Confession. Every year, I dream of my kids having beautiful Pinterest-worthy parties, I put way too much money into each kid’s birthday party, I completely stress myself out in the planning. And, I’m pretty sure my kids could have cared less about all the hoopla. Have you ever experienced this? It’s like when you spend a bunch of money on a Christmas gift for your kiddo, and all they want to do is play with the box!
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the creativity that goes into shaping a beautiful kid’s birthday party. I love dreaming it up. Also, I love letting my kids pick a theme that they’re excited about. I love making it come to life. What I don’t love is the price-tag and the stress (can I get an AMEN?). So, let’s talk about how to save money and cut back on the stress and still have a super fun and beautiful party!
1. Keep decorations simple
When you’re thinking through the look of your kid’s birthday party, plan a few big statement pieces that will dress up your décor and keep the rest easy and inexpensive. Think colorful tablecloths, decorative bowls and vases, and a variety of pretty baskets that you can fill with anything from party favors to utensils — most of this you likely already own or can borrow from a friend for the day. I also love to use toys as table decorations. A few of my favorites are blocks, crayons in little jars, puzzles, and board games.
Other inexpensive decorations that you can use over and over again are picture frames and a chalkboard. I bought a bunch of white picture frames one year for $1 each. For each party, I refill them with pictures of the kids from that year and use them as accent pieces. A cute chalkboard can also be reused to write out your child’s favorite things from that year and their aspirations for the next year.
Related: Paw Patrol Birthday Party Ideas
2. Built-in entertainment is your friend
If you have a backyard, pull out the outdoor toys and let the kids create their own fun. Also, If you don’t have a yard, find a local park with an entertaining play area and coordinate your party there. If it’s too cold to go outside, set up different play stations in your house with the toys you already own. Remember, even though your kids play with them all the time, it’s like a toy store for all the other kids. And your own kids will be so happy to have all their friends there that the toys will feel new to them too!
If you invite families with children under the age of 1, it’s always fun to create a baby area. Lay out a few blankets on the floor and put a basket of baby-safe toys next to it and a few chairs close by for their parents to sit.
3. Don’t go overboard on the food
Food is one of the things that can get super expensive and really detailed (and stressful) so quickly. Steer away from intricate, time-consuming food and think picnic-style foods and casserole dishes instead — big pots of soup, chili, lasagna, big salads, sandwich platters, and PB&J (that’s all the kids want to eat anyway, right)?
To save money and time on drinks, choose a few that you can mix up in big pitchers or large dispensers. We like to have one dispenser filled with water and another with pink lemonade or iced tea.
For plates, cups, and utensils, I like to go super simple and buy in bulk. Even though the fancier ones that match the theme are so beautiful and tempting, is anyone really going to walk away from your party saying, “oh, that was the best party – they just had the cutest spoons I’ve ever seen!”
Related: Balloon Themed Birthday Party
4. Make party favors easy
Party favors also tend to take over your life in prep time and break the bank if you’re not careful! Try choosing 1 item that was a favorite for your child during the year and turn that into a party favor. Some fun ideas are watercolor paint, play-doh, crayons, bubbles, matchbox cars, puzzles, or chalk. Display your favors in a cute basket and let kids grab their own on the way out – it looks super cute, but only takes a few minutes to put together – score for everyone!
5. Keep the focus on the people
Most importantly, keep the focus of the party on the people. At the end of the day, what the kids will remember most about the party is getting to play with all of their friends. And, what the parents will remember is the great conversations they had with you and other parents.
And for you, Momma, take time to enjoy yourself and let yourself soak up this special day as your little one ventures into another new year!