Children and Money

Tips to Hosting Meaningful Birthday Parties

Tips for Hosting Meaningful Birthday Budgets

Like many things these days, birthday parties have become huge, over-the-top affairs. There can be a lot of pressure to keep-up, which can put a huge strain on your budget. It doesn’t need to be that way either. There is no rule that a magical birthday party needs to break your bank. It does require a little ingenuity and most importantly — that you listen.

Kids certainly enjoy birthday parties with all the bells and whistles, but I often find they are less for the kids and more for the adults. In other words, you want to impress the other parents and possibly even make them jealous. Many are not even aware they do this. We can be blind to our “keep up” tendencies or desire to compete, especially when what we are doing is for someone love, like our children.

The Key to a Successful Birthday Party

There is nothing wrong with wanting to give your child a special birthday party, but you need to do it within your means. And never forget that everybody has different means and different values. For some parents, throwing an extravagant party is a priority to them, so they budget a significant portion of their means to doing so. Others will not. Neither is wrong. It goes back to using your money in accordance with your values and respecting that others have difference values.

Once you know what you can spend, it’s time to plan your party. Here is the most important step: Ask your kids what they want. Parents sometimes forget whom the party is for and create parties without their child’s input. Even if your child isn’t ready to manage the birthday budget, you still need to build the party around their desires, not yours.

You may discover they want may be a very simple, themed birthday party. Or they may want a birthday extravaganza that exceeds your budget. If that is the case, don’t automatically say no. Instead work together to find a way to mesh their desires with your budget. Challenge your child to get creative as I did with Lauren and work within your budget constraints. They can still create a magical birthday party.

Tips to Avoid an Over-The-Top Birthday Party

I found a great infographic to help you throw a guilt-free birthday party for your child.

How to avoid an over-the-top birthday party

Never Forget the Purpose Behind the Birthday Party

We throw birthday parties to honor the birthday girl or boy. It’s not to impress family members or friends. But to gather with loved ones to celebrate your child. Memories of the birthday party and presents fade over the time, but the love they receive from you and other guests will remain with them always. And last time I checked, love was free.

What has been the most extravagant birthday party you attended? What birthday request by your child surprised you the most?


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November 12, 2014  •  13 Comments  •  Children and Money

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  1. Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
    Remembering the purpose behind the party is the best way to stay grounded, I think. And if you can instill that in your kids early on, you're setting them up for success in the future. I babysat kids who were so spoiled and so greedy re gifts that it was such a turn off. I felt bad because these kids weren't older than 5 yrs old. I think instilling good values from the beginning is the best way to avoid this.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, November 13th, 2014
      Exactly, Natalie. Kids begin to feel entitled things and it's expectation that parents unfortunately create. It's definitely not a trait I want the girls to develop.
  2. Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
    Neat infographic Shannon! We're just starting to go through this now that our oldest is 7. After talking with her we learned that what she really wants is to have a friend or two over to spend the night. So, we do that and just make it fun for them. I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to do something over the top when it's often just something simple they want.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, November 13th, 2014
      I agree, John. Parents put a ton of unnecessary pressure on themselves. Kids don't always want or need the bells and whistles. It's why it's so important we ask them what they want. So even if they do want something big, we can figure out how to do "big" on a budget.
  3. Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
    We live in a community where there are certainly people who over indulge in birthday parties, and then other's who try to keep up with them. Fortunately for us, we don't feel the pressure and my son has no desire for these type of parties.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, November 13th, 2014
      I think parents feel a need to overindulge and keep up. It becomes a bit of competition, unfortunately. Glad you and Will don't fall prey to that mentality. :)
  4. Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
    This is a great thing to keep in mind. You may end up spending a lot of time, money, and energy putting together a party that is totally not in line with what your kid wants.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, November 13th, 2014
      Exactly, DC! And I think it happens more often than parents realize. Their kids may still enjoy the party, but they didn't necessarily want the big blowout. It's important to ask them what they want, so you can work together to make sure their birthday is truly magical, whatever your budget is.
  5. Thursday, November 13th, 2014
    I always consider what kids want in their bday party. But, I try to include my input what is best for them. Bday party happens once a year, and it's for them, not us. Thanks for reminding us, Shannon.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, November 13th, 2014
      Great, Jayson. You can absolutely provide input and guidance, but it's definitely important to get their opinion too, which it sounds like you do. :)
  6. Thursday, November 13th, 2014
    My kids had a joint birthday party this year and loved it! Their birthdays are only 6 weeks apart. They want to have a joint party again this year and I'm all for it. It was less wasteful and family members only had to give up one Saturday instead of two.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, November 13th, 2014
      I bet the girls had so much fun at their joint birthday party and it's so cute that they want to keep having them together. And it is nice when you don't have to give-up two weekends too. :)
  7. Friday, November 14th, 2014
    I think it's important to ask relatives to only give 1 gift. My family tends to over-shower everyone with gifts. I now know where my obsession with stuff began.
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    "As a Certified Financial Planner, it is my passion to help individuals and families build a healthy relationship with money. I look forward to helping you raise financially confident kids.” - Shannon Ryan