This weekend, my two littlest ones will celebrate their first birthday. As many of you probably know, birthday parties tend to take a lot of planning, a pretty large budget and more energy than most moms have. I’ve come up with a few tips to plan a great birthday party on a budget (both for you AND your guests).
1. Rather than renting out a hall or facility, host the party from your home. If your child has a birthday during good weathered days, host a backyard barbecue. Put on the invitation to bring lawn chairs if you don’t have enough outdoor seating. The city I live in charges for park pavilion rentals but this is also a good idea to check on for an outdoor party.
Dealing with a winter birthday? If your home really doesn’t have enough space, host multiple parties. Do a small one for your child’s friends and another small one for your child’s family. If you do both parties in the same day or same weekend, you won’t have to worry about wasting leftovers or spending more money on multiple sets of decorations. Keep in mind, my house is under 1,000 square feet and I’ve still hosted my whole family for holidays and birthdays: 30 people crammed into a small space with no major complaints. (And yes, the larger majority sits on the floor or stands. We have enough seating for maybe 12.)
2. Keep it short. The birthday party does not have to last all day. Plan for a 2-hour window. This is enough time for your child to open presents, guests to eat snacks and the cake to be served. If you are doing a party for just your child’s friends, consider skipping opening presents in front of the big group and plan fun games instead. Use craft sites like Pinterest to plan cheap and easy options.
3. Limit the decorations. You don’t need balloons or a centerpiece on every table. You don’t need streamers hanging from every furniture corner either. I normally limit to 2-3 balloons, a banner across the fireplace mantel and a table cloth. I also started a tradition of getting a personalized placemat matching the birthday theme. They run about $8, can be used as decoration during the party and can continue being used throughout your little ones’ first years for meals every day.
4. Birthday celebrations do not always have to be about presents. Try to make the focus of your party about something else. It’s hard for many guests to budget in a gift but no one wants to admit that. Add a line on the invitation asking for guests to consider donating to a local charity instead of bringing a gift. Or host a “show-and-tell” party where kids bring their favorite toy or book to share during the party instead of bringing a gift.
5. Make your own cake. Not sure you can swing a whole cake at home? Try cupcakes instead. No one will be judging you for the way they look. Let your little one put on the icing and sprinkles and buy or make cupcake toppers to match your theme. Or if you have a bunch of kids coming, let them ice their own cupcake and pick their own toppings. Still not convinced on making your own cupcakes/cake? Do a “make your own ice cream
sundae” bar. Have a selection of toppings available (fresh fruit, crushed cookies, gummy bears, sprinkles, whipped cream, etc. Almost anything works!) And each guest gets to add whatever toppings they want.
6. Create evites instead of spending money on formal invitations and stamps. You can use Facebook or other online services to let guests know the details as well as RSVP. You can even use apps on your smart phone to add text to pictures. Email the decorated picture to your friends and family for a quick and easy “green” invitation.
7. Use your own cups, utensils or plates. If you don’t have enough, mix your own stuff with paper products. Sure you’ll have more dishes to do but you’ll also have more money in your pocket.
Just remember, no matter what kind of party you end up with, your son or daughter isn’t going to notice that you bought decorations and party supplies from the dollar store instead of the big party conglomerate. He won’t notice that you are crammed together. She won’t notice that you made cupcakes instead of buying them. What they will notice though is that you took the time to show your love for them and celebrated the day they were born, no matter how you do it, on a budget or not, with a party or not.
What are some of your favorite birthday party ideas? Leave us a comment and share your tips with others.
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