Whether it’s a first birthday party or a fortieth, this is the most important thing to remember when you need to plan a birthday party on a budget. (Bonus: it’ll help save you stress and time too!)
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, so I was eager to click through and learn something new.
Imagine my disappointment when I found that it was filled with the same old ‘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: these 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.
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.
The Cold Hard Truth
But the reality is, 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 these parties end up pretty darn awesome, 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.
She knew her core strengths and found the right ways to fill in the rest. And the result was an amazing party every single time. Guests raved about her events and customers came back to her over and over again.
So, how do we apply that principle when it comes time to plan a birthday party on a budget?
Simply put, you STOP.
Stop inviting everyone over, and keep it to a small group. Alternatively, host a small group of friends at a local park for free.
Don’t stress over printed and mailed invitations. Use a free web-based invitation service instead.
Rather than making enough food for a whole meal, host your party at snack time and offer only finger foods.
Stop decorating your entire house and choose only one spot to decorate instead.
Identify only a small handful of DIY party projects to make, and don’t add any more.
Shop your home for party decorations, using things like bedsheets and stuffed animals as decorations.
Stick to just a few party activities, and keep them simple. Sometimes kids have enough fun just hanging out with each other.
Turn party activities or decorations into the party favors (like the banner at this luau party) so you get double the bang for your buck.
Instead of searching all over for tons of decorations, make use of party printables sets. I’ve got tons of free party printables right in my resources library, and there are plenty of inexpensive party printables sets available through places like Etsy and other online shops.
Be intentional when planning your party menu, considering foods that can be eaten as leftovers, frozen for later, or even combined together to create a new meal for the next day.
If friends or family offer to help, take them up on it! Let them bring a side dish or help set up the party.
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 cakes. 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.
And to help you stay on track, I’ve created a party planning page that is specifically intended to help you keep track of both your time and your budget. It’s part of the overall system I use to make sure that I no longer end up exhausted by the time the party arrives, and I’m actually able to sit back and enjoy the afternoon.
Which of these tips is a game changer for you? Let me know in the comments!
What’s your favorite tip to plan a birthday party on a budget?