Great Birthday Parties for Next to Nothing

Filed under: Holidays

When it comes to birthday parties, moms are finding that a little creativity goes a long way toward cutting costs and making great memories for their children.

Take Anne Beller, a Dallas mother of four, for example. She actually turned a profit on her son's birthday party (don't worry – she didn't sell admission tickets). Instead of paying $200 to rent a giant, inflatable moonwalk for bouncing, Anne bought one on eBay. After the party, she neatly re-packaged it, put it back up for sale on eBay as "only used once," and sold it for more than she paid for it. The difference covered the cost of decorations, party favors and food, and she even had a little left over.

Autumn Thomson of Tallahassee threw a pajama party for her three-year-old daughter at Krispy Kreme. She bought small pillows at a dollar store for a pillow fight, and bought all the guests donuts and milk – plus coffee for parents. They hosted about 25 kids and 30-or-so parents, and spent less than $75 total. And Wendy Thomas from Nashua, New Hampshire says her nine-year-old's birthday party cost a grand total of $3.19. Not bad.

Regardless of the type of party, if you plan in advance, get input from your child and keep the guest list to a manageable size, you can throw a successful party and maintain your sanity in the process. Plus, you can add free treats to the day by signing up your child at Free Birthday Treats.

These tips will help you make your child's day special and also save you cash. Just remember: Your goal is happy children, not impressed adults.



Encourage kids who are old enough to use My Own Party Planner. Work together on brainstorming and party details.

Come up with several themes for your child to choose from. You can build a party around almost anything your child has an interest in.

Select a kid-friendly location. Home is a great choice -- if you have room to accommodate guests -- since you don't have to transport supplies. The downside, of course, is preparation and cleanup. But parties outside the home can be pricey. Most places geared to birthday parties start at more than $10 per child, and that usually doesn't include goodie bags.

Work together learning simple origami to fold paper napkins into fun shapes that carry out your theme.

If you don't want to host the party at home, consider other free or inexpensive options. Check with your local fire department to see if firehouses host parties. If not, they may send a fire truck to your block, and you can celebrate in your front yard. Consider using a playground with play equipment and picnic tables. You can often rent a room at your town's library or community center.

Send an evite birthday invitation or make your own, using a computer and printer or construction paper and markers. Let your child decorate with stickers or hand-drawn designs. Hand-deliver the invitations if possible to reduce postage costs.

Plan simple activities that don't cost much money. Let guests draw on the wall. Set out markers and crayons and hang butcher-block paper for this purpose. Fashion jewelry from Froot Loops or gummy Lifesavers and shoestring licorice. Have all the supplies to make a place mat. Make color copies of illustrations from a favorite book and provide pre-cut poster board and glue. Have the kids glue and arrange the illustrations on the poster board, write their names on it and then you protect their masterpiece with a piece of contact paper.

How much did you spend on your child's birthday and what did you do?

Kathy Peel is Founder and CEO of Family Manager Coaching. Her latest book, "The Busy Mom's Guide to a Happy, Organized Home "is a 2009 NAPPA (National Association of Parenting Publications) Honoree and 2009 Moms Choice Award winner for Best Family and Parenting Resource. www.familymanager.com

Find more great party tips at AOL's Party Central!

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.