10 tips to take the Stress out of Planning a Birthday Party

Posted on: September 20th, 2013by

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Birthday parties are a fun and exciting way to celebrate your child’s special day but they don’t have to be stressful.


Our team of writers got together to brainstorm and came up with these 10 tips to take the stress out of planning a birthday party and to help you create a memorable party without breaking the bank. This article was originally published in The Creative Kids Club’s Birthday Guide, which you can download here.  You can also read our tips for Birthday Freebies and other discounts, to help save money on birthday fun.


  • Know your budget ahead of time to help guide your planning. Your budget will guide everything from your location to the number of guests you invite to the type of food. Knowing this ahead of time will help you map out a plan of attack  and prioritize the areas you feel are most important for a memorable day. A budget will also help you stay organized. One of our writers uses an outline that shows who she invited, what food she will need and how many party favors. This way she doesn’t purchase more then needed.


  • Pick a universal theme that all ages will love. Here are a few ideas to get you started. You can also read more details about various themes we’ve done with our kids in our upcoming birthday theme series.
    • Pirates & Princesses
    • Star Wars
    • Boot Camp
    • Rock Star
    • Dress Up


  • Buy in Bulk!  Buy supplies and decorations like balloons and paper goods in bulk at your local warehouse store like Costco,  BJ’s or Sam’s Club. Steer clear of Party City and other stores with a big markup on small packs of themed paper goods. If you buy plates in primary colors you can still match them to your theme and then save the leftovers for future parties.  Also, consider juice boxes and eliminate the need to buy paper cups. They can also be frozen so they are cold on party day and won’t be wasted if unopened.


  • Buy Balloons and Fill them on Party Day- I always buy large bags of helium quality balloons and then have a few of them filled on the day of the party at my local Shoprite floral department. They also fill them at the Dollar Store. Buying a helium tank will run about $1 per balloon and when you buy them at the place that fills them, they will cost more per balloon than if you buy a big bag.


Joey with Birthday Hat

  • Keep the favors simple, or just skip them. We know in some circles this may be a controversial tip. But, a lot of Moms I know are not fans. Like favors at weddings, they are one detail that planners put a lot of time and money into but often get left behind, discarded, or simply forgotten. We’ve seen kids sent home with cupcakes and aprons they decorated at the party, helium balloons that doubled as decorations, or cookies in a cute bag.


  • Get Crafty! Make your own decorations and party games. Use AC Moore coupons for supplies or even consider crafting as part of the entertainment. Have your kids help make the invitations and thank you notes.


  • Look for coupons and deals on food items and double check promotions. If you are having your party at a party place be sure to check their website for any last minute specials or offers they may have. One writer saved $200 on a party once by changing the time from 2pm to 12pm at a party venue.  Shoprite also gives you a small cake FREE, for your child’s first birthday.


  • Host the party in your back yard, or at a local playground. Check the websites of local parks to see if there are any requirements to reserve a pavilion. Many places have a low cost, sometimes even free, to town residents. 


  • Put on your chef hat and DIY! Make your own food, appetizer style or have the kids make their own muffin pizzas. Make your own cake or order a small cake to match your theme and then serve cupcakes. Plan the party for in between meal times, so sticking with just cake will be ok.


  • Keep it simple and your expectations in check. For my son’s 3rd birthday, we held a pirate play date at our house. I created cardboard hats and swords for all of the kids and a giant cardboard pirate ship and I envisioned the kids playing and pretending pirates to their hearts content. The problem was- no one wanted to play pirates that day. The ship sat untouched. In my mind, the day was a bust, but the set up was low cost and the kids had a blast playing with toys instead. It isn’t about what you want the kids to do at the party, it just matters that they have a good time.


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