Kids' Parties: How to Reduce Your Budget and Stress

by RobertKeith

How to keep your money and sanity while planning a children's birthday party.

Few occasions are as memorable to a child as a happy, successful birthday party. Even fewer occasions are more stressful or expensive to a parent.

For better or worse, we place a lot of pressure on ourselves to meet the standards set by other families; the ultimate example of "Keeping up with the Joneses". If your child attends a lavish party with jumping castles, pony rides or other luxuries, it's easy to feel a failure for not reaching the same standard.

We dread comparisons from our children, from other parents,and worst of all, from ourselves. The simple fear of being judged can be far worse than the reality. Thankfully, the worst of it can be avoided.

This hub will explore some ways you can prevent or reduce this unique (and disturbingly common) form of anxiety, while still giving your boy or girl a loving, fun-filled day to remember.

Avoid a traditional party altogether.

A small group trip to a special venue (such as a zoo, theme park or cinema) will have the feeling of extravagance without going overboard with scale. If you have a tent, backyard camping can be an incredible adventure with practically no expense.

By offering a completely different experience to the traditional home party, your child can enjoy the feeling of being pampered and loved without inviting comparisons, and without the arbitrary need to spoil every classmate as well.

Trampoline Party
Pixabay.com

Keep the emphasis on family and close friends.

Even a small-scale home sleepover with friends can be an incredibly adventurous experience at a young age.

Talk openly with your child about which friends he or she would most like to share the experience. This process is invaluable in more ways than one, as it also encourages serious thought about the importance of friendship.

Avoid a traditional party altogether.

More often than not, successful kids parties on a budget aren't necessarily parties at all!

A small group trip to a special venue (such as a zoo, theme park or cinema) will have the feeling of extravagance without going overboard with scale. If you have a tent, backyard camping can be an incredible adventure with practically no expense.

By offering a completely different experience to the traditional home party, your child can enjoy the feeling of being pampered and loved without inviting comparisons, and without the arbitrary need to spoil every classmate as well.

A trip to the beach can make a brilliant, family-focused alternative to the traditional backyard party.
Pixabay.com

Involve your child in planning.

If you're holding a home party, there's a great deal of value in surprising your birthday boy or girl. However, sometimes there can be just as much value in getting him or her more involved. Let your child "direct" the proceedings on where to place balloons and streamers, enjoying the luxury of being in charge while grown-ups follow every instruction.

If you're raising a budding artist, you could even give the option of designing his or her own kids party invitations!

This way, your child will feel more personally invested in the party, and perhaps more willing to appreciate the effort that goes into it.

Recommended Reading

This guide is nothing short of invaluable for budget gift and planning ideas, and full of wonderful "why didn't I think of that?" moments.
Bashes on a Budget - Kid's Birthdays

Hosting a fabulous birthday bash for your little one doesn't have to cost a fortune. What matters most is that you celebrate! Show your child that you care, by truly putting som...

View on Amazon

Learn how to balance purchases and DIY decorations.

Homemade decorations and favors can easily take the burden off your wallet. A creative DIY effort will often be admired as "crafty" and "budget savvy" rather than "cheap".

On the other hand, it's very easy to go overboard, costing serious time and effort in place of money. This "Martha Stewart Syndrome" - the need to create everything yourself - can sometimes create more trouble than it's worth. It's essential to learn how to strike a good balance.

Sometimes the best compromise is a mix of purchases and personal effort. Rather than blowing your money on pre-made gift bags, try buying the individual kids party supplies in bulk, then compiling the packages yourself.

Another brilliant shortcut - within reason - is to let your guests decorate for you.  Set up an art and craft table to let them decorate their own favor bags or placemats.

Birthday Balloon
Pixabay.com

Talk openly with other parents.

The "kids' party scene" can get ugly when politics get involved among parents. To avoid conversations behind one another's back, a little communication can save a lot of stress. Don't be afraid to discuss your concerns, exchange notes, and come to an agreement over what should be expected.

It's easy forget that many other parents - even those who hold the most expensive, over-the-top events - are probably feeling the same fears. With a little friend conversation and honesty, that sense of competition will quickly disappear.

A Question for Parents: How did you find the last birthday party planning process?

Kids Birthday Present
pixabay.com

Remember your priorities.

Your child will only judge the day in terms of fun, not dollar value. If a birthday celebration is full of fun, novelty, and shared with the most important people in your child's life, it doesn't matter how you achieve it.

Further Reading

Family Social Science - Birthdays Without Pressure
A wonderful guide by the University of Minnesota, full of tips on how lower-income households can keep birthday celebrations low-key without compromising on fun.

Updated: 02/19/2013, RobertKeith
 
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