For those of you older than 30, it is easy to remember life before Pinterest. Our birthday parties back then consisted of a store-bought pin-the-tail on the donkey games and the relay where you ran across the living room to a waiting chair and tried to pop a balloon by sitting on it.
There were a few kids who had fancy birthday parties in the party rooms at McDonald’s. We washed down our hamburgers with cups of always-warm orange drink.
Pinterest has changed that, and even though kids still love the pop-the-balloon relay, parties are expected to be a little more photo-friendly than before. How do parents manage? Here are some tips on how to gather those party essentials so you can throw a fun kids birthday party on a budget.
Have a Family Party
If your child is three or younger, consider celebrating just with family. It’s tempting to invite the kids from daycare, the children of your friends, and the neighborhood gang, but that is a precedent you don’t want to start.
After you invite these little darlings to your child’s party, the parents will feel pressured into asking you to their children’s parties as well. Before you know it, you are rushing your three-year-old to a birthday party on your Saturday morning when you really need to spend the time going to the grocery store and doing laundry.
And for what? Three-year-olds are too young to appreciate all this commotion, and most of the children your toddler comes in contact with now are not going to be their childhood friends. Be patient. Your time will come when you will throw Pinterest-worthy party.
Wait until your child is at least four or five to start having the big bashes. By the time grade school is in full swing, you will feel as if you need to keep a supply of gift bags and tissue paper in your car.
Don’t Do a Party Every Year
Limit your large celebrations to every third year. I met a woman the other day who said she planned large parties for her children’s fifth, eighth, eleventh, and fourteenth birthdays. She loved giving large parties, and since she spread them out, she felt like she could be a little more elaborate then if she had celebrated every year. This doesn’t mean that her children’s birthdays went unnoticed in the “off” years.
Shop for Supplies All Year
Purchase supplies for the party all year long. Even if you don’t know your party’s theme, look for generic supplies all year on clearance aisles and discount party supply stores. Look at Target’s dollar bins located right when you walk into the store. Create a stash of these items in your home that is out of reach of your children.
Recycle the things your children received throughout the year that they didn’t use. Did your child’s meal come with the same toy he got last week? Keep it for stuffing a goody bag. Use up the holiday candy (if your child’s birthday is near the holidays.)
Try to use good judgment when doing this. You may even want to prep your little darling, so he or she doesn’t say “Mommy, isn’t that the toy I got from Bryce’s goody bag last week?” This is a good time for a teachable moment about the difference between lying and not offering the truth.
Purchase generic paper supplies
Even if your little Ethan loves Power Rangers, buying Power Rangers cups, plates, and napkins will break the bank. The kids won’t notice the type of plate they’re given, and it will go in the trash. If your party supply store doesn’t have these items on sale, purchase the generic green plates and tell your kid the color is “vomit green.”
I would think this would be standard practice anymore. Parents prefer it. Another note on invitations, do not send your child to daycare or school with a stack of party invitations. Feelings will be hurt if not everyone is invited.
Also, invite the kid with special needs. Reach out to his or her parents on how to be best accommodating for the child and follow through with those desires. It may create a little difficulty for you, but it will mean the world to that child and those parents.
Double up with a sibling or a friend. If your child’s birthday is within the same month as someone else’s birthday, consider having a dual party. This will enable you to share the costs of decorating and entertainment. Try to do this only if both children are near the same age and get along wonderfully.
Don’t feel guilty about going all out for your child’s birthday. As you can see, there are ways to save money, and your children will be too-cool-for-school middle schoolers, busy high schoolers, and then moving out before you know it.