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Kid’s Birthday Party Planning: How to Not Overspend and Overindulge

Cakes, bounce houses, invitations, goody bags, balloons, face painters, petting zoos…For parents, these things mean one thing: the sacred kid’s birthday party.

Like most parents, I want my child’s birthday to hold a special memory in their hearts and minds, well, forever. But as parents, have we overindulged and overspent when it comes to our child’s birthday? The answer: probably so.

Admittedly, I am “guilty as charged” when it comes to throwing “over the top” birthday parties. How can we get our birthday party planning under control?

Orange County father Jason Caringella recently planned his son’s eighth birthday party, but was faced with a tight budget, and the pressure to deliver an awesome party. Caringella carefully studied the interests of his son and friends, and came up with the idea of holding a party at a local public skatepark and adjacent beach.

A snapshot of a super stoked young boy and his party guests. Father Jason Caringella maxed out the fun, while keeping in the $100 budget.

A snapshot of a super stoked young birthday boy and his party guests. Father Jason Caringella maxed out the fun, while keeping in the $100 budget.

The result? A fun-filled day that cost less than $100 for the entire party. He urges parents: “Get creative, look outside the box. You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on parties. The resources are out there, you just have to find them.”

According to Christi Kreg, junior programs director at Renaissance ClubSport in Aliso Viejo, parents make the mistake of planning the party to please adults. “I’ve seen moms spend weeks preparing decorations and goody bags, but forget to plan activities that will keep kids engaged and having fun,” explains Kreg.

Kreg offers some simple guidelines for parents when it comes to planning your child’s special day:

1)  Focus on Fun. Offer activities that are simple, but have the highest “fun factor.”

2)  Simple Food. Don’t waste money on fancy food. Kids want something simple and familiar to eat, especially when they are in a new and exciting environment.

3)  Short and Sweet. A perfect party for children under age eight is around two hours. When parties go too long, kids get rambunctious and grown ups get stressed.

And so, the challenge is ahead for my next child’s birthday party – one that focuses on fun and simplicity. Remember those days?

Kristal Zacharias is the mother of two beautiful, vivacious girls, and wife of a hunky husband who works in the action sports industry. For the past 15 years, Kristal has worked for several Fortune 500 companies as a professional communicator. Follow her journey at Clearly Kristal or on Facebook and Twitter.




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