By Alexandra Howard
Over the years, we have thrown many a shindig! Parties are just plain fun, but if you aren’t careful, they can get super expensive! We just entered party season here at The Howard House! With one spring birthday, two the middle week of June, and another one due in July, our party season is fast and fabulous!
All those cute little plates, party favors, invitations, and decorations can make a party look fabulous, but they can also drain your wallet quickly as even small items add up!! And don’t even get me started on the cost of gifts!!! So in an effort to keep party cost down, our family tries to follow some helpful guidelines.
1. Set a yearly party budget
This budget should include everything you will need for a birthday party for each person in your family. Our family only throws party for the kiddos, so that helps free up more money for the little one! With three (soon to be 4) birthdays a year to plan, things can get expensive super quick! Setting a budget is important, but remember, sticking to it is what counts!
Our family’s budget is around $150/year, giving us about $50/child including the cost of their presents! This may seem low but most kids have no idea what you are really spending and their expectation really play off what we as parents feel is a must!
2. Make as many things as possible
Now not all of us are super gifted when it comes to crafts but even the most “creatively challenged” person can find some simple and easy ideas online to help stretch that budget as far as it will go. Many a low budget party has been made possible with the help of the internet, my printer, card stock, and some creative planning!
The cheapest party I’ve ever thrown turned out to be one of my son’s favorites!
He didn’t know that the cupcake toppers cost me only the price of ink, the cupcakes were from a box, or the cupcake tower wasn’t a store bought Bubble Guppy product!
3. Re-use what you already have
Of course buying new things is more fun, but many party supplies can be reused, recycled, or re-purposed in a way that no one will ever even know! If you haven’t noticed, most party decorations (especially for boys) have primary colors as their main hues, making them easy to mix and match from party to party. We have a small birthday tub that keeps our leftover supplies organized, I always “shop” there first.
I have a fun primary colored table cloth that has been used over 5 times now between my two boys combined 9 birthday parties! I also have lots of primary colored napkins, plates, cups, and plastic ware that easily mix and match for a fun looking table. My cupcake tower has been used at a Cars part, a circus party, a Bubble Guppy party and more, just by changing the scrapbook paper on the edges!!
4. Host parties at free or almost free locations
Just because your kid is begging you to have their party at Chuck E. Cheese doesn’t mean you have to pay $25 for a cake the size of a cupcake or dip into your college fund to provide pizza for all your guests. There are many fun and super cheap places to hold your party. While many years we have held parties in our home, now that the kiddos are getting bigger, it’s great fun to head out to a fun location. Splash pads, playgrounds, mall play places, McDonalds, and parks are some of our favorite FREE locations to hold a get-together! Even Chuck E. Cheese can be a super cheap option if you plan ahead and think outside the box!
We just held a super cheap party at Chuck E. Cheese. By holding the party around 6:30/7ish we didn’t have to feed our guests dinner, they allow you to bring in your own cake, ice cream, decorations, and tableware, and by going to their website you can print off different certificates to reward your child with free tokens! I did buy cups for soda for our guests, but juice boxes from home or water would lower your costs even more!
5. Rethink gifts
As a mom who hates clutter, stuffed animals, and too many toys in the house, birthday season is a frightening time!! 😉 My family is really good about asking what the kids want and need and sticking with the list, so most of the time I know what will be coming home to The Howard House! However, the cost of gifts seems to continually be on the rise, so parents have to get more proactive about planning what to get their child. I always try to remember that many other people will be buying gifts as well, so most of the time we try to stick with 1 nice gift and another small item.
The last celebration we had followed this guideline to a T. We got our son a Bible and cover for his nice gift and then I sewed him a super hero/knight cape and mask and picked up a knight shield and breastplate at Dollar Tree for $2. The material was scraps I had in my sewing basket so that didn’t cost me a penny!
Birthdays are a true reason to celebrate! Rejoicing in the lives of our children and celebrating the person God made them is a wonderful way to show our kids we love them but doesn’t have to break the bank. By planning ahead, sticking to a budget, reusing items, choosing smart options, and realizing that our kids expectation aren’t always as high as we think, parties can be a fun and enjoyable time for both the kids and the parents!
For more fun ideas check out Alexandra’s blog www.thehowardhousehold.blogspot.com