Every parent wants their kid to feel wonderful on their special day. However, when throwing your child a party, it is easy to get carried away and spend more than you budgeted. It is important to acknowledge that an extravagant birthday party is a want, not a need. Many children’s birthday parties cost $50 to $100 per child in attendance — which can certainly add up if you are hosting a party for 20.
When you are working to reduce your credit card debt or fix your bad credit score, spending that much money isn’t a realistic option. If a $500 birthday party isn’t in your budget, don’t worry. You can still throw your child an amazing event without breaking the bank.
Ask guests to contribute to the party
One way to save on your child’s birthday party is to ask guests to contribute something (other than money). One tried-and-true strategy is to throw a potluck lunch or dinner. Each guest will bring a dish for everyone to share, and they can even take home some of the leftovers.
Other ideas for guest contributions could be party hats and decorations. Or you could request that each child make their own party hat — you can even turn it into a contest and hand out inexpensive prizes! Let everyone’s imagination run wild.
Bake your own cake and other sweet treats
In the United States, bakers can charge anywhere between $2 and $10 per serving for a birthday cake. If you want to save money, you can make your own cake and serve it with other treats or even hot cocoa and marshmallows.
If you like to bake, you probably already have your own special recipe. If you don’t necessarily know your way around the kitchen, there are plenty of recipes online to bake like a pro. If baking isn’t your thing, you can find a pre-made cake at the grocery store for around $20.
Buy food in bulk
Buying food in bulk is a common way to save money on your grocery bill. If you already have snacks stocked for your kids—like chips, pudding, or fruit gummies, —you can buy them in bulk and put some out for the party guests. Whatever is left over can go back in the pantry. Items like soda or juice are also good options for bulk purchases.
Browse dollar stores for party supplies
Your party decorations don’t have to be fit for a queen or king. The truth is, your five-year-old isn’t going to care if the red streamers cost one dollar or ten. All they will see is that the streamers are their favorite color.
Dollar stores almost always have a party and seasonal decor section. You can find items like streamers, string lights, party hats, and signage for a fraction of the cost of retail stores.
Include cost-effective activities
Paying $50 an hour for a bounce house in your backyard is not your only option for birthday party activities. If you have young children, buying bubbles, noise makers, and balloons can provide hours of entertainment for your child and their friends. You can make a DIY slip-and-slide using a tarp and a hose. Or turn up the tunes, bring out the glow sticks, and have a dance-off.
The possibilities for cost-effective activities are endless. Don’t forget that young kids have amazing imaginations. If you provide them with a few inexpensive toys and items, they can create games and activities all on their own. Even a pack of crayons and some colorful construction paper can make an engaging birthday activity!
Find an easy theme
Your theme doesn’t have to be complicated. If you don’t know what to pick, you can always start with your child’s favorite color. If they love yellow, buy yellow streamers, use yellow frosting on the cake, and ask everyone you invite to wear yellow.
You can also use your child’s favorite animal or activity as a theme. If your child loves daisies, print out pictures of daisies and hang them up all over the house, add yellow and white streamers, and draw some daisies on the top of the birthday cake. You can even buy a cheap bouquet and turn it into several smaller bouquets and place them around the table.
Forgo party favors
You don’t have to make complex goody bags for the guests to take home. If you really want to send the kids home with something special, you can help your child write thank-you notes and tape a small piece of candy to them. All you will need is a bag of discount candy, a few pieces of paper, and some markers.
You can also send other items home with the kids like leftover snacks or a piece of cake, a tube of bubbles, or a small party hat. If party favors aren’t in the budget, don’t stress out about it! If your child has a good time, that is all that matters.
Know where to spend and where to save
It is important to set your priorities before you start stocking up on party supplies. If you don’t want to spend money on food (like pizza), hold the birthday party in the early afternoon between lunch and dinner. If you have a big enough living space, yard, or a favorite public park, don’t spend money booking a venue.
Ask your child what they would most like to have at their party, and put those items at the top of the list. This will help you spend money on the things that actually matter to your child.
Host the party at your home
If you have a big enough living space or yard, why not host the birthday party at home? This saves you money and also allows you to take as much time as you need to set up.
You can also take advantage of the fact that your home is where your child’s room is. If the party has a lull, you can suggest that your child share some of their toys. You can also use your plates and cups to avoid buying plastic ones, which will save you money and also help the environment.
Search for locations with the best deals
If your living space is too small for a party, try to find an affordable party location that doesn’t break the bank. Start with public spaces like local parks or the beach. You can also check with local playgrounds, the YMCA, and other community centers to find an affordable location for a child’s birthday party.
Planning a kid’s birthday party on a budget is daunting. Parents want to give their kids the world, but sometimes financial limitations get in the way. With careful planning, some research, and a whole lot of imagination, you can throw an amazing birthday party for your child on even the smallest of budgets.