You shouldn't have to take out a second mortgage to give your child a memorable party. Make it frugal and fun with these tips.
Step 1: Comparison shop Get quotes from local movie theaters, bowling alleys, burger places, and ice cream parlors. It's sometimes cheaper to hold a child's birthday party at a neighborhood venue than to have it at home -- especially if you're expected to entertain parents while they wait around for their children.
Step 2: Have it in the park Hold the party in a local park with a playground. The children will have plenty of room to play, and you won't have to worry about cleaning your house afterwards. Just make sure you pick up all your party trash before you leave.
Step 3: Plan ahead If you decide to do it at home, start stocking up on party foods when they go on sale. Plan on finger foods instead of a full lunch: Children do more picking than eating at kids' parties. Or schedule your party between lunch and dinner, and just serve cake.
TIP: Buy candy after holidays, when it's deeply discounted, and freeze it.
Step 4: Serve punch Make a big fruit punch with floating sherbet instead of providing individual sodas or juice boxes. Put out small cups; kids tend to fill them to the brim, whether they plan to drink the whole thing or not, so this will cut down on waste.
Step 5: Make an ice cream cake Make your own ice cream cake. They're simple to assemble, and cost a fraction of a store-bought one. Juice popsicles are another easy-to-make treat.
Step 6: Let them make their own favors Plan an activity that results in each child making their own party favor.
TIP: Check out local thrift stores for inexpensive crockery or clothes that the kids can decorate.
Step 7: Hire amateurs Hire a teenage babysitter to lead the kids in games instead of shelling out big bucks for a professional entertainer.
FACT: The average child's birthday party costs between $200 and $350.