Disclosure: I have partnered with Netflix Canada to bring you this post on Tips for Throwing a Fun Children’s Birthday Party on a Budget. I have received compensation in exchange for this post but I am a huge Netflix fan and all opinions, as always, are my own.
Let me take you back a bunch of years to when my daughter was little. Being a single parent, I put a lot of pressure on myself. I felt like since there was only one of me, I had to “make up” for anything she was missing by going over the top with everything. (Don’t worry. It didn’t take me long to realize she wasn’t missing a thing. She was well-loved and had just as many opportunities as other kids her age.) Anyway, one of those areas was birthday parties. Now mind you, I do love to throw a fun party but whew! Sometimes they got out of hand both with the amount of stress I put myself through preparing for them and the amount of money I spent throwing them. Fortunately, I soon realized that throwing a fun children’s birthday party on a budget WAS possible.
Let me start by sharing an important parenting philosophy of mine with you. Just as kids don’t need a lot of material goods, they also don’t need a bunch of elaborate experiences either. She didn’t need a clown and a bouncy castle and a magician and all of that in order to have a special birthday. I think all that kids (and adults) really want deep-down is to know that someone is thinking of them and cares about them enough to make an effort.
So, with that in mind, here are my tips for throwing a fun children’s birthday party on a budget:
1. When setting the times for the party, avoid meal times.
Have the party from 2-4 pm and then all you need to provide are snacks instead of a full meal. The food can still be fun without being fussy. Easier on the cleanup too! Instead of paying for an expensive professional cake, make cupcakes and then put out decorations and let each guest decorate their own. Or let the birthday boy or girl decorate their own cake. If you want to do it yourself, remember that simple decorations stuck on craft sticks or toothpicks make simple but adorable decorations.
PRO TIP: If you must serve a meal, turn it into part of the entertainment. When my daughter would have friends over for a sleep-over, we’d do a DIY taco bar or make your own pizza bar or something like that. It was simple to prep and the kids could choose their own toppings, making it easier than me trying to make them all to order.
2. Keep your eyes open all year long for generic party supplies that could be used at an upcoming party.
Dollar stores are great places to check on a regular basis as they often get in limited supplies of items that manufacturers are clearing out. You can also have a look in the clearance sections of discount department stores and party stores to find items marked way down on clearance.
PRO TIP: The party supplies don’t ALL need to be “branded” with the theme of the party. If your child wants a Beauty and the Beast party, get one balloon and maybe a banner with the characters printed on it. Then for the paper plates, napkins, and other balloons, just buy some in coordinating colours. If you buy some balloon sticks (to hold the balloons up, almost like a flower stem), you won’t need helium and you can reuse the sticks over and over again year after year.
3. Rather than hiring expensive talent for the party, crowd source with your friends.
Perhaps one of them has a high school aged child who is talented in music, magic, juggling or other entertainment whom you could hire for a discount. Or consider skipping the entertainment all together and think about doing something interactive instead. My daughter’s friends loved making craft projects and always asked if we could make some when they’d come over. Put out some cord, beads, and findings and let them make jewelry. Ask them to bring a plain pillowcase and you can supply paints and dyes for decorating them. Or provide them with t-shirts to decorate instead. One year, we even had a detective themed party. The kids all fingerprinted each other and we went on a scavenger hunt, finding clues to solve the mystery of the missing birthday cake.
PRO TIP: Go to the men’s clothing section of a discount department store. The plain t-shirts there (sold as undershirts) are often dirt cheap and come in a wide variety of sizes. For smaller kids’ sizes, try the boys’ department.
4. When it comes to the goodie bags, remember that less is more.
How many times have your kids brought home loot bags from birthday parties only to throw out half of the bag a week later? They are often filled with more candy than you might want your child to have and cheap toys that they’ll never play with or that will break in no time. Once again, the whole craft idea can help here. In lieu of the goodie bags, just let the the kids make their own take-home favours. Or think larger items that can be broken down into smaller portions – boxes of crayons, packages of beads, pipe cleaners, or other craft supplies, for example. Instead of sending home candy, think about making cookies (perhaps personalized with the guests’ names or initials?) to give each guest. Balloons are another kids’ favourite. They can be used as decorations first and then sent home with the party-goers.
5. Party venues don’t need to be expensive either.
Of course you can always have the party in your home or backyard but if the weather is nice, think about having it picnic style at a local park. Our parks have play structures and splash pads – free entertainment perfect for a party! Use the neighbourhood as your venue by going on a scavenger hunt through it, finishing up at your house for cake and gifts.
Besides the party itself, we always had some birthday traditions to make the day more special. For example, I always woke (actually, still do!) my daughter up at exactly 6:55 am (the time she was born) to sing Happy Birthday to her. I always decorated something that would set the mood from the moment she got up – her chair, her bedroom door, the bathroom mirror. A few balloons and streamers with along with a Happy Birthday message go a long way to make things festive simply and inexpensively.
And now, there’s Birthdays on Demand with Netflix. When it comes to planning your kids’ birthday parties, the pressure can be overwhelming for parents. You’re not alone, over three-quarters (82%) of parents around the world wish there was an easier way to make birthdays feel special for their kids. Wish granted, no candles required! Netflix is granting parents the ultimate birthday gift with the launch of 14 Birthdays On-Demand featurettes. Starring the characters in your kids’ favourite shows like Beat Bugs, Barbie and Pokemon, your kids will feel like the characters are singing just for them. How cool is that???
Do you feel the pressure to make their birthday perfect? Which of the Birthdays On-Demand would get that OMG reaction from your kid?
PS – Did you know that the world’s most common birthday is September 16th?
PSS – Did you know that it’s baby Walter’s 2 week birthday today?