No More Spending Money on Big Birthday Parties


I had succumbed to the notion that bigger is better. The millions of Pinterest ideas were calling my name. The designer cakes looked irresistible.  The party favors needed to be something of substance.  Then I had a wake-up call. After tallying the total spent on our 3 year old’s birthday party, I realized I could not justify spending upwards of $500 for two hours of entertainment. So on June 28, 2015, I pledged to myself to downsize our birthday parties.

No More Spending Money on Big Birthday Parties | North Phoenix Moms Blog 001We attended plenty of wonderful parties where the kids could bounce around, paint masterpieces and eat until their bellies were content. I’m sure it was just what the birthday kid wanted and the parents were happy to give him or her the party they wished for, but I couldn’t shake the idea of putting the money we had spent on birthday parties to better use. Perhaps towards an experience that would still allow my child to feel the excitement that any child should feel at their birthday party.  I still wanted him to have and feel the love that comes from friends and family, from the best birthday wishes and hugs, and from the magic that presents inevitably bring.

As the year went on, we began planning for the experience. We decided to take on Disneyland for two days to celebrate our big 4 year old! The trip was filled with pure enjoyment, but don’t get me wrong, it was hardly inexpensive. Our son got to pick out one birthday souvenir at the park and the rest of the celebration was spent running from ride to ride and searching for his favorite characters.  When we returned from the trip, we did have our extended family over for pizza and cake on his actual birthday.  He, of course, had some presents to open and got all of the attention that a birthday kid gets at a “traditional” party. However, I can now say without hesitation, this will be our new standard for birthday celebrations.

No More Spending Money on Big Birthday Parties | North Phoenix Moms Blog 002While visiting Disneyland will not be an annual occurrence, we will explore destinations closer to home with much lower price tags in the future.  For instance, we may visit Flagstaff and picnic in a park up there. We may even decide that a celebration with a handful of friends at the splash pad is the way to go.  But whatever we decide, gone are the days of an extravagant party so I can satisfy the need to keep up with the Joneses.

No More Spending Money on Big Birthday Parties | North Phoenix Moms Blog 003

Disclaimer:  I should tell you that my son has a summer birthday, which is helpful because there isn’t a lot of discussion about parties happening at school. Also, I’ve had friends say that the only thing their child asked for was a party with friends, which was certainly not the case for my son.

However you choose to celebrate your child, just know there are plenty of options to make it an amazing day without breaking the bank. And you definitely won’t be alone if cut out a party all together!

Tell me – what low-cost birthday celebrations do you do?


  1. This was EXACTLY what I needed to read today! My little one turns 2 in August and we decided to do a low key, family-only celebration with minimal decorations, and spend the money we are saving on her play room instead. It’s hard when you see the adorable theme parties on Pinterest but the right decision for us! Once she gets older I plan on letting her decide what she wants for her birthday, and if she wants a big party with friends that will be in lieu of presents 🙂

  2. Yes, yes, yes! My kids are almost 5 and 2.5. We did a huge party for my oldest’s 1st and I swore to never do it again. We normally do a playdate with one or two friends at the Science Center, Children’s Museum, Aquarium, etc… and they eat whatever they want all day long. Then a couple of small-ish gifts but all in all, we never really seem to spend more than $150 -$200 when its all said and done. My kids don’t seem to mind. They talk about it for weeks.

    I have friends that take their young kids on 5 day trips to Disneyland every single year and seem to spend thousands. That is just ridiculous in my opinion. Kids under 5 rarely remember the trip anyway and that is setting the standard way too high. Oh well, that’s on them I guess!

  3. We actually did the same thing this year with our 8 year old! We had been downsizing the birthday parties each year. We started with having the parties at home and then downsizing the amount of people we invited. And this year, we surprised her with a Disneyland trip instead of a birthday celebration. It was amazing! Love the idea of local trips. I’ll have to incorporate that into our next “birthday adventure” celebration as well.

  4. We have started downsizing birthday parties this year as well! Though all the adorable Pinterest ideas are tempting, after 3 kids it’s just too much! For my son’s summer birthday, we used my mom’s pool at her house and limited our guest list. We did pizza and cake and spent maybe $150 for everything. A great inexpensive idea for a birthday party we attended in the spring took place at a neighborhood pocket park and they had an ice cream truck come. All the children and parents were able to pick out a treat from the truck and some went back for seconds so that the minimum purchase for the party could be reached. I’m pretty sure the total was around $75!

  5. Thank you!! I feel the same way. While kids might “ask” for a party, I can gurantee you they don’t ask for cute party favors, “themed” and labeled foods and a gourmet cake. Especially not any kid under 5. If parents just ordered a pizza and a sheet cake and gave the kids water balloons in the backyard they would have just as much fun!! Probably more, because the parents wouldn’t be so stressed and tired from preparing for the party! We don’t even buy my kids presents for Christmas. One, because they definitely don’t need any more toys, and because family will already give all the presents they could want.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here