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Your baseball star of a son is turning 10. And he wants to invite his whole team over for a backyard birthday bash. No problem. You’ve got this.
A few weeks before the party, you hit up the dollar store for baseball-themed cups, plates, balloons, streamers and invites. You preorder a cake and put money aside for pizzas. Done and done.
Then you decide to explore Pinterest.
Before you know it, you’re a crafting crazy-person. You begin running all over town searching for huge flower vases to fill with baseballs, Big League Chew and Cracker Jacks for all the kids, and red ribbon to sew "baseball stiches" on your new white tablecloths.
And your budget? Well, let’s just say you struck out.
Pinterest can be a great way to save money, but it can also lead you down the rabbit hole of party perfection. Suddenly, your kid’s birthday (or that baby shower or wedding reception you’re helping plan) becomes an exhibition of adorableness, instead of a celebration of your child (or your friend’s baby or marriage).
We like Pinterest. We do. But too much of a good thing is, well, expensive. So the next time you have a party to organize, use social media sparingly. Here are four tips for using Pinterest wisely:
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1. Make a budget.
Before you do anything else, decide on your budget. This is how much you’ll spend, period. So be sure it’s detailed: $50 for a gift; $100 for the decorations, games and party favors; and $100 for food. That’s $250 total. Stick to it!
2. Make a food plan.
Pinterest can save you money if you stay on budget. For example, instead of ordering a custom baseball cake for $50, hop on Pinterest and learn how to turn simple, vanilla-frosted cupcakes into a giant baseball for the low, low price of a box of cake mix, some white frosting, and a red tube of icing. That’ll save you at least $40!
You can also turn your fruit and veggie trays into mini baseball fields (use the dips as bases). And send the kids home with cheap goodies like red-and-white striped bags full of popcorn.
3. Make a decorating plan.
This is where Pinterest really shines. But it’s also where you can get caught up in comparisons. The key is to keep your budget front and center while you browse. If your decoration cash is $100, make the most of it. Simple paper lanterns can turn into hanging baseballs with the help of a red marker (you can usually snag these for about a dollar apiece).
And when it comes to party games, Pinterest can hook you up with fun ideas like a watermelon-seed spitting contest, "sliding practice" with a Slip ’N Slide (that you or a neighbor already own), and a baseball toss, where kids knock over a set of stacked cans. All-star fun!
Related: Pinterest isn’t the only culprit that can cause havoc to your budget. Here are 5 things Facebook can teach you about money.
4. Make yourself stop.
It’s easy to put your party blinders on and plan yourself silly. But when the cash runs out, you need to put the brakes on your spending. You’re doing this for your kid, remember? It’s not a competition to see if you can outdo all the mega-crafters on social media. Get off of Pinterest when you’ve reached your money max. Just stop.
There’s never been a better time to plan a budget-friendly party, thanks to social media. But it’s hard to resist the lure of Pinterest perfection. We want you to throw a great event, just not at the expense of your money goals.
Even if you don’t have the most pinnable party ever, you’ll still have a great celebration. Because this is not about you. This is about your kid. Keep it simple and fill the day with love. Everything else is just icing on the cupcakes.
Pinterest is an easy place to compare. But what you see on the outside doesn’t always reflect the truth of what’s really happening in people’s lives. Stop keeping up with the Joneses, and start taking control of your money (and your life!).