My older son is turning 3 years old at the end of this month and we’re in the process of planning out his birthday party…themed of course. It seems that nowadays, it is the norm to have a theme, matching plates/cups/napkins, hire entertainment, mail invitations, invest in goodie bags, and hold it at a commercial venue. Planning our son’s birthday party is almost as stressful and expensive as planning for a wedding! Okay, maybe not as expensive, but you get my point.
For his first birthday, we invited our immediate and extended families. My mother-in-law is 1 of 9 children and my mother is 1 of 6, so need-less-to-say, we have large families. Including our friends, we had about 60-70 people in the house. We ordered about $600 worth of food, and also had a small petting zoo for the kids. With decorations, cake, goodie bags, invitations, and balloons, we were in over $1000 for his first birthday (not including his birthday gift).
His second birthday was a little less extravagant. It was a smaller crowd, and we had a Thomas the Train theme party. Total was approximately $500 (not including his $800 birthday gift).
For his third birthday, we were going with a Cars theme party and possibly hiring a magician. When all is said and done, we will be in over $750.
Did I mention we also have a 9 month old son? He’s turning 1-year-old in May and it looks like we will be doing a similar size party as our older son’s first birthday. Between the two of them, we’ll probably spend $2k on birthdays a year.
I’m sure we are not the only ones holding birthday parties of this magnitude, so I wanted to offer some practical tips to help save some money for those who may not be able to afford it in the long-run:
- Stop caring what other people think: I could care less what other people think, but my wife and I invest in these parties mainly because we can afford it. I know that many families feel the pressure to have extravagant parties because their neighbors just threw a similar party for their child, but your child will not care. If they do care, then they’ve already developed a “keep up with the Jones” mentality that will ruin them financially as adults.
- Remember your childhood: How many of you had themed parties growing up? I know I didn’t, but I was happy none-the-less. What matters most and what makes children feel special is knowing that they are surrounded by people they know and love.
- Ditch the invitations: Mailing invitations are for you, not for the child. In today’s world, send an evite or Facebook invitation.
- Who doesn’t like Pizza: Pizza and soda can go a long way in terms of cost and happiness. Forget about more expensive catered options and go with what is tried and true….delicious pizza.
- Don’t invite the world: Is it really necessary to invite the entire 1st grade?
- Forget the commercial venue: Instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars in rent, consider renting a moon bounce or rent a pavilion at a park.
You don’t have to take the fun out of the birthday party to save money. With these money-saving tips and with careful planning well you will realize that less can really be more and your child’s birthday party will be successful and affordable.