Cheap Birthday Parties : How To
|July 23, 2012||Posted by thecheapskatemom under birthday, celebrate, fun, kidsandpets, occasions|
by Hannah Walton aka The Cheapskate Mom
Cheap Birthday Parties : Are They Possible ?
Having worked as a restaurant manager (for ten years) at a restaurant whose bread and butter was children's birthday parties , I am something of an expert in the nitty and gritty of childrens' parties. I have seen it all : moms yelling at me that I ruined their kids birthday because we didn't have enough balloons, five feet tall castle cakes – even Shriners' driving through a restaurant in Vermont. Yup. I'm that much of an expert.
Having witnessed thousands of childrens birthday parties, I have some basic advice for the world wide web on how to throw a cheap (but totally awesome) kids birthday party.
Buying The Party Package is Often Cheaper
If you are opting to do a birthday party package at a place like Chuck E. Cheese or a Children's Museum, you're probably going to be tempted to do the party a la carte by paying for everything separately because you figure you're paying more for the luxury of having a package completed with a reserved area etc. It took me a year or two of doing the math with unhappy parents who opted to pay for everything separately to realize that doing the package is usually a whole lot cheaper for parents. The package prices are discounted to entice you to choose their place to throw your party – and what the package includes is usually well thought out so that it covers all your bases.
You may think – well it says it comes with two pizzas for ten kids but I don't think that will be enough and I'll have to order more so I'll just do it all separately. News Flash : two pizzas for ten kids who are there to party is more than enough – what is included in the package is well thought out to meet your needs even if it doesn't seem like enough – it almost always is!
Before you decide to do everything separately – sit down and calculate the cost of everything and don't forget to include tax. Then think about the luxury of reserving a package – having your party all set up for you – and not having to worry about buying everything as you go!
Keep Birthdays Decorations Simple
As far as decorations go – I advise picking a theme and a main color. Buy your balloons, streamers, plates , table cloth, etc in the main color (a whole lot cheaper than buying the special theme plates, table cloth, etc) and then buy a few theme related things like goodie bags, a special balloon or a table centerpiece. It will look nicer in photographs to have one strong color for your birthday party – and the theme items you do buy will really stand out.
Don't go overboard on decorating either : remember that the main reason the kids are there is to celebrate and have fun. Decorations don't make or break the party : your attitude will.
Party Favors End Up on The Floor
I have seen all different manner of party favors over the years – from dollar store pencils to books to mini j crew shopping bags.
I have personally swept these party favors – thousands of them – off the floor every night for ten years. The number one thing to remember about party favors is: they end up on the floor. Children (most of them anyway) do not keep the party favors and put them on a special shelf to remember your son's seventh birthday by. They do not dust them – what they actually do is say "Cool", and then promptly throw them on the floor and forget about them.
Give food party favors that go with your theme – gold fish for a nautical theme, popcorn for a movie themed party – whatever works. Food is cheap and fun….It's that simple.
Don't Go Overboard on Party Food
Speaking of party food – don't go overboard. Oh, the parties I have seen : long tables full of every pizza combination possible, large bowls of uneaten salads, and sad, lonely bread sticks that go uneaten. Large cakes that are pretty to look at but most kids don't actually eat THAT much cake – half eaten ice cream cups left to melt (and for me to clean up).
Keep the food cheap & super simple :
One pizza per five kids , One pizza per four adults is the general rule of thumb. It may not seem like a lot – but at a party with lots of things to do and kids to chase, food just ain't where it's at. One small slice of cake per person works – especially if you're throwing ice cream into the mix. If you're going to serve snacks, serve one snack and don't go overboard on that either.
One thing I have noticed , however, is that party planners underestimate how many drinks to buy : people do get thirsty at a party! One 2 liter for 20 people isn't going to do anyone a whole lotta good unless you're having a soda tasting One two liter per three people is a good rule of thumb.
Not Everyone who RSVPS will Show
"I just don't understand it. They said they would come to my daughter's birthday! They RSVP'ed". Oh, the upset and bewildered moms I have seen. Not everyone who gives you their word is worth their word in salt. You're going to have "no-shows" so be prepared.That being said, you're also going to have one or two kids who never RSVP'd who do show up.
The lesson to take from my years of experience ? Plan to have enough for the amount of kids who do RSVP – and no more. If you're short a party favor – it's not the end of the world – I'm sure you can figure out something! If you have to go with smaller slices of cake – the kids will deal and your wallet will be happy. Trust me.
Don't Make Your Child's Birthday About You
Yes – it's fun to plan a birthday party for our kids. We women love the details, the pretty ideas we see on Pinterest – the compliments we get. Our kids? They don't really care as long as they get cake and presents – oh and have fun. Don't fret over every detail – keep the focus on the fun – not the matching plates. Roll with the set backs and don't bankrupt your family over a party. I have seen the most expensive parties go horribly wrong because the moms were so hung up on the details that they never stopped and smelled the candles.
I hope my years of experience have helped you save money on your next birthday party ! Check out my other birthday articles for some more great tips and feel free to email me with questions! Thanks, folks