birthday party planning on a budget

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AshnBill's picture
Joined: 11/06/06
Posts: 5333
birthday party planning on a budget

We're in full party-planning mode over here, which I'm sure many of you are! However, I'm trying to keep it as cheap as possible because we have been having lots of expensive things lately, and with Christmas and the baby (hospital bills!) coming, plus 2 weddings and a baby shower to go to (need to buy gifts for yet), etc etc etc, I'm trying to save wherever we can!

What are your tips for planning a child's birthday party on a budget?! What would you do for food? I was thinking Spaghetti? Seems like that's pretty inexpensive, filling, and goes a long way. Spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad, and then cake and ice cream? Is that enough?! Or do you have any other great ideas for inexpensive party food? I thought about not doing a meal, but I feel like I can't get away with that (we have guests traveling a little further).

We wanted to have his party at the local bowling alley, but decided to save that for the future when we hopefully have more money...lol. I wish there were other things to do here but since it's cold here by then we don't have many options besides having everybody over to our house.

Where are you at in the party planning process?!

kris10gal's picture
Joined: 11/02/07
Posts: 1306

Hmm, where are we in the party planning process? Pretty much done, lol! Eh, don't be jealous, it's only because we're not really having a party. I'd love to say just because but actually I was thinking the other day that Janet's having a party this year, and I'm not sure my family would want to drive all that way twice in one month! Thankfully we don't know many people in town, so Jackson has only been to a few parties and he won't mind not having one.

I've pinned a bunch of cupcakes and am going to let him pick which ones we'll make for preschool. I'm going to try to make them mini-cupcakes because she said the kids don't eat a whole cupcake.

I'm going to let him pick out dinner that night. Although lately he says his favorite meal is Costco. Whoops, lol, I guess we shop there a lot and always get lunch. I'll try to get him to pick something else. He's also said that he wants a chocolate cake with strawberries, done.

I'm also ordering a banner on etsy to put up for his birthday and for birthdays to come, I wanted to start that as a new tradition. *Maybe* I'll get some balloons so he'll feel like he's having a party even though we're not. http://www.etsy.com/listing/79975273/happy-birthday-banner-bunting-garland

I think spaghetti is a great idea Ash. I have a recipe for bacon-tomato spaghetti if you want to fancy it a bit. But you don't need to, everybody loves spaghetti and garlic bread.

Mommy2AvaBunny's picture
Joined: 02/04/09
Posts: 230

Wow Ashley you've got lots going on in the next few months. Spaghetti sounds good to me. Most LO's like spaghetti and you're right it does go along way.

I haven't started planning anything really... I'm at the stage of trying to figure out what to do for Ava's party. For her 1st and 2nd birthdays we just really had family at the house with heavy appetizers, cake and ice cream. Ava doesn't really have any friends (her age) because she doesn't go to daycare or preschool and most well pretty much ALL of my friends had their LO's when I had Kayla ha ha but she does have a bunch of Kayla's friends that she considers her friends too.

Originally I was thinking of going to Chuck E Cheese but I'm thinking of taking Ava and one of my friends that has a lil girl that turned 3 in June to Build A Bear and let them make an animal and then just have family and her over to the house that afternoon for appetizers, cake & ice cream. Money is really tight with us as I'm back looking for a job and we have Christmas too and then helping Kayla with college ugghhh

I think I'm going to take full advantage while Ava Douglas is still really young and doesn't realize that some kids have these huge parties. When she's older and in school and makes friends then we can have bigger parties.

kris10gal's picture
Joined: 11/02/07
Posts: 1306

"Mommy2AvaBunny" wrote:

I think I'm going to take full advantage while Ava Douglas is still really young and doesn't realize that some kids have these huge parties. When she's older and in school and makes friends then we can have bigger parties.

This! Mel, that is exactly the wording I'm looking for, for why we're not having a party. Nothing against them, just taking advantage of him being young and wanting to save for when he's bigger. And Jackson doesn't have but a few friends up here either. I would hate to send out only a few invites and really be counting on those kids coming to even consider it a party.

I think Build a Bear sounds great. So special and how cute they would be building their bears together. I would totally do that if I had a girl, or Build a Bear in our town.

Mommy2AvaBunny's picture
Joined: 02/04/09
Posts: 230

"kris10gal" wrote:

This! Mel, that is exactly the wording I'm looking for, for why we're not having a party. Nothing against them, just taking advantage of him being young and wanting to save for when he's bigger. And Jackson doesn't have but a few friends up here either. I would hate to send out only a few invites and really be counting on those kids coming to even consider it a party.

