Small can be good. Parents don’t always need to break the bank to host a birthday party for their children. Some simply can’t afford it, but think they will disappoint their children if they don’t bring in the ponies, cakes from the city’s best bakeries or the top entertainment money can buy.
Parents need to decide what they can afford to spend on the party – and stick to it, according to tips on how to plan a child’s birthday party on a budget from www.eHow.com.
Choosing an inexpensive location, such as a park or your own backyard is perfect for large groups of children – they are free, there is a lot of space and plenty of room for fun.
Mom Cyndi Rothan of Prattville, Ala., says her backyard is just large enough for an inflatable water slide and has room for a dozen or more children to run through freely.
“Why not use the resources I have?” says the mother of three daughters, ages 5, 8 and 11. “If the girls want to invite as many people as they do to their birthday parties, then there will be some cuts made as far as entertainment. I save a lot of money having it at home, and am lucky their birthdays fall in warm months so we can do this.”
Here are 10 money-saving tips culled from the Web site Birthdays Without Pressure (www.birthdayswithoutpressure.org); Jonni McCoy, author of “Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two-Income Economy” (Bethany House Publishers, 2001, $13.99); MoneyInstructor.com and the Web site The Dollar Stretcher (www.stretcher.com) for birthday parties that won’t blow your budget:
• Decide up front how much you can afford. Setting a budget – and sharing the details of that budget with your child – can help avoid spending too much and also help your child have realistic expectations for the big day.
• Don’t invite too many people. Bearing in mind that kids – especially young children – can connect with only so many people at a time. Remember the traditional guest list formula: Invite as many guests as the child’s age.
And instead of spending a lot of money on invitations, consider handwritten invitations, which add a personal touch to the party.
• Brainstorm the theme with your child. Find out what your child really wants the party to include, and let him or her do much of the organizing. He or she may even take pride in coming in under budget and using the savings for something else.
- Keep the food simple. Do you really need to provide full meals for everyone, or would cake, punch and maybe some chips and dip suffice? What’s more, you and your child could have fun making the cake together and decorating it.
Also, premade foods should be purchased in bulk – kids usually are happy with inexpensive treats such as hotdogs, pasta salad, and even baby carrots and celery sticks.
- Keep decorations simple, too. A simple “Happy Birthday” sign and some streamers may do the trick.
• Plan around an activity. During that brainstorming session you have, dream up a low-cost party activity that’s right up your kid’s alley. The party could center around baking and decorating cookies, putting on a talent show or a play, playing dress-up, hosting a dance party, doing a scavenger or treasure hunt or building a massive sandcastle.
• Stay home. You’re bound to spend much less money if you invite kids over to your home than if you take them out to a restaurant or an amusement park that charges per head for birthday parties.
• Buddy up. If you do want to throw a more extravagant party one year, you could consider teaming up with other parents whose children were born around the same time and sharing the costs.
- Plan ahead. You can squirrel away presents for your kids – and for other inevitable gift recipients – throughout the year in order to avoid getting hit with too much of an expense all at once.
• Be open to alternatives. Instead of traditional birthday gifts, think about giving your child a new experience or privilege – perhaps a later bedtime hour or curfew. You also could take the day off work so you can spend time together, and you can start a tradition – say, always making sure the birthday boy or girl gets breakfast in bed or the choice of that night’s special dinner menu.
On the Web:
www.birthdayswithoutpressure.org, Birthdays Without Pressure offers alternatives for parties