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Parents Spending Less on Kids' Birthday Parties

450002_64514455My oldest daughter just turned seven, and the weeks before her birthday were filled with invitation angst.  She wanted a party at the local pottery painting place, but at the same time didn’t want to leave any friends out.

At $16 a kid, we told her she had two choices:  We could trim the guest list way back, or plan a different kind of party.

For us, a $200 birthday party would have been extravagant, while for others it’s $2,000.  But according to MSNBC, the recession has parents at every income level lowering the budget on their kids’ birthday parties.

One of the recession’s silver linings has been this mentality of getting back to basics … good for families, not so good for party planners.

“I think that parents for a while there were doing everything they could to make the birthday parties as amazing, and extravagant as possible,” Parents magazine executive editor Chandra Turner told MSNBC.  But a recent poll done by Parents found that 75 percent of parents spend less than $200 on birthday parties.

The solution to my daughter’s dilemma came to us one day during a snowstorm.  We’d have her party at a local snow hill, pass out dollar coins for hot chocolates, and bring our toboggan so that everyone could get a turn on the super-scary toboggan run. (Friend parties are always “no gift” parties at our house.)

We invited her entire first grade class, and wrote on the invitations that parents and siblings were welcome to stay and play, too.  It ended up being our best birthday party yet, and a great bonding experience for the families who came.

Total cost:  $30.

Later, we had immediate family over to our house for cake and presents, one of which was a gift certificate for my daughter and a friend to visit the pottery painting store.

Have you found yourself cutting back on birthday parties?  If so, what’s your best money saving tip?

Photo: sxc.hu

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