Take an inventory
When you are just starting to plan your child’s birthday party, first take inventory of what you may already have on hand. This can help you avoid unnecessary purchases and save money.
Combine the craft with the take away
Set up a craft that goes with your birthday party theme. Let the kids create or decorate it and then take it home. This way you can skip the goodie bags. Some ideas include sand art, photo frames (with photo you take and print), custom t-shirts and more.
Get coupons for birthday places
Having your birthday party at a family fun center, a bowling alley, a moon bounce place or a make-your-own pottery store can be a lot of fun for kids, and it requires no clean up on your part. To save money on the overall price tag of using one of these birthday places, hunt down coupons that will cut your costs.
Use online printables
There are free online printables for practically every birthday theme. From coloring pages to keep little ones occupied until the party starts to full-color banners and decorations, do some searching and find printables that will work for your party, while saving you money.
Make the food ahead
In the weeks and days before the birthday party, make some food items ahead. You can freeze everything from appetizers to pizza dough to cake. Anything you make from scratch will give you the chance to put out a great spread despite a small budget.
Opt for sandwiches
Sandwiches are an easy party food to put together, and guest like the fact that they can eat them easily while still socializing. Make your sandwiches small and provide a variety of fillings along with condiments. You can also order sandwich platters if you are in a rush. The platters will cost a little more, but will still be more affordable than many catered options.
Borrow chairs, serving platters, etc.
Unless you entertain several times a year, don’t rush out to purchase tables, chairs, serving platters, warming trays or other items that you need just for the birthday party. Instead, borrow what you can from friends and family.
Combine your party
If your son or daughter has a birthday in the same month as a friend, talk to the other parents about combining your party. This is an especially good idea if you will be holding the party at an outside birthday place. Chances are that the circle of guests will be mostly the same, and you can split the costs.
Use plain napkins and plates
Skip the fancy theme or colored napkins and plates and opt for plain neutral ones. You can still get fun colors, but you won’t be paying $4 for only 8 plates. Regular paper dinner napkins are much more absorbent anyway.
Look for decorations in unexpected places
Skip the party store and hunt for decorations at discount and dollar stores. You may come across some interesting finds that can be adapted for your party. For example, with a pirate theme, plant gems can become pirate treasure, outdoor tiki torches lend atmosphere and can be reused, and an old yard sale truck becomes a treasure chest prop.
Use powdered drink mixes
For inexpensive drinks that can keep being refilled throughout the whole party, choose powdered drink mixes and home-made iced tea instead of soda. The savings on the cost per cup will add up.