Planning a Fun and Affordable Birthday Party

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 by Stacey Schifferdecker

kids birthday party funDoes it seem like kids’ birthday parties are getting a little more extravagant every year? My daughter recently went to a party that featured two bounce toys and two clowns doing face painting and balloon animals, plus a craft table, a piñata, and goodie bags. The latest trend in my son’s class is to rent the entire skating rink for a couple hours.

Of course, the kids have fun at these parties and if the parents can afford a big, expensive party, they have every right to throw one. But those of us who can’t afford to spend hundred of dollars on a birthday party can still throw affordable parties that are fun for everyone.

Set a Budget – and Stick to It
Your first step in keeping a birthday party affordable is to decide how much you want to spend. Don’t be tempted into a “My child’s birthday party must be the biggest and best” competition. If your child wants something for the party that will break the budget, tell him or her they have to drop something else.

Stay at Home
You don’t have to rent a skating rink or a room at a pizza place to have a fun party. In fact, if you have a party at a pizza place or bounce house, the kids tend to spend their time playing with the stuff instead of interacting with each other. They can have a great time playing in your back yard

If you truly don’t want to have your child’s birthday party in your home, explore other inexpensive options, such as a park or your church. We have had several birthday parties in our church gym, and it is great because there is plenty of room for the kids to run around, as well as a playground right outside the door.

Limit the Guest List
You really don’t need to invite everyone in your child’s class, as well as all their neighborhood friends, cousins, and the kid they met at the pool last week. One suggestion I have read is to invite the same number of guests as your child’s age – so a five-year-old would have five guests. I always found that a bit too limiting, but definitely keep the guest list at a number you are comfortable with and that includes your child’s true friends.

Of course, you don’t want anyone to feel out, so mail invitations rather than handing them out at school, and teach your children not to talk about their parties when they are around children who aren’t invited.

Keep it Simple
Kids really don’t need professional entertainers or rented equipment to have a good time. One year the favorite game at my son’s Spy Party was looking for the bomb (a kitchen timer) before it exploded (dinged). The kids wanted to play over and over again. Another year, we timed a Construction Party around the arrival of a load of dirt for the garden. The kids had a grand, dirty time pushing toy cars round the dirt pile.

Let your child pick a theme and then plan some simple games and crafts to go along with it. The internet is full of party ideas you can borrow. Just don’t sweat it if the kids don’t want to play your games. If they’re having fun just playing tag in the backyard, then let them!

Friends, fun, and cake and ice cream – what more does a birthday party need?

Stacey Schifferdecker is the happy but harried mother of three school-aged children—two boys and a girl. She is also a freelance writer, a Children’s Minister, a PTA volunteer, and a Scout leader. Stacey has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and French and a Master’s degree in English. She has written extensively about parenting and education as well as business, technology, travel, and hobbies.

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