It’s your baby’s first birthday and you are so excited that you want to invite the world to celebrate this momentous occasion with you. However, you don’t have the money to throw a big expensive bash. No worries, you can still throw a smashing first birthday party on a budget.
Avoid serving meals. Many times, first birthday parties are attended mainly by family and friends. You have two options here. If your family traditionally gets together for birthday parties and shares a meal as well as cake you can make it a potluck. Ask close family members to each bring a different dish and let them know you’ll supply the cake and drinks. The other option is to hold the party at a time when a meal is not expected. Have the party at 10 in the morning or at 2 or 3 in the afternoon. People won’t be expecting a full meal at these times. If the party runs into a meal time then everyone can decide if they want to chip in together and order pizza or some other form of takeout to keep the party going. Or they may just head home to eat. Either way, you don’t have to foot the bill to feed everyone a meal.
Look for ways to save money. Buy your paper products in a solid color instead of buying products with cartoon characters or designs. Your one year old isn’t going to know the difference. Tell everyone that the party colors are based on the nursery colors and go from there. If you do want a theme, choose a simple one like rubber duckies or nursery rhymes. You can print out a few pictures from your computer to carry the theme through.
Make your own decorations. Hang big tissue paper Pom-Poms at various points around the party space or use them to decorate the food table. These are inexpensive to make and have a real wow factor. Choose a lovely color for the table cloth and pick it up at a dollar store.
Make your own cake. Buying a cake from a bakery is going to be much more expensive than making it yourself. You can also make your own cupcakes. Cupcakes are simple to make and they can be topped off with a paper topper to match the party theme. Print out small pictures of whatever the theme is and then punch or cut out the pictures. Glue or tape them onto a toothpick. Stick the toothpicks into the cupcakes. Put the cupcakes on a pretty cake stand or tray and you are ready to go.
Make your own party punch. For drinks you can mix up a simple punch using a generic 2 liter bottle of Ginger Ale, a carton of sherbet in a flavor that matches the color scheme, and a big container of frozen lemonade. Kids and adults alike love this punch. Another option is to serve pitchers of lemonade and cucumber water. These are refreshing and stylish. Adding slices of lemons in the lemonade will make it seem more like party fare.
Play simple games. If you want to do games with the kids at the party go with tried and true games like musical chairs, hot potato, and freeze dancing. Prizes from the dollar store or a box of theater candy can also work well.
Recycle for wrapping paper. Wrap presents in the comic section from the newspaper instead of fancy wrapping paper. Or recycle a gift bag that you’ve received in the past. Another way to stay thrifty and environmentally friendly is to make your own fabric gift bags for use year after year. Use any fabric that you might have around the house.
Scale back on party favors. Party favors are a growing trend, but mostly for older children at kids’ only parties. You won’t be breaking any major society rules if you don’t pass out party favors at a first birthday party. If you want to offer something, try personalizing some candy bars. You can print out your own message of, “Thanks for Coming to Johnny’s First Birthday”. Then using double sided tape, attach it as a belly band around the existing candy bar wrapper.
E-mail invitations. To avoid the cost of postage for mailing out a bunch of invitations utilize the many different e-mail invitation sites. Or make your own invitations and hand deliver them.
As you plan your child’s first birthday, keep everything in perspective and realize that your child is only one and will have many more birthdays to come. Let him have fun running around or making a mess with a cupcake. Make sure that you take lots of pictures or ask a friend to take them so you can be part of the fun.