Budget Birthdays

2007-11-019Birthday parties seem to be a right of passage for children, but they don’t have to be expensive. At-home parties are not only cheaper, they are usually more memorable than just another Chuck E Cheese celebration. The key to having a memorable party at home is to choose a theme and embellish it. This can be anything from your child’s favorite character to a craft-centered idea, like tie-dying or something more general such as pirates or pop stars.

Once you have selected your theme, don’t get caught up in buying it all at the party store. Purchasing the “deluxe party kit” that happens to have your child’s theme on it is not going to automatically create a fabulous party. Break it down and consider where you can cut costs:

  • Invitations: The fill-in-the-blank cards can costs $2-$3 for 8, but you can make them at home for less than half the cost. Print them on cardstock or upload them to your favorite photo studio for printing as a 4×6 postcard size. Consider the theme and let your imagination take over. I have used recipe cards to invite children to a baking party, notched out corners to create a train ticket for a Thomas party and printed a collage of my child’s baby pictures for a 1st birthday.
  • There is no need to purchase pricey decorations that will be thrown away when the party ends. Chances are good you will already have what you need in your child’s toybox. Create a table centerpiece using dress shoes & a crown for your princess tea or a dinosaur diorama for your dino-theme bash.
  • You don’t have to have Hannah Montana plates, Hannah Montana napkins and Hannah Montana cups to serve cake and ice cream to your pop divas. Pick one and use less expensive solid color plates to coordinate the rest of your paper goods.
  • The parents will thank you for skipping the goody bags full of cheap junk. If you want to give a gift to thank the children for attending the party, stick with the theme and consider working it into the party’s activities. Completed crafts serve double-duty at many children’s parties. A single, inexpensive trinket can go a long way when it fits the theme, such as a train whistle or diva sunglasses.
  • After the party, avoid the pricey themed thank-you cards in favor of something more personal. Take a picture of your child with each guest at the event, and write her thanks on the back of the printed photo. Each guest will appreciate the extra memento of the special day.