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FrugalMom's Guide to Childrens' Birthday Parties on a Budget


by Angela Heidt

So it is time once again to plan your kid's birthday party. While every child should have an extra-special birthday we don't need to pull out all the bells and whistles to make it a good one. Children aren't impressed with how much we spend. For most kids, having everyone's attention focused on them is often special enough.

For some reason when our child has a birthday we feel the need to crack open our wallets and shell out much more than we need to. Personally, I would rather save the money to put towards a great gift, or add it to our summer vacation fund. My kids are still pretty young, so as long as their birthday includes presents and cake they think it is fabulous. However, this doesn't stop me from doing a little bit extra, although I keep it within a small budget.

There are a few elements that make up a good kids birthday party: guests, activities, food, cake and presents. The guests are easy (and free to invite) and they bring the presents, so that just leaves you with activities, food and cake.

The best way to keep your child's birthday party on budget is to have it at home. If the thought of a bunch of rugrats running amok in your home gives you a panic attack, then have the party somewhere else. Otherwise, keep in mind that having the party at home is entirely free, and lets you save money by cooking your own food.

Kids are pretty easy to amuse, and with a few games you can keep them organized for at least a few minutes. Some of us may think that the old standby of pin the tail on the donkey sounds a bit lame, but kids love it! All you need to do is go online and print out a picture of a donkey (Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh is a fan favorite) and make him a tail. Make sure you have some prizes on hand for the winners. I am lucky enough that my son's birthday is right before Halloween, so our parties are always in costume and I give out prizes for the best ones (all of them of course).

That brings us to supplies for said birthday party, for this I only need two words: dollar store. You will find all the supplies you need from napkins and party decorations to small gifts for goody bags and prizes in one place, and it's a bargain. Most dollar stores even do helium balloons, so you can pick some of those up while you are there.

Food is pretty easy since kids usually aren't picky. Hot dogs are pretty much a staple at kid's birthday parties, but I had a revelation the other day: why not combine the activity portion of the party with the meal? Have the kids make their own pizzas! All you need are some crusts, pizza sauce, veggies, cheese and meat. The kids get to have some fun making their meal, you know they'll eat it and you don't have to cook! Not to mention it will only cost you about $1 per child.

The birthday cake portion of the party is entirely up to you. I like to make my own cakes (from a mix) but some of us just don't trust ourselves when it comes to baking. No worries, although you are looking at about $20 or more for a cake from the store. Do you have anyone in the family who likes to bake? Perhaps they could do that instead of a present.

Remember that there is a difference between being frugal and cheap. Cheap is giving your kid a cupcake with a candle in it and a lame present wrapped in newspaper, while frugal is making sure that everyone has a great time without spending a ton of cash.

Categories: Advice, Ideas & Stories, MomShare, Newsletter,

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