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Birthdays on a budget

Every parent wants their child’s birthday to be special but the cost of throwing a party can really add up, especially if you have multiple children. Is it really possible to cut party costs without losing the fun and excitement that parents and kids alike have come to love? One way to cut down on costs is by purchasing birthday supplies that can be reused or repurposed year after year. 

The easiest way to start saving on party decor is to stock up on items when they are on sale or clearance. Choose items that are not theme-specific, and select a variety of colors that are gender neutral. Basic birthday signs, party lanterns, and photo backdrops can be reused again and again. You can even make your own decor out of stronger materials like cardstock or cardboard or hit up the dollar store for streamers and signs that can be used repeatedly. As you collect a stash of items, store it someplace that is organized and easily accessible when the next birthday arrives. 

When purchasing items for the special day, it may be wise to spend a little extra money on birthday items that you know can be used many times over several years. Purchase games that can be used every year like bingo, bean bag toss, or yard games such as badminton. These games are fun for any party, and you will see a return on your investment quickly. Chalkboards for birthday signs, cake stands, and punch bowls can also be purchased once and used for many parties. 

You can also buy dress up items that can be used for a photo booth year after year, such as hats, silly glasses, feather boas, or masks. Kids of any age will have a great time posing in different costumes. Many of these items can be purchased at a dollar store, garage sales, or may be laying around your house. Choose a basic birthday backdrop for your photo booth or use a plain sheet or tablecloth to keep things simple and affordable for your photo backdrop. There are also fun apps that allow you to put in different backdrops if you use a green background. Photos taken in the photobooth can double as ‘thank you’ cards for your guests.

Money can be saved on tableware in a few different ways. Cloth tablecloths and plastic plates can be washed and used again. They will last for years with a one time investment. If the thought of extra cleanup doesn’t appeal to you, try buying a giant roll of white butcher paper and unrolling on the table to be used as a tablecloth. Allow kids to color right on the tablecloth during the party. When the party's over, simply roll up the paper and toss it. One roll of paper will last for years, and because of its neutral color, it can be used for many holidays and birthdays.

Another way to save on birthday expenses is to replace balloons with party lanterns. These can be purchased for about the same price as balloons but instead of one time use, they can be used over and over again. By choosing a variety of neutral colors you will save money without losing the festive look.

Once the party's over, theme-specific party decorations can be repurposed in many ways. Cards and invitations can be made into wall art, ornaments, gift tags, or garland. Crepe paper and napkins can be made into confetti or garland. Old ribbons and balloons can be used to make a festive wreath.

The key to saving money by reusing or repurposing party decor is to get creative. Scour the internet or Pinterest for ideas, shop smart by buying generic birthday items on sale, or create your own decor from things you have around the house. Once you have your basic party decor, add small touches to help create a fun birthday theme. Try to find items that can be used more than once. For example, toy sharks and ocean scenes from a pirate party could be reused for an under-the-sea party at a later date. A little creativity can make for a fun, affordable, and environmentally conscious birthday party your child will love.

Budget-friendly party locations:

  • The park
  • The pool
  • A local place of worship or community center
  • Public buildings such as libraries, museums and nature centers
  • Your home or backyard
  • Tour a local fire station or factory

Sarah is a mom of six kids including seven-year-old triplets. She enjoys reading, writing, and spending time outdoors with her family.


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