a choice in his own birthday. And either way, it will cost you less than a big party on location somewhere.

Realize that you control the guest list. You don’t have to have the entire fourth grade at your house for the party. Limit the number of guests to an amount you can reasonably handle. If you say it’s six kids and no more, then you will feel comfortable when party day arrives.

Make everything that you can. That includes the cake, cupcakes, dips, homemade pizza, and more. You don’t have to have a Thanksgiving feast. A small number of finger foods and a cake is enough. If you are going light, be sure to write on the invitation “snacks and cake” so moms know to feed their children before they come. Nothing is worse than a hungry toddler who cries through the whole party.

Save on the fancy decorations. If SpongeBob is on your child’s wish list, use yellow napkins, a yellow sheet as a table cover, yellow plastic forks and yellow cups. Then, bring in one or two SpongeBob balloons. Your child will feel like it’s a SpongeBob party if the theme is there somehow.

As far as birthday party favors, think homemade. Give out bags of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Or, raid the dollar store and go with age appropriate small trinkets. If you feel even that’s going to put you over budget, go without favors.

Splurge to make the best cake possible and get some good ice cream to go with it. That’s what everyone will remember anyway. And teach your child that it’s not about how much money you spend, but whether or not you are with friends and family and having fun. Other moms may breathe a sigh of relief that they no longer have to keep up with the Joneses either. Set the standard for the inexpensive, but fun, party and you will see others follow suit.

A few other things you can do is to make decorations out of things you already have in your home. Use candy and sequins as a festive addition to the main table. Children’s toys like stuffed bears can be placed around the room to give a cohesive teddy bear theme. Dolls work well, too.

Instead of feeling like you have to entertain everyone with games and elaborate prizes, let kids be kids. Let them run around or play Pin the Tail on the Donkey or Twister. Skip the prizes or go with small trinkets or stickers or home made lollipops.

More on Kids Parties: