Budget Friendly Birthdays for Kids

By Discount Dame Teri Storelli for GalTime.com
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Why is it every year your child's birthday, much like Christmas, just seems to pop up out of nowhere? It's the same day every year, yet it always seems to take you by surprise-- and once the candles are blown out, you're left with cake stuck to the ceiling, an empty wallet, and an over tired kid on the brink of a melt down.

How do you avoid a major mess, expense and over stimulated tot? Follow these five simple rules and start enjoying your wee one's birthday instead of cringing at the thought of it.

Budget Friendly Birthday Parties for Kids

1. Pick Your Theme In Advance
Choosing your theme well in advance is not only a great way to save money, it's a good way to build buzz for your child. Start looking for deals about 6 months in advance. Keep an eye out around any holiday that offers up decor. Pastel post-Easter finds work great for princess or fairy parties, pirate accessory kits go on sale post-Halloween and make great favors. End of summer sales turn up Luau essentials and silver and gold Christmas decor, which can be used for classier gatherings year round.

Related: Not Your Average Goody Bag

2. Timing is Everything
How do you create a party that includes everyone, doesn't break the bank, and doesn't overwhelm your child? Choose an unconventional time and place. For kids ages 2-5 , the most "fit free" time of the day usually falls between 9:00am and 11:30 am. So plan for your party to run from 10:00am to 12:00pm and not only will all of the little be at there best but you'll only have to provide snack foods to your guests saving you time and money.

For older kids, think abput a post dinner bash. For example, a movie marathon in the den is a way to start the party post dinner-- meaning your child can include more friends for less cost. For refeshments, offer up popcorn and candy.

When it comes to choosing a location for your child's party, consider parks, church recreation rooms, museums, and kid-friendly gyms. If you have it somewhere outside your home you'll have less mess to clean up (kids tend to trash a house where as they are more apt to pick up after themselves in a less homey environment).

3. Prepare Your Child

Whether it's wrapping everyday objects and having your little one practice their "Thank You I love it" face to ensure there are no "I don't like this" or "I already have this" disasters during presents or going over the ground rules for a tween's first boy-girl party; you'll find a prepared child is a much happier child. Let them know what's going to happen, what's not going to happen, how they are expected to behave, and what type of involvement they are going to have in helping your prep and tear down the party. Setting up healthy expectations can calm a little ones fears and ease a teen off the What-do-you-mean-you'll-be-checking-in-on-us ledge before guests arrive.

Related: How to Throw a Kid's Birthday Party for $99

4. Keep Food Simple
If you are hosting a party around meal time, you need to plan out a menu that includes two to three snack foods to have out during mingling, a main dish, at least one side, assorted drinks and a dessert. Start looking for these items well in advance and consider using coupons to get some items for free or considerably cheaper. When choosing menu items try and stick to things that can be made ahead or served at room temperature to avoid slaving over a hot stove and missing out on all the memories. Planning your party at an unconventional hour like mid-morning or late afternoon means that you get to cut back on food and put that money else where.

5. Have Realistic Expectations

You are not a professional event planner, you don't have a million dollars to throw behind your child's 10th birthday party. Little Susie may be disappointed now that you didn't hire Princess Petunia to blow bubbles and sprinkle fairy dust at her birthday, but when she finds that $300 in her college fund later she'll be thrilled. Don't set yourself up for failure by over extending yourself financially or emotionally over a birthday party. Remember it's only one day, it will come again next year, and it's about celebrating another fun year in your child's life not out doing the show off mom down the block.

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