Saving Money on Kids Birthday Parties
Children's birthday parties are so much fun, but can also be extremely expensive. There are so many ways to have a kid's birthday party for very cheap. The first thing to having a cheap birthday party is to NOT pay someone else to do it. Do not schedule it at a gymnastics studio, McDonalds, the bowling alley, or Fun Stuff. These places are so expensive!
I have always had my kid's parties at our home with great success. Other places we have been are a park, a swimming pool and a room at our church. If you have older kids, why not take them for a hike? Anything outdoors will be free or very cheap. Decorations can be minimal. The younger kids don't notice them and the older kids will have a lot of fun helping to prepare for the party by making the decorations. Balloons are pretty cheap and if you get enough for each child to take one home at the end, it will double as a party favor.
How about occupying all the kids you invite? One party that we had at home we set up a big obstacle course in the back yard. The birthday boy helped create it and everyone had so much fun racing through the course. We timed each child and it was very exciting to see who the winner was. We did not give a prize for the winner, just lots of cheers. There are a ton of games you can play at home or at a park as well. For lots of game ideas check out www.birthdaypartyideas.com or www.kidsdomain.com. When we had a summer party that was supposed to include a watergun fight and it was in the 60's that day, we had great success using some of the quick and easy game ideas from these sights.
I have never purchased a cake from a store. I always make my own, not from scratch, but from a box with store bought icing. I always purchase these items on sale with a coupon and usually spend between $1 and $2 to make a cake. I have never done anything fancy, although you can do so pretty easily. There are lots of ideas here. My kids are always perfectly happy as long as there are sprinkles on it. Other mothers that come to the parties with their kids rave over a "homemade cake". Personally, storebought cakes are very expensive ($15 - $20) and don't taste very good.
What about party favors? One year for my daughter's birthday in October I purchased small pumpkins for each child for $.25 each from our church's pumpkin patch. For a craft and party favor, the kids decorated these into spiders. I have always put together inexpensive bags that everyone has raved about. For the boys I will put a hotwheels race car (purchased on sale ahead of time of course), a pack of gummies (1 box should be enough for everyone at the party and on sale with a coupon should be around $1 - $2), and a fun pencil or eraser. For the girls I will put in a necklace, stickers, or nailpolish along with the gummies and pencil or fun eraser. For younger kids how about a coloring book and crayons? Useful items are always appreciated. The kids really don't need much and are happy to get anything. The parents love the fact that I don't put junk in that will break in 5 minutes or get scattered around the house. I can usually get all the goodie bags together for between $5 and $10.
Basically, keeping things simple is the way to keep it inexpensive. In my experience, simple is just as much fun (if not more so) than a fancy party at another place. Too much stimulation will get the kids wired - good old running around in the backyard, or playing some old fashioned games together creates wonderful memories with no expense.