Aug 17, 2007

Tips for Cutting Birthday Party Expenses

I am guilty of spending several hundred dollars on each of Alex's first two birthday parties. We wanted to have big parties for him, inviting the entire extended family as well as all of our friends with kids. The parties were held at play spaces because our house is fairly small and in large part because we wanted the huge convenience of having someone else set up and clean up. And most importantly, we could afford it.

I haven't decided what we'll do for Tyler's first birthday in a few months, but I thought I'd share some of the strategies I used to minimize the costs of Alex's parties:
  • Minimize favors. With no offense intended to my dear friends who've gone the favor bag route, I personally prefer one useful item to a bag of small tchotchkes that are often major choking hazards. For Alex's first party, I picked up sand trucks at Target for 99 cents apiece. For his second party, I got a 3-pack of sidewalk chalk plus holder, also at Target for 99 cents each. I tied a ribbon around each package of chalk and attached a card that said, "Thanks for helping me celebrate my birthday!"
  • Pare your guest list. The play rooms we chose had a maximum number of kids built into the minimum price. By staying under that limit, I avoided paying extra. There was no maximum on the number of adults who could attend, which meant no extra fees for all of the family members who didn't have kids.
  • Have the party at a non-meal time. Although napping schedules play a big part in determining what time of day you'll have the party, you can save a lot of money by having the party between mealtimes. People won't expect to be served a lot of food, which means you can stick to just cake and juice/water. If you're feeling generous, you can put out a fruit platter and chips and dip.
  • Bring your own food. The place where we had Alex's first party didn't allow outside food, except for the cake, and it was poor quality for the cost. With the second place, we had to bring our own food, which helped keep costs down. The best price for a large birthday cake is at Costco, where a half-sheet cake is $15.
You may also want to check this post for tips on saving on birthday parties.

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