The first five years of my parenting career were spent in the heart of the “OC” in Southern California. During that time, my daughter was invited to a lot of birthday parties. I have seen it all. Extravagant, over-the-top character rentals, catered and themed events that rivaled weddings. I tended to agree with my fellow Lifetime Moms blogger Amy that perhaps things had gotten out of control.
Then I moved to Texas. Birthday parties here are noticeably more subdued. Sure, there are the occasional bounce house rentals and party venues, but overall, events are simple celebrations. I embrace this approach. As a frugal mom of four, birthdays are indeed special but not a reason to break the bank.
When planning my own children’s birthday parties, I have some basic frugal philosophies I stick to each year. Here are my tips for planning your next birthday event:
1. Keep it simple. Children do not remember the tiny details moms stress over. Friends and photos make the best memories.
2. My child will survive without a party every year. Simple family celebrations or a special outing with one friend are OK.
3. The cost of goody bags can really add up. Favors are most appreciated when they are practical, so offer one nice item over useless trinkets and candy.
4. Skip the meal. An after-lunch party is ideal, and only requires dessert and drinks. Be sure to inform parents what will be served.
5. Realize what is age-appropriate. My first child had a big party that included children age 1 and up. This set a pricey precedent. By the third child, we opted for family celebrations until he reaches school-age.
6. Get creative when stretching the budget. Borrow themed decor from a friend, or recycle last years’ decorations. A simple bouquet of flowers adds an elegant touch to any event.
7. Save big by making your own cake or cupcakes, which are ever so popular. If this sounds daunting, check out Life As Mom’s fabulous ebook resource, Pretty Cool Cakes. Jessica explains cake decorating “for normal people.”
8. Use coupons. You never know when a great beverage or napkin coupon may come in handy. Check out my coupon resources before you hit the stores.
9. Take lots of photos. After the big day is over and the last of the frosting has been enjoyed, pictures are all you have left. Recruit a willing family member to help out while you enjoy the celebration.
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