College students are pros at cheap partying; all it really takes for a decent celebration is red cups, loud music, and cheap beer. But you’re classier than that. For something as special as a birthday, you deserve a lot more than beer pong. If you want to throw a great celebration without breaking the bank, here are some simple ideas that will help you stay in check:
1. Don’t go out: As much fun as a movie and dinner sounds, a night out with friends is the quickest way to drain your budget for the week. Consider having just one of the party events out on the town; grab a quick bite to eat at your favorite diner and pop in a movie at your friend’s apartment, for example. Better yet, keep everything low-key and stay on campus for the entire celebration.
2. Ask—or strongly encourage, rather—everyone to bring something edible to share. There’s no reason you should have to purchase chips and drinks for your own party if everyone contributes. If you mention that snacks will be provided, there may not even be a need to make dinner a party of the celebration, which is a huge slash in cost.
3. Keep it small: Invite only your closest friends, and keep expenses to a minimum. Make sure everyone knows it’s a plus-one or less event, and avoid inviting people you don’t trust to keep their cool all evening long.
4. Share with someone else: If someone you know has a birthday around yours (a friend, ideally), see if she’s willing to share the celebration. You can go splitsies on everything, from decorations and music to food and drinks.
5. Raid your school’s crafts supplies: Usually found in events planning building, you should be able to find tons of fun crafts supplies to decorate with: rolls upon rolls of colorful construction paper, markers, glue, even glitter. See if you can use some materials and have fun cutting out fun decorations for whatever theme you choose.
6. Skip the drinks: I know, for some of you this doesn’t sound like an option, but enjoying your friends’ company totally sober may not be a bad idea. Not only is alcohol is expensive, but it’s usually a surefire creator of drama. Keeping your party drinks-free may not be your typical college celebration, but it’s bound to keep everything safe.