by Guest Blogger Michelle Dudas
Ugh. Birthdays. At least, that’s how I feel about them now (now being 33 – I told DH we don’t celebrate those anymore). But for kids, it’s the best day in their life, next to Halloween, Christmas, and Easter.
For the last 4 birthdays we’ve celebrated with our little ones, I’ve attempted to be frugal. Frugal as in making my own cakes (ladybugs, princess castles, trains, and firetrucks), and buying the plain theme-colored paper plates and cups at Walmart. But there are a few more thrifty ways to decorate, as I’m sure you’ve seen on Pinterest by now (oh, how I love thee). You’ll find a gazillion ways to be frugal, from wrapping paper to backyard decorations. Let’s take a took:
1) Make your own invitations.
Thanks to recent updates to Microsoft Word in the last few years, you can actually find some pretty neat designs and card templates (thank goodness). Plus, there’s tons of clip-art you can scroll through to find just what you need. Of course, there’s a lovely site called Google, too (I doubt anyone will be turned in for copying an image and using it in Baby Ashley’s invite … but I suppose it could happen). Even better, you’re a scrapbooking, card-making queen, and can give Hallmark a run for their money
2) Shop at the dollar store.
Love the dollar stores. Although they don’t accept coupons (I’m talking the true $1 stores here), they do have lots of cool little things for a $1 or less. Stock up on kids party favors, paper plates/cups/napkins/utensils and more. And don’t forget the balloons!
3) Time it.
This is a smart one (thanks to A Mom Reporting for Duty). Don’t plan the party at lunch or dinner. Because then you’ll most likely have to feed everyone even more food, which means more money out of your wallet. Instead, plan the party around 2 or 3. That way all you’ll need is the cake/cupcakes, chips, veggies, and drinks.
4) Plan out your own theme.
As in, don’t spend tons of money on hiring an outside company to come in and entertain your kids (unless, of course, you live in Hollywood). And don’t book a party at Chucky Cheese’s or Monkey Joe’s or Pesky-Little-Germs & Co. First, it’s expensive. Second, someone is likely to get sick. It. Always. Happens. Instead, visit your MWR and ask about renting out a bouncy house. It’s really, really inexpensive! Or, have a two-in-one party – Half birthday, Half-Costume. And have a contest for the most creative costume – winner gets to wear the Princess Crown or the Superman Cape for the rest of the party. You may also want to have a scavenger hunt, or plan an obstacle course. Kids are easy to please!
5) Party Potluck.
Instead of trying to buy all the drinks and appetizers yourself, enlist the help of the other parents who are (maybe) coming with their kids – minus the cake. That’s a job we can’t get out of. But have Christina bring the chips, have Katy bring the juice, and Brittany bring the ice etc. etc. Or, if you do need to plan the party at lunch or dinner, have them bring a fave dish That way you save time and money.
Do you have any special tips to share? Sarge suggests checking out thrift stores and SargesList listings to see if someone is giving away or selling something you could use to get the party started!
About the author: Michelle Dudas is the founder and editor at Military Wives Saving. She’s also a stay-at-home mom of a rambunctious 3-going-on-16 year old, and an adorable little 1 year old. In her free time she likes to sleep.