Planning your child’s birthday party can be stressful – the theme, the decorations, the cake, the guest list.

You try to keep the budget in check but sometimes, expenses get away from you. If your husband is anything like mine, you’ll have him chirping in your ear each time you bring home another party supply bag or return a phone call from a vendor (i.e. clown, magician, caterer).

But with years of party-planning experience, I’m here to help with some fun and easy ways to help cut the budget on your child’s next birthday bash.

Ask Family for Help

Who better to ask for help planning your little one’s special day than family? When it comes to eliciting help from your mother, cousins, brothers and the like, you always have the guilt factor on your side! And after all, the party is for your child – can they really say no?

One of the biggest expenses when hosting a party is the food. A great way to get the family involved in the party planning process is to create a potluck-style menu.

Have everyone make their favorite dish or something they’re known for. Maybe your aunt Edna makes a killer mac and cheese or grandma’s meatballs are the hit of every holiday dinner. Ask which family members are willing to cook something. You can always suggest what you’d like them to make, but try not to be overly picky.

You can say something like, “Everyone adores your baked ziti!”. A little flattery goes very far.

When it comes to planning the snack food for your child’s birthday, try shopping at a wholesale food store. There you can buy snacks in bulk – pretzels, chips, and popcorn. Another tip is to purchase the types of snacks you and your children enjoy at home. Of course, you want to make your guests happy, but you can use the leftover goodies in your child’s lunchbox!

Remember that most children’s birthday parties are short and sweet. If you provide snacks in the beginning and cake at the end, you don’t need a whole lot of food in between. Calculate the number of guests you’re expecting and provide enough food for everyone to make one, generous plate. Parents rarely go back for seconds and the kids are often too busy playing to take too many bites.

You can even go as far as to ask a baker in the family to make your child’s birthday cake. With so many adorable ideas online and molds available for purchase, your child will never know their cake was homemade and not store bought.

Make the Invitations and Decorations

Who doesn’t love a good DIY project?

You can save a lot of money when you make your own invitations. This is a great way to get your child involved too. Let them color or write their friend’s names on the invites. It gives them a personal touch and saves you on printing costs.

Online and Facebook invites work too, but are a little more informal. It all depends on who you’re inviting and how you want to present the party.

Some decorations and party supplies you’ll need to buy – balloons, tablecloths, and party hats. But there are some awesome decorations you can make or embellish basic ones to make them really stand out!

Have your child help you color, draw and cut the letters that spell out “HAPPY BIRTHDAY”. You can use construction paper, glitter, markers, and stickers. Make each letter unique. Once they’re complete, string them together and you have a fun and original banner for the wall.

If you want to hang something from the ceiling, you can cut strips of construction paper in funky designs and colors. Ribbons can be curled and placed to hang freely from doorways.

Candy is a fan favorite at any child’s party (for the kids least!) You can make a candy tree or use candy necklaces as garlin – by simply cutting the elastic and then tying the pieces together, you have instant (and edible) accents. You can even make your own pinata and fill it with candy.

Get creative with your party decorations. Guests will love and appreciate the originality.

Plan Entertainment

This might be the most fun part of party planning.

If your child’s party is going to be at your home or a hall, you’ll need to provide some form of entertainment – kids running around in circles hyped up on birthday cake and candy (from your pinata or candy tree) is a recipe for disaster.

There are countless party games you can plan that will keep the kids entertained for hours.

Do you have a spoon at home? And some balls? How about a few pillowcases? Lots of household items can be used for relay races!

Kids can balance small balls on spoons, hop in pillow cases or potato sacks and even race with bouncy balls between their knees. These games are sure to provide entertainment, laughs and friendly competition.

Kids love temporary tattoos and most are relatively inexpensive. Stock up on some, call a young adult you know and create a “Tattoo Parlor” at your child’s party. With a little water and a sponge, the kids can pick their favorite designs and wear them for the celebration.

Bring a wireless speaker and your iPod for some musical entertainment! Not only can the kids dance to their favorite songs, but you can play games like freeze dance and musical chairs. Music is a great addition to any party!

Keep it Simple

My last piece of advice for planning your child’s birthday party is to keep it simple. There’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars to host a party at an elaborate location. If you have the time and space, DIY birthday parties are the best.

All you need is a little creativity and help to plan an inexpensive but memorable birthday bash!

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