You can never quite underestimate how popular your son or daughter will become. Before you know it, you’re planning birthday parties for dozens of their friends, including family members and other important guests. And doesn’t it seem like kids’ parties have only gotten more expensive? From celebrity children’s parties, to sweet sixteen bashes on MTV, to parties for toddlers than ABC reports reach $40,000 or more, there are no limits to what you can do for your little ones. But how do you plan a one-of-a-kind bash for children without spending an insane amount of money or letting it rule your life? There are plenty of ways to ditch the stress and the large price tags while making sure your child’s birthday is one they’ll never forget. All you need to do is get organized and figure out your priorities.
1. Finding a Venue
If your party is too large to hold at your house, you need to find a venue that is both easy and inexpensive. One of the best venues is usually a park, especially one with benches, shelters, gazebos, or other designated spots for picnics and gatherings. Of course, there are plenty of downsides to having the party outdoors, especially the weather, and an indoor party will be easier to decorate and probably easier to supervise. Try a local library or community center for low-cost party rooms, or splurge on a restaurant or pizza parlor. If you’re throwing a party at a location that provides food, there could be certain group discounts on appetizers and meals. Their food might cost higher than average to begin with, but it’s a great way to avoid spending your afternoon making hot dogs and punch. Sometimes a little extra padding to the budget can help give you less to worry about.
2. Buying Decorations Online
There are a host of advantages to shopping online for your child’s birthday party, as long as you plan ahead an ample amount of time. Online selection allows your son or daughter to choose a very specific theme, something that fits with their interests and will be fun for everyone. You don’t have to worry if you don’t know where to go to find pirate hats or dinosaur masks in your area. You can also get personalized decorations for affordable prices, such as custom banners that display your child’s name, birthday, and any message or design you want to implement. This cuts down on the stress because you can amass a good selection of party accessories long before the big date, and the only thing you’ll need to do is run to a grocery store for essentials like balloons, candles, and food items.
3. Games and Activities
One of the toughest parts of planning for a children’s party is knowing what you’re going to offer the guests for entertainment and things to do. When it’s a pool party, this might be less of a consideration, because children tend to find endless ways to entertain themselves with swimming. But if you’re throwing an indoor bash, you might save money by constructing your own games with a little bit of creativity and some craft supplies. Scavenger hunts are always a popular idea, with prizes that you buy from a dollar store or discount store online. You can also create golf games, balloon races, and puppets, or stick to tried and true activities like piñatas or face painting. Don’t go over your head with choosing a bunch of different activities. Stick to one or two and remember the rest of the time will be filled up with cake, presents, and the kind of active play that usually goes on when your child gets together with his friends.
If you’re not throwing a party at a restaurant or pizzeria, consider having it in the afternoon, when parents won’t expect you to necessarily provide lunch. It will still be a good idea to have snacks and drinks on hand, but if you’ve invited everyone at 2:00, the pressure is off to fire up the grill. If you want to save money on a cake, you can bake it yourself, but if that prospect sounds daunting, decorating a store-bought one will do just fine. Remember to check ahead for any food allergies among your young guests and try to have a few different options to appease picky young eaters. If you want to provide cheap and easy party favors, lollipops, licorice, and other kinds of traditional candies will always make kids happy. And there’s nothing they’ll get more excited for than a traditional punch bowl with sherbet – it goes great with whatever’s on their plate.
You might not have the time or money to provide elephants, acrobats, or fountains of chocolate, but it takes much less effort than you think to give your child a great party. Most of all, remember to let them take the reins on what the theme should be, what the games should be, and how many people you should invite as much as humanly possible. If you really ask them what would make their birthday special, you might be surprised by the answer. It probably has less to do with how much money you spend and more to do with throwing a party that’s uniquely theirs.