Parties Vivian | 28 May 2011 06:13 am

Kids Birthday Parties – How to Save Your Money

Kids birthday parties have gotten more and more extravagant over the last few years, but perhaps those days are over, and probably that’s for the best. Times are tough now, with gas way over $4 and a trip to the supermarket requiring a trip to the bank before you go. We all need to watch our expenses, and your kids birthday party is no exception. But you can still have a marvelous celebration of this childhood milestone on a tightened budget. Kids at least through the pre-teen years of 11 and 12 aren’t impressed by what you spend; they just want to have a great time.

All of the components of a successful kids birthday party offer opportunities for savings: the invitations, the decorations, the paper goods, the food, the activities, the party favors. But the single most important factor in limiting your party expense without sacrificing the fun is your choice of venue.

Have your party at home, the old fashioned way. Choose games and activities that keep the kids engaged and focused, and they’ll do what you’ve planned rather than ransack your house. Limit the mess they might make to controllable substances- paper, craft supplies that can be easily vacuumed up. Keep the numbers down to a level that you can contain to only one or two rooms that will then need to be cleaned. A little forethought and it becomes quite manageable.

Create your own invitations and thank you notes on your computer. Use one of the many free clip art sources you can find on the web, or your Microsoft Word on-line clip art. Use a kid-friendly font for your text and some bright text colors for visual appeal. Do the same on your invitation envelope to make it different and special. It doesn’t need to be professional job; it needs to get the kids excited about your child’s upcoming birthday party.

Party Decorations need to set the mood for fun, not cost a fortune. They’ll look at your decorations for about 30 seconds, and move on to the fun, so they can easily be limited to your entrance way. Use bunches of colorful balloons – blow them up yourself rather than paying for helium filled and tack them up with paint-friendly tack tape. Hang a happy birthday banner printed out one brightly colored letter per page (or printed on colored construction paper and cut out), and tacked up on the wall. Make tissue paper flowers with your birthday girl for a nice together activity and use those for decorations. Decorate the birthday child’s chair for the cake and ice cream with curly ribbon to make a birthday throne. Put confetti on the table, or use flowers from the garden, colorful fall leaves or sprigs from evergreens.

Character plates and napkins cost about twice as much as plain colored ones. Mix your colors for a festive effect. Make fans out of your brightly colored napkins or roll each napkin and tie with multi colored curly ribbon. Put a big, bright tissue paper flower at each girls’ place. Print out each guests name in a fancy font and bright colors, add some cute clip art or a pretty border, cut them to size and glue to each guests paper cup. Use your own silverware instead of buying throw away plastic.

The kids don’t come to your party to eat. They come to have a good time, and unless you’ve scheduled your party at a mealtime, they don’t need a lot of food. Nor do they need a lot of sugar to increase their excitement level. Keep it simple and inexpensive: a bowl of pretzel sticks, a big bowl of red and green apples, soda or water. And avoid the huge expense of a bakery cake. The best money saver is to make it yourself ahead of time, freeze the un-iced cake and decorate it right before the party. Your next best option is to use a supermarket store-bought cake for about half the price of a bakery cake. If you do-it-yourself, your cake decorations can be as elaborate or simple as your ability and time allows. Using the decorating tubes from the grocery store, anyone can write the birthday child’s name on the cake and add a few flowery icing dabs to create a pretty birthday cake.

Skip the goody bags. Even with just a little candy and a cheap toy, these will cost you at least $2 apiece, which totals $20 for a small party of 10. Create your own party momento for them to take home – a digital picture of each child in a funny hat or with the birthday child will do. Choose one party activity where they make something they can take home.

The obligatory birthday gift can be a real waste of money and can put your guests in a budget bind too. When purse strings are tight, it’s just plain silly to ask guests to spend $10 or $20 on gifts that often end up being meaningless to the child and never used. And that $10 or $20 expense might be a burden for some of your guests, perhaps even cause some “no” RSVP’s in these difficult economic times. Consider setting up a gift pool for everyone to contribute as they see fit and use the gift money to buy one or two really nice gifts for the birthday child, from everyone. A much better use of everyone’s money.

The centerpiece of any kids birthday party is the activities- the birthday party games. You can find on overwhelming number of game ideas on the web, many of which can be tweaked to follow on your party’s theme. This is the place to spend your time and brainpower since this is the fun that will determine the success of your birthday celebration. As this is the party component that gives many parents the willies, use the money you saved on food, invitations, goody bags and decorations to purchase your activities on line, which is still far cheaper than hiring anyone to come to your house to entertain. You’ll still come out ahead in the savings department.

Spend less money, have more fun. It’s the kids having fun as a group, the birthday child’s day in the sun, that make your child’s birthday party special. It’s not the paper plates or the goody bags. So it’s easy to control your party expenses when you keep this in mind.

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