I love to throw a party. And I really love a good birthday party! Especially for my kids. But birthday parties can get super expensive, in a HURRY. And if you don’t watch what you are doing and stick to a budget, they can end up being way more of an expense than you planned. That’s why I’ve created this post for kid’s birthday party budget planning.
Birthday parties are a LOT of work. So, how do you know when to spend and splurge and when to scrimp and save? Enter my advice
I went absolutely all out for both my kids first birthdays. Which in hindsight, wasn’t the smartest idea. They won’t possibly remember their first birthdays. I think honestly it was more a celebration for me to enjoy that I’d survived my first year of parenthood and subsequently with baby boy #2 that I’d survived the first year as a parent of 2 kids! I took it much easier for their next birthdays. Because, let’s be honest, they are not going to remember those birthdays. There is no point in exhausting yourself and breaking the bank account for birthdays the kids aren’t going to remember.
Implementing a Birthday Budget
So, how do you throw a party without breaking the bank? What is an appropriate budget? How do you stick to the budget you set for a party? I have some ideas!
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First things first, you need to establish your budget. You can throw a fantastic party on a tight budget or an extravagant one. It’s just important to know what you are comfortable spending so you know how to divide your resources and plan accordingly.
So, set your budget. Whether it’s $100 or $500, decide on your number. I usually try to stay at the $150-$200 range, not including our gifts to our child, which will probably run another $100-$150.
Next, set your expectations. What kind of party are you looking to throw? If you are working on a $100 budget, then you probably can’t take your kid and 12 of his closest pals to a waterpark or amusement park for the day. But, for $100 you could host a super fun backyard party or have a fun sleepover party.
Depending on the age of your child, you could get them involved with the decision-making process. You may be trying to figure out how to have a huge party, when really your child would just like to go to the movies with a few friends and have McDonalds for lunch. So, talk to your child and see what they want to do for their birthday. (Assuming they are old enough to help decide!)
Pick a theme with your child. Or if they aren’t old enough to choose a theme, pick something you know they will love. Sometimes I will look online and see what types of party decoration party packages are available. You can easily have a princess party, sports party or a superhero party and get all the décor and paper goods in one giant bundle. You name it, it’s probably out
Now, onto my favorite part! The planning of the party!
Kid’s Birthday Party Budget Planning: Items to Include In the Budget
Where do you want to have
I’m incredibly lucky, both my kids are summer weather babies, so we are able to easily do a backyard party with sprinklers and pools and call it a day. All the kids have a great time, it’s simple and keeps them all contained in one single area.
A Note About All-In-One Locations:
At first, an all-in-one location like Chuck E. Cheese or a bounce house or gymnastics place might seem really expensive and extravagant. However, a lot of times it includes everything and all you have to bring is cake! Everything is decorated for you, the venue provides napkins, plates, cups, food, drinks, etc. So when you calculate that it includes everything, plus it’s not in your house, PLUS everyone is totally entertained, I find that to be a win-win situation and totally worth the expense.
Depending on how well you know the people, you can always just text out an invitation. But if you need or want to, you can always get paper invitations and mail them out.
You could go all out on food or you can really take a budget approach and have a ton of food, either way. You can get cheap pizzas with a good coupon deal or even a Little Cesears $5 pizza! If you have the party at home you can do hot dogs and hamburgers and potato chips with water and lemonade and really feed a crowd on a budget. There are tons of ways to feed the masses for not a ton of money.
I personally prefer to go the pizza route. It’s just easier and everyone loves pizza.
I am quite the control freak when it comes to the birthday cake. I used to feel like I absolutely had to make the cake or I’d be some kind of horrible mother. More than that, I wanted to make the cake. But, it turns out, the cake is way too much stress for me. A store bought cake is delicious. And it looks great. And no one gives a second thought to what kind of mother I might or might not be based on what kind of cake I served at my child’s birthday party. I was being ridiculous.
As far as budgets go, if you are just making a cake from mix or scratch and putting simple icing on it, then go ahead and go for it and make the cake if you want! You are probably doing well on your budget there.
