We recently hosted a handful of guests for my daughter’s first birthday. In the days leading up to her party I realized that I’ve adopted a couple money-saving practices that help me as I throw parties for my kids. The biggest thing I do to keep costs down is start planning early.
Your turn: There are dozens of ways to keep the cost of a child’s birthday party down and I’ve shared a few. What do you do?
Two months before my child’s birthday I get into birthday planning mode. Not so I can throw an exotic party, but so I can pick up the items I need while they are on sale in the weeks ahead. Some examples will help illustrate this:
Meals. I try to serve a meal to my guests versus just snack food items and can usually do it for less than $15. I often use ground beef-based recipe like sloppy joes, chili or taco bar, but have considered pulled chicken or beef sandwiches when that meat is priced low enough. Serving a heartier meal means I need fewer snacks, which can often add up.
Snacks. This time of year I serve a veggie tray using whatever I can get on sale at Aldi. For around $5 I picked up carrots, peppers, cauliflower and cherry tomatoes for my most recent veggie tray. Sour cream keeps awhile in the fridge, so I buy it and dried soup mix ahead of time for the dressing.
Beverages. Generally, I use 2-liter bottles of pop, water, coffee or pitchers of Kool-Aid and Crystal Light (which you can often get free in the summer).
Cake. I make homemade cakes using boxed mixes. The ones in my pantry now cost something like $0.25 each when I matched a $1/box sale with a coupon. I’ll talk more about cakes in a minute.
Ice cream. Ice cream is on sale for dirt cheap this week at my local grocery store. I plan to pick some up and set aside in the deep freeze until my daughter’s party at the end of March. It’s a party staple and getting a nice brand for $1.50 per quart is much better than paying $6.00 per quart the day before.
Paper products. Throughout the year I buy paper plates, napkins and plastic silverware when I can get them for $0.50 per package. These can be a huge budget buster when you buy these last minute.
My kids are still fairly young so we’ve been able to do simple games with simple prizes. I always check the Dollar Spot at Target with my eyes out for clearance-priced items that are either $0.25 or $0.50 each. They make great prizes and good bag stuffers.
My oldest daughter’s birthday is in April and we always do a birthday egg hunt. It’s just like a plastic Easter Egg hunt, but the occasion is different. Establishing a tradition like that helps me plan for what I need, buy in advance and creates great memories for the kids.
Do you know how much a fancy store bought cake can cost? I want an adorable cake, but don’t want to spend the money for it. I can get both, by making my own cut up cake at home. In the mid-1970′s Baker’s Coconust published cake cut up recipe books with ideas for cute do-it-yourself cakes:
I make my older daughter a rabbit every year:
My mom and I made my younger daughter a butterfly, which would be cuter if the purple frosting were darker, but oh well:
These are SO EASY to do that you have no reason not to. You make a cake mix in a regular pan, whatever size is called for in the recipe for the design you want, then you cut it into a few pieces, lay it on a large tray and frost.
Other friends of mine love the pre-formed cake pans that come in different shapes, like ducks, trains, Car Bears and about anything else you can imagine. eBay sells a ton of these from trusted sellers for $11-15 each. If it’s something you’ll use year after year, as a tradition, then these could be a great investment.
Of course, I can’t forget that on a child’s first birthday, if you live in the Twin Cities, you can get free cake at Byerlys/Lunds and Kowalskis. If you live elsewhere in the country I think it’s worth a call to your high-end grocery stores to see if they have any birthday promotions or specials for kids. I passed this up for my youngest daughter since I did a cake cut up for her older sister I did one for her too (and who needs all that extra cake sitting around?).
Lots of restaurants and other establishments give you something free on your birthday. Some have special freebies for kids. Check out all the birthday freebies ever mentioned on Pocket Your Dollars.