Thursday, February 19, 2015

Birthday Parties: How To Spend Less And Still Have Fun!

NOT the littlest country kid!
Recently the littlest country kid turned 3. He walks, he talks, and for the most part, uses the potty like a pro..... He is old enough to "get" what a birthday party is this year, so I picked a theme, made some cupcakes and had a few people over to celebrate. A week later we were at McDonalds, not so much for the food, but so the kids could use the indoor play area, when in walked a family who was having a birthday party.

They quickly took over the play area, pushing tables together and decorating. Of course my son says to me, "My birthday!?!?!" all excited. They had the same theme we had used for our son, so I could totally see his confusion. He was mesmerized by the store bought sheet cake, with Mickey Mouse driving a car to Mickey Park.

The mother took orders for the group of 20 plus people and disappeared to the counter to order. Is it just me or does spending well over $100 on McDonald’s food for a two year olds birthday party (which he was running around and didn't seem interested in at all) make anyone else go OMG!!! After a while, it became too much for my son, who really thought all this was for him, so as I collected him from in front of the plastic domed cake once again, and decided it was time to go. As I looked at the cake, in all its glory, I about choked when I saw the price on it was over $30 for that small little cake!

In food, decorations and gifts, this mother had spent well over $200 on a two year olds birthday party. Maybe I am thrifty, frugal or just plain poor, I don't know, but this just made me sick to my stomach. Would I have loved to give my child that cake he was so mesmerized by? Of course! What parent wouldn’t want to make their child happy! But then I realized…. He may not have stared as long at his cupcakes, be he had been more than happy with them at his party. So why was I stressing?!?!!?

Simple birthdays are just as sweet as lavish parties that cost way too much (in my opnion.) Did my son miss out on anything by us not spending hundreds on his party? NO! In fact, I believe he was more engaged with his party, the people there, and the things going on. I hit Dollar Tree and managed to get everything I needed for less than $5 for decorating and his gift was under $10. We did a sandwich spread, chips and drinks for under $30. And all in all everyone had just as good a time as I believe the party folks at McDonalds had!

So how do you throw a simple party that is just as sweet? Creativity and doing it yourself!

1.) Keep your party small. The more people you invite, the more food you are going to need. The more people you invite, the more paper products you are going to need. The more people you invite, the more mess they are going to make for you to clean up!

2.) Pick a theme! You would be amazed what you can pick up at a dollar type store. We had a Mickey Mouse theme and I still was able to pull together related themed items at a fabulous price! Depending on the season, you can pick up beach balls for a pool party! If it is a pizza party, focus on each guest making their own pizza. If you have girls, you can do a spa theme with lots of cheap nail polish and other fun accessories. Be creative!

3.) Renting a venue to hold a party can be costly. If you are able to hold the party in your own home, there is no cost. You could also use a public park if the weather permits. You can look at libraries or churches for more reasonable room rental prices.

One of the oldest country kid's birthdays at the zoo. We let him
invite one friend to go on a special safari together for the day!

4.) Food costs can really add up fast if you aren't careful!!! Keep it a cake and ice cream kind of party. Trust me, that’s all the kids want anyway. If you do decided to go for more food, make as much of your party food as you can from scratch. It may take more time, but will significantly reduce your costs. My cupcakes cost me less than $5 dollars to make and that includes the cupcake liners and cupcake stand! That was over $25 cheaper than the McDonalds party people. Did I have to mix and bake? Sure, but I bet my cupcakes tasted better than a store cake too! Make things that give you bang for your buck (aka lots of food for the price.) Some of these include, hot dogs and chips, chili, and finger foods like veggies and cheese and crackers.

5.) Skip the party games. They are a headache to plan and half the time they cause more stress at a party then there needs to be. You don’t need a schedule of events! Just let the kids play and use their imaginations. Provide balls or whatever, but just let them enjoy spending unorganized time together.

6.) Skip the “goodie bags.” A lot of money is wasted on crappy things that go into a bag. Seriously, as a parent of a child, I hate my kids bring home more crappy little toys to strewn everywhere. Plus, it is the birthday child’s day. I don’t feel every kid there needs a gift. And if a child expects a reward for just showing up…. Well…. Then they don’t understand what it means to celebrate something for someone else.


He wanted mushroom hunting and fishing on his cake.....
I gave heck trying! LOL All that mattered was he loved it!

