Well, we just had our girls birthday party. Since our youngest just turned one, my wife wanted to invite a lot of people. And since our older one turned three, my wife wanted it to be fun.
We actually brainstormed for almost a couple weeks back in january/february deciding where to do it at.
First choice was actually Chuck E. Cheese, you know, where a kid can be a kid... It's more like where a parent is pressured into spending a lot more than I need to for a couple of flimsy pizzas and kids run wild in the arcade/game area. Everything would have been ready and set up for us. We just had to reserve the place, buy a bunch of pizzas, have pay for each kid (12.99 per kid).
We wanted to invite a bunch of friends... around 15-20 kids. At the rate of 12.99 that would come out around $195-$260, and that just the kids. Including parents and family and friends, that would come out to be another $100-$150 for food and drinks. Estimated costs around $300-$400 for the party with built in entertainment and area for eating.
We decided to go another route, trying to be more creative. We looked at different rec centers, community centers, places where we could bring our own food and have our own games. My wife thought of a pool party. We did get married at a Jewish Community Center and they had a pool.
We were really excited. This might actually work. We would have come full circle if we had it there. We contacted them during the Blizzard of 2010 asking if they could accommodate a pool party our size (60-100 people). Unfortunately we couldn't do it on a Saturday and since went to church on Sunday, it would have been really tight in terms of timing. So we went back to searching for other pools in Fairfax County.
In God's perfect timing and providence, we stumbled upon Cub Run Rec Center located about 5 minutes from our house. We had no idea it existed. In any case, they did parties and rented out the rooms and allowed us full reign in the pool area, charging us only for the people swimming and children under 4 were free.
We ended having a little bit over 30 people swimming but ended up counting only 25 people over 4 years old. They were charged $4 each along with the room rental at $90/hour. On my last count and to the best of my memory we had close to 60 people including adults and kids (we invited close to 100 people).
Our party started around 1:30 and finished at 4:30 came out to be $190. We spent about another $100 on food (catered by Costco), so overall we spent about $300. This was almost $100 savings to the high estimates for Chuck E. Cheese... AND the adults and kids probably would not have had as much fun over there and plus the rec center didn't have scary robots singing at us.
Overall, we were quite satisfied with the facilities and how the party turned out. Our friends and family were very generous. For next year, we are definitely going to recommend NO GIFTS. Our girls were showered with lots of new toys and clothes as well as money... half of them they either don't need or will never play with because we already have a ton of toys handed down to us from their older cousins and uncles/aunts and we just don't have room for them. The money is going to their college funds and hopefully we will not have any more "BIG" parties for a while.
If we do have a big party next year... let us start saving now :)
What can a budget do for you?