As a working mother with three sons, I have had plenty of experience throwing birthday parties on a budget. Although they may require more planning, children’s celebrations can be fun and inexpensive. The following suggestions serve as a step-by-step guide for planning, organizing, and creating events that your child is likely to remember for years!
Step One – Decide how many children to invite:
My mother had a rule of thumb that has served me well. For each year of age, we would invite that number of guests. Children are easily overwhelmed by crowds. If your child is five, for example, invite five friends. Trust me; this will be a sufficient number of guests! Adults can be added to the mix and younger children usually prefer the company of family members.
Step Two – Choose a theme and a venue:
You already know what your child enjoys. Whether its space-ships, pirates, race cars, or cowboys, you can build a party around his interests. Once you’ve decided on a theme, decide where you would like to have the party. A local park, your home, backyard, or fast-food restaurant are all great venues. After you’ve selected a theme and the site for the party, plan a trip to the local dollar store. (If you’re still undecided, most 99¢ Stores have interesting overstock items). You’ll be amazed by what you can find… Invitations, plastic toys, party favors, paper goods, and snacks. If your budget is really tight, it’s easy to make your own decorations with just a few basic supplies. Also, suggest that the children dress-up in themed outfits.
Step Three – Count down to the party:
Send or email invitations two weeks in advance and ask parents to RSVP. A week before the party, you may want to follow-up. Check to make sure that you have everything you need. You can serve hotdogs, macaroni, chips, crisp veggies, ice-cream cones, and juice, or order pizzas. Instead of a large cake, you may want to make cupcakes. (Not only are they cheap to prepare, it’s easy to decorate them according to your theme.) Inflate a few balloons and tape them to the wall, chairs, or tree branches to add color. Plan two or three party games, then decide when to play games, open gifts, and serve food, cake, and ice-cream.
Step Four – The big day!
Have everything prepared the night before. (Your child will enjoy the party much more if he’s had a good night’s sleep.) Just before the guests arrive, complete last minute details and help your son get dressed in his ‘party clothes.’ The beauty of a birthday party on a budget is that less is actually more. When the focus isn’t on extravagance it gets placed back where it belongs, on having good old-fashioned FUN!