Today is my oldest son’s birthday. He’s six, and it seems like only a few days have passed since I was celebrating his birth in an entirely different way! This is the first year that’s he’s really been aware of his birthday- counting down the days, planning his party’s guest list and so on. We had his party last Sunday, with friends, and will celebrate as a family this evening.
Here are some ways we saved money while planning his party.
Set your budget
Deciding how much you are going to spend, that’s pretty obvious. But if you start planning the party a few months in advance, you can pay for it in advance as well. I bought all his presents a few months before his birthday (we’re giving him three things) and I paid the deposit on his party last month. That means that this month, I only had to pay the remaining party fees, which were less than â‚¬20.
The guest list
Don’t invite the whole class, that’s for sure! We limited my son to five friends, and I even found that to be a lot of kids. I have found that if I give my son a set number from the beginning, he willingly respects the limit. You might want to invite just one good friend and ask them to spend the whole day celebrating. Or, have a large family party, but make it more informal. We often combine my second son’s birthday with a big ‘start of summer’ potluck.
Invitations and Thank You notes
Of course you can buy invitations to fill out yourself, but your child would probably have a lot of fun making his or her own. I called some parents, and told other by email, and my son wrote two invitations on his own. I’m going to have him write a thank you note to each of his guests, drawing a picture of them together at the party, or of him playing with his gift.
Where to hold it?
Are you going to have the birthday party in your house, or will you go somewhere else? Our house is very small, so we’ve always needed to go elsewhere for our kids’ parties. This choice is further complicated by the season; January is not a good month for parties in the park! On the other hand, it would be perfect if you wanted to go play in the snow for the day, followed by hot chocolate and cake.
We shared his party this year with some good friends, and so were able to rent time at a local play area for about half as much as it would have cost us otherwise. We’ve also held parties at McDonalds (without paying the party package) or had lunch at a restaurant.
The time of day obviously influences the food you are going to serve. Try finger foods, or something like pizza and quiche, if you are hosting the party yourself. Otherwise, plan your party for late afternoon, and the only food you’ll be responsible for is cake. One of my favorite cake recipes is endlessly adaptable: apple, carrot, lemon, chocolate…. and easy and cheap to make. An even more frugal alternative is cupcakes; the perfect size for children and you usually get quite a few from each cake recipe.
I am not a fan of party favors; I don’t like the idea of buying something cheap just to fulfill the formality of giving something away at the end of the party. That said, the mom with whom we shared the birthday party had a great idea: present each child with a picture from the party. I have some inexpensive magnetic refrigerator frames, and I think that will be a gift both the parents and children can appreciate.
I feel like we achieved a good balance of frugal and fun when planning and celebrating his birthday. He was happy with his party, and I was happy because I didn’t go over budget.
How do you save money when planning your child’s birthday party? What are your tips for keeping the fun in frugal?