Growing up, I had some pretty great birthday parties. I remember one rather extravagant birthday where the real-life Barbie attended and gave everyone makeovers (it was really her, don’t try to tell me anything different).
I don’t know how much that cost my parents, but you can bet it was a pretty penny.
Elaborate birthdays are great, but more humble celebrations can be just as memorable. In fact, one of my favorite birthdays was very simple: Hanson was my favorite band at the time, and I was determined to show my fandom at my birthday party. Believe it or not, Hanson wasn’t an available theme at the party story. So, my mom ordered a cake with their band logo drawn on; we had orange plates and utensils to match their album cover; we hung up a poster of the band and had “MMMBop” playing on repeat. It was the coolest party ever – as well as inexpensive.
Budgets for a child’s birthday party will always vary. Whether you’re looking to spend $100 or $500, you can throw an unforgettable birthday party! Take a look at some of our tips to save and still make this birthday a memorable experience for your kids.
Venues eat up the bulk of the cost for a birthday party, so finding the right one can be difficult.
The most cost-effective venue will always be at home. It’s free (hello, savings) and convenient – you don’t even have to go anywhere! However, this isn’t an option for every family or every party. If you’re planning on having 20 kids from the school over plus parents and other family members, a house can fill up pretty quickly. You also have to deal with the cleanup – it’s the tradeoff for having a completely free venue.
If hosting the party at home isn’t the best option for you, there are still deals to be found. Try picking a venue that offers inclusive packaging. You can often find deals at places like bowling alleys, trampoline parks, arcades or children’s spas that will include lunch, tableware, decor and, sometimes, party favors.
The price will range based on the number of guests you’ll have attending, so if you’re trying to cut costs, keep the guest list short.
The décor is likely where your children will want to start with their planning.
This is where you really develop a theme. If your child wants a birthday inspired by the latest cartoon character, movie or video game, those decorations could add up quickly. Buying tableware and décor that has licensed characters on them are often more expensive than their non-themed options.
You can find some great options for themed birthday parties on Amazon or at the party supply store. A basic party kit for eight people tends to run around $20 to $25, depending on the theme. If you plan to have more than eight guests, you can buy additional plates, napkins, utensils and cups that coordinate with the party kits. Additional supplies come in eight- or 16-count and range from $2 to $4 on average.
Instead of spending a ton of money on tablecloths and paper plates with the characters’ faces on them, opt for simple, colored tableware that coordinates with the theme’s colors. For example, if you want a LEGO Batman birthday, buy yellow and black paper goods. If your little one loves Moana, go with something more tropical, like bright blues and greens.
The best part? Not only will it still look pretty, but you get more than double the amount you get in a themed package for nearly the same price. Saving a couple of bucks on the little things might not seem like much, but if you’re inviting 20-plus people, those savings add up pretty quickly.
Now that the colors have set the backdrop for the setting, you can buy a couple of pieces of themed décor to tie everything together. Save money by displaying the theme in on or more of these ways: character table toppers, one or two character balloons mixed in with single-color balloons and streamers, a banner.
Last, but certainly not least, is the food.
No one wants a group of hungry kids running around (or hangry adults for that matter), but how do you feed so many mouths while not breaking the bank? Go for food you can buy in bulk – things like hot dogs, chicken nuggets, chips and other snacks. If you don’t want to cook, check your local pizza places for party specials. You may be able to get pizza at $1 or less per head.
For drinks, consider making specialty drinks, like Kool-Aid or lemonade, from concentrate. These mixes or concentrates can be bought in pouches or containers and allow you to make large quantities for a little money.
Keep an eye out for special deals at your grocery store as it gets closer to the party, too. You may be able to score a BOGO deal on soda or juice.
Is it even a birthday party if there’s no cake? You might be able to make a substitution with doughnuts or cupcakes, but other than that, it’s pretty much an unspoken rule: You must celebrate with sweet treats of some sort! The problem? Birthday cakes can be pricey, especially if you want it decorated a specific way.
Instead of spending $50+ for a birthday cake, you can make your own. If you have a favorite from-scratch cake recipe, use that. But, if you prefer your cake mix out of the box, there’s no shame in that! A box of cake mix and a jar of frosting usually costs around $4. That’s a good chunk of savings!
If you want to make a character cake, you can buy plastic rings (great for cupcakes) or cake toppers online and use them to make your birthday cake extra special.
Throwing a birthday party your kids will love doesn’t take a lot of money. It just takes some forethought and a little creativity.
Do you have a favorite birthday celebration? Share it with us in the comment section.
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