Birthday’s on a Budget: Save With Birthday Parties That Don’t Break the Bank

Have you ever given or been invited to a party where the child was too young to even understand what was going on? Do you know of a parent that was so busy organizing the party that s/he missed the birthday boy or girl make a wish and blow out the candles?

In this current culture of bigger, better, faster, more, many of us are beginning to think about where we can reign in the madness. Overblown birthday parties may just be the place to start.

If you’re fed up with the birthday party Olympics, join the club. Many parents, feeling increasing pressure to one up their peers, are losing out on the joy of the birthday celebration, and some are even piling up a good bit of debt. This year, why not have a party that is fun and affordable?

Here’s what to do instead

  1. Plan a sane party that allows you to spend time with your child rather than run back and forth from the kitchen or among clowns and other costumed characters.

2. Make your child’s special day kids (or maybe family) only.

3. Make and stick to a birthday party budget.

4. Include a party activity everyone can join in. Kids don’t have to have ponies for a great party…


  • Outdoor or indoor games
  • Indoor crafts
  • Karaoke
  • Dress up (don’t have clothes on hand? head to a thrift store)


5. Serve kid-friendly finger food (no caterers or unwieldy recipes, please)

6. Dress your child comfortably and avoid clothing you are worried will be soiled or ruined.

7. Don’t serve anything red.

8. Capitalize on your child’s imaginative spirit (have you heard the one about the parent’s pricey present and the daughter’s delight with the box it came in? Enough said).

9. Be confident enough not to keep up with the Joneses. Or if you’re not there yet, call them and negotiate a birthday party cease-fire (i.e. no pastry chef inspired cakes, take home crafts instead of bulging party bags…you get the idea).

10. Keep the crowd small and avoid rental fees for the party tent.

11. If you are worried about classmates that may feel hurt about not receiving an invitation, make and take a special lunch or host a pizza party for your child at school. Many parlors offer early week or carry-out discounts.

12. Be creative and keep the focus on your kid. After all, the best gift is time with a loving parent.

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