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Happy Birthday to… EVERYONE!

As my birthday month (yes… month) comes to a close, I am feeling a little, well, OLD! Haha! And because I’m feeling old, I am also feeling generous. So I have a little treat for you at the end of this post…

Today I am going to share some fun tips on how to live your BEST birthday without spending a lot of extra dough! I will break down all the birthday fun into a few separate newsletters. So keep an eye on your inbox for the next few weeks to get all the details. First up…

PARTY PLANNING!

Whether it is a birthday, graduation, baby shower, or even a wedding, party planning can be pretty pricey if you don’t set some ground rules and attack it with a plan. Your plan should start WAY before party day. As in… at the beginning of the calendar year or whenever you start working on your BUDGET! In my Ultimate Budget Planning Kit there is a section where you can not only plan for parties and gifts, but it will give you a monthly amount to set aside so you can easily afford your party when the time comes. When you are working on your budget NOW is the time to decide how much you will fork over for each shindig.

In our family, after spending an OBSCENE amount of money on our two year old’s big day, we decided there was no way we were going to be able to sustain that crazy. She was our first so I’m going to chalk that up to first-time parent ignorance :). Anyway, moving forward with a growing family, we decided that we would only do big friend parties on even birthday years, and on odd number years we would just do a smaller family celebration. With just that decision, we have been able to cut our birthday budget in half! We did take it a few steps further and decided not to even start with the big friend parties until our kids started school because we realized a 2 year old is not going to remember that you hired Winnie the Pooh AND Cinderella to attend their party! {insert face palm here} So parties at 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18! The end… at least for the kiddos. Now, all you have to do is make sure you plan the birth of your kids so not all their even b-days fall in the same year… good luck with that!

Invites – A party begins when you start inviting friends. The cheapest route is to go digital! One of my favorite sites for quick planning is evite.com. Invitations can be made very quickly and emailed to your friends. Getting your friends to RSVP is also quick and easy. There is even an option to share party photos with everyone after! There are more paid options, but I’ve never really found a need to go that route.

If digital invites aren’t your thing, it is pretty easy to put together your own invitations. Take a cute picture of your kiddo, and type out the party information in a simple photo editing program. Save the new jpeg and then have the photos printed on 4×6 cards at your local drug store (don’t forget to look for a coupon). You can get color prints as low as .20 each! Hand deliver them and you don’t have to pay any extra, plus it adds a personal touch.

Party Supplies & Decorations – This is the fun part!! If you choose a theme for your party, finding supplies and decorations can be quick. But here’s the trick… Whatever the theme is do NOT buy themed plates, napkins, cups, stuff like that. Those things will be WAY overpriced. You can get solid color paper products at Dollar Tree and Walmart for a fraction of the cost of their copyrighted counterparts. You can take it one step further and start collecting these types of products AFTER holidays. After Christmas, everything green, red, and sometimes blue will be on sale. After Valentines all the pink and red you could ever want. After Halloween, you can get orange and black. After Easter, stock up on all pastel colors. This is where the prior planning is extremely necessary!

As far as decorations, you can keep those simple as well. Solid colored crepe paper, solid tissue balls, and fill a room with cheap balloons and BAM! Perfect B-day atmosphere. Where you will really want to pull the theme in is with the color scheme, activities, and maybe the cake.

I want to share a fun example of my daughter’s 6th birthday. She wanted a poodle party. What the heck do you do with “Poodle” as your inspiration. You can see the pictures above that we used solid pink and black for the decorations. I’m pretty sure we didn’t spend more than $10 on all the decorations. The fun came in with the location and activities.

Party Locations – It’s true what they say… location, location, location. But you don’t have to shell out a lot of coin for a great party spot. Location that is always FREE.99 is your home! Plus, then you have an excuse to get your house clean (or maybe I’m the only one who needs that kind of motivation). If you are lucky enough to have kids born in good weather months, have the party at a park. No house cleaning necessary! You may need to call the city ahead of time if you don’t want to risk sharing the space with extra park goers. Some city parks are also free, but some may charge you a refundable reservation fee. Just give them a quick call and decide if you want to risk sharing.

