How to Throw an Inexpensive Party for Kids

10 Quick and Easy Ways to Free Your Budget of Party-Crashing Expenses

A picture of balloons and a gift
Throw a thrilling party without popping your budget. Photo © foobean01 / stock.xchng

Parties seem to have become a one-up competition among parents, so many families may balk at the idea of throwing an inexpensive party. Whether you're hosting a summer pool party or a birthday bash, set a precedent that you can throw a quality, yet cheap kids' party, without the limos, Ferris wheels and live boy bands.

1. An Inexpensive Party Has a Short Guest List

You'd love to invite everyone from your child's class, plus their friends from soccer, the neighborhood and church. This is a quick way to turn an inexpensive party into an overpriced extravaganza.

The more kids you invite, the more plates, napkins, silverware, cups and food you'll need. Cut your guest list and you instantly cut your costs. Plus, your kids can spend quality time with their friends if they have a smaller amount of guests to visit with versus every child that's waved to them in the hall.

2. Stop Sending Invitations

Paper invitations can tear up the budget for an inexpensive party. You have to buy the right amount of invitations, pay extra if they're personalized and then add postage to the envelopes.

Today's tech-savvy parents can appreciate an invitation you send through your computer. You don't have to make a party invitation your Facebook status update, though. Just Google "email invitations" and you'll find plenty of options for sending quality invitations to your guests' inboxes. They can even RSVP with a yes, no or maybe through the invitation so you can get a proper headcount.

3. Don't Waste Your Money on a Venue

Having a party at the zoo can set you back at least $50. You could pay $150 for an hour and a half at an indoor playground. Even parties at local fast food restaurants can cost you around $100 for 10 guests.

Of course, you want your child's party to be special. But will substituting the park's free playground for the pricey commercial play place really ruin her big day?

4. Be Creative With Your Entertainment

Instead of hiring the balloon animal guy for $100 an hour and renting the inflatables for $200 a day, use your creativity to plan the party's entertainment. You'll save a small fortune and the kids will have just as good of a time.

Hold a treasure hunt. Play guessing games. Make party crafts. There's no limit on the activities your child's party can have without costing you much, if anything.

5. Save Your Goody Bag Money

All of those party favor bags can be a party pooper on your bottom line. Even the price of cheap party favors adds up quickly when you're buying for a small party. Not to mention that most goody bags send kids home with useless junk that will soon be thrown away and forgotten, which is a total waste of money.

Still feel bad about not sending your party guests home with some goodies? Add a line on your email invitations that says, "No gifts, please." Other parents will happily save money on gifts and you won't have to feel guilty about not spending money on favor bags.

6. Make Your Own Party Decorations

Party prep can be fun. From hats to a do-it-yourself tablecloth, make your own decorations and accessories to save money.

Buy plain balloons and paint them. Make a papier mache pinata. Create a table centerpiece that fits in with your theme. Skimping on the high-priced decorations doesn't mean your child will be deprived of a picture perfect party setting.

7. Skip the Themed Paper Plates, Napkins and Cups

This is a hard one to resist. All of those cute party supplies with your child's favorite character would go great with your party theme. It'll cost you, though.

An 8-pack of plates featuring today's popular characters typically runs about $3.50. Compare that to a pack of solid-colored plates that you can buy in a package of 24 for $2. While it may not seem like a huge saving, once you start adding in the cost of themed napkins and cups, your costs start to rise. Also factor in a guest list of more than 8 children and the money you could've saved buying solid colors really becomes noticeable.

8. Bake Your Own Cake

A bakery cake will set you back at least $20. Compare that to the $5 or less you'd spend baking a cake or 24 cupcakes yourself.

The cake photo gallery shows off some great homemade goodies you could bake for your child's party. Or if you really want to have fun baking, let your child help out. She'll always remember spending time in the kitchen with you as you both decorated her party treats together.

9. Create Your Own Thank You Cards

You can save money by sending email invitations. But don't send a thank you email for a gift. Create your own thank you cards to save money rather than buying them.

Encouraging your kids to write thank you notes teaches them to be appreciative and, at the same time, thanks your child's friends for gifts and attending the party. Homemade cards are a good project for kids and you can make them memorable to the recipient.

10. Borrow Essentials

Lean on your friends and family. Someone you know owns a festive tablecloth, punch bowl, party decorations and other essentials you can use for your child's party.

Ask around and you'll find most everything you want to purchase is just sitting at someone else's house. Just borrow instead of buy and your savings will add up faster than your child can say, "Party time!"