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Parents Spending Less on Kids' Birthday Parties

By bethanysanders |

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?


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4 thoughts on “Parents Spending Less on Kids' Birthday Parties

  1. Stephanie says:

    For our daughter’s first birthday we threw a big bash at a local lake/beach. We had a ton of food and the stress of getting everything together was crazy. (Total cost: about $300) For birthday #2 we rented a spot in the park ($60) and had cupcakes and juice boxes. Much more affordable and way less stressful. This year we’re doing away with parties altogether and will be using her birthday as an excuse to do a family trip to Disneyland. Many parents I know have begun cutting out parties altogether, or only doing them every other year…

  2. feefifoto says:

    Comments Sharing a party with a friend means sharing the cost of invitations, postage, location and treats.

  3. Kayt says:

    Our son had his first birthday in December. We bought a cake for $15, bought a felt banner to reuse every year for $6, and that was about it. We had family and friends over and played. I don’t think we’ll be doing ‘big’ parties at all, but once he’s old enough to have friends over, we might do a few friends and a couple of activities. My parents’ rule was we could have over as many friends as we were turning. So, when I turned ten, I could have ten friends over for the party. (We had a sleepover.)

  4. Juliet Jeske says:

    I have seen the bill for some children’s parties in NYC. $2000 is nothing. I have worked events that cost $10,000-$15,000 or more. I am not kidding. These parties are held by the 1% types but they are quite common, and even the event planners helping put them all together will often shake their heads at the expense. $1000 just for the cake is not unheard of, so the recession may only be hitting the vast majority of us, but those extremely rich are still throwing the big ones. I work as a children’s entertainer and I have seen it all.

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