As a mom to two kids, I’ve seen some amazingly creative birthday parties that parents have thrown for their daughters. One recent party involved a couple who rented out an entire YWCA for a few hours of gymnastics type of play and swimming pool frolicking to celebrate their two daughters’ birthdays, allowing them to invite 20 of their friends to join in on the fun.
Other parents have brought groups of girls to local pottery painting places to create kiln-fired art for their big day. Some have gone all out with wonderful princess party celebrations that probably cost a pretty penny, while more laid back events have been par for the course for a portion of the parties I’ve attended or have even given my own daughter.
As a result of all this birthday party witnessing, I’ve learned the following steps to creating a fun time and delightful way to say “Happy Birthday to you” without breaking the bank.
Step #1: Think small numbers of guests – plus a sleepover
Controlling the cost of a young girl’s birthday party starts with the number of attendees. Sure, your little girl might want to be impartial and send invitations to her entire class, but if it’s not practical or within your budget to do so, encourage her to select only one or two friends to share her big day for a low-key party.
In fact, the invitation can be a simple hand-written or printed invite telling them to prepare for a movie night sleepover. So that no other friends feel slighted, the party can be described as one restricted to only a couple of invitees due to a small budget, and downplayed as more of an opportunity to hang out than enjoy a big party.
Step #2: Make it a movie night or matinee
If you can swing it, take the small crew of girls to the movies, selecting a matinee time so that the ticket prices are cheaper. Remember to budget in the cost of concession stand goodies, though, because even if you’ve just fed the kids, the smell of buttered popcorn and the sight of candy behind a glass may still tempt.
Better still, if you want to skip the theater altogether, you can pick up a copy of Frozen from a nearby Redbox kiosk and bring it home for only a little more than $1 for a 24-hour period. If the party is indeed more of a sleepover, that movie can come in handy and allow you to kill a couple of hours, along with organizing cheap events like a “spa night” where the girls can do mani-pedis using polish you already have on hand at home.
Step #3: Take a nature hike and get fast food
Sometimes kids really do enjoy the inexpensive or free things in life better than pricier options. This past weekend, when my husband asked our son if he wanted us to take him and his friend to a restaurant as part of an early birthday celebration, the kids said they wanted Taco Bell instead.
After eating, I took the children on a nature walk and hike through a beautiful park in the area, and they had plenty of fun climbing really high hills and wading in the creek at the bottom. We jogged partially back to the minivan and slept well that night from all the fresh air – a relatively free way to burn up an hour or two and get exercise with children to boot.
Therefore, try these suggestions or use them to inspire your own creative party that might cost less than $100 all told. Besides, the point of celebrating a birthday isn’t to charge up a bunch of unaffordable stuff on a credit card, but to be thankful for another year of life.