I think Build a Bear sounds great. So special and how cute they would be building their bears together. I would totally do that if I had a girl, or Build a Bear in our town.

Kristen: Absolutely! I know from experience with Kayla and as they get older the parties are a lot more costly! For Kayla's 13th party I hired a DJ (family friend) but she had about 75 kids at the party. It was crazy but she had a great time. But sometimes it's nice to just have a small, intimate party.

I took Ava to Build A Bear on Saturday and she made a Hot Dog (Daschound) Dog. She has a bunch of Kayla's Build A Bears from when she was little but I wanted to see how she liked it. She had a lot of fun. Do you have a BAB anywhere close to you, Kristen?

SID081108's picture
Joined: 06/03/09
Posts: 1348

Well as you know we are past this point now (still need to post pics from her party!) but I just had to tell you that Sophia still constantly says "mommy, are we going to my birthday party now?" or "let's pick something out for my birthday party" (when we're at a store) and I say "Sophia, your birthday party is over now" and she gets very upset and says "NUH,UH, I'm gonna be 4!!" Oh gosh, she's already planning next year's party! :rolleyes:

Well this was our first year to have a party that was not at our house and it was way too expensive. We all had fun, though, so I don't regret it, but man, I could have done a lot of other stuff with that money right about now. Sad

Lavender444's picture
Joined: 03/27/03
Posts: 1944

Ava's party has been in the works for a while now as you know, Ashley. (she made Ava a super awesome birthday banner). Admittingly, I'm going a bit over board with this party. But I'm trying to keep costs down by making our decorations. We're using decoration making as a craft time now- it's like my own little sweat shop over here!

I think your food sounds good. The only thing I would be concerned about with it is space. Do you have room for everyone to sit and eat? Spaghetti is kinda hard to eat without sitting, maybe you could do a Penne noodle instead, to make it less messy? If it's not being held at a meal time, you could do heavy apps. too.

Are you doing a Thomas party still?

I go all out for birthdays. When I was little we didn't have much money, and birthdays were the one day that was all ours. I don't think our parents spend a lot of money, but they sure made them special. Birthdays are also a big deal to me at this age because my first memory is of my 2nd birthday party.

Carrie- Sophia and I would get along well. I start planning b-days the second one is over too. Wink

Kristen- Ava loves balloons! Loves them! On hers and Drew's b-days we plan on filling their rooms with 1 balloon for each year of age, so when they wake up there are balloons waiting for them. We also will "trap" them in their rooms with streamers acorss their door they have to break through to escape. I have a friend who's parents did this, and still do- they "break" into her house on her birthday and leave the balloons and do the streamers to her front door. I just love that! Nothing would start my birthday off on the right foot than waking up to all that. Smile

hotdiggit's picture
Joined: 10/17/07
Posts: 400

Ashley Your menu sounds good. Last year I made chili, and had it in a crockpot, so I didn't have to worry about cooking during the party. We also had hotdogs, so people could do chili, hotdogs, or chili cheese dogs. Not really my favorite food, but everyone was able to find something they liked.

This year I will be doing a double party, since my girl's birthdays are only 2 weeks apart. I'm sure family will appreciate only having one party. I saw a cute recipe for apple cupcakes and I think I will just do an apple/fall theme. I might try to throw some owls in there too, since Lyla is really into them lately.

I swore I would not make the cakes anymore after making cupcakes for a day and a half, 11 days before having Cora. I saw these and fell in love

Lavender444's picture
Joined: 03/27/03
Posts: 1944

Those cupcakes are adorable!

AshnBill's picture
Joined: 11/06/06
Posts: 5333

Tisha, those apple cupcakes are adorable! I really like the Chili and hot dogs idea...might have to think on that one some more. I know the kids would like the hot dogs, and chili is always good when it's cold out.

Amber, the seating...this is 1 issue. In the past we've always done 2 parties because our house gets pretty crowded with both sides (we learned that after Miles was baptized and we had everybody over for lunch). But I am NOT doing 2 parties this year. I'm going to be a month away from having the baby, and 2 parties is a lot of work. We do have a child's table which will fit all of the 4 messy kids. Also tv trays, and getting an extra table or two and chairs isn't usually a problem, but it's still crowded! I so wish it were nice here in November.

My other issue is what do you do?!?! There's only going to be 4 kids...it's just kind of awkward when it's both families (and dh says they're polar opposites).

