6 Ways to Save Money (and Your Sanity!) When Planning a Birthday Party

Guest post by Sara from Save Money Live Joyfully

We have the blessing of a large extended family. That means that I am often planning birthday parties on a budget for 50-60 guests. With proper planning and organization, you can plan a party on any budget for any size guest list.

1. Plan Ahead

When planning a birthday party, I come up with a basic plan about three months in advance. This is enough time to wait for sales and coupons, and find whatever I need as inexpensively as possible. You don’t need to completely plan the party, just look for good deals on things you will need.

2. Get Organized

I get a small binder with page protectors and include my budget, guest list, supply list, and any ideas I find online or in magazines that I want to integrate into the party.

For the supply list, I write down everything I will need for the party, down to ice for drinks. Supply list in hand, I scour clearance bins and use coupon deals to get all the supplies I need for a fraction of the price. (Except perishable foods, which I pick up the week of the party.)

I also ask relatives/friends to save coupons I need. For my daughter’s birthday, I did a Candy Land theme. Using coupons and sales, I was able to get free soda, juice, chips, and candy. In addition, I found a deal on Candy Land board games (the party favor) for 75% off. By planning ahead, I knew what I needed and avoided overspending at the last minute.

3. Don’t Go Overboard With a Theme

You can have a strong party theme without overpaying for it. Have one “themed” balloon or centerpiece, and use coordinating colors for all the other decorations, tablecloths, plates, cups, etc. Using solid colored tableware can save you 50% over using themed tableware, and using a single centerpiece or balloon will maintain the theme without overpaying for it.

4. Consider Party Times

I try to schedule parties between 10am-12pm, or 2-4pm. This way I am responsible for snacks, but don’t have to provide a full meal. If you have people traveling a long ways for the party, or would like to provide a meal, make something that can feed a crowd, such as Spaghetti, a Taco/Nacho bar, Pulled Pork or BBQ Chicken Sandwiches.

5. Make Activities Do Double Duty

Because parties usually include a game and/or activity, a favor, and a treat, you could end up paying a lot for each component. I like to make each element do double duty. For an activity, I cover the tables with butcher paper and lay crayons out. I save money on tablecloths, and the kids are occupied for a long time.

Last year, I made cupcakes instead of cake, and set out sprinkles and frosting for each child to decorate his or her own cupcake. I saved some sanity from not frosting 50 cupcakes, and the kids had a blast. You could also do a craft for an activity and turn it into the favor.

6. Have a Good Attitude and Act Prepared

Remember how your mother used to say that nobody would notice your bad hair day if you wore a smile? Well, the same is true as a hostess. If you have a good time and act comfortable, everyone else will too. Remember, it’s not about perfection in coordinating colors and having the “perfect” setup. It’s about celebrating your loved ones on their special day.

Sara is wife to her wonderful husband, and Mommy to a beautiful 3 year old daughter. She spends her days playing make-believe, making up silly songs, cooking kid-friendly healthy meals, and keeping the house somewhat presentable. She desires to bless at least one person every day, and blogs at Save Money Live Joyfully.

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Comments

  1. Stephanie says

    My kids pick a theme and get one pack of plates and napkins in the theme and the rest are solid colors from the dollar tree. We always do a dinner since our family lives 4 hours away, but we do inexpensive meals (bbq pork sandwiches, hot dogs, baked ziti, and taco salad are our favorites) and usually our moms will offer to bring something to help out. We have done simple treasure hunts around the house for an inexpensive activity and the gift bags were the prize (simple white lunch bags decorated by my kids filled with a little candy). Nobody we know does big parties but we are able to make it a special day for not much money.

  2. says

    Since our birthday parties are a family event too – I always accept help with the food. I know which family members always are offering to help so I plan ahead of time on what I would like them to bring “in case they ask”. Then when they do – I am prepared with an answer. Always accept the help. Preparing the party yourself will not earn you a “mother of the year” award;-)

    • says

      This is so true. I know most of my family usually make birthday parties (or any kind of party for that matter) a potluck. That way everyone pitches in. It makes for a much more enjoyable birthday for everyone since there is so much more variety and the hostess doesn’t have to stress out about making all the food (not to mention the expenses).

