“Mom, can I have a birthday party?” asks your 4-year-old. You didn’t expect this question until she at least entered school. But, here you are, faced with the dilemma of how to afford a party or event that will please your child. Stop stressing! Many alternatives exist to hosting a preschooler birthday party with all the bells and whistles. Inexpensive children’s birthday ideas can be comparable or even better than your vision of draining your savings account for the most popular party places or trendy decorations, games and gifts.
Family Carry-in Gathering
Do word-of-mouth or email invitations to family and close friends. Ask guests to bring snacks, and don’t be embarrassed to ask close family members to bring game prizes for the kids in place of a more expensive gift for the birthday boy. Play games with equipment that you already have around the house, or play some simple games such as musical chairs, relay races, Simon Says and Mother May I?
Event Facilities on the Cheap
Don’t be afraid to agree to the most popular party spot. Consider locations such as a bouncy toy arena, child-appropriate arcade or even a visit to the zoo. Invite family and friends to come out and celebrate, but ask them to pay for their children in lieu of a gift. Wrap small gifts to distribute to all the children so your little one doesn’t feel he missed out on the gift-unwrapping part of the party.
Gather craft materials you have around the house or buy inexpensive craft kits for party guests. Make the whole party craft-oriented. Have the kids make their own party hats and decorate goody bags. Have them make a craft to take home. For boy and girl parties, have boy and girl options of materials to use or craft kits for the kids to choose from. Four-year-olds will love decorating cookies or cupcakes in place of eating an expensive birthday cake.
Consider sharing a party with a friend’s child that has a birthday close to your child’s. Combining parties will save money for both families, and parents of the children’s friends will appreciate only having to reserve one date for a party. Because most party items come in packages of several items, you might not need any more plates, cups and hats than one of you would have bought for one child. Go with a neutral theme such as all of the superheroes.
Skip the Party
Plan a family day locally or for a day trip instead of having a birthday party. Consider outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking in a park or visiting a petting zoo. Indoor choices can include science centers, ice skating or family-oriented restaurants with children’s game centers. Don’t rule out an indoor water playground or or an amusement park that you have to pay for — the cost could be even less than an expensive birthday party.