Written By: Janice Russel
If memories of your own childhood birthday parties include playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey while wolfing down an ice cream cup, consider this: A survey revealed that 26 percent of parents in America are spending more than $500 on their kid’s first birthday — and that’s a conservative number. Not to mention, unlike a 1-year-old, older children become even more aware of what a party entails, so there’s growing pressure to up the ante.
You don’t need to drop celebrity-parent dollars to throw your kid a fete they’ll remember for years to come. Here are some tips for hosting a budget-friendly bash that will make you and your little one happy during that special day.
No party is complete without decorations, but if you want to get a little more creative than balloons alone, skip the party store trap and give yourself enough time to explore the offerings online — you also need to leave a large enough window for the items to ship on time. Not only are the goods less expensive, but also you’ll find fun things you would never find in a typical store, ranging from themed kits to banners to centerpieces to disposable dishes. Another inexpensive, yet effective way to create instantaneous ambiance is with string lights. If your party is outdoors, consider hanging them in the trees and bushes. For an inside celebration, anywhere from the ceiling to the table will work providing there’s an accessible outlet.
Keep Them Entertained
Boredom is the ultimate party buzzkill, so avoid this from happening by having planned activities — and that doesn’t necessarily mean hiring a clown or magician to pop over. Combine entertainment and party favors in one by setting up various craft stations complete with supplies and instructions. Some ideas include DIY pinatas filled with candy and inexpensive trinkets such as hand puppets, painted pillows, magnets, lip balm, and jewelry — anything goes.
Photo booths are all the rage at parties for those young and old, but the rental cost can be expensive. Luckily, there are several creative and budget-friendly DIY versions that will keep kids entertained for hours while doubling as a gift to take home. If your party guests are into singing, you can find a karaoke machine for under $100, but it’s easy to set up your own playlist via YouTube for no cost at all.
If you’re throwing a sleepover party, there are plenty of activities you can arrange that will keep everyone entertained. Movies and music, for instance, are always good when guests are spending the night, but you don’t have to keep everyone cooped up inside. Weather permitting, you can set up a makeshift campsite for the kids to enjoy. You can also use this opportunity to introduce your child to stargazing, which may lead to an increased interest in astronomy.
Focus on Finger Foods
Kids can be picky eaters, so you don’t want to waste money whipping up large portions of dishes that they may not like. Instead, opt for kid-friendly finger foods that are low-mess such as salad cups, fruit skewers, pizza pinwheels, or popcorn. Consider items that don’t need to stay too hot or too cold so you’re not stressing over temperature control. Focus on the items being fun and appealing to eat versus the variety to keep your budget in check.
Think Outside the (Cake) Box
While making your own cake is a surefire way to save some cash, consider going for more of a wow factor with a cake alternative such as a gateau made from popcorn, brownies, candy, watermelon, crepes, or donuts.
When it comes to invitations, most families are going digital these days, so save yourself some extra coin by sending out an Evite in lieu of a paper invite — you’re more likely to receive responses faster, too. Make sure you’re planning the party at a time of the day that’s age appropriate for your child, as well as the other attendees. Most importantly, ensure that your child has a day he or she simply will not forget!