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Save some money, lower stress at birthday parties

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In this Tuesday, April 17, 2018 photo, John Wayne Nelson, center, and his wife, Celine, celebrate with daughter Alessia during a birthday party in San Antonio, Texas. John Wayne Nelson is the French author of a book called "How I Found My Dad in Texas: DNA Never Lies." Celebrating with them are American family members Karen Nelson, left, Shane Hall, second from right, and Stacie Nelson, at right. (Billy Calzada/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)
In this Tuesday, April 17, 2018 photo, John Wayne Nelson, center, and his wife, Celine, celebrate with daughter Alessia during a birthday party in San Antonio, Texas. John Wayne Nelson is the French author of a book called "How I Found My Dad in Texas: DNA Never Lies." Celebrating with them are American family members Karen Nelson, left, Shane Hall, second from right, and Stacie Nelson, at right. (Billy Calzada/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)
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It is true what they say: The days are long, but the years are short. I still cannot believe that we celebrated our little girl’s first birthday this month!

Of course, birthdays mean birthday parties, which means spending a ridiculous amount of money for a short celebration your child will never remember. For our first child, I went all out and did a big cookout celebration. This meant feeding a large number of people and spending a ton of money on a party that he had no idea was for him or even that it was a party for that matter.

This is definitely a first-time mom mistake.

This time around, I did things a little differently. Here are some tips that may help you avoid the same mistakes I did with my “first” birthday.

MORNING PARTIES

We had our little girl’s birthday party from 10 to 11 a.m., and let me tell you, it was life-changing. Let me start by saying she is 1. She did not know it was her birthday, and she didn’t know that we were even having a party. All she knew was her mama had a huge crown strapped to her head, and she got to eat cake.

Doing a morning party ensures that all your guests can come but still enjoy their Saturday afternoon. Doing a morning party also cuts down on your menu. Obviously, you can make it easy and do a brunch or you can do as we did and stick with a theme.

We did a “Doughnut Grow Up” theme where we served doughnuts, milk and coffee. Super cute and super easy. I mean, who doesn’t love a good doughnut? This way you’re not spending a ton of money on different snacks or feeding your guests a meal; keep in mind, it’s a birthday party — not a dinner party.

THE CAKE

The main event of any birthday party is the cake. During our two-week-long celebration, our sweet baby girl dove into three different cakes. She had her first at her smash cake photo shoot, the second one on her actual birthday and then at her actual party.

Cakes can be expensive, especially if you are getting those fancy cakes you see online or on TV. Try to decorate you own. Remember the child is going to tear that cake apart in about 0.25 seconds, so no one will remember what the “before” looked like after they see your little one with cake all over her face. That’s what they really came to the party for anyway.

Also, some grocery stores will do a free smash cake for your little one. As part of a reward system, you can submit a form four to six weeks before the birthday, and when the time comes you get a free smash cake. What’s better than free?

FAMILY HELP

Another way to help lighten the load is to let other family members help. For my first child’s party I did not let anyone help with the food or decorations. I was running around crazy up until party time trying to get everything on that day. So when a grandma asks what she can bring, give her something to bring!

My mother-in-law asked me on two occasions what she needed to bring, and so I delegated coffee, creamer and sugar to her. Believe it or not, we do not have a coffee pot and don’t drink coffee, so this was a huge help.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

The best thing to remember when it comes to birthday parties is to keep it simple. Your child is going to have fun regardless because she sees everyone, and everyone is loving on her. That is what it is really about.

I know with Pinterest it is tough on moms to outdo the next party; everyone feels the pressure these days. Just remember, any time or effort you put into a party, your child will appreciate, especially for children as young as mine.

Birthday parties do not have to be stressful or break the bank. Remember, your kids only care about two things: presents (you did not buy) and the cake.

Happy savings!

Chelsey Edens writes a monthly column about couponing and ways to save money.

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