Monday, February 7, 2011

Beating the Budget Busters: Birthday Party # 1

At our house we have birthday season.  Baden’s big day starts it off, and then in about 6 weeks, both girls and Shawn’s birthdays fall over four days.  During the months of February and March, we have lots of extended family members and friends who have birthdays.    Yup, it’s birthday season.  Some years, Easter even falls in there.

Most years, it’s a definite budget buster.  This year, I am setting an amount that I expect to spend and trying to stick in it.

I LOVE throwing my kids birthday parties.  Sometimes we have a big bash, and others we have a smaller crowd and do an activity.  Almost always, the party is at our house, I have never paid to rent a facility ( pool, bowling alley etc).  I think I am saving those types of parties until my kids are older.  Some of my friends have rented gyms, which I think is great.  You get lots of space and fun things to do, and you don’t have the clean up… but it’s not in the budget this year.  Recently, Baden has been to some birthdays held at our new soccer center in town.  I think it’s a great deal, for $60 you get use of the facility and lots of the equipment so kids can run and play.  A great way to burn off energy for winter parties.

I love planning the party, and choosing a theme with my kids.  This year, Baden wants to have a winter carnival.  His birthday is up first, and is what I am currently planning.  We have lots of little games planned for his friends to play.  I am using either toys we already have , or things we can make pretty easily.  Bean bag toss, Nerf gun target shooting, and fish pond are a few that we have planned.  I have have a “race car tire change challenge” that I made for Baden a few years ago.  Shawn painted a car on a huge piece of cardboard, and I glued two pop bottle necks on as “bolts”.  We made several cardboard “tires” with holes that fit over the bottle parts.  Kids have to unscrew the bottle cap, trade the tire for a new one and screw on new bottle caps.  A cute and silly little game, but very fun!  I think we’ll try face painting too.  One or two more stations and that will fill time nicely.

I planned the party to avoid any meal times.  This will definitely help keep the cost down.  I plan to have everyone over to play for about two hours.  That should be lots of time for games and cake.  I’ll make sure to have a couple snacks on hand, and probably a bit of pop.  While buying cans is easier, it’s cheaper to buy a 2L bottle and pour it into cups.

I bake the cake myself.  While this uses up lots of my time, the cake itself costs just a couple dollars in supplies, and I blend that into my grocery budget.  I usually have all the ingredients on hand anyway.  I am one of those crazy cake ladies.  I have lots of fun making big shaped cakes for my kids.  I have to get a better idea of what Baden wants today, then it will take me 3 or 4 days to bake, cut and decorate it.

I don’t do gift bags for guests.  I polled my friends informally last year, and I think most of us agree.  It’s the birthday kid’s special day, why do the guests need gifts?  The guests usually end up going home with a little something anyway.  For example, last year, Colleena had a tea party where all the girls made beaded bracelets and necklaces to wear.  They took those home.  I think that’s all that is really needed.  Since this party is to be a carnival, there will be little prizes at each station.  Baden’s friends can take these home, so I don’t feel I need to make up an official “gift bag”.

I’ve also been thinking about what to give Baden as a gift.  We’ve been reading the chronicles of Narnia books with the kids.  A local school is having a play this week, “Narnia” and I think we may buy tickets and take the kids to that.  This fits into my idea that I would like to give my kids a chance to DO things, instead of HAVE things.  We also have a few things still in hiding that would make great gifts for him.  Last summer we bought an air soft rifle at a garage sale ( I think that’s what it’s called) that shoots little plastic balls.  Shawn cleaned it all up, and I think Baden will have a blast shooting at the targets.

So far, I think I have it covered.  Venue, activities, snack, cake, prizes, gift… all taken care of.  I have budgeted $50 for party costs, and $50 for the present for Baden.  I’ll let you know if I stay within my goal!  My kids enjoy a simple old fashioned party, a chance to play together and be with their friends.  I don’t think it has to be complicated or expensive to be fun.

What do you plan for birthdays?

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you, Melissa!! I've usually had a meal with it, but plan the cheesy little party games and make the cakes myself. And, as you know, our birthday season is all at once too! (dumb!! ha!) It's so much fun though too - good for you! :) And I usually do treat bags, but I completely agree with you - they are not necessary!!!!! We'll see what happens this year for birthday season....Have fun, Girl! :)


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