      • says

        We have a large family, so we do large get togethers with 60-70 people, but we don’t do them for birthdays. Some days we have 3 children with the same birthday (cousins and cousins’ children). My in-laws have over 45 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and most everyone lives in town. I think it’s amazing that you do family parties like that. We save the family get togethers for holidays, mission farewells and mision reunions.

        We keep birthdays quieter, with siblings, grandparents, and a great-grandparent invited over.

    • Danielle B says

      My daughter’s birthday party in February had to be cancelled because we had a big snow here in VA. We didn’t just want to cancel it all together, so we postponed it until this past Sunday. Our budget has been very tight over the last year, so birthday parties started looking very different from the big, super-themed, overly decorated ordeals I used to make them into. :-)
      I was planning to make a simple Texas chocolate sheet cake that our family loves, but we’ve all been struggling with illness over the last four weeks. I was so exhausted I just didn’t have the energy to make the cake, so my husband made a last minute run to Wal-Mart and picked up a $10 cake. I spent $4 on ingredients to make a huge bowl of punch.
      For decorations I used a beautiful pink, satin overlayed tablecloth that I bought for $12 two years ago. Over the center of the table I used a hand-crocheted white and yellow doiley handed down to me from my mother-in-law’s mother. I hung a small grouping of shiny curly-cues from the ceiling, off-centered near the table. Then I went out into the field behind our house and cut enough wildflowers to fill an old Mason jar that I used as a vase in the very center of the table.
      It was the least expensive party I’ve ever done for our children, and the most lovely. Plus, everything I used for decoration is reusable in the years to come!
      While not $0, it was still four times less expensive than the parties we used to throw. And most of the inspiration came from your birthday webpage! :-)

  3. Christy says

    We recently had a birthday party for our 5 year old and he wanted a construction theme. Ways I saved money: 1) for the past few years we have had parties at our church playground. Free to members. They give you a key to an attached house for bathroom and kitchen. This has been great since our house is to small for 10-20 kids plus parents and we don’t have a real yard (townhome). It ended up raining both years and we were able to have the party in the house. This year they did get 45 mins. On the playground at least. 2) we don’t buy a cake for $40 dollars. Last year, I just borrowed a friend’s cupcake stand, made cupcakes and topped them with Thomas the train rings. Put the big #4 candle on top. This year I spent $10 on a 24 pack of construction vehicles and topped the cupcakes with them. They were also favors. I also made a cake I found on pinterest where it looked like the bulldozers were digging in the dirt. 3) used what I ready had. For the cake, I used diggers my son already had. I did buy a construction themed tablecloth for $3 and some Orange cone candles. I also used a big bulldozer riding toy we had to lay out the cupcakes on cleaned up with a hose and Mr. Clean magic eraser (another pinterest idea). I decorated the table with construction vehicle toys my sons already had. 4) like this post said, do not have party at meal time. Only served Capri suns, bottled water, cupcakes for kids, cake for parents, and a bowl of mini vanilla wafers (they were bogo). Sometimes I do chips. 4) the year it rained the whole time, I set up stations for the kids to play at. Used a lot of what we already had: trains and tracks, puzzles, did buy fresh play dough, did buy icing and sprinkles and set up cookie decorating station, made a pin the 1 on Thomas game, brought our CD player and played musical chairs. When you got out, you got a cupcake. This year there were scattered showers. I ended up running home for some toys. We were able to get outside after a while. Kids had a blast both years. Just goes to show you don’t need fancy, expensive stuff just our toys from home were fine.

  4. says

    I am definitely goin to follow these tips for my little one’s birthday. The only one I can’t do is the planning ahead – his birthday is this month! Eek!

    Thanks for the tips!

  5. marie says

    I love doing themed parties for my twins. I am a party planner at heart but with an extreme budget. I don’t feel you need to spend a lot to make it special. We usually pick a theme 6 months out. This year is Dr. Seuss. Well target had a lot of Dr. Seuss stuff in the dollar section this summer. I kept my eye on it and caught it the morning it went 75%off. I also make the themed cake. If I use a theme pan it comes from Craigslist or yard sale. I got lightning McQueen for $1! I coupon to get food,drinks,and snacks. I agree with others on using a little themed product but the rest solid. I’m able to have meaningful parties at a fraction of the cost. If you use the buy ahead principle you can really save. Clearance helps a lot with this. Also if you only spent a $1or less and didn’t use it you can sell it at a yard sale! This is what works for me.

