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September 9, 2015

Kids’ Birthday Parties on a Budget

Written By Emily Jones
Last updated November 11, 2017

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Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Children’s birthday parties are a blank slate on which you can write your own price tag. They can cost next to nothing, or you can drop thousands of dollars orchestrating an extravaganza. The great thing about kids’ parties, though, is that the amount of joy they produce is not especially dependent on the amount of money you spend. Here are five great tips for creating glowing birthday memories on a modest budget:

For kids, it’s all about the birthday cake, so why spend money on pizza, hot dogs or other lunch foods? Schedule the party from 2 to 4 p.m., and you can get by with a few wholesome snacks instead. The birthday cake will be the star culinary treat for the day. (Pro tip: Make your own cake and bring it to your local bakery for the decorative icing.)

Avoiding those copyrighted princesses and heroes is one sure-fire route to savings. Does the birthday kid love wild animals? Fairies? Dinosaurs? Rocket ships? If you focus on a generic theme, it’s easy to find or make decorations that satisfy your child’s fascination. Also consider purchasing an online birthday pack; it includes everything you may need at a fraction of the price. 

Even in this digital era, kids love to make things. Get your crew busy on a project that results in each child creating something unique to bring home. You’ll find lots of DIY ideas online, from tie-dyed T-shirts to homemade light sabers made from foam pipe insulation and glow-in-the-dark paint. The guests will be so pleased with their crafts they won’t need a goody bag.

Beaches and parks offer space for plenty of active games (think water balloons or a pinata) without costing you a bundle for the venue. Alternatively, run through your list of relatives and friends and see if anyone has the perfect back yard; you might be able to swap favors for the use of it.

Dollar stores are tailor-made for young kids’ birthday parties. Their selection of super-affordable decorations and little toys makes it easy to assemble goody bags that won’t break the bank.

Your creative input is what lifts the party out of the realm of the everyday, and you know your child better than anyone else. Whether you put together a scavenger hunt, a Lego day or a jewelry-making session, you have the opportunity to show your child that homemade fun can be the very best of all.

About the Author

Emily Jones

Emily Jones has been writing for personal finance blogs for over 5 years. Her specific interests include, budget travel, living well on a budget, and deal finding. While in graduate school Emily was forced to find creative ways to be able to afford to travel. Now that she has a family, her affection for travel and shopping continue, but on a very tight budget. Emily enjoys sharing her deal finding tricks with her readers.

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