Birthdays on a Budget

This whole budget thing is rather strange. Or perhaps it’s just the actual sticking to the budget that I find unusual.

Daniel’s birthday is this week so Tim and I went shopping this evening. We picked up Rachel at the YMCA on our way and brought her with us. We looked at all sorts of things and ended up purchasing some secret items. I can’t go into detail on the blog, of course, as Daniel is a loyal reader and his birthday surprises would be ruined.

Let sleeping boys lie ...
Daniel rests up in preparation for his birthday …

I will say that it was incredibly difficult staying within our budgeted amount. We are used to buying one substantial gift and then probably 5 to 8 additional presents. We are indulgent parents in this area. Or at least we used to be. Now we are financially wise and responsible parents.


Knowing how many toys are strewn about the house, shoved into corners and neglected, keeps me from being too sad. Our house is bursting at the seams with fun in all shapes and sizes. The children do not NEED additional toys. They enjoy variety and fresh entertainment, but they don’t need it at the cost of credit card debt.

Dan without a tan

Daniel, we love you so much! You are a wonderful boy, growing into a sweet young man. I’m sorry we have been so financially irresponsible over the years and modeled poor behavior to you and your siblings. We are excited about your birthday and eager to celebrate with you. Our love for you will NOT be measured in how much money we spend or how many toys we buy. Our love is priceless and immeasurable, there are not enough presents in the world to demonstrate our joy in being your parents.

Happy Birthday Week!!


P.S. How do you all plan birthdays on a budget? I have Joshua running the party itself and the siblings sharing in the present exchange, but I would LOVE some additional ideas.

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9 thoughts on “Birthdays on a Budget”

  1. Happy Birthday Daniel!
    I know you will have a fun day and be covered in love and affection from your family and friends and all will enjoy it all the more knowing there will be no interest to be paid later. :)
    OK, so maybe your parents will enjoy that more than you.

    Wish we could be there to celebrate with you and have fun and be silly and celebrate another year in the life of Daniel Edgren, good friend and beloved son of one of our favorite families!

    Happy Birthday!

  2. Birthdays are our favorite time to spoil our kids. It’s a lot easier to do so when there is only one to focus on.

    We try to buy them three things smaller type items that they’ve been wanting. This means that they have likely been asking and we’ve been denying them for some time, which makes the gift all the more sweeter to them.

    We also plan a special time out with the family. We’ve done ice skating, movies, horseback riding, bowling, state parks…. It’s always something that requires much of a day and that we don’t do often. I’m often able to collect coupons or make special arrangements for these times to bring the cost down a little.

    Believe it or not, I think that the kids feel even more special on their birthdays because of the budget. They have the sweet reward after waiting and we have the absolute pleasure of giving them what they want after having saved for it.

    Oh, also many years ago I took a cake decorating class for the sole purpose of being able to make their birthday cakes. I’m not that good, but I learned a few techniques that have helped. I do my best to make any kind of cake they want. We’ve had princesses, Thomas, Pooh, Elmo, cars, planes, PBS kids, horses, cats, even a replica of a Bitty Baby Cake….. It is so fun!!

    We love birthdays!!

  3. This is a great topic and I look forward to reading the responses! I am not creative so I need ideas. I like that you have another kid planning the party! I think life at your house sounds like a fun party all the time, so I know your birthdays must be very fun.

    Birthday parties here in Texas seem to be a world class event…people spend hundreds on entertainment, gifts, and favors. I am not joking — our neighbors go crazy with limosines, dinners out with all the visiting kids, wildlife shows with real, exotic creatures, etc. I am wondering when the kids will start to notice that ours are different.

    For birthdays at our house the birthday kids picks out what we eat for 3 meals a day (within reason — we won’t have pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as much as Ben would like that!) is $40-50 budget for gifts, and for the party we invite other families over for snacks and cake. I buy some bulk items like a big box of Taquitos from Costco and dipping sauce and we serve those, and lemonade and tea, both inexpensive. I have had snacks and cake at the neighborhood pool before, too, for birthdays. (Food idea, My friend puts a bunch of queso in her crock pot and people can dip chips in warmed queso!)

    My kids like to get cash lately or a Target card so they can pick out their own gifts, so that is mainly what we have been doing — one gift and some money. It seems like they prize the thing more if they have gone in and purchased it on their own.

  4. Happy Birthday Daniel-
    Our family loves you a ton! You have an amazing gift with children. I can’t wait to see how God uses you for his glory. I know he has great plans for your life. Your name is very special and I know you will live up to the integrity and closeness that Daniel had with our almighty God!
    Have a fun day being the center of attention!!!
    The Dilley Family

  5. Happy Birthday, Daniel!
    We just try to make our kids feel special that day- have a “Special Day”plate; birthday banner; get to pick meals, stay up later, etc. I try to pray aloud over the birthday girl, thanking God for traits and qualities we appreciate in her. I try to combine our gifts (cheap) with grandmas and aunts, etc., so it feels “bigger.” I make their cakes, have a few friends over for a party… they just want to play, so that is cheap! :)

  6. It must be “blog about birthday’s” week. I posted on this subject (specifically gift options) on Sunday. (

  7. We like to give activity type gifts – things the kids want to go/do, but are maybe a bit too pricey to come out of our regular budget. And, I like to do those types of things instead of one more toy or “thing” that has to be stored somewhere in the house. We like to give tickets to the water park for a fun day out, tickets to a concert that the kids might want to go to, etc.

  8. Happy birthday, dear Daniel. I am so glad to know you- I’m glad to be your Aunt Kate. I hope to see you sometime during your year of being 11 years old. I pray this will be a good year- a year where you are happy, where you KNOW you are loved and secure, and a year where you grow and learn and discover!!

    I love you alot. Aunt Kate

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