I could probably get away with heavy appetizers -- but what?!?! I need simple. I know my family isn't too adventurous with fancy things. Dh's is a little more adventurous but I still think they would prefer things that are familiar. I'm figuring about 25 people at the most.

Carrie, I know what you're saying! I would have loved to go to the bowling alley, not worry about food, etc, but it's going to be between $300-$400 to do that. Um, no thanks!! I'd rather wait and take Miles with a couple friends in a few years to do that.

kris10gal's picture
Joined: 11/02/07
Posts: 1306

Tisha~Those cupcakes are adorable! I would appreciate one party instead of two! Smile

Amber~ You've convinced me, I'll get balloons Smile I had pinned the balloons in the morning idea too, that's pretty cute.

Ashley~ Miles older with a few friends would probably be much easier!

Jackson picked the cupcakes he wanted to make,

Photobucket

Yay, cute! And easy Smile He said he just wants blue.

Lavender444's picture
Joined: 03/27/03
Posts: 1944

These are super good and easy! I make them often for parties and they always get rave reviews.
http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/main-courses/ham-and-cheese-rolls/

I usually assemble them the day before and bake before guests arrive. BBQ pork or chicken salad on slider buns are easy too. Those plus fruit and veggie plates, maybe a salad...potato, green, pasta...

I agree- jsut do 1 party. 2 is way too much work!

serwachic's picture
Joined: 01/01/10
Posts: 178

We've not really begun party planning, but DH has been saying that he wants to make a big deal out of it because Jude's birthday is 11/11/11 this year. This is also his first birthday at a new place, and we have to decide if we want to invite his preschool friends...so it might end up being a bigger deal than I'd normally make it. I'm in total agreement with you girls - do low key parties while they're young and are thrilled by the wrapping paper. Wink Save the more expensive/elaborate parties for when they'll actually remember and appreciate our efforts!

Ashley, what about mini sandwiches, chips/pretzels and dip, and a few desserts? Those are all pretty familiar and low cost. Then again, by the time you do all that it might be cheaper to do spaghetti. :confused:

hotdiggit's picture
Joined: 10/17/07
Posts: 400

Jude's birthday is 11/11/11 this year.

So if you come up with any great ideas let me know, Cora will turn 1 on 11/11/11.

Jenn0113's picture
Joined: 03/09/07
Posts: 5335

I have an 11/11/11 kiddo too - how fun. I am going between taking a vacation day that day to do something fun like Disney on Ice or letting him have his daycare party that day (cupcakes and singing at snack time). A daycare party would be nice because then I can say he had a party with friends.

As far as his main party we have decided to call off the bounce house place and just do a light meal at home with our families (still like 30 people) so he can play with his cousins. We will rent a bounce house for our backyard and just let that entertain the kids. Deacon wants an orange t-rex cake like this:

and dinosaur cupcakes. Now I just need to get Carrie to commit to doing the cake since I stink at decorating. Smile

Joined: 03/16/15
Posts: 53852

We had a "small" party with our small family (no cousins in our family) and my two best friends and their kids for Seth last year.

This year huge party but not at our house...at JW Tumbles. I am inviting 20 kids because he is in 2 classes this year MWF and TTh...but I know all those kids won't come. I have a few neighborhood kids too

The place is expensive but the goodie bags will not be. I think I will make a Super Why! cake and I bought books and alphabet flash cards at Target for 50 cents each! So $1 for each...little bit of candy and done.

I am also having the party from 2-4 so no lunch...all the other parents do it so why don't I? I will have some goldfish, fruit, juice boxes, and cake.

I am excited about it and I know Seth will be too!

SoCaliLover's picture
Joined: 12/07/06
Posts: 1591

Zayden hasn't quite figured out birthdays yet so I don't know. I wanted to do a birthday party for his friends at school but DH isn't totally on board. He wants do something in preschool on the 11th for his birthday and then take him to Disneyland for the weekend. We would come back at naptime on the 13th (his actual birthday) and have a family dinner with the girls.