    ave meaning.truly parties

  6. Mel says

    I save money on favors by buying them @ Walmart. After any holiday they usually have at least a few party favors that are generic on clearance. I’ve gotten little playing cards, plastic rats (Halloween), little bouncy balls, ect. Also homemade goodies and apples or oranges work well. The Dollar Tree is great for favors, especially pencils and cool erasers and plastic bugs. I use brown bags that the kids have decorated to hold everything.
    I do think it’s ok to plan a party around mealtimes but for older kids with longer parties that isn’t going to work lol. If people are taking the time to come to your party…at least have snacks or veggie and fruit tray if it’s between meals. :-)
    Another thing that’s nice is to have kids donate something to a cause your child cares about in lieu of gifts…such as animal toys for a local shelter.

  7. Sarah says

    The link to the poster’s website is not working above…says “Not a Valid Link”. I would love to see her site!

    I especially like tip #6. No one will know if I’m stressed out if I don’t show it! :) Our parties often end up “potlucky” thanks to friends and family wanting to help. My #1 tip would be to accept help when offered!

  8. h. says

    Birthday parties for my only child are the one thing I go all out on. But to cut the cost some, we always get plastic table covers in solid colors from Wal-mart (97 cents there vs $1 at Dollar Tree). I also buy some theme plates and napkins but mix them with solid matching so every other is a theme plate or napkin. I also often get balloons at the Dollar Tree, which often carries the theme (last year was a Disney theme).

    That said, I do buy the cake and usually have the party at a kid friendly place (like a bounce house). I also do treat bags with some candy and fruit snacks in a matching theme.

    • Dorothy says

      It sounds like you throw a nice party for your kids. Some people on here seem to go to far in trying to save money. I am all for being frugal and I love to coupon but if I am inviting kids over and they are bringing gifts then it should be a “real “party.

  9. Heather says

    I used to stress out big time trying to throw themed parties – for little kids who hardly noticed the cleverness. I know some people enjoy doing it, but it’s just not my talent or interest. I no longer do a theme, and it is great. No one has ever noticed or cared! The child picks what kind of cupcake or cake that I can make, and she picks the colors of the paper goods, balloons, etc. We do classic games like musical chairs that don’t require much $$ or planning. I try to make the food a little different and more exciting than our everyday fare (splurge on off-season berries, for example). I started doing the goody bags a little differently also. Even going to the Dollar Store adds up. Instead I send them home with a craft if we made one, and a nicer item. Once it was a full can of Play-doh (cheaper than the mini-ones). Last week, it was these toy dogs I got on sale at Target for $2 ish. Big hit. Or a small stuffed animal.
    Anyway, I try to make the party fun for the kids. That’s the most important. If a parent wants to stay, they are welcome to, but I am past trying to impress or entertain grownups! Once I gave that up, I think my parties became more successful. And my kids don’t have a “friends” party every year – helps prevent mommy burn-out.

    • Dorothy says

      It i not about “impressing” parents but if you are going to have them come and spend money on a gift for your child I would think they should at least get a bakery cake and something other than a craft to take home..

      • says

        Most kids have the same circle of friends, though. So if you have 5 kids coming to your child’s party, chances are your kid will be invited to their parties at other times in the year. So everyone ends up buying a gift for each kid throughout the year. Kinda evens out in the end, doesn’t it? Plus, since no one usually knows the particulars of a family’s finances, it seems a little selfish to think about what your kid is getting out of the party. A simple craft or a homemade cake might be the max that a family can afford…and that should be just fine. Just my 2¢.

      • Heather says

        Sorry I wasn’t clear. I definitely try to send them home with one “larger” nice item in addition to whatever craft the kids made – instead of a bag full of trinkets that break in a day.
        And I personally do not like bakery cakes. I make mine from scratch – not just to save money – but because I think they are much better tasting. At my daughter’s party last week, the kids actually ate their cupcakes. I am not trying to be cheap.
        My point was that, like the post’s author, you can have a great party for your child, without losing your mind or wallet. I know that lots of people enjoy going all out with themes and what-not, but I don’t, and I suspect that I am not the only one. Just trying to show that it’s okay.

