Throwing a birthday party for a friend or family member is a wonderful way to show how much you care. Unfortunately, it can also be a wonderful way of separating you from a lot of cash.
Finding ways to save money while throwing a party is as important as the party itself, if you are the person throwing one. Fortunately, there are many different ways to cut costs here and there. Using one or two of these tips – or a combination of many of them – can help you enjoy the party better because you are not worried about the amount of money you are spending.
Money Saving Birthday Party Tips: The Magic of Budgeting
You can’t get to where you are going if you don’t know where you are going. And when planning a party, the key to knowing where you are going is a budget.
Like many things that work well, budgeting is not complicated, but it is hard. The steps are pretty straightforward:
- Decide the overall amount you are willing to spend, which is really the most important step in any budgeting process. Only you know the number you are comfortable with, and what amount will start making you regret you offered to throw the party.
- Split that into the areas you need to pay for – food, beverages, entertainment
- Find ways of spending in those areas that keeps you within your overall budget
Simple? Yes. Easy? Not always. But some of the rest of these tips will help.
Picking a Date and Invites
If the birthday falls during the work week, you might want to consider holding the party the weekend before the birthday (the weekend after is not such a good idea). If it’s a more low-key gathering, a week night might work fine.
Rather than go old school and put an invitation into everyone’s mailbox at the office, or mail them out, instead just send email invitations. There are also services online that allow people to indicate whether they are coming to the party or not.
Go Healthy With Food
There’s no way around it – feeding dozens of people is expensive. One way to lower the cost is to go for a healthy menu that features fresh vegetables. If you make the effort to buy the vegetables in bulk and cut them yourself, you will save a lot of money.
Another one of our money-saving birthday party tips is to cook yourself. Staples such as pasta and rice are filling and can go a long way to serving a large group of people. Again, this will require preparation on your part, but the least expensive way is often the way that requires planning and effort.
Of all the party supplies required to successfully throw a get-together, none hit the pocketbook quite as hard as alcohol. An easy way to cut this expense is to provide “set ups” – cola, club soda – and let your friends bring their own alcohol.
Not only does this reduce costs for you, but this also means that everyone drinks what they want to drink, not just what you could afford to supply. Let your party guests know well in advance – and remind them at least once – that for this party, they need to bring their own alcohol. You don’t want someone to show up and be disappointed.
Bye Bye, Paper Plates
This seems counter intuitive, because having paper plates and plastic cups at a birthday party – any kind of party, really – is pretty much what has been expected for decades.
The truth, though, is that people do that because it’s convenient – they don’t have to wash a lot of dishes when the party is over. However, convenient does not equal cost-effective. It is far less expensive to use the dishes you already have. Yes you will have to do some work before and after, but you can make yourself feel better by thinking about the money you saved.
Birthday Parties for Kids
Here are some ideas on parties that are specifically for children. Most of the above tips also apply, but there are some things you can do to trim costs for children’s parties.
- Pizza is almost always the cheapest option, if you believe the kids will not eat the healthy food as described above (most won’t).
- Art projects. Rather than hiring entertainment, give the kids a hands on project like a decorating project or perhaps even making their own food like frozen treats or even small pizzas.
- Don’t go overboard with party favors. Most kids will be happy with a cool-but-inexpensive toy and some sort of candy.
- Make your own decorations. With a little effort, you can decorate your home with birthday banners and balloons without too much effort, and at a lot less cost.
Throwing a party is a great thing to do for someone you care about. If done properly, it’s an event they will likely never forget.
However, it’s important that – behind the scenes – you work on the party in a way that you will feel good about it, too, and not regret later how much money you spent. Do a little planning and budgeting and enjoy your own party!