Apparently I throw a great party. Especially if you are a 4, 7 or almost 9 year old. I am part of a small group that actually likes to plan and host my kids’ birthday parties. Honestly, it overwhelms me to consider dropping several hundred dollars on a birthday party – I definitely understand the appeal – but quite simply, we can’t afford it. And luckily for me, my kids prefer the homegrown version and I find great joy in planning something that reflects their interests that they can share with their friends.
Some people call me cheap. Some people call me creative. I consider myself to be resourceful. For the last several years, I have used a simple formula: my kids can invite 10-12 friends and I work with a budget around $100. I don’t have an issue with party favors, and in fact I am pleased that my kids’ see this as a gesture of appreciation. I do like to do my part in reducing the amount of waste, so we have moved to finding a single nice item over a bag of trinkets. We pick an idea early and then I hit the internet for ideas and the bargain bins for good deals.
This past weekend, we hosted Dude’s 7th birthday. In keeping with his sports themed birthday parties, he opted for a kickball party. His parties are down to a science: we head to the local park with cake and ice cream and my husband, who is a skilled youth sports coach, and he run the boys until they drop. I’ve had people ask me how we do it under $100. Here’s the breakdown:
Party Site – $0: For the last four years, we’ve had his party at the local park. It has a huge grassy area, a covered picnic area and bathrooms. They don’t take reservations so we always run the risk of a conflict, but so far, we’ve been lucky. This is the first year we had rain, but they’re boys. Do you think they care about getting wet? The beauty of a park is that there is something for everyone to do.
Food – $24 I took a cake decorating class a few years back and making cakes is something I enjoy. They look slightly better than a homemade cake, but nowhere near professional. I use a box mix and make my own frosting. This year, my son requested dirt cake, which actually turned out to be one of the more expensive cakes. If cake making isn’t up your alley, Costco cakes are well under $20 and they’ll personalize them for you. Dig through your toy bin and see what you can find to add as your own cake toppers. I’ll bet you come up with something your child loves.
In addition to cake, we provide drinks and a small snack. Last month, Krogers had an incredible deal on Capri Sun so I stocked up knowing I had many soccer games and birthday parties to get through during the month of September. Dude wanted apple slices and instead of buying bagged slices, I cut my own. And in sticking with the ball theme we found an obnoxiously huge tub of cheese puff balls at Target. I mixed these with Kix and doled out individual portions in clear cellophane bags.
Cake – $7
Juice – $2
Snacks – $10
Napkins, Spoons, cups for dirt cake – $5
Activities – $15 We had some leftover hackey sacks from a VBS project so the kids decorated those at no cost to me. And Dude really wanted a pinata, so much as I try to stay away from trinkets, I relented. We decided it’d be fun to have a pinata shaped like a kickball and to let the kids kick the ball open. Do you know how hard it is to find a plain round ball? Impossible. So we made one. For $2.50 + filler. And of course, we played a rousing game of kickball.
Favors – $40 I found goofy looking playground balls on Oriental Trading and ordered a couple of sets. The kids loved them and they all signed Dude’s ball as a memory keeper.
So, so far this party is up to $79 if my calculations are correct. But this post is getting long, so I will stop here. Tomorrow I will tell you how I pull all of the details together. If you have any pressing questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll try address them in my next post.