        • Dorothy says

          I do agree w/ not having to go all out. We have the money to spend on parties but I REFUSE to pay the outlandish prices places charge you just to have a room for 30 minutes. We did That Bounce Place and they wanted to charge you extra for this extra for that and you couldnt bring in your own decorations youhad to pay the extra for them to get them at triple the price. I said no way. Kids came over, and we did pin the tail, with prizes , a pinata, pizza , cake and icecream then I drove them to Bounce Place and just pais addmission (had $2 off coupons for each).. Saved $150 that way..

      • Stephanie says

        My kids would kill me if I bought a cake instead of made it. We also try to minimize the cheap plastic stuff that ends up being clutter so the idea of a take home craft party favor is perfect to me. We have the money to do things like party places but that is not what we want to do with our money. The friends have always been happy with a homemade pinata, create your own pizza, homemade cake/ice cream, craft and games in the backyard. The food being organic is a happy bonus.

      • Christy says

        Most of our friends do have bakery cakes at their children’s parties. I don’t think that anyone cares that I made my own. Like someone else said, most of the kids actually ate the cupcakes. I just can’t bring myself to spend $40 on a cake when half of it goes in the trash! The favors we gave out were in line with what we have received at other parties. They got the construction vehicle that was on their cupcake and a gift baggy with construction themed coloring pages, a 4 pack of crayons, and a large homemade construction themed crayon. Personally I hate coming home with goodie bags of candy and cheap plastic toys after parties but my son loves it, so I’ve gotten over it. Our circle of friends generally uses the church playground or their own houses so I don’t feel the need to shell out $ “because everyone else is.” When my now in their 20s niece and nephew were growing up, the parties got to be a competition among parents– so not worth it. I am not trying to impress the parents either. We all stay at the parties because that’s just what is done around here. Since we’re all friends, we socialize while the kids play and everyone is happy whether the cake is homemade or cost $500. We have a $10 gift limit in my immediate circle of friends. I often spend less than that by buying $10 plus items on sale. Like someone else said, it all evens out since we all give each other gifts. For my boys, we don’t do one year old parties, for 2 we do a book Exchange in lieau of a gift. By 3, they’ve been to enough parties to know the birthday boy gets gifts. Hoping to do a donation to a charity when they are a little older (bring a bag of dog food, a book for poor kids, etc).

      • Melissa says

        Wow! I feel old & out of touch reading this (I’m 25). It was never expected of us to make sure to “provide a bakery cake & something to take home” if somebody gave us a gift for our birthday. Doesn’t seem like much of a gift if you’re expected to provide something of similar value back.

  10. Becky says

    After many years of stressing out over birthdays, we now skip throwing parties and do something special with the child instead. It has done wonders for my sanity and the kids love it!

    • Dorothy says

      Becky , that is awesome.. If someone can’t afford to throw a party r just doesn’t want to deal with stress than that’s the way to go.. Make it special for your kid and spend a little money on them , after all it is their b-day..

      • says

        Even if you have no money to spend on a child, you can still make the day special and often give them gifts. We don’t have money to buy gifts most of the time, but I make gifts using what we have. I recently posted a picture of the pajamas that I made for my daughter’s birthday on my site’s facebook page. I made them from a pair of women’s pajamas that were given to me. I embroidered flowers and a little girl on them. I made her another pair from a flowered sheet that was also given to me. She got to pick her favorite meals for the day, and we still had dessert and candles as well.

        We may be underemployed, but we still make birthdays special :)

    • says

      My favorite birthday memmories are not the parties that my parents had (though I remember those), but they are the times that my parents did something special just with us.

    • Shannon says

      I’m so grateful for a friend who told me they gave their kids the option between a “friend party” or inviting one friend to do something special. My kids have usually opted for the outing with a friend over a party. We have 7 children, so we don’t even do the friend party option every year — it’s just too much. So we have special birthday years where that is an option. The in-between years we have a “family party” and invite extended family. It’s worked well for us. And as for an earlier comment about expecting a store bought cake, I personally have found very few store bought cakes that I like — we all prefer a homemade cake and have made some really fun ones that my kids and their friends have loved! I think creativity (even if it’s borrowed) is worth a lot of $$!

  11. says

    We’ve always done themed parties for family only. Family only still means up to nine boys in the same age range.
    For the past two years or so, though, my son has been invited to friend birthday parties at places: roller skating, bowling, the bounce place, the gymnastics place, etc. and he’s begging for one. A $300 birthday with all the kids from his class is definitely not in our budget. I’m trying to plan a compromise but haven’t come up with anything suitable so far.

