Can Your 7 Year Old Plan Their Own Birthday?

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Can Your 7 Year Old Plan Their Own Birthday?

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Raise your hand if you've ever overspent on your child's birthday party.  My hand is up - guilty as charged.  With movie theatres, bowling alleys, and theme restaurants all offering convenient birthday packages it's easy to overspend.  The only planning required is a phone call; the only actions needed are to show up, and swipe the card.  

Last year, for my daughter's 7th birthday party we brought a group of 10 girls to a kids salon for a few hours of hair coloring, nail painting, dress up, and pizza.  Then, off to the movie theatre for more fun.  I don't even want to talk about the time we treated my son's entire school class, plus additional friends (over 30 boys in all) to a bowling party and pizza.  My wallet is still smarting from that one. 

My daughter turns eight on April 14th.  About six weeks ago, she started asking what we were going to do for her birthday.  I didn't know what to say.  We just couldn't afford the kind of extravagant birthday event that we have in the past. My princess deserves a memorable birthday, but I was at a loss as to what to do.  One day, my daughter said, "Daddy, can I show you something that I'd like to do for my birthday?"  She brought me to the computer and showed me some party games on the Webkinz website.  She also showed me an idea for a cake that she would love to have.   Then it dawned on me, I'll let her plan her own birthday party!  Crazy?  Maybe, maybe not. 

We started talking about what else she'd like to do for her party.  She wanted to play the games she had showed me, watch movies, and have a sleep over.  We discussed what movies she wanted to watch, and what snacks she wanted available during the movie.  Then, my budget mindset kicked in, and I started looking for ways to make the party as memorable, and as inexpensive as possible. 

  • Reduced guest list.  No double digit guests this year.  We told her she could pick her closest five friends.  Surprisingly, there was no negative reaction to this.  Huh, maybe kids really do like boundaries? 
  • Make our own cake.  I called her from the grocery store's baking isle and had her pick out the flavor of the cake - the choice was "Funfetti."   My wife and daughter had a great bonding experience making it together. 
  • Frozen pizza.  Ordering pizza can be expensive, especially if you start adding on breadsticks and desert pizza. Frozen pizza or make it yourself pizza kits are excellent inexpensive alternatives! 
  • Soft drinks.  When you need soft drinks for a group of people that will more than likely be consumed in one evening, 2-liter bottles are an inexpensive way to fulfill this need. 
  • Games.  No birthday party would be complete without games, which my daughter picked out. Between items lying around the house, and supplies my wife could get from her job as a preschool teacher (that would have been thrown out anyway), we got everything we needed without spending a penny.  The three of us had a blast putting the games together. 
  • Gift Bags.  There seems to be a trend towards giving birthday guests gift bags as they leave.  I've seen gift bags filled with candy, and I've seen some with movies and gift cards.  We decided to go a different route.  The guests would earn "gems" by playing the games during the party.  These gems can be used to "buy" items to put in their prize bag.  Items available to "buy" would be candy, granola bars, fruit snacks, and small 8oz cans of soda. 
  • Movies.  She wanted to watch "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," and "Alvin and the Chipmunks - the Squeakquel."  We owned one, and borrowed the other from a neighbor. No rental fees or due dates included! 

So, how did my daughter do with respect to cost of her birthday party?

3 Two liter bottles of soft drinks $2.36
Gift Bags, 8oz soft drinks, granola bars, fruit snacks, candy $11.92
3 Frozen Cheese Pizzas $6.00
Chips/snacks for movies $7.24
Pancake mix and syrup for breakfast $3.45
Cake Mix $0.88
Food Coloring for Homemade frosting $2.36
Games       FREE
Movies       FREE
Total: $34.31

This is a fraction of what we had spent for her birthday party's in previous years, so I'd say she did pretty well. 

We had her party on April 9th.  The night before, after an evening of cake baking, and birthday party game preparation, my daughter was unable to sleep because she was so excited.  It turns out a 7 year old can indeed plan a birthday party on a budget.  Maybe I'll have her help out with grocery shopping next week! 

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  • Thanks so much for sharing this.  My son's 9th birthday is in June and I am going to use these ideas.  I love the sleepover with movies and games.

  • Thanks for your comment, Landow!  I'm pleased to report that the Birthday Party was a HUGE success.  The kids had an awesome time..and even I thought the chocolate chip pancakes in the morning were awesome!

  • i will be debt free 2yr 3month happy  care one help out debt

  • Thanks for your comment, janice2345!  I wish you continued success on your journey to become debt free!

  • So, we made a deal with my son. He could get a phone, but he has to pay the five dollars a month. We figured this would be a good opportunity to teach him that working hard allows him to have extra privileges.

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