Have you noticed the hype around children’s birthday parties these days? Birthday parties are not the simple Saturday afternoon get together they once were. Instead, they feel like a competition for the most over the top Pinterest perfect event. Is it possible to have a memorable and fun birthday party for your kids without all the expense? Absolutely! Here are some of the best ways to save money on your child’s birthday party.
Save on Location
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While it is perfectly fine to have a party at a Bounce Center, Indoor Playground, or Trampoline Park, they can get quite expensive. When it is all said and done you may spend well over $500 dollars for just 2 hours that your little one may or may not remember. What they will remember is who was there much more than where they were. Here are ways you can cut the cost on your party location.
- Purchase a party package at a party place through Groupon or Living Social. You can easily cut the party cost down by 1/3-1/2 of the regular price.
- Have your party on a non weekend day to save money.
- Reserve a picnic area at a local park.
- If you are willing, you could have a party at your home for free with just a little more work. If you have a lovely backyard, why not use it to entertain? Just have an alternative in case it rains.
Save on Tableware
It is super cute if your child has a birthday theme to have everything match. You can spend a small fortune buying all the matching napkins, plates and cups for your child’s favorite character. To be honest, at the end of the day the kids at your party don’t care if the cake plate has the face of their favorite princess or superhero on it or not. It all ends up in the trash can anyway, so why not save a few dollars by picking up some plain plates at the Dollar Store?
They usually have a great selection of colors, so just pick ones that match your child’s theme. I like to tie it all together by splurging on a few theme decorations or tablecloths which is much more cost effective in the long run. You can also save by buying online. You can find less expensive tableware on Amazon, Birthday Express, Party City, Oriental Trading, or Birthday In a Box. For all of the sites listed, except for Amazon, you can great coupons that will save you even more at Retailmenot.com If you want to find out more on how to find great coupons, check out my post Coupon Strategies for Working Moms.
Save on Invitations
There are lots of ways you can save on invitations. One of the best ways is to not pay for an invitation at all by using an electronic invitation. Here are the best ways to save money on invitations.
- Send an email invite using a service such as Evite or Punchbowl.
- Pick up a pack or two of generic paper invitations at a Dollar Store.
- Design your own invitations using Powerpoint, Canva, Pic Monkey or another program. Download your files and then print them out at home. Check out Ellie Rose Party Designs YouTube page for some great tutorials.
- Find an inexpensive design on Etsy or Fivver and print them at home.
Save on Decorations
Decorations for parties can get super expensive, especially if you will never use them again. I try to reuse old party decorations first when I can. Secondly, I keep most of the decorations generic. As with the tableware, I suggest buying more generic balloons, streamers, and signs. Most kids don’t care that everything is completely themed. They really only care that they are at a party and it looks fun. If your child’s character theme uses certain colors then buy generic balloons and streamers in those colors. You can pick up a few decorations with the child’s character choice and intersperse them with the other decorations. You can also find less expensive decorations at online retailers like Amazon, Birthday Express, Party City, Oriental Trading, or Birthday In a Box. Don’t forget to look for coupons at Retailmenot.com
Save on Party Favors
I find the best place to purchase party favors is the Dollar Store. Let’s face it, most of the items you purchase will end up in the trash. While you don’t want them to fall apart, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on super high quality items. I suggest purchasing a mix of small toys, a few pieces of candy or snacks and art supplies.
Here are a list of good party favors that other parents won’t hate. Avoid items that are loud or super messy.
- Fruit Snacks
- Goldfish or Character Crackers
- Glow Bracelets or Necklaces
- Coloring Books
- Matchbox Cars
- Lollipops or M & M’s fun size
- Plastic Rings or Bracelets
Save on Cake
There are many ways to save on cake.
- Check out your local grocery store, discount retailer or warehouse club. We often order cakes at our local grocery store and our friends are always surprised when we tell them where it is from.
- Find a local baker who can make them for you. Many people have home bakery businesses and you might be surprised that you have a friend or acquaintance who can help you out.
- Look for discounts for local bakeries on Groupon and Living Social. This last suggestion may be a shocker as it is so unusual these days.
- Bake your own cupcakes. I have several reasons for suggesting this.
- It’s way more cost effective than buying them.
- A store bought mix should be healthier than most store bakery cakes. Those are loaded with way more additives and preservatives.
- Parents will appreciate it. I would rather my child had homemade frosting than ingesting the dye laden ones you often see at parties. You know the ones with the colors you can’t duplicate at home. Even if you don’t mind your children ingesting all that dye, have you ever tried to clean black frosting off a 2 year old? It’s not a pretty sight.
If you are not confident in your decorating skills, ask a friend or take a Wilton Cake Decorating class at your local craft store. You will learn great techniques you will can use over and over again, eat yummy cake and learn a new skill. I made the cupcakes below for my husband’s 40th birthday. I used a simple Wilton frosting technique, fun cupcake wrappers and printed some decorations that I bought off Etsy for the toppers.
Save on Food
If you host a party at a venue other than your home or a park, food may be included in the package or your may have to pay extra for it. If you host the party at a park or your home, you will need to provide some type of food. Besides providing snacks and munchies, you probably want a main dish such as pizza or sandwiches. Always look for coupons for both of these items. Check Retailmenot.com, local coupon mailings, and sign up for the mailing list for the restaurants you might use to get coupon codes. If you plan far enough ahead you can keep your eyes open for deals on water bottles, juice boxes, fruit snacks, pretzels and chips at your local grocery store, discount retailer, or warehouse club. You can purchase a fruit and veggie tray or make your own if you are so inclined. You can really cut your costs if you plan ahead.
Save on Entertainment
Many people choose big party venues despite the cost, for convenience. It can be scary to entertain a group of children for 2-3 hours if you don’t normally do that. It is also the reason many people spend money renting bounce houses, clowns, princesses, magicians and other characters. If you want to save on those, but you don’t know what to do, start thinking about party games you played and loved as a child. I hosted a party last year for my children at a park and the kids had a blast playing simple party games. The parents got a kick out of it too. Here’s a list of party games that children will love to play.
- Duck, duck, goose
- Hot Potato
- Freeze Dance
- Music Chairs or Squares
- Simon Says
- Water Balloon Toss
- Giant Memory
- Pin the Tail on the Donkey (or some variation)
- Fruit Salad
Need help remembering all of this? Download my Birthday Party Savings Checklist.
Dare to Be Different
My final thought is that it’s okay to do something different. You can plan a wonderful children’s party for your child on a Dollar Store budget if you plan ahead, put some thought into it, and get creative. Stop worrying about what other parents may think. You may just start a new neighborhood trend. How many parents will be thrilled that they don’t have to live up to a Pinterest perfect standard for their own child’s party?