Balancing your time and your budget is one of the most difficult parts of party planning. Which is why this advice from a professional event planner is the most important thing you can remember when you need to plan a birthday party on a budget.
Best of all, this tip will help you stress less and save time, whether you’re planning a first birthday party or a fortieth.
I recently read an article that was supposed to be all about ways to save money when planning kids’ birthday parties. And since we’re always looking to ways to save a few cents, I was eager to click through and learn something new.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed to find that the article was filled with the same old useless ‘tips’ that are given out everywhere else. Things like:
- Host the party at home
- Make all the food yourself
- Use dollar store products for decorations
- DIY your party favors
Now, as much as I love DIY party planning, these recommendations all ignore the giant pink elephant in the room: the so-called ‘tips’ all lead to putting more pressure on our already hectic schedules! 😡
The DIY Party Planning Trap
Have you ever fallen into the DIY everything party trap? It usually looks something like this:
- Start planning the party months in advance, gathering all the Pinterest and Google information possible.
- Send the perfect paper invitations to the entire class, plus family members and neighborhood friends.
- Create an elaborate menu with homemade recipes, including a cake to wow everyone,
- Continue adding DIY ideas and decorations as the party approaches
- Stay up late every night for the last week before the party, cleaning and decorating every inch of your home with your DIY crafts, and
- Frantically finish cooking, cleaning, and decorating on the day of the party…all while trying to keep the kids entertained.
The Cold Hard Truth
It’s so easy to believe that doing everything yourself is the best way to save money, but the truth is that it’s incredibly stressful.
Even worse, these kinds of DIY parties often don’t save much (if any) money.
Sure, homemade cake ingredients didn’t cost much…but sometimes they don’t cost less than a simple store-bought option either.
Crafty budget party decorations typically require extra supplies that end up costing a whole heck of a lot more than just buying something from the store. And on and on…
I’ve been guilty of this too many times to count. And even though my parties ended up pretty darn awesome, I was always too stressed to enjoy them.
Then one day my stepmother pulled me aside and let me know that I was going about it all wrong.
This is the woman that owned a business planning 6-figure weddings and private events for over 20 years. She worked incredibly hard, but her business was also amazingly successful. And she knew how to stretch every single penny to keep it profitable.
The #1 Thing You Need to Know to Plan a Birthday Party on a Budget
That’s the day she reminded me of her #1 business principle: outsource at least 80% of your event.
In other words, know your core strengths and find the right ways to fill in the rest. And the result will be a fantastic (and far less stressful) party every single time.
So, how do we apply that principle when it comes time to plan a birthday party on a budget? To put it simply, you have to STOP.
Stop inviting the whole class.
Keep your parties to a group of the closest friends, and you’ll be so much more relaxed! If it’s a small enough group, you can even consider hosting your gathering at a local park for free.
Stop stressing over printed invitations.
I admit this is more difficult when kids are really little, but as kids get older, make use of all those email addresses and send digital invitations too. Not only that, but if you use this tip, you can get nearly a 100% RSVP rate for your parties. Now that’s a stress saver.
Stop Over Filling Your Menu
No, I’m not saying to stop making fun food for your party. But you can change the time of day and host it at snack time instead of lunch or dinner. Then you only need to offer finger foods instead of a full meal.
Alternatively, make sure you’re intentional when planning your party menu. Consider making recipes that can be:
- Eaten as leftovers,
- Frozen for later, or even
- Combined together to create a new meal for the next day.
Stop Ignoring What You Already Have
Did you realize that your home is practically a goldmine for party decor? You can use things like bedsheets and throw blankets as backdrops. Use your kids toys and stuffed animals for decor, and even wrapping paper and tissue paper instead of tablecloths.
On a similar note, you can make your projects do double duty. For example: planning activities or decorations that also double as party favors – like the banner at this luau party or this ice cream activity.
Stop Decorating Your Entire House
You don’t need to have every inch of your home decorated. You don’t even need to have every inch of the party room decorated!
Choose one spot to decorate…and then knock it out of the park. You’ll probably find that it’s more memorable that way too.
Stop Playing Cruise Director
Stick to just a few party games or activities, and keep them simple. Sometimes kids have the most fun just hanging out with each other.
Stop Doing It All Yourself
Identify only a small handful of DIY party projects to make, and don’t add any more. And instead of searching all over for party decorations, make use of party printables sets. You can find loads of custom made party printables right here, or on Etsy (though Etsy can also be a bit overwhelming, so be careful)
And please, if friends or family offer to help, take them up on it! Even if it’s something as small as bringing a side dish or helping set up the party.
You might even want to consider these three time saving party tips to help you outsource your party on a budget and save your sanity.
Now It’s Your Turn
Yes, hosting a party at home and making everything yourself can save you money. But aside from being stressful, it’s not the only way to save cash. Next time you need to plan a birthday party on a budget, ask yourself how you can STOP:
- Do you really need to invite everyone on your list?
- Is there a free place you can go instead of home?
- Can you host your party in the midafternoon?
- Are you taking on too many projects?
- Does your menu make sense for your family if no one else eats the food?
- Is that DIY project actually costing you more money to make than buying something instead?
Don’t get me wrong…I’m all about DIY party decorations and homemade party food. But the most important thing to remember is to do only as much as makes sense for your current income and schedule…and then either let go of, or outsource the rest.
Are any of these tips game changers for you?
What’s your favorite tip to plan a birthday party on a budget? Let us know in the comments!