Saving money on birthday parties is something all of us can do. All it takes is a good plan and some savvy shopping skills.

Saving money on birthday parties is something all of us can do. All it takes is a good plan and some savvy shopping skills. You really don't have to spend a lot to provide a fun and memorable party. Here are some of my favorite ways to save.

Find an inexpensive location for your party. Shop around to find a venue that is budget-friendly. Summer birthdays can be built around a swimming pool or cookout. Have a game plan for rain - take your guests to a movie at the dollar theater.

Make your own invitations on the computer or shop discount department stores such as Walmart or Target.

Keep the menu simple. Summer is the perfect time to grill hot dogs and hamburgers. Add chips, cake, ice cream and punch and you're set. Try baking your own cupcakes and let the kids top them with frosting and sprinkles.

Pick up inexpensive themed napkins, plates, cups and plastic cutlery at The Dollar Tree or discount party outlets.

Balloons go a long way when decorating! Buy a bouquet of helium and Mylar balloons at The Dollar Tree. If you have access to a helium tank, buy assorted balloons and fill them up yourself. You can find inexpensive banners and streamers at the dollar store too.

Make-and-take favors are great! Oriental Trading Co. has a lot of themed crafts that cost under 50 cents each. Watch for sales and free shipping promotions on www.orientaltrading.com.

Watch the sales and plan your shopping list accordingly. It pays to shop around for the best deals. The more organized you are, the more you can save.

For now, happy shopping!