Budget Friendly Birthday Parties

I recently threw a birthday party for my 6-year old. This year, I wanted to invite her classmates and friends from school but I didn’t want to spend a fortune. I knew I would have to think outside the box to achieve my goals. My house isn’t the best location for a party, so I started by brainstorming unique party ideas. I researched fun and frugal places to hold a celebration. Then, I started calling venues to get pricing to narrow down my search.

In my area, there are some great places that cater specifically to birthday parties and celebrations but I didn’t want to spend upwards of $20 per person to use them! I have a large family with lots of kids so I knew that even before I invited any schoolmates, I was already over 10 guests. Since some places charge for admittance for each child and parent or caregiver, the cost can quickly escalate. Knowing this, I began thinking outside the box. My daughter’s birthday is in September, so I tried to incorporate the season into my planning.

Fall is apple picking season so one of my top ideas involved planning a party at an apple orchard. I looked up local venues and called several orchards to check on pricing. I found some very affordable options, but since it was already late August and I wanted to have the party in September, availability was an issue. My advice if you want to go this route is to start your planning early. Mid-September is peak apple-picking season so plan to reserve your spot more than a month in advance and do your homework. I found one place that included a bag for picking apples, a corn maze ticket and a hay ride for one reasonable price per family unit. Other places charge per individual. Most have tables that you can use for free or a very reasonable fee.

My next thought went to some of the great parks in my town. Several have playgrounds and picnic areas. However, when I researched more, I found that the parks and recreation department in my town charged for the use of the park and also required an insurance rider. Given these restrictions, I decided that was not a good choice either. But, I still liked the idea and didn’t give up. Each town is different so they have different regulations and procedures for the use of public places.

In the end, I chose Benson Park in Hudson, NH. The beautifully maintained park was once the home of Benson’s Animal Park. After many years of neglect, a group of people got together to turn the theme park into a family-friendly recreational area. The Friends of Benson Park did a wonderful job in renovating the area and now it is a beautiful place to visit! I only needed to submit a form to the Town of Hudson for the use of the park. There were some restrictions, but there was no charge, so for me it was a wonderful option!

With the location nailed down and a date approved, I began to plan the party activities. I went to the dollar store to buy tissue paper and party supplies. For the activity, I had the children make giant tissue flowers. Everyone loved the idea! Since summer was winding down, I found great character bubble sets at the drug store that I used for party favors. Each set normally retailed for $4.99 but they were 75% off so I only paid $1.25 for each party favor. I added a few snacks and I had the makings for a great party. I bought the cake and refreshments at BJ’s Wholesale Club and off we went.

On the day of the event we all met at the playground then went to some nearby picnic tables for games, cake and presents. I brought some music and played outdoor games like red light, green light and Simon Says with the kids, followed by refreshments and our paper flower activity. The kids were excited to present their gifts, and in the end everyone seemed to have a good time.

With a little imagination and creativity, I was able to throw a birthday party for my daughter that included her classmates. The total for the entire party was under $150.00.

$15.00 – 12 Party Favors
$5.00 – Plastic Table cloths
$5.00 – Cups and Plates
$20.00 – Birthday Cake
$40.00 – Snacks and juice
$25.00 – Birthday Present
$5.00 – Invitations and Thank You Notes:
$5.00 – Ice
$20.00 – Activity supplies

Total: 140.00

I am happy with the results of the party but there are a few things I would do differently next time. First, to make it easier for the grandparents who would not be able to attend the park party, I ended up throwing additional, smaller family parties (one for each side of the family). These small family gatherings did not include games and activities but I still felt obligated to bring a cake and snacks so that was an added expense. Next time, I will plan only one party. I also ended up buying some extras that I didn’t need or use for the park party. I figured that since it was on sale, it wouldn’t hurt. But, those small expenses add up, so next time I will stick to my list and try to get a head count before I shop. Finally, I will start the planning party sooner. The earlier you start the planning, the more options you will have, especially if you want to book a popular spot!

I hope this article sparks some ideas for your next event. How do you keep birthday parties costs low? We would love to hear your ideas!

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