Make us your home page

Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Cheap birthday party ideas



partyhat.jpgWe need a peace treaty in the arms race that has become kids' birthday parties. Pop the balloon artist. Send home the clowns. But even a basic party gets pricey. By the time you've bought invitations, goody bags and decorations, not to mention a venue if you don't want your house overrun, you've spent more than you ever would have on the kid's birthday present.

So we were delighted to get this list of "Bargain Basics for a Kids' Birthday Blowout" from consumer expert Andrea Woroch, who operates the web site The Frugals. "Thanks to the trickle-down theory, private parties for the little people must now have everything from a guest performer to a theme with lots of bells and whistles," she writes. "Before you rent that bouncy princess castle or buy all-thematic accessories, consider the following nine bargain-basic tips:

Plan Ahead  Wait until the last minute and you'll likely spend more on unanticipated extras. Decide what you want to accomplish, set a budget and slowly chip away at all you need to accomplish. You might also enlist the help of family and friends to keep your stress level down

Limit the Guest List Does the entire class really need to attend? Invite only your child's closest friends, but be tactful. Mail or email invites, rather than have your child distribute them in school where everyone can see.

DIY Invites Personalized invites are as close as your computer. Use a special photo or download free birthday clip art to make your own creation or, if you want to go electronic, check out websites like or the very popular

Use Discount Gift Cards Buy discount gift cards from sites like to pay for all the party supplies. You can use them to buy everything from cake mix to gas for running around town.

Dollar Store Decor Party stores have unholy markups on the simplest supplies. Shop a dollar store for all your basics and save up to 70 percent on everything from balloons to party favors. You'll also find a decent selection of wrapping paper and reusable gifts, as well as plates and cutlery for the birthday treats.

Banish the Bouncy Castle Don't spend a fortune on those celebrity-style extras. Instead, hark back to a simpler day by organizing one of these simple games from

Take Back the Cake Kids look forward to the birthday cake, but not because of any icing artistry; they're just interested in the sugar. Make your own cake or cupcakes, toss on a few sprinkles and add the candles. That should satisfy all but the pickiest child while saving you over 80-percent at the bakery for a custom order. For an added touch of excitement, let the kids play pastry chef with a cupcake decorating activity.

Simplify the Food Kids don't care about fancy appetizers. They'll be equally happy with potato nuggets and other finger food. Buy generic -- they'll never know -- and use grocery coupons to save a few extra dollars.

A Party for Two...or, Three If your son or daughter shares the same birthday (give or take a few days) with a school friend, neighbor or relative who is close in age, consider hosting a joint birthday celebration and share the costs with the other child's parents. Make sure everyone is on the same page though as far as the budget, guest list and other party expectations to avoid any uncomfortable situations which may arise from a lack of communication.

You can read more about Andrea Woroch at

--Follow us on Twitter @WhoaMomma

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 10:02am]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours