Birthday parties: Kryptonite for a #MoneyBossMom.
First, as soon as your kids begin going to school or daycare, your social calendar will switch from being fun for mom and dad to fun for Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Mo. And the gifts! You need to put a line item in your budget for gifts just so when little Susie says “Mom! Jayda’s party is TODAY!” You won’t have to wreck your emergency fund to keep your third grader from becoming a social pariah.
Then when you throw your own party?! The costs can be insane. Parents seem like they are practicing throwing weddings these days. But when you are getting fit in your finances, you can’t afford the 2,000 calories of a full-blown bouncy-house party with a three-course meal of cake, icecream, and candy.., And don’t get me started on favors. A bucket of toys and sugar for each of the hundred kids whose names you don’t know but you invited anyway?! Don’t do that – you’re spending your kids’ college fund on their 3rd birthday party. #priorities, people!
So, how do you throw a #MoneyBoss birthday party on the cheap… that doesn’t look like it’s on a budget? Here are my five ground rules that will ensure a fantastic time will be had by all and your budget will thank you.
How to throw an awesome birthday party for less than $50 dollars:
- Stay off of Pinterest.
Comparisons are the thief of joy. Don’t you remember when you were a kid and the only thing that made it a party was a homemade cake with a slew of candles? And it was the best party ever? Pinterest will make you feel like you need to up your game. It will make you feel inadequate. Don’t do that to yourself! You are more than enough and your kid already thinks it. Plus, your kid may not remember or even appreciate the home-sewn napkin rings you sweated over the night before. They will remember your love and the love of their friends as they came to celebrate your kid. Stay off of Pinterest!We decided on a colorful party for our colorful kid. I didn’t guilt myself for one second by scrolling through Pinterest. I don’t even think any of the dads know what Pinterest is. No offense, babe. And guess what: All the kids loved it and the parents had a great time. Many of them thanked me for a back-to-basics party that was a ton of fun.
- Use what you own first.
This advice is the same for when you’re trying to save money on groceries, and anywhere practically: shop your house first. No matter where you throw your party, you do not need all new table cloths, all new plates, a new water dispenser a new outdoor palyset…! If you look around, you will find you have plenty of items you can re-purpose for your kids’ party. Depending on their age, you can ask them to help use some of their favorite things for the party. Little kids can decorate a sheet cake with dinosaur figurines, construction trucks legos, or tea sets. If your kid is a middle school aged kid, they probably love their comforter: it has their favorite pattern or pop-culture characters on it. Boom: A theme. Use that for a table cloth or backdrop. You’re going to wash it anyway! Things we used that we already owned: Tupperware to transport food, a round tray to display cupcakes, a water jug to keep those kiddos hydrated, a colorful springy/summery tablecloth, and we borrowed a friend’s bubble machine: no explanation needed.
- Find free entertainment
Your backyard is a perfect place for kids to play. Depending on their age and the weather, you could do a sprinkler party. Or a slip and slide party. Or a scavenger hunt party. Or a costume party – just invite them to come dressed as their favorite character. Or a “here’s a bunch of toys, go have fun” party. Older kids would love to dress to the nines (set appropriate expectations about attire in the invite) and pretend they were going to an exclusive film screening: on your couch. Kids just like to play. Teens just like to hang out and ignore you. Being ignored is free!Our backyard is a swamp, so we opted to have our girl’s party at a beautiful local park. I knew the park well: there are tons of tables. I knew I wouldn’t need to reserve one, so the place didn’t cost a thing. What about kids at the park that aren’t party guests?! Any random kid got to nosh our carrot sticks. The more the merrier. For locals: it was Baton Rouge BREC’s City-Brooks Community Park. Check it out if you haven’t – we love it!
- Go to… the Dollar Store!
Did you know you can get balloons for a dollar? And trays for a dollar? And flower seeds, four for a dollar? And candy… for a dollar?! After you forget about looking at Pinterest and shop your house for ideas and supplies, compare costs at your favorite discount stores. I found the Dollar Store was the best buy for me – it even beat Walmart on the items I was looking at. I purchased invitations, favors, cups, ribbon, paper plates, some food trays, and helium-inflated balloons. I bought everything for around $26, and $10 of that was in balloons. My other $24 went to food from Neighborhood Walmart – and I will break that down below. The dollar store, people! Check it out.
- Get creative!
Favors for 20 + kids?! Food for their families?! What would we do?!?! Here you go: My kid loves flowers and she loves planting seeds and watching them grow – don’t all 5 year olds? (I mean… 6 year olds! *Sniff, Sniff* Stop growing! Who’s cutting onions in here?!) We gave her the choice of giving out little plastic favors (airplanes, straws with characters on them, or sunglasses) or seed packets, and she choose seeds. So before the party, we tied little bows out of colorful ribbon and adorned the seed packs with them. She loved giving them out to her friends as a thank you, and some of the parents snagged them, too!As for the food, we planned the party at “snack” time so the pressure to provide a meal was reduced. We made apples, carrots, cucumbers, strawberries, bell peppers, water, and cupcakes available. We kept the cupcakes off-limits until the end, and the kids gobbled the healthy, affordable snacks down! Not a single complaint was uttered. “More cucumbers and more strawberries” was a request I took note of!
We made the cupcakes ourselves, which was easy, my kid loved “decorating”, and they came out super cute. Get creative, #MoneyBossMommas and #Dads! You don’t need to pay someone to cater or make your cake if you are not there yet, financially.
Look at that. Pure happiness!
Throwing a party your kid will love is simple, it’s fun, and can be totally guilt-free, financially speaking. Our birthday budget was $100. $50 was spent on the party, and the other $50 was on her gift – a swing her daddy hung in our front oak tree.
Party Budget Breakdown:
$0.00 – Venue
$0.00 – Items already owned: Water dispenser, tablecloth, Tupperware, ice, cooler, cupcake tray
$0.00 – Item borrowed: Bubble machine and bubbles (we live by playing it forward – everything of ours can be shared, too!)
$7.00 – Flower seed packets for favors
$10.00 – Helium balloons
$3.00 – Trays (two white food trays and a pink tray)
$1.00 – 1 package paper plates
$1.00 – 1 package water cups
$3.00 – 3 packs of invitations (8 each)
$2.00 – Icing (Walmart)
$3.00 – 3 boxes cake mix (Walmart)
$4.50 – 3 pints Strawberries
$1.75 – 3 cucumbers
$2.00 – 2 bags carrots
$2.00 – Cupcake liners
$2.00 – Sprinkles
$1.00 – Lemons
$3.00 – Apples
+ Taxes of course
= $50, cash, so we had to stick to the budget!
What are your ideas for a #BudgetFriendly birthday party? Have you tried some of these? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!