You already know when birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and other special dates are coming up, so plan and budget the celebrations in advance. Think about the important things: what are you celebrating? Where? Whom would you like to invite? What do you want to eat: snacks or a full meal? What activities or decorations will enhance the experience? Should there be gifts, and if so, what is appropriate to the occasion?
After you have a general idea of what you want, think about the ways you can save money. Can you use resources and materials you already have for decorations and supplies? Can you and your children prepare food items together, such as cake? Can you buy gifts in advance at sales, or make something yourself? Are there free activities you can include?
Think creatively! Consider hosting a potluck with friends and family to celebrate holidays. Some foods can be made as part of the festivities, like decorating mini pizzas, cookies, or cupcakes at a birthday party. Presents and decorations can be purchased ahead at after-holiday sales, like December 26 or February 15, and many decorations can be stored for reuse. (More things can be reused than people might think: the same Valentine’s card given each year for many years can become an even more meaningful expression of love than a new card!) Check dollar stores for decorations and favors instead of going to a party store. For activities, consider making your own piñata or a pin the tail on the donkey game with a picture, paper shapes, and tape.
Consider alternative gifts, such as giving to a charity in the recipient’s name or treating him or her to lunch. You can set up a day and time to volunteer together, write a special letter or poem, or create coupons for favors and tasks you will do for that person, such as lawn mowing or free baby-sitting. Look at library books about games for free group activities; some of them are even better with large groups. Or plan a field trip for a birthday event.