I get it. Throwing a party can be expensive, especially when your home isn't a venue option. I have compiled a list of inexpensive venues that can keep prices low.
When the weather permits, the park is a wonderful place to throw a birthday bash. This outdoor space provides plenty of room for plenty of guests – and best of all, it's cost effective or even free. Simply invite friends to meet you at the park of your choice, pack a picnic lunch and entertain the kids with some traditional outdoor games and activities.
If you want to use your park’s event facilities, such as a pavilion (in case of rainy weather), reserved picnic tables or bbq equipment, you may have to pay a rental fee. This flat-rate fee is likely to be much less costly than the per-person price an indoor venue might charge.
Glenfield Park- 115 Bloomfield Ave, Montclair, NJ 07042 (Birthday party room rental $100/ 3 hours)
Children’s Regatta Playground- Cherry Lane West Orange, NJ 07052 Pavilion rental $125/hour
Pool parties are a popular summer party choice. A rainy day, however, can wash out even a summertime pool party. Many locations with indoor swimming pools such as hotels, community centers, and fitness centers will rent their pool area for parties. Prices will vary according to dates and locations, but some hotels will allow you to invite as many guests to come and swim if you rent a room for one night. If the cost of the room is less than the cost to rent the pool area, this may be a fun way to save money on your party and treat the family on an overnight adventure.
Safe Splash Swim School- 95 Pompton Ave, Cedar Grove, NJ 07009 (Basic Party Package starts at $200)
If the cost of a local hotel suite is cheaper than that of a local party hall, consider renting the suite for a night and throwing your party there. Many hotels have discounted rates that aren't advertised during non-peak times. Inquire in person about acquiring one of these rates for rooms that would otherwise remain empty.
Tweens and teens especially will appreciate the “cool” factor of partying in a hotel room. And if they pack their sleeping bags, you can turn it into a slumber party.
When you want to throw a DIY, at-home style party, but your home won’t accommodate the guests, consider the rental hall in places like the community center, Veteran’s Hall or local Lodge club buildings. The fee to rent this type of party space is often a flat rate that is significantly cheaper than a banquet hall or catering facility. You will, however, need to provide your own food, paper goods and decorations, so calculate the costs of everything from the napkins and table coverings to the cake and clean up in your party budget.
A few ways to slash the budget on some typical party items include:
Bake your own sheet cake. Provide a cold buffet for dinner so you don’t have to purchase food-warming equipment, or calculate the cost of pizza delivery (a local pizzeria might provide a discounted price for a large order). Decorate the facility with simple balloons and streamers.Provide your own music: hook an iPod up to portable speakers, which can be purchased at discount stores for as little as five dollars. Another option is to plug your cell phone into the speakers and use live streaming music or internet radio app.
Train stations in some towns have a room available to rent for parties. Some banks also have a room in the basement they rent out for the same purpose. Ask around the neighborhood about places you might never have considered. Other places that may have party rooms include the firehouse, library, museum, church and borough hall.
Some of these community spaces use the fees to support their services, and some may not rent, but only donate their rooms for non-profits or fundraisers. You may be able to acquire one of these spaces by setting up a donation bin at your party and asking guests to bring an item for charity in lieu of a birthday gift.
Many museums offer free admission on school holidays. Schedule your party on one of those holidays and invite kids for a self-guided tour of the museum. Follow up with a budget-friendly lunch at a nearby pizzeria.
Glen Ridge Train Station- 224 Ridgewood Ave, Glen Ridge, NJ 07028 ($75 per hour)
Roseland Free Public Library Community Room- 20 Roseland Ave, Roseland, NJ 07068 ($75 per hour)
The cost per ticket for a typical admission to a movie theater doesn’t typically make the movies an inexpensive place to celebrate a birthday. Many cinemas, however, offer birthday party packages to make this choice more affordable. Some theaters even offer private screenings, but you have to be willing to throw your party in the morning before normal business hours. During the summertime, some theaters even show last year’s films for free, or for as little as one dollar per person, one morning a week.
Bow Tie Clairidge Cinemas- 486 Bloomfield Ave, Montclair, NJ 07042 (Packages start at $420 for a private theater rental)
AMC Wayne- 67 WILLOWBROOK BLVD, WAYNE, NJ 07470 (Private theaters packages start at $416.00)
Whether you just rent the lanes, rent the private room or go for one of the whole party packages offered by most bowling centers, the bowling birthday party usually ranks among the least expensive of children’s party venue options. The lower cost doesn’t mean less fun by any means, especially when you incorporate some of these bowling party ideas.
Eagle Rock Lanes- 424 Eagle Rock Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052 ($14 per bowler and includes pizza, party room, show rental and 1 hour of bowling)
Brunswick Zone Belleville Lanes - 679 Washington Ave, Belleville, NJ 07109 (Packages start at $17 per person)
Yes, the mall. Here is a place where you can host your guests for free and create an adventurous birthday celebration. The food court provides seating and a central meeting place. From there adult chaperons can escort small groups on an excursion such as a digital image scavenger hunt, or amazing race-themed party. Schedule the party between meal times and when the games are done, treat guests to inexpensive food court items such as pretzels or ice cream cones – or bring your own cupcakes.
If your guest list is small, a restaurant may work well for your celebration. Think pizzerias. You can invite kids to meet at the pizza place and treat them to lunch or dinner for the same budget you would spend to have the pies delivered to a party at home. By having the party at the pizza place, however, you don’t have to worry about cleaning up the mess.
Bring a few table games to keep kids entertained and ask the proprietor ahead of time if you can bring your own cake.
Other places to consider:
Ice cream parlors: ask guests to meet after dinnertime for a dessert party. Fast food restaurants: value menu options cut the cost of feeding a group. Pancake houses: host a breakfast party with inexpensive pancakes from the children’s menu. Chain restaurants (go for dessert only or ask about a discounted menu for a group).