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10 Birthday Party Alternatives For Families On a Budget

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December 6, 2022


After my oldest daughter’s 7th birthday party rang in at a whopping $500 for a piddly 2-hour party, my husband and I looked at each other and said, “something has to change”. If you are needing to adjust your party style and stay within budget, I have 10 alternatives! Believe it or not – your children don’t NEED the greatest and grandest – they need you!

Listen below for the entire episode on The Systemize Your Life Podcast

Birthday Party On a Budget

I was a single mom and a crafty one for many years, so making grandiose birthday parties for a baby, then a toddler, then a kindergartener wasn’t that big of a deal. But, then she acquired friends, preferences, expectations, and wants. We were stuck with giving and giving and giving, which meant spending and spending and spending.

We had been dialling in our budget for some time and had sinking funds set aside for birthdays, but after the second baby came along and we really looked at the pattern we were creating, we knew it was time to make a change.

And that is exactly what we did.

I sat down with my daughter a month before her BIG day and talked to her about the changes.

What do you tell your kids?

I simply told her that this year, her birthday would look different. “Mom and dad have decided that we want to give you a birthday that is special for a different reason. We want you to enjoy the day more than you did before by giving you more time together with the people you really really love.”

I gave her some options for what we could do instead of a party with all her friends and explained how much money we would be spending. $150 was the limit we set for her birthday, which included food, activities, presents … all of it.

Guess what she said? “Okay!” She said OK. All this time I knew I was trying to give her the sun and moon even though she did ask for them, but what I didn’t realize is that she wouldn’t even care that her typical birthday party would be changing.

Birthday Party Alternatives

Here is a list of all the options we gave her, plus a few more you may love.

  1. Hiking or outdoor play with family or best friend.
  2. Girls day with a best friend.
  3. Playdate at home with classmates and cupcakes
  4. Games at the park
  5. Pool party
  6. Scavenger hunt party
  7. Sleepover with 3 best friends
  8. Volunteering at a local shelter and donuts
  9. $100 cash and family dinner
  10. Picnic and zoo trip with 3 friends.

My daughter was having her 8th birthday and really wanted to spend the day with all her friends but also really wanted a girls day. Since we would be treating the friend she picked to spend the whole day together we couldn’t pay for more than one friend and keep it under $150. After some long hard thinking over a week or so she decided to pick one friend and have a girls day.

They went to a local jump house, (Blaine and I sat and enjoyed each other in total bliss while they played, which is so much better than managing a mess of kids at a party) then got lunch at her favorite restaurant Pita Jungle, then came back to our house for some one on one play and opening presents, then we went out for the worlds best ice cream from Nektar.

It truly was the greatest day. This smile says it all.

“Defining your success in parenthood should never be based only on what your children decide to do. It’s what you choose to use your time and energy for. Every one of us has a limited amount of time and energy.”

My daughter had the best time and has some of the greatest memories from her special day. It took me some getting used to but the stress was literally zero. If you have ever thrown a large party before with decorations and the whole gamut then you know how much work it is. Trust me on this one, try out one of these cheap birthday alternatives and you will never go back to trendy birthday parties again.

Frequently Asked Questions

Any other tips for making holidays easier!?

You better believe I do! One holiday that use to ‘get away’ from me was Christmas. I’m not talking about the gift party (…still working on that one!) … I’m talking about the decorating party. I constantly felt like I NEEDED my house to look a certain way. So I stopped and thought about 7 Ways I Could Add Cozy to my House, which all take less than 10 minutes!

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