How to Throw a Birthday Bash on a Budget
Inexpensive Ideas for a Kids Birthday Party
By Ashley Parks, CFP®
I love birthdays. To me there’s something wonderful about celebrating the blessing of life. Each year we have been blessed to be on this earth: to have friendships, relationships, opportunities and experiences. Whether it’s a child’s birthday party or one for an adult, a celebration of that person’s life and what they mean to us is a true gift in itself. The question is: how to throw a birthday bash when on a budget?
For starters, the best birthday parties are ones that actually match the personality of the person who’s having the birthday. Keep them in mind the entire time – from planning the menu to the activities – and you’ll give them a priceless memory. Serving their favorite foods and creating activities that they love are great places to start.
Some inexpensive venues for your party are your home, a friend’s home or the local park. Some parks may charge a nominal fee to use the pavilion, but the kids will enjoy access to all of the playground equipment. You can bring in your own food and drinks, decorate with some balloons and you’re set! Having the party at home can be fun too. We threw a ‘Sesame Street’- themed party for our daughter when she turned two. Our driveway turned into Sesame Street, complete with activities matching the different characters. We had cookie decorating with Cookie Monster, sidewalk chalk coloring in Elmo’s World, play time in Big Bird’s Nest – which entailed yellow blankets and toys – and we even had Oscar the Grouch’s picture pasted on the trash can. Get your creative juices flowing or borrow someone else’s ideas by searching the internet. Scavenger hunts, backyard or park Olympics and obstacle courses are fun and inexpensive ways to add entertainment to a birthday celebration.
Think about what you and your friends can do that you otherwise may have hired a professional for. If you have an artistic friend, see if they can help you by being the face painter. Want to have a princess or super hero show up at the party but are on a budget? Have a friend dress up and be your surprise guest (it may help in return to offer your services to them for their next party).
Choosing a time of day that isn’t lunch or dinner time will save you money on food. You can set out snacks and drinks but won’t have to worry about paying for everyone’s meal. As for the cake, a homemade cake is just as wonderful as a store bought cake – and you can personalize the decorations. Cupcakes have made a comeback at birthday parties as well: you can easily make them on your own and they make passing out cake to hungry kiddos a snap. The dollar store is a great place to find inexpensive decorations, favors, plates and napkins. Just remember to keep your budget in mind even at the dollar store.
The key is to be creative, have fun and enjoy the celebration. Tap into that inner child and think back on what you loved about childhood birthdays. As for me, my favorite birthday party memory was a super-hero birthday. We donned capes and ran around the backyard acting like Wonder Woman and Batman. Simple sheets turned into capes and I still remember the fun to this day. It was being with friends, twirling around and playing outside: the fun was priceless … yet it didn’t cost a dime.
Ashley Parks is a Certified Financial Planner and Author of The Saving Seed: Growing a Financially Healthy Family Tree; www.thesavingseed.com