Kids & Parenting

Save money planning your child's birthday party

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Girl with cake
Instead of getting that second pony for your child's birthday party, use the money for extra fun stuff like ice cream, face-painting or decorations
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Plan the party of your dreams for a fraction of the cost!

Children's birthday parties are so popular – but lately it seems they have just gotten out of control. With customized cakes and expensive entertainers, these parties are now in danger of putting parents literally in the poorhouse!


It almost seems as if some children compete with each other to 'top' who is going to have the biggest, best and most expensive birthday party. 


Budgeting is important


Fortunately you can save money planning your child's birthday party if you know where to look. Cutting a budget for any special event requires some creativity and a little bit of compromise.


It can be hard to think of doing something smaller or more modest when you look into those adoring little eyes that want something totally out of this world without understanding the cost. But in reality most children remember the fun time they had with their friends at their birthday party. Looking back over birthday parties, they don't remember a lot of the extras.


Get rid of the second pony


A friend of mine wanted to have pony rides at her three-year old's birthday party. She literally invited the entire class to the birthday party. The company was pushing hard for her to get a second pony to take care of pony rides. That would have increased her budget tremendously. She thought hard. She really wanted a pony; ponies are fun for kids. But she also knew that some kids might be scared of the pony or even would want a very short ride. So she bought more ice cream bars and only got one pony and everyone had a great time.



The moral of the story is to find your 'second pony' in your budget. It may be the makeup artist coming to do makeup before a teen event going out on the town. It could be having your father-in-law operate the camcorder instead of getting a professional videographer.


Control the guest list


Some children may feel they need to invite everyone. Some children–I'm not pointing fingers–may actually invite additional guests simply because they want more birthday presents. So these are not close friends of theirs, these are more action figures, more DVDs and more videogames piled up in front of them. A great rule of thumb is if you haven't seen the child at your house within the past six months, they shouldn't be on the guest list without a really good reason.


Do it yourself vs. buying it


Sometimes it actually costs more to do something yourself than it does to purchase it. You can get a very reasonably priced sheet cake at most large grocery stores and if you are having a big crowd for the birthday party this is an ideal choice for many. Baking a big cake like that is hard and you'd have to get a big pan and add in the time it would take to bake it too. You can save money planning your child's birthday party by budgeting money and time spent.


When you have the option to do something yourself versus buying it, think of which option is actually going to save you both time and money in the long run. You may have a family friend who does magic tricks who could be an ideal entertainer at a toddler's party or someone to teach your teenager daughters' friends how to make jewelry. Remember that if you trade with other parents they will be likely to trade with you to create great parties for their kids too!

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