How to Throw a Birthday Party on a Budget

Birthday season is upon us here at the White house (officially ushered in by Husband’s over the weekend)… Translation: Party time!

While it’s true I adore a good party, I also love preserving both my dough and my sanity. Supposing I’m not the only one who appreciates stretching a buck, I thought I’d share my best penny-pinching party hacks here today:

#1 – PLAN AHEAD

There is no party supply store where I live, thus strategic planning in advance of festivities is critical. It’s not uncommon for me to begin brainstorming party plans a year in advance in order to sufficiently scour Pinterest and gradually acquire necessities (free shipping via Amazon, free ship-to-store at Dollar Tree & Walmart, Oriental Trading) for my bash. This brings me to my next point…

#2 – STRETCH IT OUT

Once a theme’s been selected, you needn’t wait to begin collecting supplies. Patiently sift through sales (I recently scored Valentine & Easter clearance ideal for Center Sister’s upcoming tea party.) and add a single, non-perishable party item to your cart each time you grocery shop. This effectively stretches out the total party expense, taking the edge off the sting of the sum. I keep a bag in my pantry for each upcoming event, which I incrementally add to for months; by the time each party rolls around I’ve accumulated a great deal and generally only have a few fresh ingredients left to purchase. Alternatively…

#3 – SHOP YOUR HOUSE

Put your wallet away– you needn’t reinvent the wheel, buying fresh décor for each and every event! What items do you already have throughout the house that might be repurposed at your party? Utilize what you have on hand first.

#4 – DIY

If you don’t already have what you need and can’t find it in stores (or simply prefer not to shell out big bucks for it) then make it yourself! When we couldn’t find an asteroid piñata for Firstborn’s 7th Interplanetary Party we had a blast crafting our own. Make your own cake (or beg your sister to if, like me, you’re not a baker), or go semi-homemade (like my friend Sandra Lee*)– were you aware that you can request an undecorated sheet cake from Costco and embellish it yourself?

paper mache for the win
destruction of said asteroid, because: safety
naked costco cake that hubs decorated for firstborn’s 2nd bday at the carousel
store bought for center sister’s biking birthday last year, theme tied in w custom toppers
diy for center sister’s rockin’ sock hop (6)

#6 – SIMPLIFY

Step away from the Pin-board and riddle me this: Who says you have to serve a full meal? Host a non-mealtime (think mid-afternoon) gathering with -GASP!- just dessert. Who says you have to do gifts? Omit the customary gift exchange and simply enjoy the company of your guests. Why the gigantic, elaborate goodie-bags? Select a simple favor that goes along with your theme– or put that piñata to work, passing out empty goodie-bags for partygoers to fill themselves.

dollar store water bottles for center sister’s biking birthday last year
dollar store train whistles for little man’s choo-choo party last year
tutus for her ballerina birthday
dollar store slippers & sleep masks w/cereal & spoon, plus hand-decorated pillowcases for firstborn’s 2nd grade pajama party

Serve cupcakes in lieu of cake, thereby omitting the need for plates & utensils (already perfectly portioned so you don’t risk running out or having piles leftover), or skip the cake entirely and offer an ice cream sundae bar– or copy Bestie Valerie and serve a delectable donut tower.

ice cream sundae fixin’s for little man’s 2nd

#7 – LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Consider a low-cost venue, but don’t assume that always means at home. Your backyard is free, sure, but so is the neighborhood park. Borrow a room at church, a friend’s barn, or a ballet studio. Meet at a trailhead for a nature hike or a Bike-a-Palooza. Gather rods & reels to cast lines into the local fishing hole, or host a winter birthday at the sled hill complete with hot cocoa, obviously.

wilderness explorer party

Think outside the box, the sky’s the limit! Just because you’re not busting your party budget doesn’t mean it won’t be a blast.

*me & my pal sandra lee, nbd

In the Field

Zai Sheng, Goodbye

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