Ballin’ on a Budget

Tips and tricks for celebrating a birthday without breaking the bank

More stories from Julia Van Allen

Seeking Solace
May 13, 2019

It seems like almost everyone has a birthday — or at least knows someone who has a birthday — in the fall. October seems particularly ripe with birthday cake and giant balloons. The struggle of being able to celebrate someone’s birthday and purchase the perfect present for them, all while not breaking the bank, is one of monumental proportions. But I’ve collected a few tips and tricks to share so the festivities don’t have to suffer.

Celebrating a friend’s birthday on a budget is stressful. Whether that person is now old enough to legally partake in certain activities or just reaching adulthood, they’re going to want to spend their birthday surrounded by friends and having a good time. Kick off their birthday with the freebies that loyalty members can get from their favorite spots.

Many establishments will offer a free drink or dessert to the birthday person, and sometimes the wonderful folks working will even sing for them. Some of my favorite birthday deals include free coffee from Caribou and free dessert at Perkins or Applebees. It’s a great way to kick off a night of festivities. Plus it’s a calm way to celebrate a birthday if a crazy night just isn’t in the cards.

Those in Eau Claire know the mystical tales of the 192 ounce Magnum Mule offered by The District Company. This massive beverage is not for the faint of heart, or for a group of fewer than 5 people. Trust me, having more people is better if the Mule is the goal. As always, the Mule is completely free on someone’s birthday, which is a heck of a deal for the 21-and-over crowd.

And don’t forget about Groupon! Yes, I’m aware that many college students don’t have Groupon, but there are some deals on there. Never before have I wanted so badly to go to one of those painting classes where they provide wine.

Purchasing the perfect gift is a constant struggle until the moment they open it up and their face says it all. It can either be so right, or so incredibly wrong. My advice for finding the perfect gift for a friend on their birthday is to do a little reconnaissance leading up to the big day.

Find out what candy they like, if they have a hankering for fuzzy socks or if tickets for their favorite musician’s concert could be on the table. I recommend checking on ticket deal websites far in advance if concerts or sports events are the birthday person’s jam. Looking for deals sooner rather than later can definitely make a difference in what can be found within a budget.

Remember that spending a lot of money on a gift doesn’t mean that a person will enjoy it more than something that’s closer to the heart. If the birthday person is a close friend, find or make something that they’ll cherish for years to come. Gifts don’t need to be expensive to be meaningful.

Frugality doesn’t need to be boring. Finding cheap and fun things to do for a friend’s birthday can make all the difference between an amazing night and a hemorrhaging bank account.

Van Allen can be reached at [email protected].