    • Heather says

      Same here. At a recent bowling party, I went and inquired about prices, and was shocked at how reasonable it was. The bouncy places are $300 plus around here, but a bowling party was less than $100 depending on your numbers, etc. Can’t remember exactly how much. Anyway, you might want to check it out. Maybe it won’t be as bad as you think.

  12. Michelle says

    Last year, my husband’s grandmother bought our daughter this princess paper cut-out thing for her birthday. It was a big book with a bunch of paper cut-outs. This year we had a small party with some of her friends, and it was fun for my daughter and I to do the paper cut-outs to decorate. There were place mats, dolls, table runner, all sorts of great stuff and it only cost $2.50 (on clearance). Between that and the dollar store, we were all set…for cheap!

  13. Betsy says

    Such a wonderful perspective– thank you! We are bombarded by the materialism of our culture and to read a counter-cultural and wonderfully wise encouragement is so refreshing! I have four young boys and we have utilized what feels like every creative nerve on alllll (and I do mean “alllll”) sorts of parties. But, I believe they know that their Mom and Dad love them, celebrate God’s gift of life to them, and this is not contingent on the amount of $$ we spend. In fact, we have fun as a family thinking of fun activities to do at the party and shop together at places like Dollar Tree and Walmart for inexpensive but fun decorations. Highly recommend an invaluable resource for party theme ideas (cake decorating, games, etc.) for any mom– http://www.amazingmoms.com It provides super ideas for inexpensive ways to throw a fabulous party.

  14. Sara says

    Always be on the look out for favors if you know you are planning a party. The Family Dollar where my inlaws live was going out of business in Nov. and while we were there had everything marked 75-90% off. I shopped the dollar toy section and each kid got a whole goodie bag with candy and 2-3 toys and it cost me only $4 total for 15 kids. They had bubbles and squirt guns down to 5-10 cents each!
    I also found several girly Disney princess items on sale after Christmas at Walmart for 25 cents.

  15. Ashley - Embracing Beauty says

    I’m in the process of planning a fun 1 year party and I love these tips. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Noah says

    We’re doing a smaller party, but we have found that we can snag great party packages at silent auctions and such for charities. Last fall we were able to get one for a party at The Little Gym for $50! It’s normally $175! All I have to do is bring the cake, it’s perfect and cheap! We also have had my summer kid’s parties at a park, easier than home and no facility cost – plus a playground for the kids! And last year my middle son wanted to play baseball for his birthday. I was able to rent a local field for $10 from the park’s department, bought cheap water bottles as party favors, and we had treats after the “game”. Simple, cheap, and fun!

  17. says

    I look for party favor worthy items at after Christmas sales where they are clearing out stocking stuffers for 75% off or more. I have gotten, flavored lip balm, small toys, puzzles and more this way and I save them in my party tote stored in a closet.

  18. says

    Really good party tips! Some of our favorite birthday parties to attend have been the most simple. Sometimes parties at loud places with lots of people can get overwhelming for little kids (and parents too). And I love a simple homemade cake- such a treat.

  19. says

    These are great principles to follow! I love her tips!

    I planned my daughter’s second birthday party around two basic colors- pink and purple. You can read about all the decor and budget-friendly ideas here: http://gabrielsgoodtidings.blogspot.com/search/label/Pink%20and%20Purple%20Party

    And, I structured my son’s fourth birthday around his favorite thing- dinosaurs! Details of that party are posted here:
    http://gabrielsgoodtidings.blogspot.com/2011/10/dino-four-birthday-party-food.html
    and here:
    http://gabrielsgoodtidings.blogspot.com/2011/10/dino-four-birthday-party-decorations.html

    And today, I’m planning a Dora party for my daughter who will be three next month! I tried so very hard to get away from a licensed character, but she LOVES Dora so I’m trying to keep it budget friendly and not too crazy! Ideas welcome!

    • Amy says

      Amy,
      First off-love the name! Second, definitely hit up Nick jr for fun printables & crafts. They also have character-themed treats sometimes.

