So when did birthday parties get so expensive? I’m okay with paying $100 or even $150 for a birthday party but when the quotes are more like $300, then that turns into a No, real fast. To frame this, our daughter is 3 so $300 for a party is a bit much, in our opinion. While planning our daughter’s party we re-discovered an awesome alternative to pricey kid’s birthday parties.
The going rate in my area is $300 to host a children’s birthday party at a local event place. With our daughter, Lauren turning 3 we almost hosted a party at Chuck E Cheese. Key word being almost! I also looked into a gymnastics’ studio and a trampoline place. All 3 of their party packages are in the range of $200 – $300 for a 2 hour party. Then add on extra’s like invitations and goodie bags, and you are definitely in over $300!
The thought ran through my mind that all the little kids in her class are having birthday parties so she should have a party too. Ultimately, we decided to forgo the big hosted party at an event center and instead have the party at this great location which was free, OUR HOUSE! You know that dwelling that we pay a monthly mortgage payment on, that can comfortably fit our family, yes that place.
This isn’t the first time, we held a party there or even her birthday party there. Her 2nd’s birthday party was at home. However, I will admit that for her first birthday, we did have it at an event space and it did cost a pretty penny – admittedly near $500 when you factor in space rental, invites, food for close to 50 people, decor, goodie bags, and custom birthday cake. (However, I am am thankful for growth and not going that route again anytime soon) Also, we don’t regret spending the money because there is just something special about the 1st birthday so it was a big celebration and we enjoyed it.
However, For Lauren’s 3rd birthday, I was reminded of how most of my birthday parties went when I grew up – they were held at our house with immediate family and close cousins invited. Those parties was filled with hotdogs, neapolitan ice cream, cake, and lots of memories captured on my mom’s 35mm camera. Those were great times and we had a good time in that same house and same kitchen year after year.
This year we decided to do the same for our little one by cooking at home for our immediate family, enjoying cake, ice cream and unwrapping her presents together. Lauren enjoyed it and so did everyone else and it definitely didn’t cost $300. In total we spent a little over $100 for food and cake for 8 adults and 1 kid. To add to her birthday celebration, I also took her and one of her friends to jump for one hour on the trampolines at a local indoor trampoline park for $18 total. Then we took advantage of Build-A- Bear’s promotion of a child paying their age for the birthday bear during their birthday month. For Lauren that was $3 but she picked out an $18 Frozen dress for her bear (trust me, I tried to get a cheaper outfit but she loves Frozen, LOVES!) so that brought our total to around $22. All in all for us to have a little party at home and 2 birthday related activities for her, we spent around $140. Definitely a win in my checkbook.
I also asked 2 other personal finance mom’s on their opinion on children’s birthday parties and ways to save.
First, I spoke to A’Shira Nelson, better known as Savvy Girl Money. She has one child, a daughter named Skylar Nelson who is 5 years old. She turns 6 this summer.
A’Shira’s top financial goal currently is paying off her student loan debt which will be done in March of this year. Afterwards, her only debt remaining will be her car loan and mortgage.
So let’s dive into her thoughts around children’s birthday parties and the associated costs.
A’Shira’s Thoughts on Birthday Parties
A’Shira: Honestly, in the past, I was always HORRIBLE at saving money on my daughter’s parties. This year I’m going to take the challenge of spending under $300. In the past my husband and I spent $600 on average for her parties. One way I’m going to save is by having her parties at home. I have a big backyard with a swing set. I’m not going to hire entertainment, I’m going to have the kids play outdoor games. For food, I’m going to bbq and make treats at home.
SugarandMoney: Sounds like you are taking the route that I took this year and trust me, your daughter will love it and your pockets will thank you! Another bonus of having parties at home, you don’t have to transport anything to a location, everything is at your house.
You can find A’Shira at the following locations because she has a YouTube channel and is also very active on Instagram.
Find Savvy Girl Money on Instagram: @SavvyGirlMoney
Then, I spoke to Shatoria Smith of Coincountinmama.com she is the mother of one son, Brayden, who is 1.
Shatoria’s eyes are on becoming debt free which she is working on achieving within the next 5 years.
