Tips for throwing an affordable party
February 6, 2012
As soon as I had my daughter I was introduced to the wonderful world of children's birthday parties. What happened to the days of an ice-cream cake, a couple balloons, and a friendly game of pin the tale on the donkey? It's no longer an acceptable party unless you've got a theme, the proper décor, a spread of food that looks just as good as it tastes, and endless activities for the kids.
Ok, I'm not entirely immune. My daughter's first birthday and second birthday were carefully planned and executed. I enjoyed creating a thematic party and crafting up a storm, but I also found that it can get so expensive! I "Martha Stewart" my way through most parties in order to save on décor, but then there's the paper goods, the food, the favors... So how's a modern mom supposed to stay afloat with today's birthday party trends and do it on a dime?
Don't fret. I've got some tips to help you throw a party on a budget!
Cheap Party Tip #1:
Serve finger foods to save on utensils. Believe it or not, the cost of forks, spoons, and knives can add up. So instead of serving complex foods that need a utensil to eat, serve simple finger foods and skip the utensils altogether. It's easier for your guests to eat anyway!
Cheap Party Tip #2:
Choose an in-between party time so you don't have to serve a meal. Appetizers can save you a lot of money (vs. serving a full meal); so choose a time in between meals for your party and plan on just giving your guests something to munch on.
Cheap Party Tip #3:
Keep the guest list to a minimum. I know, you want to invite everyone and their mother because your child is going to look adorable thanks to the special outfit you bought them, and gosh darnit, you worked hard on this thematic party! But if you're like me, lots of people just means lots of stress. I usually spend all my time running around to say “hi” to everyone and make sure all the activities of the day keep moving, and the first time I sit down is after everyone has left. I find I'm much more at ease with less people, and the party is still special when I include just our close friends and family. Besides, my husband's brother's ex-girlfriend doesn't really care that my child is turning 2.
It's also important to consider space and weather. If it's going to be super hot, super cold, or raining outside, only invite the number of people you can fit in your house. No one has a good time if they're stuck outside in the rain. Keeping your guest list to a minimum will ensure their comfort and will save on how many supplies you need to buy – everyone wins.
Cheap Party Tip #4:
Get your craft on. Skip the party store; their decorations are usually overpriced and no where near as cute as what you can make yourself or buy online someplace like Etsy (within reason!). If you want to create your own décor, search Pinterest for party ideas. My “Party Ideas” pinboard is chock full of ideas that I pull from everytime I throw a party.
If you don't consider yourself very crafty and would rather buy your décor, check out Etsy for printable party décor. Many shops sell everything from printable invitations to cupcake wrappers that you can purchase and print at home - and printing them yourself will save you tons of money. I created an Etsy package for my daughter's vintage circus party with all the décor I made including photo booth props, cupcake wrappers, a bunting, cupcake toppers, favors, and more. I'm hoping to make someone's life a whole lot easier by providing them with majority of the décor.
Cheap Party Tip #5:
Hit the Dollar Store first! For my daughter's last birthday, I hit the Dollar Tree before I went anywhere else and couldn't believe what I found. Birthday candles for $1 (80 of them, so I don't believe I'll have to ever buy them again...), streamers for $1 (2-pack), plates and cups for $1. They have a huge paper goods selection that is 50% cheaper than my local party store. I ended up buying solid-colored plates and cups at the Dollar Store, and purchasing just some fancy printed napkins at the party store.
The Dollar Store is another great place if you need serving items – platters, glasses, pitchers, etc. Also, if you are looking for favors or prizes, they have lots of small toys, books, and candy. For adult parties, consider giving out small candles in glass holders (yes, they have those too!).
With a little creative planning, you can save lots of money on your next party. You can throw a killer kid's birthday party and not have to hide the receipts from your hubby – what a relief.