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Get the Party Started: Ways to Save on Birthday Parties

Your child’s birthday is approaching and they’re begging you to throw a party. But you’re on a budget and birthday parties are EXPENSIVE! Between a venue, food, goody bags, cake, and presents, it’s easy to see how a child’s birthday party could easily break the bank. But we have some tips that will help reduce the cost so this is a party you’ll remember for the right reasons – and not because you’re still paying off the credit card bill the next year!

How to Save on Birthday Parties:

  •  The first thing you should do is set a budget based on what you can reasonably afford. Then stick to it!
  •  Instead of renting a room at a bowling alley or bounce house, hold the party at home. Many of my parties as a child were at our house, and those are the ones I remember best.
  • Hold the party in the afternoon, around 2:00pm. Note on the invitations that cake and ice cream will be served. This way parents will feed their kids lunch, and you’ll save a bundle.
  •  Decide how many guests your child can invite. Remember that inviting the whole class will make your costs skyrocket, so allow them a certain number of friends to invite and stick to that number. Some parents may request that a sibling attend, so be prepared to either agree or tell them it’s unfortunately not in your budget to take on extra children.
  •  To really save money on invitations, send an Evite to parents. The downside to this is that you have to have everyone’s email address, but the advantage is that it’s free. You could print low-cost invitations from the computer, help your child make them, or pick some up at the dollar store.
  •  Save big on decorations by setting a theme and only buying a few items specifically for that theme. For example, buy a few Batman balloons and a Batman-themed piñata, but save on the rest by buying plates, cups, napkins, and other decorations in a black, grey, and yellow color scheme to save. And skip the party supply store – the dollar store is a fantastic place to buy decorations! (Check out our blog on dollar store shopping.)
  •  Make the cake yourself. A homemade cake mix plus frosting costs a fraction of the price of a bakery-bought cake. You can completely customize it for your child, and the child will appreciate the originality.
  •  Kids will love running around and playing games in your backyard or rec room. The games my mom came up with were always a hit at my childhood parties. I still remember playing musical chairs, pin the candle on the birthday cake, and limbo to win prizes.
  •  Use brown lunch bags instead of expensive goody bags. You and your child can decorate them with stickers, stamps, or guests’ names. Then buy candy in bulk or buy other fun discount items to stuff them with.

Saving on a birthday party is easy if you use a little creativity. Your child won’t miss the fancy decorations or store-bought goody bags or bakery cakes. They’ll remember the awesome Batman theme, playing games with friends, and digging into that delicious homemade cake.


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Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages and for all of life’s milestones. Our goal is enhanced economic security for everyone we serve.

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