Three money-saving birthday party tips

This past weekend, we celebrated my son’s birthday – he turned 7. As usual, that included hosting a birthday party for his friends.

This year’s party was much different from the parties I used to throw for him when he was little. Back then, I painstakingly baked and prepared all the food from scratch, making sure everything was healthy and free from any allergies or food sensitivities. My home was extensively decorated in the party’s theme, and all the kids were sent home with generous goodie bags.

Times have changed. Each year, I’ve put less effort and expense into the party. And along the way, something magical happened. The kids, and their parents, have had just as much fun at our inexpensive parties as they did when I went all out. In fact, this year’s party might have been the easiest and the most fun yet.

Here are three tips on how you can spend less time and money hosting your party, and more time enjoying your child’s special day.

  1. Reserve a shelter at a city park

Depending upon where you live and the time of year, a community park might be the best venue for your party. Not only will the children enjoy a day at a playground in fresh air and sunshine, you won’t have to pay to replace items broken by your little guests or for someone to shampoo red cake frosting out of your carpet.

We rented a huge covered shelter with five large tables for $35 for the entire day. That’s much cheaper than a trampoline park or Chuck E. Cheese’s. And when the party was over, we tossed the decorations and mess into the park’s trash cans, and left the crumbs for the birds.

  1. Serve donuts

Seriously, who doesn’t love donuts? They’re inexpensive, come in a variety of flavors, and they’re delicious, filling and decadent. Our local, family-run donut shop makes gorgeous colorful donuts that appeal to kids and created a Pinterest-worthy display on our treats table.

  1. Ditch the goodie bags

I don’t know who decided party hosts needed to also provide goodie bags, but that person is not appreciated by parents who are short on cash and time. Instead of goodie bags, I buy a couple of bags of latex or Mylar balloons and a small helium tank. Before the party, I fill the balloons and use them as decorations. The kids are absolutely thrilled to learn that they get to take one or two home at the end of the party … much more thrilled than they would be with a bag full of doodads they’ll play with for 10 seconds. The parents are also relieved of goodie bag clutter. Everybody wins!

Heather Anderson

Heather Anderson

Heather Anderson covers consumer financial news for, offering readers tips on budgeting, setting and achieving financial goals, and developing a healthy relationship with money. She is co-founder of ... Web: Details