So let’s dive into her thoughts around children’s birthday parties and the associated costs.
Shatoria’s Thoughts on Birthday Parties
Shatoria: In 2018, my son turned 1. I was strapped for cash but I wanted to throw a nice celebratory party for us (let’s face it – my son had no idea he was turning 1 – LOL).
We spent a ton of money on the baby shower the year prior, so I decided to scale back and have his party at our home. The theme of his party was Baby Shark, so I decided to incorporate bubbles and other beachy/summer supplies. His birthday is the week before the 4th of July, I was able to purchase beach buckets shovels, bubbles and other summer themed items at 75% from Michaels. I took advantage of using my in-store coupons so I saved an additional 30%! I purchased 30 cupcakes (as opposed to a sheet cake from Publix). I spent $24.99 and we received a smash cake for free! For the adults, we purchased 4 large Pizzas from Costco and asked them to cut the slices in half. We provided water, lemonade as beverages. In the end we spent no more than $100.00 on EVERYTHING!
SugarandMoney: Wow, less than $100 is awesome and definitely a great idea to have the party at home. Both are a win-win in my book.
A little about Shatoria:
I’m a millennial mama with six-figure student loan debt (eeeeeeekkkkkkk!!!!). Although I have not paid off my all of my debt, I’m actively working towards it! After having my son in 2017 and being sick and tired of being broke, I decided that I am ready to become debt-free.
You can find Shatoria at: www.coincountinmama.com
Sharoria is also active on Instagram at: @Coincountinmama
- Brainstorm out all of the ways that you can celebrate your child’s birthday and how much each will cost. This will show that there are ways to have a party that cost a little or that cost a lot.
- Decide that you aren’t paying an outrageous price for a birthday party just because everyone else is having a birthday party.
- Realize that you don’t have to pay $300 – $600 for a birthday party at various event centers. Especially if you have large financial goals like paying off debt, saving for a home, saving a fully funded emergency fund, etc – really consider your priorities before opting into these expensive birthday parties especially if you have small children that will not remember the party.
- Remember that your home is the perfect place to host an intimate but fun birthday party. Your child will just enjoy being surrounded by family and friends (if you choose) while opening presents and of course eating cake and ice cream.
- Take advantage of birthday specials like Build A Bear has to still give your child a great experience but at a discount.
- Consider taking your child and a close friend(s) to an event space to enjoy for an hour or two. This is much cheaper than paying for a big birthday party for 10 kids (and parents) when they’ll have just as much fun with their close friend(s).
- If you don’t feel like your home will be suitable, consider a local park and have an outdoor party there.
- Don’t hesitate to use coupons for the things you’ll spend on at places like Michaels, Party City etc.
- Also, consider having the party at an off time that may offer a cheaper price if you decide to do it at an event center. For example a Sunday or a weekday could be cheaper than the high demand Saturday option.
- Ultimately, a birthday party is a celebration and it should come without the regret of overspending. Don’t fall into the trap of “Keeping up with the Joneses” with an expensive party unless you can truly afford it.
There are many options to have an affordable birthday party, it may just take some creativity but in the end, you will save money and your child will still have an awesome birthday party.
I would love to hear from you!
Let me know, what creative ways you can think of to celebrate a child’s birthday without breaking the bank? What’s the average price that you spend on your child’s birthday party?
PS: Check out this post that give 5 Awesome Financial Gifts for Kids: Click Here.
And of course my favorite post about giving yourself permission with your personal finances: Click Here.
Thanks so much for reading and commenting.
These were great tips. I remember those classic Birthdays at home in the backyard with family and friends. It’s easy to get caught up in the production of parties which adds up quick but, you have to know when and where to cut back on cost.
Yes, this classic birthdays were great and didn’t cost a lot. Family and Friends are what made the parties the best!
My oldest is six and she has never had a bday party! I cringe when I hear the prices other moms are paying. Like you, I looked up local places that hosted parties and was like no thanks!
Now that she is at the age where she sees her other friends having parties, I’ve started saving up early for the next one. I’ve got seven more months so I feel a lot better paying for a bday package!