Throwing a frugal birthday party

Sam’s birthday is next Monday. I could rent a place for $100, invite a dozen of his friends, overload them all with cake and ice cream, and bring home a dozen presents that Sam will probably forget about in a few weeks. But you all know me better than that.

Instead, I’m going to throw a frugal birthday party. Yes, money is tight, and that’s part of the reason. There’s more to it than that, though. I want my children to appreciate simple celebrations. I don’t want them to feel let down if their birthday party isn’t a 5-star social event, worthy of mention in the latest celebrity gossip magazine. If I through a huge birthday bash at the Go-Kart track for his 5th birthday, what will my son expect on his 16th birthday? I don’t want to get into that.

So instead of having a huge birthday bash for Sam, we’re going to have a small party here at home. He’s into NASCAR so that it will be a NASCAR party, of course. We invited three of his best buddies for the afternoon. I planned the party for 1:00, so I don’t have to serve a full meal. That will save a little money on food. I’ll make the cake (shaped like a race car track) and buy some ice cream and drinks.

I’m not even planning games, but that’s more about my son’s personality than being frugal. It’s not too hard to plan some frugal games. One year I threw a Veggie Tales party for Liz, and we played “Pin the Eyes on Bob.” It was a ton of fun, and all I had to buy were a couple of sheets of posterboard and some double-sided tape. Sam is not into organized games, though, so I’ll just let the boys play. If they need some redirection, I’ll start a game of Hullabaloo.

The treat bags I’m putting together are inexpensive, too. I’m not sure where the whole tradition of treat bags came from, and I’m not completely sure I agree with it. However, I don’t want to be so frugal that my kids’ friends think I’m cheap so that I will go with the flow here. I picked up some NASCAR stickers and flags on clearance at Target a while back. I’ll pick up some inexpensive craft bags and decorate them with the birthday guests’ names and stickers, put the NASCAR stuff in the bags, and voila! We’re good to go.

Lots of playing, cake and ice cream, and friends. Even though this will be an inexpensive party, I’m sure my son will have fond memories of his 5th birthday.

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