Another Birthday…Already?? Making Memories Without Going Crazy

“When I was a kid…”

We have all said those words since having our own kids. My birthday parties in the 1970s and early 1980s seemed awesome – several friends came over to my house for some games and cake and ice cream. And I got presents – especially awesome in 1977 when the original Star Wars came out. The action figures made sweet gifts!

These parody action figures were created by Walt Crowley from Rancho Obi-Wan.

These parody action figures were created by Walt Crowley from Rancho Obi-Wan.

Now, many birthdays have become expensive two hour events at party factories – cycling in group after group for 75 minutes of play and 45 minutes of cardboard pizza, soda, cake and presents. All for a mere $300.


Some of you may have pockets full of Benjamins, but most of us try to watch our money closely.

So, how do we make awesome birthdays without destroying the budget and spending another two-hour block at the bounce house gymnasium?

1 – Ask your kid for two or three options.  You never know what they will come up with as options, and you may be pleasantly surprised they want a simple swim/video game/sleepover party at your home.  Granted, those can be exhausting, but make great memories.

2 – Budget for it…even if it is at a party factory.  No matter what, build birthday parties and gifts into your personal budget.  If you do not have a personal budget, set a goal to create one.  Little things at parties can become quite expensive…one time I tried to make fancy gift bags for 15 kids and just about went broke buying cheap plastic crap.

3 – Come up with a DIY party at home.  So, pretend your kid does not come up with any great or realistic ideas.  Make up your own themed party.  For boys – nothing beats water balloon and shaving cream fights in the back yard (or the yard of a good friend or relative).  For girls – buy some cake mix and have them do cupcake decorations and then rent a karaoke machine.  This process also helps you learn more about your kid’s interests.

4 – Plan a one-on-one event.  One year my son kept asking me to take him fishing.  So, I surprised him with a fishing trip and told him it would replace his 8th birthday party.  We have some incredible memories and he never missed having a party – instead we both got some amazing quality time and some great fish stories to tell.  This could end up costing some money, so do not forget to budget for it.

This year, we celebrated my son’s 11th birthday with family in the mountains and had a small gathering the following weekend with a couple of his buddies.  Again, we shared many memories from both events and managed to keep spending under control.

What unique spin on the usual birthday party do you want to try this year?

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