How to throw cheap(er) birthday parties for kids

1) Be “that” mom and refuse to join in on the birthday party peer pressure to throw huge, over the top parties. Just think, you can put the money you save towards the kids’ therapy bills later on. 😉

2) Keep it simple. Try to keep the invite list under control. “Only” invite the kids’ classmates and 2 or 3 of your closest friends.

3) Throw the party from 1-3pm. Snack time equals less pizza consumed.

4) If it’s young kids, have the pizzas into child-friendly size cuts. That means double cutting the slices.

Bonus: less pizza tossed into the landfill means less pollution/greenhouse gases.

5) Serve cupcakes so you don’t have to cut up a cake. Plus if you get the cupcakes from SAMS club, you can snag 30 of them for $15. That beats spending a $100 on two cookie cakes from a local grocery store.

Everyone loves CUPCAKES!

6) Invite family so they can really help you out. The teen “helpers” supplied by the birthday places are usually awful.

7) At age 12, start giving your kids a choice: have a party or get $100. From what I hear, they always want the $100. Time and money saved. Win-win in my book!

8) Throw them birthday parties every other year. I put off having birthday parties that involved more than just family/neighbors as long as I could. When I finally took the plunge, the kids were 4 and 6. The experience was so awful (for me) I decided to limit these types of “memories” to throwing parties every.other.year.

9) Save on the paper products. Kids don’t care, and they probably won’t remember if you picked solid colors over Batman plates. Something I discovered in the party section of our local Walmart: the cheaper paper products are a few aisles back.

10) Only buy half-water bottles. The first time I threw a big party, the kids drank less than half of their adult size water bottles. And there was no recycle bin at the party center! This last time around, I brought my own recycling bin and carted it back home.

Bonus to saving with half water bottles: they only cost a little over $2 a flat at Aldi’s.

11) Find a local kids zone type place that lets you host parties there. The whole point of little kid parties is to tire them the stink out so they pass out that night! Besides, the fee for the party hosting is probably less than what you’d pay for your house to be professionally cleaned and renting a bounce house. Plus hosting it in a party center means you don’t have to clean up afterward and lowers your liability should there be some type of accident.

12) Two-for-one birthday parties. Since the boys were born only three weeks apart, I host both kids birthday party at the same time.

If you’re a minimalist and want fewer toys in your house, only list one child on the invite you send to their classes. If you list both kids’ names and send the same invite to their classes, the majority of people show up with gifts for both of them. This last time, I wised up and listed only one child on each invite. We went home with half the presents. I don’t think the boys even noticed the difference.

Bonus packing list for parties:

-Hand sanitizer (set a big jug of it at the start of the food line)

-Recycle bin (see above)

-Trash bags (they always come in handy)

-Popcorn. Guest love the cheddar popcorn I buy from SAMS club.

-A Bag of apples. Seriously. I try to make party food as reasonably healthy as I can, and adults love having a healthy snack. A lot of the kids showed interest in the apples too.

-Bowls for popcorn and apples

-3 flats of half waters (skip bringing seltzers for adults. Otherwise the kids zone in on them and drink them instead.)

-Small plates and napkins for dessert. Big plates for pizza, popcorn, etc.

-Fruit pouches (no juice drinks. Between the cupcakes and the party bags, those kids are gonna get hopped up on sugar. And don’t me started on how I believe sugar damages the heart…)

-100 forks

-Tape to hang happy birthday banners.

-Candles and matches

Party favors: get from a local club like SAMS: fruit snacks and candy (try to avoid hard candy like suckers, jolly ranchers, etc as they damage the tooth sealants). You can buy bulk small gifts from super Walmart. Sheets of stickers are a good replacement if you’re trying to steer away from candy in the bags.

If you want more ideas on how to save money on birthday parties—or just save money in general—I found this fantastic book helpful.



6 thoughts on “How to throw cheap(er) birthday parties for kids”

  1. Great pointers in what has become a huge cost sink. We were party in the park people for as long as the kids could enjoy it.

    Another idea that worked wonderfully last year for my daughter – we found a hole in the wall karaoke bar that allowed us to bring our own food, and unleashed a dozen fourth grade girls to live their dreams of superstardom. Unbelievably low cost, and had all the parents admiring what a unique party we’d thrown. Frugality for the win!

  2. A lot of good tips in this post! We just went through this with our 5 year old daughter. Except for her first birthday (which was more for us), this is the first time she has had a party. The last couple years we gave her the option of a party or going out to do something special. She chose going to the aquarium both times (we still had cake and a couple small presents). However, this year she wanted a party. Luckily we live in a community where over the top parties are not the norm. I think I’ve only been to one I would consider a little over the top and honestly the kids didn’t seem any more happy/excited/entertained than any other party. We planned to have ours at a local park, however due to rain we moved it to our house as we have a large covered deck and car port. I was worried the kids would be bored but they had a great time. One of the moms brought over a mini jumping castle (bounce house) which we put in the car port. The rain stopped and the kids just played in our yard. I think we tend to worry about these parties too much. Kids are pretty good at entertaining themselves and they don’t care if the decorations/plates, etc match.

    For the party bags we also try not to fill them with candy. I also try not to put plastic crap that is not useful and is just going to end up in the landfill two weeks later. We put some little notebooks, pencils with animal eraser tops, stickers, and just a couple candy items.

    May I also suggest a couple environmentally friendly alternatives?:
    Invest in some reusable party plates (and maybe cups, utensils) instead of using disposable ones. They aren’t that expensive and then you have them for future parties as well as any other large get togethers. I do buy some disposable forks as a back up in case I don’t have enough, however I get the heavier duty kind as they don’t break and then wash them for reuse.

    Try to avoid bottled water. (Sorry, this a bit of a pet peeve of mine) The energy and resources needed for production and bottling are quite high per bottle of water. Not to mention all the plastic that then has to be dealt with. Why not just put out a pitcher of water and some cups?

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