Go To The Bakery
However, if you are going to do some kind of elaborate design (like a 3-D yellow rubber duck OR Mickey Mouse’s head) then please, for the love of all that’s pure, get it made at the bakery. I cannot tell you the amount of time I spent on cakes my kids were never going to eat and that no one wanted to cut because they were too cute.
Save your time, and your sanity and get the bakery cake. PLUS, by the time you buy the pan, the icing dye and the icing tips, and bake the cake you are definitely not much better off financially than just getting the cake at the bakery. Plus, no joke, I exacerbated my carpal tunnel syndrome so much with that Mickey Mouse cake, I ended up having to have surgery on my hand. That was not an awesome day. I already had the carpal tunnel, it’s not Mickey Mouse’s fault. But it did make it so much worse squeezing all that icing out!)
I like to get a few decorations to do a little decoration around the party locations. I usually get relatively general decorations so I can mix and match them for future parties.
For example, if I was going to do a Disney Car’s party for my little guy (which is what we will have in September for his birthday!) I might get generic race car decorations that will last a few more years and be suitable for an older child too versus getting everything Lightning McQueen only. And then I’ll get a few Lightning McQueen specific things, like balloons or cake decorations, for accents and a Lightning McQueen cake!
Entertainment for the party is always a consideration. Is it already included in the place you are having the party? Like the pool or skating rink? If it’s in the backyard do you need to get some new games and water toys? Or hire a magician or clown? Rent a blow-up bounce house? This is totally your decision on what you need.
We usually go pretty easy on gifts for our kids for birthday because honestly, they are showered by loved ones with gifts for birthdays and holidays. We are incredibly blessed that our loved ones and friends want to give them gifts. I pick things up along the way throughout the year and prefer to have a new toy for a rainy day here and there rather than going overboard on birthday presents.
Honestly, if they get so many gifts, they don’t even know where to start.
Keep in mind if several family members are asking for a gift idea for your child, they might be willing to all go in on something a little bigger. For example, several family members went in together and got our son a train table for his most recent birthday over the summer. That was awesome! It’s a bigger gift and all the family members got to chip in!
I like to keep a running list of ideas for each kid on my phone, and whenever I see something that catches their eyes or I see something I think would be a good gift, I will write it down and that way I can share it with someone when they ask what they’d like for their birthday or Christmas.
I think most moms are not big fans of goodie bags for the kids! At least I’m not. Usually, they get a bag full of candy and a few cheap toys that you are going to end up tossing in the trash most likely. I prefer to get one small little gift for each kid and keep it around $5 each or less. Here are some really fun and pretty useful ones:
Special Needs Parties
We have a special needs child with Autism. So, it’s just not his preference to have a ton of people in his house around him. So, we do a simple family birthday party, with the people he’s most familiar with around him for his special day.
When he’s a little older and makes some friends in school, we can revisit that and offer different kinds of birthday parties. We can always go to the movies or have a small swim party and keep it low key for him. But for now, he’s super happy just having his people around him that he knows well. As for our 3-year-old has no clue what birthdays are yet, so we also just have a small family party for him.
Just don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you MUST have a birthday party. Always keep in mind who you are having the party for. Don’t have one because you think it’s expected of you. Do what’s best for your child. And do what they ask for if they don’t want a big party. I was never a big fan of being the center of attention at my party. I’m still not!
Birthday Planning Budget – Wrap Up
In conclusion, you can definitely throw a really great kid’s birthday party on a low budget. Certainly, you can throw a kids party on a bigger budget too. It’s totally up to you to set your budget and decide on your spending.
My goal with this article was to simply give you an idea of what to include in your budget for whatever kind of child birthday party you end up throwing. It’s easy to keep adding expenses and you end up blowing past your budget sometimes. I’m hopeful that with this list, you now have a solid starting point to begin planning the next birthday party for your family. Even better, this gives you a planning outline and should take some pressure off how much to spend and how to allot your budget. I hope this helps! Let me know some of your party planning ideas!
Want more ideas on Budgeting and Saving Money? Try these posts!
- Budgeting for Vacation: A Complete Guide
- How Much Emergency Savings Do You Really Need?
- How to Save $615 This Month Without Even Noticing
- There’s $2,500 Hidden In Your House
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