Birthday Bargains

As fall draws near, so does my daughter’s birthday which brings to mind my strategies for saving money but still throwing a bash that looks like it cost a lot of cash.

As usual, the key is to start early. The more time you have to hunt, the better chance you have of taking advantage of deals like free shipping when they are offered vs. paying fourteen dollars for a three dollar item because you have to pay the express shipping the night before the party. My son’s birthday is in the spring, so as crazy as it sounds I try to pin my daughter down to a theme then so I can order all the supplies for both parties at once and get free shipping from Oriental trading company. Usually they offer free shipping on orders of over forty dollars. Right now, they are offering free shipping on ALL orders so don’t delay, I don’t know how much longer this will last.

If your kiddo tends to change their mind a lot you can still take advantage of free shipping by having them pick a color rather than a theme. The plain solid colored items such as plates and napkins are usually cheaper than the licensed character items anyway. So buy most of your items in the kiddo’s favorite color and then at the last minute you can have them pick their character and buy just one or two plates, cups, etc. to give the party it’s theme.

Printing your own items is another great way to save money and bring the illusion of a theme to your party. A lot of times you can find images for free by searching ‘free coloring pages’ and printing them out. You may have to add the color yourself though, so be prepared. Sites like Etsy–cGBWA9XaJ79nux1a8z7FoxxoCivkQAvD_BwE_k_&utm_content=go_227553629_16342445429_491600230972_aud-459688891835:kwd-1818581752_c_&utm_custom2=227553629&gclid=CjwKCAjw95yJBhAgEiwAmRrutDzOCDiMj0OdCVtcm7002fFrWEGBr–cGBWA9XaJ79nux1a8z7FoxxoCivkQAvD_BwE will often offer ‘do it yourself’ packages where for a small price you will get the files that you can personalize and print out to customize your own hats, candy bars, plates, water bottles, etc.

Zazzle is another site where you can personalize basically anything. I belong to Zazzle Black which for a small yearly free you get free shipping. If you order a lot of invitations, pre printed thankyou notes, or greeting cards from here like I do it is well worth the cost. You can also customize paper plates, signs, and napkins as well.

Starting early also has the advantages of allowing you comparison shop for the best prices on a popular item. For example, my son wanted Paw Patrol for his party so I compared prices at all my favorite haunts: Party city, Walmart, Oriental trading company, birthday direct, and so I could buy the lowest price items from each place. I also make it a habit to stalk the clearance isle at Walmart and the dollar bins at Target because I routinely find overstock of popular character items there, ie. paw patrol invitations for a dollar.

For Balloons I tend to find the best deals online. Then I purchase a mini helium tank from Walmart and circumvent the outrageous filling fees that Party City charges for filling balloons you did not buy from their store.

For party favors, I seem to have the best luck with Oriental trading company as long as I can score the free shipping. I forgot to mention that sometimes you can find online coupons for free shipping or percentages off your purchase on a myriad of sites like for example. To find these coupons simply search ‘free online coupons’ and a bunch of them will pop up. Just be wary of any sites that want you to pay for the coupons or ask you to fill out sensitive personal information- SCAM ALERT!

If you want a piñata and are crafty and want something fun and messy for you and the kids to do then make your own with paper Mache and a balloon! We did, it was super messy but free is a perfect price tag for something that’s going to get destroyed anyway. (here’s the instructions)

For gifts I usually scour TJ Maxx for overstock popular toys or for popular toys left over from last year. I also have an visa that earns points for stuff you would buy anyway like gas and groceries. I save up the points and then use them to buy the outrageously priced stuff that my daughter sees on Youtube videos and then has to have.

Let’s talk cake next. I am NOT a baker. If I can’t pawn a free cake off my sister in law (owner of Kate’s Kupcakes on Facebook- AMAZING! ) I go boxed mix and cupcakes all the way. Cupcakes are so cheap and easy to make even I can’t screw them up and themed or colorful cupcake wrappers give the illusion of a fancy themed dessert. Throw in a themed pic on top and viola! I also like that you don’t have to spend time cutting a big cake and cupcakes also minimize handling of the food for decreased ‘germ sharing’ in this Covid-era.

Last, but not least- food! I have tried cooking my own to save money. In a word, DON’T. Unless you are super anti-social and you don’t LIKE talking to your guests go for catering. Jewel Grocery store and Portillos both offer decent, reasonably priced catering. Also, look out for those annoying flyers that come in the mail on Thursdays. Some of them include coupons and special offers for local restaurants, particularly ones that specialize in catering. You can also try searching ‘restaurant coupons’ to find them faster as well. I also save money by subbing in off brand chips and pop for brand name ones. Turns out kids don’t care if it’s a Dorito or a ‘cheesy triangle nacho chip’. Psst, they taste the same!

With all these tips in mind, have fun ‘celebrating with savings’!





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