We shall see -- I'm not anywhere near the planner you guys are so I haven't really spent much time on this! :o

Lavender444's picture
Joined: 03/27/03
Posts: 1944

Kristen- those cupcake are cute! What is the frosting? It looks like it sets up hardish- is it royal icing? Glad he picked something easy for you!

kris10gal's picture
Joined: 11/02/07
Posts: 1306

It's probably royal icing, but I think I'm just going to use buttercream and pipe it with a big plop with a big round tip I used for his first birthday. Should be easy enough since I'm doing mini-cupcakes. I already found blue mini-cupcake liners! http://www.etsy.com/listing/52656027/mini-blue-cupcake-liners-60

Parents has lots of cute Halloween ideas! The site takes freaking forever to load though Sad

Lavender444's picture
Joined: 03/27/03
Posts: 1944

Buttercream sounds like a delicious way to go! Biggrin

Thanks for the tip on the Halloween stuff. I'll have to check it out. I get the magazine too- wonder if this coming issue will have some cool stuff also?

fuchsiasky's picture
Joined: 11/16/07
Posts: 955

We have decided to have a very small kid party/play date with 3 or 4 kids. I am going to do some basic snacks and cupcakes. We are also planning a good craft that the kids can take home - thinking shrinkydink ornaments since it is close to christmas. I am getting some nice velvet crowns instead of goody bags. We are telling all the adult family that they are welcome to come over throughout the evening (hopefully not too many at a time) and we are going to have a pot of spaghetti and some more cupcakes available. She will also have various family birthday dinners so in the end she will have about 3 small events and no big party. Yay for no big party!

Lavender444's picture
Joined: 03/27/03
Posts: 1944

Hey Kristen- My birthday is in May, if you want to make me those peanut butter cupcakes you pinned. Wink

1aBABY's picture
Joined: 12/05/06
Posts: 474

We're not doing anything big either. Last year we invited close family and a few friends to a local park with a play ground. I didn't want to do the same thing this year, however, I wanted it to be just as simple and easy. A friend of mine owns one of those bounce houses so I'm borrowing it and we'll just have that in the back yard, simple snacks and cake. Smile

Tanylisa's picture
Joined: 08/30/07
Posts: 770

I'm not sure what we're doing this year, I 'm not sure I want so many people and kids here this year, the house is small and it gets crazy with 10 kids running around screaming lol. All my friends have kids and I don't want anyone to feel left out so it's hard not to invite them all, maybe we should just do a family party? I don't know :confused:

kris10gal's picture
Joined: 11/02/07
Posts: 1306

"Lavender444" wrote:

Hey Kristen- My birthday is in May, if you want to make me those peanut butter cupcakes you pinned. Wink

LOL, okay! I've been pinned cupcake for Janet's birthday too, which is a few weeks before Jackson's. I keep asking her what she wants and she wants to buy a cake. Seriously? I LIKE to make cupcakes and she's being a pain.

Okay, I decided to at least have a bit of a theme for Jackson's birthday, even with no party. Since I had to order those blue cupcake liners, I also ordered the small blue sprinkles, blue paper straws, and some blue twine with DIY Flags. He's going to have a vintage blue birthday Smile Maybe I'll wrap his present in blue.

Lavender444's picture
Joined: 03/27/03
Posts: 1944

Kristen-The vitage blue theme sounds super cute! Jackson's going to love it! Janet is your mom, right? Why do you call her Janet instead of Mom?

Ava's next few parties are going to be small, just a few friends. But for now I like 'em large-mostly because I think they're fun to do. Smile One of our neighbors rents those humongo inflatable slides and jumpy castles. I'm debating on getting it for a party. I'd like to do it for Andrew's b-day to entice more people to come since his birthday is in the middle of December. But it's the middle of December- in Colorado that can be blizzard weather relatively pleasent. Hopefully it's a mild winter. It would be fun to do those big slides and serve soup or chili and hot chocolate and cookies. And give mittens and hats as favors...

Jenn0113's picture
Joined: 03/09/07
Posts: 5335

"Lavender444" wrote:

Kristen-The vitage blue theme sounds super cute! Jackson's going to love it! Janet is your mom, right? Why do you call her Janet instead of Mom?

Ava's next few parties are going to be small, just a few friends. But for now I like 'em large-mostly because I think they're fun to do. SmileOne of our neighbors rents those humongo inflatable slides and jumpy castles. I'm debating on getting it for a party. I'd like to do it for Andrew's b-day to entice more people to come since his birthday is in the middle of December. But it's the middle of December- in Colorado that can be blizzard weather relatively pleasent. Hopefully it's a mild winter. It would be fun to do those big slides and serve soup or chili and hot chocolate and cookies. And give mittens and hats as favors...

We got one last year and will get it again this year. It really keeps the kids busy and out of the house. However, November here is beautiful weather so its the perfect time of year to be outside. Sunny, cool and clear - shorts or pants kind of weather!

