budget-friendly birthdays!

Growing up, my Mom always had awesome birthday parties for us, and she knew how to throw a great party! I always said I wanted to do the same for my kids one day, although over the years, depending on financial status not every birthday was as big or elaborate. I think the main thing she taught me, however, was that you can do something awesome for really cheap. I learned from her how to do the same, and today I thought I’d share some of those great tips with you.

1)  Set a Budget – This is the most important thing. Whatever you do, do not go over the budget amount (I made this mistake with my child’s 1st birthday – we paid for it later by eating soup and crackers for a while, haha). Make sure to include everything under the budget, from favor bags to decorations, from food to your child’s gift.

2)  Pick an Easy Theme – This takes some time and planning. I suggest picking one as far in advance as you can. Find out what your child likes, and offer many different options. If your child is very little, you can pick the theme yourself. Also, visit stores and see what is available (see #3).

3)  2 Words: Dollar Stores – Never, ever, ever pay full price for something! You can even go to the dollar store and pick your theme based off of what you find (which is what I did for my son’s 1st birthday party)! Dollar Tree, Big Lots, and Michaels are my favorite places to go. Scour the dollar aisles and wait for things to go on sale. Again, do NOT pay full price for anything. One example: this year’s favor includes a shovel and pail for each child who comes. I got them for $0.50 each by waiting until they went on sale (normally they were $1.50 each!)

4)  Shop All Year – It is amazing how much you can do if you only spend $10 a month, vs. $100 at one time. I am a planner by nature, so this one comes easier for me. But even if you are not a planner, write yourself a note every month to do it. Even if you only shop 6 months in advance, you will get good deals. I also go to garage sales, consignment shops, and Goodwill. Nobody will know if you got the cake topper used – if it looks cute, great!

5)  Use What You Have – If you pick a theme based on something your child already likes, chances are you already have a lot of things at home you can use. Does your little boy like dinosaurs? If he has lots of dinosaur stuff, clean it up and use it for cake decorations and table décor! Does your daughter like princesses? Use dress up clothes for décor (like a crown for the cake topper). I did this for my son’s 2nd birthday party with all of my old high-school bedroom stuff in the attic (my bedroom back then was an ocean theme).

6)  Make It Yourself – If you are not a crafty person, enlist the help of a friend who is. If your baking skills stink, order the cake from somewhere inexpensive but make the rest of the food days ahead (most things freeze!). Keep it simple and work on it slowly when you have time, like after the kids go to sleep. J

7)  Don’t Go To an Expensive Place – If you don’t have room at your house for a party, ask someone else (friend or relative) if you can have the party at theirs. Check out parks and recreation complexes in your area; they will usually be very cheap and kid-friendly. Places like Chucky Cheese and the Bowling Alley will eat up your money (and tokens!) faster than you can sing Happy Birthday! AND, stay away from anywhere that offers to do the party for you – they will buy stuff from Dollar Tree and charge you 3 times the amount just so you don’t have to do the work!
So there ya go! It's only my little guy's 3rd birthday this year, but just in the last few years I have made many mistakes with parties. Most of all, relax and have fun! If it is too stressful, it's not worth it. YAY for birthdays!!! :)



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