Throwing a birthday party can be an expensive endeavor but with a little planning it doesn’t have to be. Local birthday venues start at around $200 for a simple no frills birthday, and with 4 kids with cold weather birthdays that can add up fast! Instead we host frugal birthday parties at home, and use a few ideas to keep us on budget while still celebrating their special day.
While I share ideas culled from my son’s 11th birthday party you can also apply the same principles to birthdays, gatherings, anniversaries, even dinner parties.
Principle #1: Keep it small.
The bigger the party the more mess, the more time to plan, the more people to greet.
For Nathan’s 11th birthday we invited a small group of children over to help celebrate. The kids are all old enough to be dropped off, and many of the parents were thrilled to have the break. By having only the kids we saved money and we were able to interact with the kids more during the party. Normally we would have spent a lot of time talking to other parents.
Learn more: 7 Frugal & Easy Non-food Party Favor Ideas
Principle #2: Serve it simple.
Choose in-season foods, pick one dessert (ice cream or cake not both), one or two drink choices, or consider having a potluck where everyone brings their favorite dish to share.
Nathan picked the foods we served which included grilled cheese, carrot sticks, mac and cheese, clementines, and apple cider. The total grocery bill was $25 including a $8 tub of ice cream in place of the cake. The majority of the money was spent on a “case” of Luna Bars that he loves. We cut them up into appetizer sized bites.
Learn more: 47 Free or Frugal Ideas For Kids Activities
Principle #3: Provide an activity.
Don’t expect the food and drink to be enough to keep the kids from ransacking the house. With adult guests it is great to provide something that breaks the ice, and is especially great for a party where you have guest from various areas of your life. (work, family, in-laws, friends, and book club friends)
We chose a Lego theme, so we had Nathan bring down his bazillion Lego pieces so everyone could build with them during the party. The party favor? You got to take home whatever you made. Having something the kids can make occupies their time at the party, and is an inexpensive way of sending them home with something. (in our case it was free!)
Need more ideas? There are lots of ideas in Kids Birthday Parties: Learn Secrets To Planning The Best Childrens Birthday Party Ever!
Remember though that a party is supposed to be fun! If you are planning it and not having fun, then figure out how you can cut back.
Our next party will be for our daughters. I’m planning to do one party in February instead of one in January and one in March.