Everyone wants the best for their children.... We just want to make them happy. And whether it is due to me being a penny pincher or because resources are limited at times, I don't feel my kids have missed out one bit when it comes to birthday parties. We make each birthday special with attention to detail and our children DO remember each special event!

21 comments:

  1. I usually balk at such prices, too. Then again I know what's going on with the aspects of my get together and food. That is more important to me.

    Baby Boy will be 2 in a few months. I haven't picked out a theme and I'm not sure if I will. Maybe it'll be letters and shapes and numbera, because that's what he's into right now. Either way, I'll likely make a cake or even just cookies. Well have finger foods and/or people can bring snacks to share. The cousins and family who show will all be doing whatever they want. Hopefully it'll be nice enough outside to go play or take a short walk to the park. :)

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    1. Wish baby boy a happy birthday for us and I hope his party is wonderful!

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  2. I know the homemade parties for my 3 kids always loved best. Cake from home, fun decor and friends over...

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    1. Trust me, I cringe when people mention they are having their kids party at like Chucky Cheese. I always silently pray not to be invited! LOL

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    2. Yes, Mindie; We have already gotten at least 7 invites to these so far this school year. We have attended two, and a third is coming up. I DREAD them, and between our two grandkids, they have 38 class mates. And then there are the kids at church.... :(

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  3. It is fascinating how much people spend on parties. We usually have a nice family dinner with extended members such as grandparents and we have a home made cake and maybe some balloons. As the little two get older they want to bless each other with decorations which is great. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

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    1. You do it right. I wish more people understood in this day and age what the focus of a party is, which is celebrating the love!

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  4. Hi, Farm Girl!

    We are getting our introduction to these "venue" birthday parties since our grandchildren have come to live with us, and I absolutely HATE them! Not only are they expensive and over-priced; But they are impersonal, with no privacy or intimacy to express what you really want to express when celebrating someone's birthday. I don't even see the children enjoying them. The birthday child gets forgotten in the rush from one part of the "program" to the next; and the whole thing changes from, "Hooray for the birthday (boy or girl); We're SO GLAD you came to join us on Planet Earth on January 1, 2000", to "Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie". The significance of celebrating a birthday is totally lost! If a parent wants to use a venue, I would suggest a better way to do it is to let a child bring two or three best friends along to a place that they already enjoy, and just pay to have those few close friends enjoy the venue together, but, personally I like Terri Presser's way better; Children really don't understand the significance of other kids birthdays anyway; That is mainly appreciated by family.

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    1. Are venue parties the worst things ever! LOL I cringe at the mention of some of those places. We have always done small, family and friends. If we do go somewhere it is with a limited number of people. My oldest was born right near mothers day, so one year we combined the two and invited my mom to join us at the zoo to celebrate my son. People who love each other, together, enjoying time and building memories.

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  5. THANK YOU! Where I live a paltry $200 for a 2 year olds birthday party is nothing. Some people go really crazy over parties for their kids renting special venues and inviting 30-40 kids. Luckily my son doesn't really get birthday parties yet, so I feel no compunction to "compete".

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    1. Ugh, don't you just get sick to your stomach. I mean 30-40 kids? That alone makes my hair stand up. I think you should get 1 invite for each year of the birthday child when it comes to number of kids.

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  6. I completely agree with you! We've had most of our parties at home, though I have to admit, we do usually hire a Disney Princess to appear. I also can't stand goody bags but a couple of years ago my friend told me she makes cake pops for the good bags. I started doing that and they were a big hit! Easy to make, cheap and no little plastic toys for parents to step on in the middle of the night :-)

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    1. I would freak if a Disney Princess came ot my house, but then again I only boys LOL.

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  7. Thanks so much for sharing @ #mum-bomonday I think far to much money is spent on kids birthday parties so I love this post

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    1. Thank you. I feel if you want kids to know they are loved, spend time, not money

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  8. Great tips! Sharing! Thanks for sharing at Totally Terrific Tuesday last week! Can't wait to see what you have been working on this week!

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  9. Great ideas! Gotta love the Dollar Tree! Thanks for linking up to Awesome Life Friday!

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  10. Great ideas and suggestions. Parties can be so expensive. Thank you very much for joining in the celebration of #purebloglove, we enjoy having you each week. I hope to see you on Thursday at 8PM, EST through Sunday night. ~Cydnee

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