The backyard petting zoo complete with pony rides and clowns sounded like the perfect party idea until you saw the bill. Of course you want your little angel to have the best party ever, but it’s easy to let the costs spiral out of control. Don’t fret over your shoestring budget. Even with a little money, you can create a party that will make your toddler squeal with delight.
You sit down to write the guest list and before you know it, the page is full. Each name on the list means more food, favors and entertainment. The older your child gets, the bigger her circle of friends becomes. Soon Little Miss Popularity wants to invite her whole preschool class, all the kids in the neighborhood and every other child she’s ever met. Before the guest list takes on a life of its own, put a cap on it. Tell her, “I know you really want all of your friends at the party, but we need to stick with five guests so you can play with everyone.” One option is to cap the invites with the same number of guests as her age. So your 4-year-old picks four friends to invite. If you can’t come to a consensus, stick with family.
Location, Location, Location
Your house is a cheap place to host your kiddo’s birthday party if you have enough room to entertain. But you’ll spend time cleaning up the place both before and after the party. If you don’t want to spend hours cleaning up cake crumbs and confetti, try another cheap location like a local park. Most city parks are free for use, unless you want to reserve a shelter. Does the birthday child love firefighters? Check with the local fire station to see if you can do a tour for the party. Does your city have a free attraction, such as a museum or historical site? Think beyond the usual bounce house party destinations to find a cheap but exciting party locale.
Those custom invitations look really cute, but who’s going to pay attention? Tackling some of the work yourself instead of buying things ready-made shaves money off the bottom line. If you want no part of crafting your own invites, send free electronic invites through sites like evite or through email. Skip the lines — and the high price tag — at the bakery. Baking a birthday cake or cupcakes for your toddler is much cheaper. Instead of hiring a party entertainer to paint faces, buy your own face paint and practice basic designs. The kids will still have fun, but you’ll spend a lot less money when you do the work yourself.
That life-sized inflatable cowgirl leaves no doubt of the party’s theme, but is the cost really worth it? Young kids won’t likely even notice the decorations. And they won’t sit still long enough to do those intricate crafts you planned. Simple games, such as tag, relay races and scavenger hunts are inexpensive and just as fun as more expensive entertainment options. To simplify the party menu, schedule the bash between meals. A mid-morning party avoids most young kids’ naps and meal times. You can get away with a few snacks and the cake instead of making an entire meal.