    • marie says

      Amy we had a Dora and Diego party for my b/g twins 3rd birthday. We made backpacks. Oriental trading company had white ones we died and then I used felt to make the face and a hot glue gun. We found many Dora itmes at the dollar tree. We had an adventure in our yard. Instead of making maps for each kid I took 3 pictures and put them on poster board. 1st was crocodile lake. We used our blow up pool and some plastic crocodiles my son had. Borrowed 3large stepping stones from a neighborhood. This was in the front yard. Side of house was lollipop trail. 2 bags of lollipops from dollar
      . Kids picked up as we went. My neighbor was swiper. Orange tshirt and blue gloves I got and a white mask I painted blue. Swingsrt in the back

      • marie says

        Swingset in the back was the tropical rainforest. We had some decorations on it. The backpacks and adventure were a huge hit. I also made a Dora cake and a Diego cake. The food was simple and themed. I made trail mix and gave it a name that tied in. I cut cheese and meat into animal shapes. It may seem like a lot of work but it wasn’t!

  20. Amy says

    We quit having parties for my son whem he was 10, I think. There were 3 other boys with basically the same birthday as him in his grade and we were all competing for party-goers. This can be a big problem when you choose a venue with a minimum number of guests you have to pay for. Instead, we had him pick 2 or 3 friends and did an outing. Between all of the daily deal sites and My Coke rewards, we’ve done go-kart racing, movies, & laser tag. Then we just come back to our house for cake and ice cream.

  21. Amy says

    For my daughter’s 5th birthday this year, we are doing a fairy princess theme. I bought a ton of stuff at Halo Heaven for under $20 about two months ago (I believe they are having a sale right now). I got wings and wands and some flowers and tutus. I also found some awesome invitations and gift bags on clearance at Target for 90% off. For party favors/crafts, I bought a crafts kit at Target to make your own princess crown $ crowns in a box for $1.47. I love finding cute girly stuff on clearance.

  22. says

    I love the idea of making activities do double duty! That is a great way to approach a party when many kids are involved. My friend threw a party for her son recently that was a costume themed party. All of the kids dressed up and had a blast. They never even noticed the minimal decorations.

    I’m currently planning my daughters 1st birthday party and that is such an easy time to go overboard, but I am reeling the expense in by planning ahead and having a budget I can live with.

  23. Marcelaine says

    I am not the sort of person that plans parties like this. I also have a large extended family and we think dessert at 6:30 (nothing else) is just fine! We have a nice time visiting and don’t need much else. You can make cookies in advance or buy a Costco cake for about $20 and then you’re set.

  24. Michelle says

    For my son’s recent 6th birthday party, I had planned a small family gathering as usual, but my husband was ill with bronchitis and my son was heartbroken at the thought of postponing his party. So, when a friend invited our circle of friends to a last minute park playdate a couple of days before my son’s birthday, we decided to improvise. We went to Sam’s Club and purchased cupcakes, ice cream bars, and drinks, used last years leftover tablecloth, and surprised all the kids at the park with an impromptu birthday party. No presents, no goodie bags, no stress, and my son LOVED it! My son didn’t miss the presents cause he knew that mom & dad and Papa & Grandma were going to give him gifts on his birthday. And just so you know that this wasn’t my idea, my son chose a party without gifts close to his birthday rather than a party with gifts a few weeks later.

  25. Akisha says

    Sara, I can not thank you enough for this post. God knows my needs because this came right on time! I’m planning my daughter’s third birthday party for the 29th of this month, and I really needed to see this. I feel overwhelmed, but this gives me some goods tips to go on. Thank you so much!

  26. says

    I love doing themed parties – make my own cake, stick with reusable plates and silverware, plain colored napkins and only splurge on themed dessert plates (the kids still get their Star Wars, Tinkerbell, etc). We tend to do most of our parties at home. The kids only get a ‘friend only’ party every few years – otherwise, we are sure to include a few friends and their families at the ‘family’ celebration.

  27. Jen says

    I really dislike the “gift bag” concept since no one I know really wants a bunch of little erasers and plastic toys anyway. This year, DD5 had a movie night Jammie party. Planning in advance, I found cute popcorn bowls at the thrift stores and bought paint pens on sale. The kids decorated (craft)
    , filled the bowls with popcorn, and took them home.

    I also use the weekly Michaels coupon to pick up a disposable helium tank for about $15. Helium balloons with streamers make the house so much more festive! I ended up spending $105 for a party with 7 kids; 5 over my budget.