The Rest

Frugal Party Planning

June 23, 2006

We’ve been partying at our house lately. This month we’ve hosted a graduation party for my daughter and a birthday party for my son. I tried to make my money go farther for these celebrations by planning ahead. Here’s some of what worked for me:


  • This wasn’t exactly intentional, but due to scheduling conflicts we found ourself hosting the graduation party fairly late in the season. Because of that all the graduation paper goods were 50% off at our party store. If you know you’re going to be hosting a graduation party next year, it would be worth it to hit up the clearance racks at the end of this year’s season.
  • One of the items we purchased was a mylar balloon bouquet. As the clerk was filling our balloons she told us to use a straw to deflate them when we were done and they could be re-filled for free the next time we used them. That was news to me! I put the deflated balloons in a gallon-sized ziploc bag and stored them with my wrapping paper. The trick will be remembering that I have them the next time I host a graduation party! (2010 update: I did remember and used them for this year’s graduation party!)
  • We have a large (I mean really large) family so our parties are big. Making everything myself is quite a stretch so I decided to buy the meat (bbq’d turkey and beef) and fill in with sides I made myself (see my (not quite) world famous deviled egg recipe). Also, I had family members offer to bring things which helped a lot too.


  • For my son’s birthday he really wanted a sleepover, which is hard on the nerves but pretty easy on the budget. Mostly the boys played air hockey and video games and the birthday boy’s gifts of game controllers and a Nintendo game doubled as entertainment. When it was time to settle them down, they watched DVDs that we already owned.
  • Here’s a little follow-up to my gift guilt post: The Nintendo game my son wanted is a couple of years old and no longer available so I had to resort to eBay to get a used one. He was absolutely pleased with it, despite the fact that it was used. I guess that gift guilt hangup is my own.
  • The morning after the sleepover I took the boys to a movie. Total cost of admission for 7 people was $9. That tip will deserve its own post but I can add here that I thought ahead and brought mini cans of pop, bags of Cheezits, and Jolly Ranchers into the movie with us.

Related info: Birthday Express Coupon Codes

  1. Good ideas! Parties can get expensive fast.

    A coworker told me today she gets a cake made each year for each of her daughters’ birthdays with the kid’s picture printed on the icing. “It’s not too expensive” she said. “Only about $65.”

    $65 for a four-year-old’s birthday cake?? I can only imagine the party favors. Holy crap.

    I splurged and bought my spouse a $25 cake this year and felt like I was really going overboard.

  2. Claire-$65! That is unreal. So far I’ve been making my kids cakes, and will continue to do so until they start asking for a store bought one. Then it will be walmart or the local grocery store!

    FCEO-Good party tips. I’m glad your son was happy with his “used” gift.

  3. My kids love the homemade cakes as we look online a couple months beforehand so they can choose one. The night before their birthday we have an "unveiling ceremony" of sorts when they get to see it. I love the "oohs and ahhhs" and we have all laughed when they haven't turned out so well. :)

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