Throwing a birthday party for your child can get really expensive. There's the cost of invitations, decorations, food, favors, and everything else thrown in between. When I was preparing for my son's first birthday I was astounded at the expected cost for everything. My friends were hiring photographers for both a First Birthday photo session and a Cake Smash session. Then they had handmade decorations, caterers, and expensive party favors.
I don't know about you but we just can't afford to pay for all of that without taking the money from somewhere else, like his college fund. So we'll be throwing an awesome party on a budget this year and you can too. Here are the best ways to save for your child's special day.
7 Ways to Save on Birthday Parties
1. Limit the Guest List
There are two ways you can control the number of guests.
- Only invite close family and friends.
- Do not invite the entire classroom and/or baby playgroup.
If your family is huge like mine it can be help to split up the birthday party into two occasions. Hold a potluck party with the family and a cake-and-ice-cream-only party with the classmates/friends.
Your family will be understanding if you ask them to bring a dish, especially if there are a lot of relatives. And your child's friends could care less about how much food you serve. It's a win win.
2. Limit the Alcohol
Trust me, I like busting out a nice glass of wine like any other woman. Especially in a stressful situation like throwing a large celebration in my own home. But this is a children's party and alcohol gets so expensive.
Nobody wants a tipsy host with kids running around! Save the money during the party and spoil yourself with a glass of Merlot when everyone goes home.
3. E-mail Your Invitations
Sending an e-vite is a widely acceptable form nowadays and it's no wonder since it's free! It can save you the cost of invitations, envelopes, and stamps, not to mention extra time.
I've seen websites offer a built-in RSVP feature on the e-vite too. This makes it super easy to keep track of who's actually coming. It's just one less thing to worry about.
If you really had your heart set on passing out cards, try making the invitations by hand. At the very least, buy a package that is already designed and offers a fill-in-the-blank format. Having custom invitations printed adds up quickly, even if you only need 20 copies.
4. Keep the Food Simple and Yummy
Try scheduling the party in between mealtimes. There is no rule that says you have to feed your guests a full course! Hit the sweet spot in between lunch and dinner so you get away with serving a few appetizers and cake. What child doesn't love pigs in a blanket?
If you'd prefer a longer party time and need to feed your guests, keep the menu very simple. Honestly, kids are not going to care if the food is gourmet. In fact, they may wish you went with good old-fashioned hot dogs and hamburgers instead of risotto.
Another area that can be grossly over priced is the birthday cake. My son will have a sweet, affordably priced cake from our local grocer. It costs a fraction of going to a custom cake shop and will look cute to boot.
I understand the lure of a beautiful, custom cake. They're gorgeous and delicious but usually very expensive! Cake is cake. It may have an adorable design but ten 6 year-olds are going to tear it apart trying to get a piece. They don't care where you bought it or whether you made it yourself.
5. Tone Down the Party Favors
When I was growing up it was odd if you didn't provide party favors. Now that I'm a new mom I was prepared to bust out the plastic bags filled with miscellaneous odds and ends. But the collective anthem among all of my friends was that party favors are a thing of the past!
We haven't been to one celebration this year that had anything more than a little handmade favor. For my son's camping themed party we are handing out bug nets that we found at the dollar store. They are easy peasy and cheap and yours can be too. Keep it simple or just skip the whole thing altogether.
6. Utilize Free Venues
All of our children deserve elaborate, large venues filled with 100 guests and a bouncy house. But you and I both know that's just not going to happen because it can be really expensive.
Search in your local area for an affordable option to host your party or simply host it at home. We don't have enough space in our house to have all of our guests over but our local park offers a nice pavilion to reserve at no cost. We will have enough covered space to invite our whole family and are putting the money saved towards his birthday gifts instead.
7. Get Creative with the Decorations
I am the least creative person you will ever meet so there will be no elaborate handmade decorations at my kid's birthday. But like I mentioned, his theme is camping. Easy, right? I will be using all of our outdoor/camping gear to act as decor and it won't cost me a dime. Try to find a theme that lets you use stuff around the house to save a little money.
You can also do a quick search on Pinterest for free birthday party printables. Jamielyn from I Heart Naptime has a really awesome link here with some of the best print outs I've seen.
Every parent wants to give their child the best party they possibly can. We want to hear laughter, serve yummy food, and have a child who is thoroughly enjoying themselves. But we also want to keep things both fun and affordable.
Don't give into the pressure to keep up with the Jones'! Ten years from now my son won't even remember that his cake wasn't custom made. I can easily create a memorable day for my child without breaking the bank and you can too.
How do you save money on birthday parties?