Birthday Decorating on a Dime.

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on April 6, 2006

Princess is 5 today! Her birthday party for her little preschool friends is on Saturday. All the kids attending are between the ages of 3 and 5.

Honestly, Princess doesn’t really CARE what the theme of her party is. She doesn’t care how much money I spent on decorations. She specifically wanted a Barbie cake (mostly because she saw one at a friends party) and some balloons, and that is the extent of her desires. So it is easy for me to get away with decorating on next to nothing.

Princess is all girl, and loves pink and purple. So I went to the dollar store and bought cups, plates, plastic utensils, a table cover (all in purple and pink), 1 pkg each of white and pink streamers, and an 8pk of party blowers that have pink hearts and girl stuff on them. Total cost: $8.

The other major decoration is the pinata that we made this week, using a balloon, newspaper, and some of the streamers (How to tomorrow). Cost: $0 Items for the inside cost $7. Items from the pinata will be their favor to bring home.

The facility is the preschool she attends, and there is no cost.

Balloons will not be helium-just regular old air in them. I have a half a bag left over from DH’s military retirement party 2 years ago. I’ll blow them up and we’ll toss them around on the floor–an instant game and decoration in one!

I know that it won’t be quite this easy the older she gets, so here are some additional ideas to keep decorating costs down.

#1 Decorate by color, and just add one theme item to tie it together. For example, at Oriental Trading Company, you can get this entire Disney Princess Party Set for $19.95 plus shipping and handling (and it is only for 8 kids-so if you invite the whole class you better double that), or you could buy just the dinner plates for about $3 (probably at Walmart or your local party store) and then buy all the other items in a coordinating color such as pink at your local dollar store for a total of $7 (assuming that you didn’t buy confetti or invitations and that you got a package of 20 ballons rather than two pkgs of 12 ).

#2 Be creative. If you are going the theme route-remember, a theme doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is printed with the same picture. Come up with something original and use things you already have to set the mood. You could do a campout theme in the middle of the winter. Clear the furniture out of the den, roll sleeping bags out, make BBQ type food like hotdogs, hamburgers and s’mores. Maybe even set a tent up indoors! Or stage a teaparty for a girl. Have the guests come dressed up, play music for ambiance and set your table with the best linen and china. Light some candles and have a bouquet of fresh flowers. Make the meal special by making things small–cut the crusts off the sandwiches, make individual little cakes (you can make a big sheet cake, cut it into smaller squares, freeze them and then frost them so each girl has a small cake). For older girls you could set up a home “spa” night. Again, set ambiance with candles and music. Do a google search for homemade recipes for facials, salt scrubs etc. Plan a few things like the girls all getting facials put on then doing each others pedicures and manicures.

#3 You don’t have to go nuts with the party favors. Especially with older kids, you might want to consider a craft that doubles as a favor. For girls especially-I see small scrapbook page kits and beading kits at the Dollar Tree stores near us fairly frequently. I’ve heard of folks decorating picture frames and fabric painting on t-shirts etc, but you have to watch out for your costs on those types of things. If you plan ahead and have a good idea of how many kids you’ll have you may be able to buy things on sale. Another good time to pick up little gifty things like that is after the holidays.

#3 Ask you child what they really want. Then LISTEN to what they say. Their idea of a great time might not include all the things that you think it takes to have a wonderful birthday. A kid might be more than happy to have a few friends over, make homemade pizza and watch a movie followed by a sleepover. Or have a campout in the backyard with a few friends. I read once about a mom who took her daughter and a few friends to the flea market. They each got $5 to browse and pick something out, then they went home and watched a movie and ate pizza. Apparently the kids loved it, because it was something they wanted to do.

Tomorrow tune in for how to make a pinata!

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