We wanted to create a first birthday party for our child that would be full of memories for all of the attendees and would make for a great home movie for him to watch later (as he is too young to remember it himself), but since he is only one, we didn’t want to have to spend a lot on it. How did we do it?
Our theme involved participation of all of the guests. Our theme for his first birthday party is “rubber ducks.” He loves bath time and he has several rubber ducks that he insists upon having in the bath with him. So, in order to build on this theme, we asked every guest to bring a couple rubber ducks with them as part of his birthday gift. When guests arrive, the birthday boy’s cousins will collect the ducks and place them all around the house as decorations. Then, at the end of the party (when he is covered in chocolate cake – another family tradition involves the first birthday celebrant to have his or her very own chocolate cake to mangle with their hands), we rinse the boy off, put him in the tub, and put all 50+ ducks in there with him at once as a memorable end to the party. The key here is that we were able to cut down on decorating costs by involving all of the attendees in a big part of the decoration.
We involved the grandparents extensively. We had them help pick out the theme, decide when and where to have it, and decide what decorations were useful. In the end, one set of grandparents agreed to host the party and get some of the decorations and food, while the other grandparents are procuring the cakes and the rest of the food and beverages. We didn’t ask for them to do this; they wanted to because we involved them in the planning stages. It became less expensive because they had great ideas and wanted to be involved.
We kept the invitation list fairly low. This enabled us to use a home as the location for the party, rather than having to use a public space that might have costs attached to it. Plus, it is a comfortable place for the boy – since there will be so much going on, it will be comforting for him to be in a familiar place surrounded by mostly familiar people.
We made our own foods (and some of our beverages). We wanted to include a simple meal with the party, so rather than having some food prepared, we made everything ourselves. It was simple food – grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and vegetables, some finger foods, and a potato salad – but it was filling and we prepared everything ourselves. This meant that our only cost was the raw cost of the food, which was much less than we were expecting.
We made our own decorations. We also made many of the decorations ourselves. We made streamers out of extra ribbon from the previous year’s Christmas wrapping and we made a banner out of leftover construction paper from an art project (we printed large letter outlines on them, cut the letters out, then tied the letters together with the ribbon and hung it up). We also printed some rubber duck outlines we found online on some pieces of yellow construction paper and cut those out as well. It turned out quite cute – and very inexpensive.
Children can often be quite expensive, but if you carefully plan your spending, you can quite often do wonderful things for little cost.