A birthday party doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun. Kids are easily entertained so don’t let neighborhood traditions force you into spending more money than what is in your budget.
Here are some ideas for a fun birthday party that isn’t expensive:
As you plan and organize the party, write down everything you’ll do in the order you’ll do it, so you don’t forget and aren’t caught like a deer in the headlights with a dozen 6-year-olds asking what is going to happen next.
Kids love pizza and there are lots of places around to get cheap pizza.
Home baked cake
You can bake a cake at home for much less than the cost of a cake in the store. Don’t worry about how it looks. The kids are only worried about blowing out the candles and how it tastes.
You don’t need to spend tons of money on entertainment. A few candy bars as prizes will go a long way to entertain kids playing traditional birthday party games.
A current or popular movie that is age-appropriate can provide 90 minutes of entertainment for the cost of a Redbox DVD rental and some popcorn.
When the weather is good, and the kids are at a suitable age, an afternoon in the park can be a great, free venue for your party. Most parks offer a variety of activities, swings, water fountains and ducks that can keep kids entertained for free. A nice grassy area can be used for softball, soccer or dodge ball.
Beach or Mountains
If you take the kids to a public beach or in the mountains — presuming one or the other is nearby — the kids will have a ball, and you won’t have to do much but keep an eye on them (of course, depending on the age group that could be a task).
If you stick close to home, be sure to keep the kids busy. Attention spans last no more than about two minutes per year of age so you’ll want to move quickly from one activity to another. One new activity every 10 minutes for 5-year-olds; start a new activity every 20 minutes for 10-year-olds.
For summer parties, kids love to play in the water. While they might prefer an expensive outing to the water park, they’ll have plenty of fun with a Slip n' Slide and the sprinklers.
Don’t feel like a birthday party needs to last all day. For kids under 8 years, don’t try to go longer than two hours. For kids over 8 years, you’ll generally wear them out after three hours.
You will do the other families a real favor when you don’t spend too much on a birthday party. No one likes the feeling of needing to keep up with the Joneses. Focus on having the most fun, not spending the most money.
Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.