Birthday Parties That Don’t Break The Bank PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jan Pierce,   

There’s a family birthday coming up and you’re scanning the horizon to find the perfect venue. Will it be a fast food joint with video games along with the burgers and fries, or will it be the local pizza shop with the six foot tall mouse who goes around hugging all the guests? Your palms are getting sweaty. Maybe Junior doesn’t need to invite quite so many friends because this is going to be expensive.


Stop and take a deep breath. I’ll to tell you a secret. Young children don’t really care about having birthday parties that cost a lot of money. Surprised? Don’t be. Maybe your child has attended one of those expensive bashes with catered food, rented facilities, hired entertainment (Coco the Clown or Mr. Magic) and giant bouncy houses. Maybe you’ve felt you just can’t measure up to events spending hundreds of dollars to ensure your child a memorable birthday. But here are the components of a successful birthday party and believe it or not, they don’t have to break the bank to be successful.


1)    Invitations: There are fancy engraved invitations or store-bought ones. Adults may admire their color and style, but the child invited is just excited to be going to a party. Instead of buying invitations, why not get your birthday boy or girl involved in the invitation process and allow him to write the party information on a nice piece of colored paper? Or how about using copies of a digital photo of your child and let her add the information to that? Simple, personal and engaging. Either hand out the homemade invitations personally or put them in the mail. All you’ve spent is the cost of a stamp.


2)    Fun: Why not plan this year’s party around a theme? It should be something currently “cool” in your child’s life. A movie theme, a cartoon, pirates, princesses, Winnie the Pooh characters, Spider Man, or something in the natural realm, such as favorite animals or flowers. Follow the theme throughout all the hand-crafted decorations banners, streamers, hand decorated paper tablecloths, etc. If you do gardening as a theme, plan a craft in which each child decorates a pot and then plants a flower or seed. Plant grass seed in a cup with a face on it - Voile! Hair in ten days! If you do pirates as your theme, make the prizes those nifty gold-covered chocolate coins. Or plan a scavenger hunt with clues and the coins as the treasure. A home made piñata is a lot of fun. A large paper bag painted or decorated with markers and filled with candies works just fine. The things you can’t make or have the children make might be ordered from a catalog company such as Oriental Trading Company. Or make a visit to the local dollar store. Kids want games, crafts, songs, and hands-on activities. They don’t want to sit back and be entertained.


3)    Food: When the kids have played games, won prizes, done crafts, and used up a lot of energy, they’re ready for food. They don’t care if the plates and cups are decorated or not; they just want cake and ice cream. The cake can be home-made as well, as long as there is plenty of it. Here again, your child can be involved in the creation of the food items. He can add frosting and jelly beans to the tops of the cupcakes. She can help mix up the punch. It’s a special family day, not a “keeping up with the Joneses” kind of day.


4)    Favors: After the birthday boy or girl has opened presents, it’s time for guests to go home. Children always enjoy having a small favor to take with them to remember their exciting day. Simple party favors can be inexpensive stickers, small toys matching the theme, or a printed drawing matching the theme to color at home. If you’ve had a craft as part of the fun, then each child will have that to take home. Whatever you choose can be very simple and not costly. It’s a memento, not a gift.


As you plan your next birthday party, keep in mind that fun for children is all about the energy. The most elaborate party site and most expensive decorations are lost on children if there is no enthusiasm for the event. Get the children involved, make it the most special day for your family by working together to invite, decorate, and plan fun activities. Keep a few surprises up your sleeve. They might come in the form of scavenger hunts, piñatas, or other games and activities that will delight all the attendees, including the birthday child. Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of overspending when it comes to party planning. Follow the interests of your child, keep it simple but fun. Include all the basics and you’ll have a terrific party on a budget that won’t break the bank.


Jan Pierce, M.Ed., is a retired teacher and freelance writer. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and enjoys planning special events for her three terrific grandsons.


Party Resources







Kids Party Themes by Debbie Madson

Birthday Parties for Kids! By Penny Warner

The Ultimate Kids’ Party Planner by Linda Shearing

The Penny Whistle Birthday Party Book by Meridith Brokaw

Last Updated on Monday, 31 July 2017 23:46
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