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.
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…)
-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.