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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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frugal party planning save on birthdays showers and other events

My sweet friend Amy loves to save money AND throw a great party. Her baby girl Adelyn turned one a few weeks ago and it was a big affair. There were tons of little details, but she did it all on a budget, so I asked her to share her tips with us on frugal party planning. Here are lots of great ideas to get you started if you have a big celebration coming up, but not a budget to match!

Start Early

About 4 months before our little girl’s party, I started brainstorming ideas. Once we decided on a theme and colors, I began making a list and watching for sales and coupons on items we needed.

Choose a theme

My biggest tip for a child’s birthday is to avoid choosing your theme around a licensed character. If you want Hello Kitty or Superman, you’ll pay a pretty penny for licensed tableware, decorations and other items.  For our little girl, we chose a button theme because she loves pointing them out on everyone’s clothes. Think of something meaningful that you can work with!

Button Cupcakes

Pick a color scheme

Even if decorations or favors don’t exactly revolve around your theme, as long as they fit in the color scheme, they will work. By settling on a theme and colors early, you can start to gather items as you find them on sale!  Our colors were dark pastels (orange, green, teal, yellow and pink). I bought inexpensive Solo plates in a fun teal flower pattern that matched great and were almost free with coupons! Having two to five colors that coordinate will go a long way toward making your party feel cohesive and purposeful.

Decide on a Menu

I enjoy cooking and baking, so almost all of the food for the party was homemade. We recruited family members to help out in the kitchen and bought most of the fresh ingredients at a farmers market to save money. I carefully watched the weekly ads here on Southern Savers for non-perishable and longer shelf-life items, so I paid a fraction of the price by not waiting until the week of the party.

Veggie Cupes

DIY Favors
By watching after holiday sales at Target, we picked up a variety of little items for goodie bags and 70-90% off. After Valentine’s Day they had little cupcake shaped crayons for 20¢. I had my husband draw up a quick coloring page and for just a few cents these made fun favors.

Use what you have

A neighbor had some extra slate roof tiles that she was trying to get rid of. I grabbed one, a $2 spool of twine and some colorful chalk to make a unique birthday sign:

Now we have a great functional chalkboard that can be used for menus, art or anything else we want. The key is to get creative with items you already have. If you really need to buy a larger item, make sure it can be repurposed after the party!

Take advantage of daily deals and online codes

When it comes to daily deal sites, there can be a lot of fine print to wade through, but there are also some gems!  Take advantage of photo, stationary or even cupcake deals to make planning your party a little cheaper.

I used a huge coupon code for Minted.com to create a personalized banner for the party. It was one of the first items I purchased and it helped determine the colors and direction for the decor. It was a big hit!

Thanks for sharing, Amy!  Wasn’t this a great party?  My favorite detail were the little button cookies. Do you have any tips for party planning on a budget?

    • Summerville Mom of 6

      You can actually do a character theme like Hello Kitty or Spiderman on a budget by just buying a couple character-themed things like a giant balloon or banner. Then use the character’s colors for everything from the tablecloths to the party favors. As long as you stick with the same color scheme, it works. And no one notices that the plate covered in cake is plain purple and not Dora. See?

      • mrs b

        Good idea–also, along the idea of the page for coloring, either find a printable online (especially if it’s a Nickelodeon, Disney or Sesame St character), or buying one coloring book and making copies for all of the kids.

      • Lucy2778

        I completely agree, that’s what I always do for my kiddos. A button theme party is unique and cool for a first birthday, but when your kids are older, and your son tells you 11 months before his birthday that he wants a Transformers party, then you have no choice. I also buy a couple of themed items (on sale with a coupon) and the rest are dollar store solids that match the theme. I also shop in advance, and actually throughout the year I pick up things for favors, buy toys for other kids birthdays when kids are invited, etc. One more suggestion on invitations – instead of buying them or printing your own, you can find many custom invitation sites that will create any themed custom invitation and send you a digital file… All you do is upload it to any photo lab and pay pennies for prints.

      • Lmtjs

        I do the same thing, next week is my daughter’s 3rd birthday and I am doing Disney princess party. Just using a few princess items, and everything else in pink. I also hit the after Valenties Day and after Easter sales to stock up on pink, red, decorations. I think next year I am doing Despicable Me as a theme so I will stock up on any yellow Easter decorations I can find cheaply.

    • love the veggie cups

    • Shenna

      Pintrest! I used a lot of ideas there. My daughter’s 1st birthday had a cupcake theme with yellow and pink as the colors. I started in December….9 months before her 1st birthday.LOL I used Easter to collect many yellow and pink items and favors.

    • Check with your local museums for great party deals. Our local Discovery Center offers a FREE birthday party with any $50 family membership. Admission for 20 guests, a party room, a planetarium show all for free. Plus they have a Lego building area so our party favors are Legos mini-kits bought at Target’s Valentines clearance. Cheap, easy, and educational.

    • mom

      I love the button detail too. so cute, does she told you how to make it? can she share with us?? also the veggie cups are cool. she is a genius!!!

    • Amber Broda

      So adorable! Any chance you would like to sell the birthday banner? My little Neice shares your daughter’s name and will turn 1 in the Fall.

    • alicia

      I have been able to stock up on so many great birthday party deals b/c of coupons and rewards programs i learned about on southern savers! My son’s first birthday is next month and we are having his party at the volunteer fire station (tip: many volunteer fire stations have a room where you can host a party FOR FREE. fire fighters are willing and able to show party guests around the station, how the trucks work, and how to dress in full turn-out gear).We used our pampers and my coke rewards points to get free photo invitations made on shutterfly. I was able to stock up on valentine’s clearance to get a ton of red party necessities. I agree with the point made earlier- you can buy one or two “character” pieces then just add on (cheaper) coordinating solids or patterns. I used a 20% ac moore coupon to get little stuffed Dalmations for $0.80 ea- party favors!