I love planning birthday parties and I grew up with a “Pinterest Mom” (before there was Pinterest). When our son was 8 months old, I had already picked a theme and ordered decorations for his 1st birthday party. My birthday party motto is “GO BIG OR GO HOME.” However, my husband (and bank account’s) motto is “keep it cheap.” Since my son’s 1st birthday, I have thrown 4 more birthday parties for my kids. I have found a great balance on throwing the party that I envision, but keeping my husband – and our budget – happy.
Here’s how we keep it cheap!
- Don’t have a party during a meal time. This is especially hard when you’re working around kids who need a nap, but the biggest hit to a budget are a whole bunch of pizzas. Most of our parties just had fruit, cake, water, and lemonade, and that was great!
- Make the cake yourself, or ask a friend or family member. For my son’s 3rd birthday party, one of my friends graciously offered to make his birthday cake since I had one month old twins at home, and it was a miracle he even HAD a birthday party. He loved it, and it was yummier, and cheaper, than any store bought cake I had ever had.
- Find a free location. We had our son’s first birthday party at his grandparent’s house because we knew we invited too many people to have it at our own small home. After that, we started having parties either at the park or our church gym. Check with the local parks nearby if your children were born in months with good weather (although that is rare in Oklahoma!). Some may charge a fine for space under a gazebo, but if you aren’t picky about where you set up, you can have your guests sit at any tables in the park for free.
- Use toys from home & photos of the child for decorations. If your child’s party has a certain theme, chances are there are decorations waiting for you in your toy box. We’ve used balloons weighed down with monster trucks for my son’s Monster Truck themed party, Woody and Jessie toys borrowed from a friend for our twin’s Toy Story party, and already owned cranes and construction trucks were great for my son’s Construction party. In addition, we always do a small photo shoot with a family friend before our kid’s birthday parties. We usually use the photos from the shoot as decorations for the party.
- If you have the time, DIY everything…but make sure it’s not cheaper to buy it! While I was picking out fabric for a cowboy themed banner at Hobby Lobby, the associate mentioned to me that they actually sold something similar. It was only $3, and I wouldn’t have extra fabric scraps leftover. Hobby Lobby has every kind of printed paper imaginable! Wood-grain patterned paper made a great “Welcome to the Round Up” fence post sign, buffalo plaid printed paper was great for a lumberjack party. Their paper is cheap and I’ve used it to make all sorts of party decorations. Don’t forget to hit up your local Walmart and Dollar Tree! I’m always surprised what I can find there, and colored plates and napkins are cheapest there!
- Utilize social media. I feel like more and more, people are not RSVP-ing to parties (which is an issue for another post). I enjoy making themed invitations, but I am starting to feel like they are pretty pointless. Facebook is a great way to invite people to your party and easily keep track of who is attending. It’s also a great place to post updates in case of sickness or bad weather that can be read by each guest quickly and easily.