His friends, family, everyone is there to wish him a happy birthday. But how do you give him a day that he’ll remember forever, a party he’ll never forget, when you’re more worried about how you’ll pay for this week’s grocery bill or next month’s utilities? Here’s how to plan the party on a budget:
Are they the kind of kid who has to have a million people around to have a good time? Or would having just the closest of their friends around make them happy? Deciding on the size of the party helps you decide how big a budget you need to create for every other step of the planning. More guests means more food, which means either less of something else (decorations, entertainment, etc.) or much cheaper food (just cake and ice cream instead of that pizza dinner). Plan the size of the guest list first (even if the actual people change) and then build around that. Click here for the Dos and Don'ts of preparing birthday party food!
Your child’s birthday doesn't change (thank goodness), so plan ahead. Scraping together the cash last minute is going to be nearly impossible. Start budgeting out a small amount from your paycheck each month (can you afford $5, $10, $50?) and put it aside into a special account, or envelope--wherever you won’t touch it--so that when their big day comes around, the money is already there and you won’t miss it from the rest of your bills because it was never there to start with.
Ok, so maybe you don’t have to pick an actual theme. That’s really up to you and depends on the age of your child (and how into party planning they are). But it's hard to plan out how much you're going to spend if you don't know what you’re doing. Will you throw a themed party at your house? At the park? Something out around town? Do you really need RSVPs or will just showing up be ok? Figure out these details so you can figure out how you’re going to make it happen.
The internet is your friend--especially Pinterest! Every secret to doing anything on a budget is there: DIY, coupons (check out Groupon) for special locations, recipes, pre-made budgets, even. Go online and find every way to pinch your pennies and turn them into mountains of fun for your child. If you don’t have a profile, get one. Then it’s as easy as typing what you’re looking for into the search bar (Frozen party favors? Batman decorations? Backyard party games?). You'll find The Ultimate Guide to Pinterest here!
Don’t give in when your child begs for things you can't afford. Tell them the budget up front and don’t add to it. Let them plan what they want to do from the options available, and don’t let them bully you into pizza when you originally planned on home-grilled burgers, or going to a theater instead of renting movies at home.
Remember, it isn’t really the party that matters. Most kids won’t actually remember the party itself, but they will remember the fun they had with their friends. They don’t need 6 games of lazertag, Putt-Putt, and a gourmet meal. Simple activities, simple snacks, and a day with their favorite people are all a kid needs to feel special on their special day.