If you are looking for a larger venue, then do a quick search for venues in your area. I’ve done a LOT of research online looking for venues for my couponing classes. Uniquevenues.com is one of the best sites to find, well, “unique” places to host a party. You will need to make a LOT of phone calls, but there are loads of hidden gems in your area I just know it!

Party Games & Activities – Now comes the FUN part!! If you are holding your party at the park, the play equipment acts as a natural time filler. For the kiddos, I found over the years that you can plan a ton of games and most likely they will just want to run around and be crazy for the whole time. So plan some super simple games and be prepared if the kids want nothing to do with them. That being said, there are plenty of things you can do without spending a lot of time and money to put together. First, as kiddos arrive have them decorate their goody bag. For my daughter’s party, I found some little “purses” on OrientalTrading.com. We did a little doggy nose face paint with some blush for rosey cheeks. I also made “collars” for each of the kids with a few yards of ribbon and some velcro. Easy peasy, and super cheap.

We did have a few organized games, but again, think simple. I found some stuffed poodles in bulk so we played a “toss the puppy” instead of an egg toss because that’s yucky. AND, the kids got to keep the toys in their goody bag after. We also did a little relay race where the kids had to fill their cup with pink cotton balls (because they look poodle-ish). We finished off the fun by splurging on a $12 pinata. Again, the prize is the candy inside. That’s a 2-for-1 activity :).

Food – If you really want to save money and not have to worry about food, plan the TIME of your party carefully. We did this poodle party right after school, so we got away with just providing a few snacks and of course cupcakes. If you are doing a party on the weekend, don’t plan it around a typical meal time (lunch or dinner) and you too can get away with not feeding the whole bunch.

Cakes can get expensive, but you can easily MAKE cupcakes and then display them in a cute way, like I did for This cutie’s 6th birthday. But have you tried thinking outside the cake box?? Make a few batches of Rice Krispie Treats, or get a few dozen doughnuts stacked up high and put some candles on top (or maybe bundt cake decorated to LOOK like a doughnut?). Or what about an ice cream cake or even a cookie cake? Who says a birthday cake has to be a CAKE! Get creative and don’t get too hung up on the gorgeousness of it all. The kids will love it no matter what!

GIFTS – When it comes to gift giving, this can be a little tricky sometimes. I don’t know about you, but I always HATED getting invitations for my kids to attend a party of some random kid they sort of know in their class. UGH! On the one hand I don’t want my kid to miss out on the fun, but I also don’t want to spend more money on a strange kid than I would my own. The best way to combat this is to start a stash of clearance toys. After Christmas or in July when stores are clearing inventory is a GREAT time to stock up on games and toys at deep discounted prices. The only tricky part will be to keep them away from your own kiddos.

I’ve seen some types of parties that suggest gift ideas. “My daughter really loves to read. Please gift her with your favorite book.” Another fun idea I saw recently was to throw a $5 Party. Basically, the parents request that party goers just give their kid a card with $5 so they can put it toward a bigger gift later.

Speaking of GIFTS…

HERE is one for YOU! Use the code HBD2ME for 40% off ANYTHING in my Saving Shop from now until the end of March!

Use that code to snag whatever you have had your eye on! You’re welcome!!

FINAL THOUGHTS….

Most important part about planning a party… don’t forget to HAVE FUN!! Sometimes as the party planner you get caught up in making sure everything is perfect – – or again… maybe that’s just me. But I promise you… people coming to support you and your family. The rest is is just FUN! I hope some of this information was helpful!!

Next week we will look at birthday freebies, and we will even some fun gift ideas that will be high impact, but low expense.

Is there another area of your life you need to figure out how to cut back?? Let me know!! You may not be the only one! Let’s help each other Live Life on Less!

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