Happy Birthday!

Does that statement bring you dread or excitement? What if I said it was a child's birthday? How are you feeling now? When did children's birthday parties become such a big event? Store bought cakes, events not at home, presents bigger and better than last year's? Kind of reminds me of Harry Potter's cousin's birthday.

We had several birthdays celebrated in our home in the past couple of months. With four children, planning huge parties for the entire class at a restaurant, bowling, paint ball or whatever is not an option. To have a party at home is just as natural as breathing and I didn't even give it a second thought until a parent of one of the children brought it up. They asked if it's a new trend to have parties at home or was I just that brave or crazy to do this, and where was the rest of the class? With these thoughts in my mind, I thought it would be best to discuss the blessings of having a home party.

Here are my rules for having a great frugal birthday party for your child.

#1 DO NOT buy a cake. Man, those cakes cost $20 and upwards! That's a present! Unless you really can't bake, and I mean like you destroy a cake mix, make your own cake. We have had everything from spiderman to elmo to a plain round cake with funky candles and sprinkles. Cakes don't have to be an art piece. They are going to be devoured in two seconds. Make it simple. The favourite here is the money cake my Nanny use to make. As you are baking your cake, you wrap up one of each of the following in wax paper; loonie, quarter, dime, nickel and penny. They are the wonderful prizes the children look for while eating. Recommend it for ages 5 and up. Others we have done had crazy candles, funky colour icing, sprinkles and decorations on it. Try it.

#2 DO NOT invite the entire class, school, every person your child has said hi to over the years. A good rule of thumb is however old your child is, that would be the maximum amount of children to invite. We end at 10 children because it just gets crazy. When you have children in school, church, hockey, karate, or whatever else, they can make a lot of friends in a lot of places. Get them to only invite their closest friends and if anyone gets upset, tell your child to blame it on their parents who put a limit on the amount of people allowed to come.

#3 DO have your party somewhere free! People shell out so much to rent out a hall, take children to a video game or paint ball place when it's easy to just do it at home. Remember, if you aren't inviting EVERYONE, you have more room in your home to have them. If your child really wants to have it somewhere else, tell them that it will be part, or all, of their present to have it there. It can become really costly to take everyone out, unless you are getting the guests to pay their own portion as their gift to the birthday child.

#4 DO ask your child want they want to do at their party. We over schedule our children so much with extracurricular activities that it even carries over to their parties. In actuality, they just want to play with a bunch of their friends. We have a few organized games at younger parties, twister, pin the something on something, scavenger hunt, bean bag toss, etc and we usually set something artsy up like paint a picture, do a nature craft, learn a new craft technique, make your own pizza, decorate your own cupcake for the birthday song etc. We allow free play time and running outside with tag, hide and seek, soccer etc. Unless it's pouring rain or absolutely freezing cold, we love for everyone to have time outside. Lately, our daughter has wanted to have her friends over for a movie birthday night (not a sleepover! They just get to stay late, like 10pm and then go home). Most of them have even watched the movie already and just love eating munchies and watching a movie with their friends. VERY EASY PARTY!

#5 You DON'T have to give a tonne of candy in a loot bag. Recently our son came home from a party with a tennis racket and ball from the dollar store. One was given to each of the boys instead of candy. We have done a small craft package, silly bands, hair elastics and clips or playdoh. All of these are available at the dollar store and last much longer than the candy and are around the same price.

#6 You DON'T have to have the biggest, most expensive gift in the world for your child. Find out what your child truly wants, not the latest whatever, but what they really want and will keep for a longer period of time. Last year, our oldest wanted an ipod touch. REALLY, REALLY wanted one. Well, the price was WAY more than what we spend on a birthday present. He proposed having a combo Christmas/birthday present (his birthday is 7 weeks before Christmas) and he was willing to contribute some of his own money to pay the difference. Was it worth it? Totally. He learned the cost of things, how to appreciate it more and saving his money for something worthwhile.  This year, the same thing happened as he wanted a guitar for his birthday. It's a wonderful way to go.

#7 When giving a gift,  DO give an actual gift  as it can be way cheaper than a gift card or cash. It's a little more work on your part, but can save you money if you are looking around for sale items.

#8 DO make a homemade card. Really, there are not many children that care about keeping the card. Yes, you can get a card at the dollar store, but other than that, they are $4 and up! CRAZY!

#9 DO reuse your gift bags to wrap presents in. Or use flyers, packaging paper decorated up or old newspapers. It's going to be recycled anyway. Why spend the money on the wrappings that get destroyed?

What are you money saving ideas for parties? Would love to hear them and share with everyone else. Drop us a line!

Enjoy your day!


Jane said...

I can't believe those parents were crass enought to say what they did. Just goes to show you the world is going to hell in a handbasket - a very expensive, designer handbasket!
My daughter turned 20 in Sept. Now she just likes to get the family together to go out for supper. I called the restaurant to see if I could bring my own cake and they were totally cool with that. I pay for her dinner only (plus my own) so it's a pretty inexpensive party.

Cathy D said...

And don't forget how awesome it is to have the guests bring a donation for a charity of your child's choice (ie: local food shelter, local animal shelter, etc) in lieu of a gift for your child (just make sure you write it on the invitation). We have been doing this for 3 years now and my boys love chosing a charity and seeing all the stuff the guests bring (you should see the smile on their faces). The shelters always try to get our names so they can post it on their site but we never give that as we want to do it anonymously - more fun that way! lol They already have plenty of toys and such so bringing gifts are not necessary at all. Doing this has been a bonus on SO many levels. :-)