Right.after.Christmas. 🙁 My 4 year old and 3 year old both have February birthdays, one at the beginning and one at the end. They were born exactly 1 year and 2 weeks apart. Geez, couldn’t I have tried to spit them both out on the same day and get it over with?
Haha, seriously…having 2 birthdays isn’t so bad at our house since I am very frugal with the preparations. I don’t believe that a birthday is all about the decorations, but about being with family. Either that, or I’m just cheap. Okay, people let’s go with the first option, umkay? I actually budget about $50 per party. And that’s including a toy or two. I firmly believe that kids get more than enough at Christmas time in this house and with 4 kids worth of stuff, it’s easy to get buried in toys FAST! So, I made the decision that we purchase no toys when we go shopping or otherwise. They only get toys for Christmas and their birthday. They get little dollar trinkets for things like Easter, Halloween, etc. I’m sure there are parents out there thinking how horrible that is, but it works for me and we’re not in debt because of all the money we spend on kids toys, got it?
By now you’re probably asking how in the world do I get away so cheaply for birthdays? Well, just know that these are celebrations at home, with family. Capiche? No fancy bouncy houses, elaborate birthday cakes that light up and certainly no treat bags to rival a Tori Spelling birthday function. 🙂 Growing up, our birthdays were purely family time and that’s what I want my kids to have. My 10 year old had a small sleepover for her birthday this year and even that was only for 4 friends and I took them rollerskating and fed them pizza. I gave her the option of spending the money on her present (which happened to be a $50 pair of Converse high tops) or a party place. Guess what she chose? The shoes.
Here are a few things that I do to save money on parties. I actually keep a cabinet filled with things for parties. Right now it holds various colored paper plates, napkins, tutus, fabric, fabric flowers, vases, broken toys and ribbons. I know, you’re probably thinking, what in the world do you keep all that junk for? You’d be surprised what you can do with nothing.
I’ve made cakes using toys that the kids play with or have broken and discarded. I have half of a Spiderman in the cabinet for my son’s birthday cake. Half? Yep, what better way to stick him in the cake? 🙂 Plus, he’s free and he was headed for the trash. Why pay $10 for a cake topper or even more just to have someone make you a “character cake”? Use what you have around the house and when you’re done, wash it and throw it back in the toy pile.
At Christmastime, as I was breaking down all the cardboard boxes that the kids toys came in, I realized that the graphics on the boxes were great and would rival any store bought cake centerpiece. I culled through them and came out with a really nice Strawberry Shortcake one and some smaller Princess ones that would be perfect on cupcakes! This was a cake I made for my 4 year old out of a piece of cardboard that came off a toy! I received many compliments on the cake and my 4 year old loved it just as much as one that would have cost me $25!
For that same birthday party, I shopped her room, since she has a love of everything pink. I simply took a tutu and draped it over the light fixture and tied a ribbon on the top. I also took a very frilly dress and simply placed in on the table and put the flowers on top. I use that trick often, whether it’s for Halloween, birthday, etc. My goal is to come up with a color scheme and then “shop” my house for that color, whether it be in my closet or the kids. A piece of fabric wadded up or draped over something is a very economical solution.
My oldest has a birthday in October, so needless to say, every few years she requests a Halloween party. This year I had the brilliant idea of having a “spooky dinner party” for her and 4 friends. The cupcakes were made using dollar store ($1) plastic eyeballs and spider rings.
Her party was very frugal since I was going to be spending money on her present (those $50 shoes), rollerskating for her and 4 friends and pizza to feed them. Once again, I shopped my house, looking for anything ~~cheap~~ “spooky”. This party was relatively easy since I already had a Halloween stash. I used cardboard boxes and even a large cylindrical protein container from my husband’s gym bag to elevate the decorations. I then draped that black cheesecloth “mesh” fabric they sell at the dollar store and since it was so sheer, I used any black clothing I could find under it. I also used a $1 purple tablecloth and then topped each “tower” with decorations. Sorry for the poor quality of this picture, I used my phone to take this one. I don’t have a final picture, but the decorations cost me less than $20 and came from the dollar store. I was able to decorate my kitchen island, a side buffet counter and a “dinner setting” at the kitchen table.
I try and save most of the decorations from the parties that I throw. I pack them up and put them in the “party cabinet” so that when it’s time for another party, I just shop from the cabinet or at least use it as a starting point. So you see, there’s no reason to spend tons of money on a cute birthday party for your kids. I’m totally fine with parents who choose to do that, that’s just not how I like to spend my money. My priority is family and I think they are only little for a while, there will be many birthdays once they are older that will cost a lot of money or they simply won’t want you around. 🙂 So, until that day comes, I choose to have small, intimate family focused birthdays with a few select adult friends invited. And, I’m saving money to boot.