Birthday Parties on a Shoestring Budget

I live in a land where children are worshipped.  We Latinos are a fruitful people, and we enjoy any excuse to throw a good party!  Now the mother of three children, huge pachangas where my husband and I shell out anywhere between $500-$1,000 (not exaggerating, this is the norm here) are not feasible.  (And truly, not necessary in our books).

It seems every corner in our city has either a taqueria (taco stand) or a party place.  They seldom run out of business.  Below, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite ways we have celebrated our tots’ birthdays without breaking our budget!

  1.  Family Photos

The cultural norm is to host a monumental party for a little one’s first birthday. While I enjoy an introductory fiesta as much as the next person, my perspective is this:  they are not going to remember.  The celebration is more for the family and to preserve memories than it is for the actual child.

For my firstborn’s first birthday (Jack), we decided on family photos, a cake and  only immediate family members.  Our children have five grandparents that all live in the same city we do (they are extra blessed!), so we had them celebrate the occasion with us.  They wrote letters to Jack with their favorite memories of him from that first year.  It was special, and looking back on the photos and letters warms my heart.  We also had family members come in shifts, so as not to overwhelm our little tike, and it helped us plan around his nap time.

2.  3 is a Big Deal!

Because Jack is the oldest, he sets the precedent, in many ways, for his younger sisters.  Thus, 3rd birthday celebrations are huge in our house.  We invite extended family members and friends.  The idea is that this is a celebration they will remember.  If not, there are plenty of pictures.  Our theory has been proven true with our two oldest kids.  Ceci still talks about her Princess Party we hosted back in March!

3.  Keep Them Busy
As a former elementary school teacher, this is my motto when working with little ones.  With parties we host, I often implement stations to keep them entertained (on their own).  Favorites include:  sidewalk chalk, lego building centers, nail painting stations, Play-doh and coloring areas, and a cookie decorating table.  Most of these call for supplies we already have in our home (score!) and require little to no prep and maintenance (bonus!).

Plus, it’s fairly easy finding that older child or younger relative that doesn’t mind manning said areas to make sure things don’t get out of hand.

4.  Age=Number of Invited Friends

This is one of the best pieces of advice on birthday milestones I received from a dear friend.  She suggested that the number of friends a child invite be equal to the age they are turning.  For example, when our son turned 5, he invited 5 classmates to his social gathering.  Of course, we had more than 5 guests total, but it was a great strategy.  He insists on doing this for his 6th birthday celebration this year, too!  (This does not include their big 3rd birthday social gatherings).

5.  Pick a Theme and Stick to It!

This is my favorite thing to do in the way of planning.  With one son and two daughters, we
have had quite the array of party themes:  Thomas the Train, Princesses, Voltron (I blame my husband) and coming up:  Ninjago!  Pinterest has been a lifesaver when looking for creative ideas on a budget.

You can dress up, bake, order, and plan games and activities all around the main idea.

And there you have it, folks!  No need to break the bank in order to make special memories with your children.  What are some
ways you celebrate your little ones?

Cupcakes in the classroom are always a hit, too!