I really struggle with birthday parties for my kids. The expense, who to invite, whether to allow presents or not – I find it stressful. So when my eldest’s sixth birthday approached, I gave her the choice of having three friends to accompany her to a movie, with birthday cake at our house after, or a backyard party, again with just three friends of her choosing. She knew that if she chose the backyard party there would be more kids - the rest of the guests would be our friend’s children as we’d turn it into an adult BBQ as well, and many of our friends have three kids.
A movie birthday would have cost us $25 in admission, $35 in snacks, and $25 for food at home – around $85 total. Instead, she chose the backyard party. I ended up spending $200 total on Justin Bieber themed décor, burgers, hot dogs and a fruit tray, bevies (including beer for the grown-ups), and a piñata and candy (we handed out empty loot bags for the candy from the piñata). We had 12 adults enjoying themselves chatting on the patio in the sun while 19 kids ran amok in the yard for three hours.
When we tallying up the costs later, we were pleased with ourselves for managing to host that many people for $200. After all, our nearest indoor play centre charges $319 for two hours and just 8 kids! The local gymnastics studio packages start at $250 for 10 kids.
The piñata was one of the biggest expenses. It cost $20, plus another $30 in candy and junky toys to fill it. Next year, I plan to shop at Michaels Craft Store for the piñata treats. At my local Michaels they sell $2 grab bags filled with random out-of-season crafts and small toys. If I buy 3 or 4 of those throughout the year, and check the dollar store after Valentine’s Day for half-price erasers and pencils, I should be able to fill a piñata for under $10. I also plan to make our own piñata next year – a further savings, and a fun craft project for the kids.