I’ve never had the budget for bounce houses or event birthday parties for my boys. But, at seven, five and three, they all have fond memories of their parties. They look forward to the next ones each year. Even when the budget is tight, boys’ birthday parties can still be just as much fun.
I don’t go overboard researching all the party options. I don’t want to know about specials at the zoo or party palaces. I do spend my time making the budget. Knowing the range of options comes first, then I let the creativity flow.
Limit the Guest List
The most effective strategy is keeping the head count down. One idea is to limit the number of guests to the age of the birthday boy. Turning four gets four friends invited. I generally try limiting it to one social group, siblings of the guests included. We add in the grandparents of the birthday boy, too. As much fun as it can be to invite the whole preschool class, it’s not budget (or sanity) friendly.
For the first few years, I hosted parties at my home. As the boys got older, I went for Party In The Park. We didn’t have to rent any place; we grabbed a free picnic bench at a city park. Thankfully my boys have summer and fall birthdays, when the weather is generally nice. Outdoor parties aren’t the only free venues, though. But, they are ones with free activity. No need to hire a clown; no pressure on the boys to sit still through a show or event. They can run around and burn off that boy energy. With so many kids so structured, I know the boys appreciate the freedom to relax and play.
I do spend some money for the party, but choose carefully. Making my own lemonade from scratch frees up money for a superhero cake. I only splurge on the areas essential for those happy memories. I make sure to involve the boys in the planning, asking them for what matters. I’m happy to schedule the party between meals to keep the food budget low, if my son wants more from decoration.
Young boys tend to have simple pleasures. As the years go by, my budget may increase, but my consideration for their desires won’t change. I always emphasize enjoying the party for what it is, not worrying about what I couldn’t do.