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5 Steps for Throwing a Killer Birthday Party on the Cheap

I recently had my milestone 40th birthday! My wife loves to throw a party, so she was asking me for weeks how I wanted to celebrate.

I'm not usually one for making a big deal out of birthdays, but this one felt like it deserved some recognition. I wanted to have a great time, but I didn't want the costs to get out of hand. In my mind, the most important thing was to get my closest friends and family together to share in my milestone.

My wife and I worked up the following plan to maximize our fun — but minimize our costs.

1. Take advantage of used decorations

I'd purchased some specialty decorations for my wife's 40th birthday party last summer. After the party, I carefully tucked them away to use again for my party. We purchased a few additional decorations, but the cost was very minimal. Once my party was over, we again carefully packed away the decorations; we'll offer them to some of our friends that will hit the same milestone in 2014.

2. Buy some generic birthday decorations

Retailers jack up the price of any decoration that relates to a specific birthday. Some of our decorations specifically mentioned that it was for a 40th birthday, and some just generically said "Happy Birthday." The latter were much cheaper.

3. Start the party later

I love to cook, grill, and smoke meats, so I'm always tempted to invite people over for a full meal and make something awesome for my guests to eat. When you're talking about 30-40 guests, however, the cost becomes way too high. We planned a start time of 7 pm so that we could provide light hors d'oeuvres and keep the food costs down.

4. Host a semi-BYOB

I know what most of my friends like to drink, but adding up the costs of getting the cocktail basics for a large group of people is expensive.

I couldn't quite go completely BYOB for my 40th birthday, so we indicated in the invitation that we would supply some beer, wine, and soft drinks — followed by a gentle statement that they were more than welcome to bring their favorite beverage if they were so inclined.

5. Use games for entertainment

It's great to catch up and visit with my favorite people, but to me, the best parties have some sort of game play for entertainment. At my party, we played a few rounds of Catch Phrase, followed by Cards Against Humanity.

I had an out-of-this-world time at my birthday party. I caught up with old friends, shared laughs with everyone, and made memories that'll last the rest of my life. I woke up the next morning ready to start the next decade of my life — and thanks to these five steps, neither my wallet nor I had a hangover.

Written by Travis Pizel for MoneyNing and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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