Lavender444's picture
Joined: 03/27/03
Posts: 1944

"Jenn0113" wrote:

We got one last year and will get it again this year. It really keeps the kids busy and out of the house. However, November here is beautiful weather so its the perfect time of year to be outside. Sunny, cool and clear - shorts or pants kind of weather!

Sounds fun! I'll be waiting for my invitation. Wink

AshnBill's picture
Joined: 11/06/06
Posts: 5333

Those bounce houses sound fun (would never work here in freezing MN in November!) but Miles HATES those things!! LOL! He's been in them a few times and every time he just hates it.

I think I decided to do heavy appetizers. My sister works at a meat production place and there's TONS of things she can order with her employee discount. I think we'll do Chicken Wings & Meatballs (can have both of them in a crockpot...easy!), not sure what else?!?! Meat/Cheese/Cracker tray, some type of fruit, chips & dip, etc. With her discount on the meat things it shouldn't be too much more than spaghetti would have been.

Lavender444's picture
Joined: 03/27/03
Posts: 1944

That sounds perfect, Ashley! I'd maybe to a dip of some kind too- maybe something in a bread bowl and some veggies.

kris10gal's picture
Joined: 11/02/07
Posts: 1306

"Lavender444" wrote:

Kristen-The vitage blue theme sounds super cute! Jackson's going to love it! Janet is your mom, right? Why do you call her Janet instead of Mom?

Ava's next few parties are going to be small, just a few friends. But for now I like 'em large-mostly because I think they're fun to do. Smile One of our neighbors rents those humongo inflatable slides and jumpy castles. I'm debating on getting it for a party. I'd like to do it for Andrew's b-day to entice more people to come since his birthday is in the middle of December. But it's the middle of December- in Colorado that can be blizzard weather relatively pleasent. Hopefully it's a mild winter. It would be fun to do those big slides and serve soup or chili and hot chocolate and cookies. And give mittens and hats as favors...

Yes, Janet is my mom. I've called her Janet since 7th grade. It's just how we do it in my fam. I called my grandparents by their names too!

Inflatable slide sounds so fun! I would do that over a jumpy castle because even adults would try out the slide! And slides and chili and hot chocolate sounds awesome!

Ashley, I love Amber's idea of something in a bread bowl with bread chunks and veggies!

serwachic's picture
Joined: 01/01/10
Posts: 178

Ashley, that sounds like a great idea - and hooray for getting a discount on the meat!

I really have no ideas for the 11/11/11 thing. I'm not sure if we should theme it out as a party of "1's"...or something else having to do with the date...or just do a regular party. You guys are such better planners than I am - I need to get on the ball with getting some ideas! Smile

AshnBill's picture
Joined: 11/06/06
Posts: 5333

"serwachic" wrote:

Ashley, that sounds like a great idea - and hooray for getting a discount on the meat!

I really have no ideas for the 11/11/11 thing. I'm not sure if we should theme it out as a party of "1's"...or something else having to do with the date...or just do a regular party. You guys are such better planners than I am - I need to get on the ball with getting some ideas! Smile

Who was it that did the "1" theme and had it at the same time as a football game? Was that Dawn & Joshua? I know a friend of mine IRL did that for her son's first birthday...but I was thinking there was somebody here that did. They got those "1" foam finger things you put on your hand & scheduled the party at the same time the football game was on tv.

hotdiggit's picture
Joined: 10/17/07
Posts: 400

So the "Jelly Belly" (like the jelly beans) truck came through town on their tour today. My cousin talked us into going with her to check it out. Lyla LOVES jelly bellys, and they have a game called "Bean Boozled." I have never heard of it, but we all took our turn and played. Since the kids coming to her birthday party are older. I bought a Bean Boozled game for them to play. Luckily Lyla actually drew the banana flavored, but I got the baby wipes. It was kind of gross but everyone was having fun.

Here is their discription:

Jelly Belly Bean Boozled jelly beans are a collection of 20 flavors, some are so crazy you can't believe it, while others are the delicious Jelly Belly beans you love. is it a delicious Top Banana Jelly Belly bean - or is it Pencil Shavings flavor? Is the black jelly bean Licorice, or is it Skunk Spray? Perhaps the blue bean is Toothpaste flavor, or maybe it's delicious Berry Blue.

Jelly Belly Bean Boozled flavor pairings are:
Canned Dog Food - Chocolate Pudding
Skunk Spray - Licorice
Rotten Egg - Buttered Popcorn
Centipede - Strawberry Jam
Booger - Juicy Pear
Baby Wipes - Coconut
Vomit - Peach
Moldy Cheese - Caramel Corn