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This Mom Threw a Kids' Party for $3!!

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We typically spend hundreds on our kids' birthday parties ... but this mom spent under $4. Here's how.

Wendy Thomas

Mom of six Wendy Thomas knows a bargain when she sees one. In fact, she even writes a weekly column called Simple Thrift in her local paper. When her daughter's 9th birthday rolled around, she decided to see if she could throw a party for under ten dollars. (To help out other parents save cash, she even put a $5 limit on gifts.)

In her blog, she writes:

To prepare for the party, I set up the decorations from our "Birthday box". We have a large plastic storage box in which we keep all the streamers, Birthday decorations and the Birthday flag. You better believe that when that box comes out a celebration is near.

Our Ford SUV seats 8 people total (the number in our family) but as these kids were well under 12 years, we only had seats for a total of 6 kids. My daughter originally invited 5 children but one couldn't make it so we had a total of 5 kids at the party.

We started the party off by taking them to the theater at the local library to watch "Bolt". (The movie was free). The kids sat on the floor in a group and giggled at the film. I provided each child with a small treat-sized box of nerds to eat during the movie (world's best candy - it can take about 20 minutes to eat all those little pieces).

After the movie, I took the kids back to the house where we had homemade cupcakes and an ice cream cup. Once the food was cleared, they created heart foam frames using a kit I had purchased at 90 percent off after Valentine's Day. There were enough frames in the kit for each child to make 3 - 4.

My daughter was ecstatic. The parents were motivated to change their future parties and each child happily left the party with a small goodie bag holding a pencil, a bracelet, some candy, and a lip gloss ring. The party was the talk at the school on Monday (even some of the teachers were talking about what a good idea it was).

And guess what? For a party where the kids got to see a movie at a theater, got to have cake and ice cream and where they were also able to do a craft, the total cost came in at a budget pleasing $3.19.

Not bad, not bad at all.

We were in awe, but were also wondering how she spent only three dollars on goody bags, a craft, candy, cake mix, and ice cream.

We emailed her for clarification.

She told momlogic:

To figure out the total cost for the party, I divided amounts used by amounts made. For example, we only used 6 of 24 cupcakes for the party, 1/4 tup of frosting, and 6 ice cream cups.

As I have 6 children at home, we were able to use the remaining supplies as 3 nights worth of desserts for the kids and so it were factored into our weekly food budget. If you don't have other kids at home, you wouldn't get these results but even still, if you factored in the entire price of the frosting, cake, and ice cream, it would total under 6 dollars.

I spent a total of 90 cents on goodie bag materials by buying 9.00 worth of Valentine's party trinkets at 90% off.

The 3.19 that I quote above is the total price (not per child) that I paid for the party. (and we had a great time that even included singing to Camp Rock songs in the car ride down to the library).

What do you think of Wendy's budget party-planning tips and tricks? Wanna share some of your own? Join the party-planning group in the momlogic community.

next: Holly Says Amanda Peet is 'Fearmongering'
10 comments so far | Post a comment now
ashley April 2, 2009, 7:26 AM

Awesome!!! My 6 year old son is going to be 7 in a few weeks and last month he went to a party at Oklahoma Gold Gym. Totally awesome place and he became obsessed with it. So I called to find out how much a party is. $170.00 for 10 kids and then $10.00 for each additional kid!!!! That doesn’t include pizza, cake and ice cream. So, if we invited his class of 20 his 4 cubscout buddies and about 7 of his neighborhood friends that would cost us probably like $400.00!!! I told him the other day that we just can’t do that. So he decided he wants to have a cookout at the park and play baseball and water guns. That’s gonna be way cheaper. I won’t even have to decorate much because the Oklahoma wind will blow everything away. And he’s decided not to invite his whole class because he’s afraid his two arch enemies might show up. That’s right, my 1st grade son has 2 arch enemies, and one’s a girl!! So, while we won’t be spending under 4 dollars, we’re getting off way cheaper than we thought we would!!

Anonymous April 2, 2009, 8:09 AM

For my daughters 9th birthday, we rented HSM3 (which just came out the day before) for $4. Ordered pizza from Pizza Hut ( 3 medium pizzas for $5 each = $15. - plus we had one whole pizza left over that we ate as a family the next night) I bought crafts at the craft store - $10.00 and that’s what the girls took home instead of goodies bags (by the way I hate goodie bags so I don’t give them out, I wish other parents would stop it too because usually we just throw the stuff inside out) and then the girls sang songs on a karoake machine (new HM cd $5.99) and then because it was a sleepover, just free play at that. All the girls had a great time and it wasn’t that expensive.

itch April 2, 2009, 11:08 AM

I like this! People spend way too much on kids parties, and most goodie bags get thrown out anyways.

rugbymom April 2, 2009, 11:24 AM

How was the movie free?

Wendy  April 2, 2009, 2:24 PM

We have a great library the next town over and every Saturday in their theater (which is an auditorium with a large theater-like screen) they show current release movies for the kids for free.

My kids and I have been seeing new DVD release movies in this way all winter long.

On Friday nights they show movies more appropriate for older kids and adults. Sometimes I take my older kids to those movies.

In the summer, that same library shows movies on a large screen in a local park in the evening. If you want to have a fun family time, sit on a blanket with your kids outside and watch a movie. It’s like being at a Fourth of July celebration. Good times for all.

Again, another free entertainment option. There is lots of stuff to do out there, you just have to keep your eyes open.


Anna April 2, 2009, 4:03 PM

Great ideas. Way to go, mom!

Jen April 2, 2009, 5:42 PM

Great ideas! Parents get too crazy keep up with other parents.

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