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Your child’s birthday is coming up. And you are dreading it! You know you should be happy for them, but all you can think about is how much it’s going to cost you. It’s just something else you need to budget for and even though you know it comes every single year – on the same day – it still catches you by surprise. Both my daughters have December birthdays – I have to budget for birthdays, Christmas and a month of no income). It’s a tough month so I have a few tricks up my sleeve on how to make their special day unforgettable without breaking the bank!
So here we go …..
7 Cheap Birthday Planning Ideas That will Save Money (And give your child a day that you’ll both enjoy)!
It can be hard to throw a birthday party when you are on a really tight budget. Especially when your little ones expectations are a tad elevated since they attended their best friends birthday party last month and it was frickin’ amazing – with a hired pony, Kardashian worthy decor and Martha Stewart style catering (This actually happened to me).
With four kids – two with birthdays a week before Christmas – we have had to be really creative when it comes to throwing Amazing(and Cheap) Birthday Parties for our kids. And we do aim for Amazing! It’s the one time of year we get to make that day super special for them, so we try and make it memorable.
Here are 7 Things you can do to make the day really special for your child (without spending a lot of money)
1. Start with what you have
Chances are you already have plates, cups, spoons and a tablecloth. This may seem a little obvious, but Don’t buy things you already have. You don’t need to go and purchase a whole lot of plastic bits and bobs that will just get thrown away at the end of the day. You are feeding children, not monkeys. They are perfectly capable of eating off a real plate or drinking out a real cup.
2. Keep it Simple
Don’t stress out over this. Birthday Parties can be fun for you too. Preparing in advance will help you keep your cool and actually enjoy the day with your child. You can download my Kids Birthday Party Planning Checklist here to help you keep on top of everything you need to do.
Themes are cute and yes, kids love them. But you don’t have to go overboard and match everything in sight. Choose a a few items to theme up and then stop. The one year my son wanted a Minecraft themed Birthday party. This is what we did to make that work:
- We printed off our own invitations and handed them out at school.
- We made chocolate cupcakes and decorated them as mini Creeper (you may need to Google this if your children don’t play Minecraft) faces with green icing and licorice eyes and mouth. And No, green icing is not clean eating, but we overlooked it on this occasion. :)
- We hung green and black dollar store balloons everywhere.
- We printed and laminated Minecraft Maps as place mats.
- My kids had a blast painting Cardboard Creepers to decorate
- We played tons of Minecraft themed games
And … The kids didn’t even notice that the plates didn’t match or that the tablecloth had flowers on. My Son still talks about how much fun he had that day.
3. Choose Experiences over Everything else
An action packed, fun filled party will beat a perfectly presented one every single time! Get the kids dirty, get them laughing and have some fun! Choose three or four games and activities and have them prepared and ready to go so that you aren’t fussing around on the day. Take a look at our go to list of 17 Fun Birthday Party Games to give you some ideas.
Keep your party short but action packed. It’s not easy to keep a bunch of energetic pre-teens entertained for a long period of time. Some of them have really short attention spans so you start to get a few stragglers near the end. Keep your party short. I recommend 2 hours. This way you know you can squeeze in the fun up until the last minute. And you aren’t totally drained at the end. Actually, you may be, but you can keep it together for only two hours.
4. Feed them Mini Food
Cook any real food like pizza, wraps or sandwiches, fruit and dip and then magically transform it into party mode. The trick is to cut it into bite sized pieces – that’s the secret that turns regular food into party food!
Serve cake and then hand out a small bag of lollies to each child. We like to make them search for their lollies in the form of a treasure hunt. It’s the last game we play for the day so the lolly bag doubles as the prize and take home gift. Trust me, you don’t need to feed them a lot more sweets than that. A slice of cake and a little bag of sweets is plenty!
There is normally a ton of waste at the end of children’s party. You literally end up throwing your hard earned money into the bin. Try not to over do it. I never keep food after parties. Its been out, it’s been touched. And… well.. I just don’t. So I always aim to make sure that I don’t have leftovers.
5. Take Photos.
Take loads of pictures of the party and put them into a little album (you can buy small albums for around $1 at the Dollar Store). Memories are relived every time your child pages through the album. It makes the party unforgettable! We purchased an Instax Instant Camera for my daughters birthday and it now gets a work out at every birthday party. All the kids get to go home with at least one mini instant photo from the party. It’s always a hit.
6. Birthday Traditions
There are a few things that you can do to make your child feel super special on their big day. We have a couple family birthday traditions that my children can bank on – even the teens. These traditions make it more than ‘just a party’ and I know that (even though they can be embarrassing), they will always remember these -and hopefully keep them going with their kids:
Our 6 Birthday Party Family Traditions
- The birthday kid helps Mom make and decorate the cake.
- The birthday kid helps Mom prepare party favors.
- The birthday kid helps the family decorate for the party.
- They cut the cake and make a wish (which they don’t tell anyone).
- They personally greet and say goodbye to every guest that arrives and leaves.
- They Oversee clean up. Yes they get help, but they get to be in charge.
7. Numbers don’t matter.
A Party doesn’t need to be about the number of guests. Keep it small. Choose 5 or even 1 friend to celebrate with.
And the Most Important bit ….
Whether it’s a party at home or you pack a picnic and the kids in the car and head to the local park or beach. Your goal is to make the day special for your child and YOU. Have fun. Enjoy your day together.
Do you have any cheap birthday party ideas you can share with other parents?