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.