We recently held a birthday party at our home for one of our children, and after years of throwing such shindigs we’ve almost perfected our routine. We plan ahead, send out early invitations, and only purchase what we need in the form of decorations, snacks, gift bags, etc. In the end, the kids have fun and a dent is hardly made in the budget.
This wasn’t always the case – we pulled out all the stops when we first started throwing parties for our children. It wasn’t in Real Housewives territory, but we came pretty close – going well over our budget several times. However, we admitted our mistakes and were eventually able to set up a plan that works for us. Here are a few things that we learned along the way.
At Home or Away Party
In the past, birthday parties were held at the local pizza parlor, neighborhood park, or roller skating rink. Today, there are numerous venues like Chuck E. Cheese and Dave & Busters whose main focus is catering to party goers. While it may sound convenient to hold your child’s party at one of these locations so you can enjoy the event rather than run it, there are increased costs. For instance, while you can purchase a base package for a minimum amount of invitees, extra fees can pop up if additional guests show up at the last minute or you want more tokens, decorations, a birthday cake, etc.
Best thing to do ahead of time is get a price guide for the location where you want to hold the party, then perform a comparison budget on costs that will be incurred if you had the event at your home. For the house party factor in costs for decorations, food, favors, and activities. Man hours needed for preparation and clean-up should also be included in this budget.
Don’t Send in the Clowns
Clowns, magicians, storytellers, pony rides – these and more are ready to stop by your house and entertain the guests at your child’s birthday party. However, they can run you upward of one hundred dollars or more. Whether or not you request the services of one of these performers may depend on the age of your party-goers. Younger children tend to get distracted during a birthday gathering, meaning the funds you invest in the performer may not be well spent. If possible, try to check out the potential entertainer ahead of time to see how well they draw the attention of other audiences.
Gift Bag Goodies
Though stores such as Party City have aisles of birthday favors to choose from, their costs can stretch your budget to the limit, especially if you have a lot of guests. Thus, if you intend to pass out goodie bags to invitees upon their departure, think of heading to the local dollar store or discount retailer like Wal-Mart for ideas, which sell party favors in bulk. In addition, if the selection of these products is not what your interested in, there are numerous options down other aisles. For instance, the goodie bags from our most recent party featured pencils, a small bottle of bubbles, flower seeds, and various candies – all purchased for under ten dollars.