It’s very important to my husband and me that we celebrate our kids birthdays well. Their lives are the moments that built our family and celebrating them is just one way for us to show our kids how special they are to us and to the people who matter most in their lives.
This doesn’t mean we let these parties get excessively expensive.
One of the easiest ways we’ve found to save money on our kids birthday parties is by hosting them at home – and you don’t have to have a huge sprawling space to do it in. We’ve very successfully planned all our kids parties in our two bedroom, one bath ranch, saving hundreds of dollars over the years.
With a little organization and creativity you CAN plan a birthday party at home (even if you have a small house).
Here are four party planning tips that have helped us create awesome birthday experiences for our kids.
1. Be realistic about the guest list.
There are obvious space limitations to consider when you plan a birthday party at home, but you will run into those at any venue. Consider what type of home party is most important to you and your child, and who you’d most like to attend.
- Are you inviting friends AND family?
- Will this be a drop off party, or are parents of kids invited as well?
- Is it gender neutral, or are you inviting ONLY girls or ONLY boys?
- Will you (and your guests) still have a good time if EVERYONE who was invited actually attends?
Nobody said you had to invite the whole kindergarten class, or every extended member on the family tree. Also, nobody said you have to have the same guest list next year. If you’re concerned about hurt feelings, have a conversation.
- This year, Johnny’s having a boys only party . . .
- We’re just celebrating with family this year . . .
I think sometimes we forget how far a little honesty can go.
2. Schedule time for party prep.
I think one of the biggest deterrents to hosting a birthday party at home, especially in a small home, is that it seems like a lot of mess in an already small space. Clearing off a little time on the calendar before and after the party to prep and clean-up will do wonders for your sanity.
The best gift I gave myself before my son’s last birthday was an empty weekend before to work on the party. My husband took the boys out and I spent the better part of the day tying up as many loose ends as I could. Because of that weekend, I was infinitely more prepared for the party, and a much happier person to be around in the process. My entire family was grateful.
If you don’t plan ahead, you’ll either have a party you’re not thrilled with or you’ll be up far too late trying to finish everything you’d planned the night before. Trust me, it’s not worth it.
3. Maximize the space you do have in your home.
Decide what areas of your home will be used for the party and maximize the space you have there. This may mean actually removing things out of a room, or just rearranging the space to make it more functional for a larger group of people.
We typically limit guests to our living room and downstairs play area. During the week leading up to the party, we hide things we won’t be using in the laundry room, closets, and second bedroom, keeping the necessary clutter of our lives behind closed doors and out of the way of our guests.
For us, this typically includes the vast majority of our homeschool set up, electric (portable) piano, my home office (aka the corner of the dining room table that holds my laptop and work projects), and the little odds and ends normally used to decorate our home. Anything that’s too large to hide (or too much of a pain to deal with) gets rearranged to hug the walls, opening up the floor space that’s always been there but that gets lost in the shuffle of everyday life.
4. Make a list (or two) and check it twice.
When you plan a party at home you very quickly learn you also have to LIVE there in the process. It helped me keep the various plates spinning for the party, and the rest of life in general, by making a very detailed to-do list for EVERYTHING that needed to happen for the party and dividing the work into different lists throughout my planner.
Take a minute to consider the party menu. Instead of just making a list of what I wanted to serve, I created a list of all the ingredients that needed to be purchased at Target, Mariano’s, and Costco. Those lists were then integrated into my planner for the days I would be stopping at those particular stores. I knew when everything needed to happen because I took time before the party to make some lists and think about how they could practically make their way into my reality.
There will be things that need to be accomplished two weeks out, one week out, and each day of the week leading up to a party. Finish up with a timeline of your pre-event details for the big day, and you will be ready. By dividing up tasks into date specific lists, we landed the weekend of our party in a very organized, very sane, dare I say happy place.
Which is what I think birthdays are supposed to be.
Even when you host them in a small home.
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