Is your child’s birthday party on the horizon? It’s easy with Pinterest perfect images of birthday parties and social media feeds to feel like you need to throw an over-the-top party for your child, but party costs add up fast and dropping a pile of money on a third birthday or even, 10th, isn’t practical, or often, in your budget. Here are 15 ways to throw a child’s birthday party on a budget without breaking the bank!
My daughter went to a birthday party last summer which was beautifully decorated and even had a real-life pony (made into a bright pink unicorn) show up and give the girls unicorn rides. There was a custom cake, personalized party gifts, and catered food. It was amazing and the entire house was transformed straight from a fairytale.
The thing is… I can’t give my daughter the same kind of birthday. Throwing a birthday party for a 7-year-old with a price tag of $500, and especially $1000 isn’t realistic for our family. My budget is a tiny sliver of this!
What I can do though, is throw her a nice birthday on a budget for a fraction of this price with a few budget savvy tricks.
While I know, we won’t have pony rides or princesses showing up to sing Disney songs and dressed as Ariel and Rapunzel, I can create a memorable birthday she’ll have fun at with her friends and cousins, and most importantly, be happy.
15 Tips for Throwing a Birthday Party on a Budget
1. CHOOSE A FREE OR INEXPENSIVE LOCATION
Location can take up a big chunk of your budget when you’re paying to rent out a party space. Renting out a bowling alley or local kid’s rec center takes a lot of the work off your plate because you’re paying someone else to do most of the work, but these locations aren’t cheap.
Instead, opt for a free or inexpensive location to host your birthday party. Your backyard, the beach, a nearby reservoir, a local park (but check first if there is a shelter fee and reservation required), neighborhood clubhouse, local recreation center room, YMCA, or even a relative’s backyard if they offer.
For older kids, offer to hold a slumber party at your house with a small number of kids. No great skating party or paintball rental needed to have fun when you stay up late, watch movies and play outside after dark!
2. KEEP THE PARTY SMALL
Keeping your birthday budget on track means resisting to urge to invite 40 or 50 people to your child’s party, simple as that. The more people, the more supplies and food you need to buy.
A good rule of thumb is to have your child invite the same number of guests as they’ll be turning. For example, if your daughter is turning 7, she can invite 7 guests to her party.
3. TIMING IS EVERYTHING
What time of day you host a birthday party will be a huge factor in how much food you need to supply for your guests.
If you host a birthday party over a meal time, such as lunch or dinner, it’s proper birthday party etiquette to provide this meal to your guests. If you have a mid-morning or mid-afternoon party, light snacks and simple food will do the trick.
Breakfast is one of the most inexpensive times of the day to have a birthday party. Here are some birthday breakfast ideas for kids, and ideas for hosting a birthday party around breakfast time.
4. USE DIGITAL INVITATIONS
Electronic invitations will save you time, supplies, stamps, and are completely free. Use a free email service like evite.com to create, send and track RSVPs.
5. DIY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
You can save a lot of money by doing a little leg work and using your craft skills (or asking for help from a friend who has them!)
Invitations, decorations, baking your own cake, cupcakes or dessert, and making the food and snacks helps with saving money.
Put your oven to work and bake your own cake, cupcakes and desserts. If the weather will be warm, a box of popsicles could be the perfect treat.
If you are hosting a birthday party over meal times, simple foods do the best! Think hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, and pretzels. Pizza party? Use coupons to order a bulk delivery of cheese and pepperoni pizza (skip the extra toppings which add up.)
Light snacks which are affordable and easy could include carrots and dip, apple slices, popcorn, pretzels, chips, and fruit.
6. SHOP DEALS ALL YEAR LONG
Gather supplies all year long so there’s no splurge for supplies right before the big day. When you see sale items – and come in general colors or a theme you know your child is obsessed with – snag them. Cute party supplies after New Year’s Eve or 4th of July that can be repurposed? Stock up when they’re 75 or 80% off!
7. THEME IT WITH THINGS YOU ALREADY HAVE AT HOME
Shop around your home first, before buying party decorations, games and party activities!
Love Camping? Pull out your tent and chairs, set up a camp site in your backyard for a camping themed birthday party and do food picnic style.
Do your kids live at the pool during the Summer? Turn on the sprinklers, fill up a small pool, roll out the slip-and-slide you already have in your garage, and tell guests to wear swimsuits for the afternoon birthday party.
Art party? Gather up your collection of paint and a couple rolls of paper, create cardboard easels for a mini art studio vibe and let the kids create outdoors!
Get creative and use what supplies you already have, to make the birthday party fun and affordable.
8. DOLLAR STORE DECORATIONS & PLATES
Head to the dollar store to stock up on decorations and party supplies. Balloons, streamers, paper plates, cups, tablecloths, utensils and even snacks at the dollar store can save you a fortune at a grocery store or Walmart.
Stick to solid colors with your decorations and you can reuse them again in the future!
9. BUY IN BULK ONLINE, NOT AT A PARTY SUPPLY STORE
Big party supply stores are super expensive! Shop online if you can and buy in bulk from online retailers like Oriental Trading. They have entire themed birthday kits which come with plates, cups, napkins, party hats and entire goodie bags without a mega price tag.
10. THRIFTY SHOPPING
You can find almost anything you need online or at a gently used second hand store, including toys for presents, books, decoration and party supplies. When kids are little, they don’t know the different between used and brand new, and often times you can find brand new items at second hand stores!
11. SIMPLE GAMES ARE THE BEST
Simple games like baseball, soccer, hula hooping, blowing bubbles and playing on a playground will always win the hearts of little kids. Don’t splurge on a brand-new game or big bounce house rental when kids will be happiest playing with their friends and the simplest of toys.
Here are a fun list of games to teach self-regulation and impulse control and these are favorites that are always a hit:
- Musical Chairs
- Duck, Duck, Goose
- Hot Potato
- Three-Legged Race
- Freeze Dance
- Freeze tag
- Simon Says
12. DOUBLE UP WITH A FRIEND, SIBLING OR COUSIN
Does your child’s birthdate line up with their friend’s or a cousin? Double the fun and then split the costs of the birthday party with the other family.
13. HAVE AN ACTIVITY DOUBLE AS A PARTY FAVOR
Plan an activity at the party which double as a party favor, such as an art project, or sand bucket and shovel for digging in the sand.
At my children’s third birthday which was dinosaur themed, we had a dinosaur egg dig. The dinosaurs were encased in hardened mud which the kids could dig for in the sand, break open with small chisels and then rinse off. Everyone went home with their own dinosaur figurine and the activity was a hit!
14. STREAMLINE THE PARTY FAVORS
Skip the party favors all together, or replace a bag food of plastic goodies and candy with a single homemade item like wrapped cookies, a cupcake, homemade jar of playdough, bundle of chalk or a $1 coloring book.
15. THROW A PARTY EVERY OTHER YEAR
As kids, we alternated years of having a birthday party with friends, and on the odd years, would have dinner or go to the park for a BBQ with family. If you throw a party every other year, you can save and splurge a little more for the birthday party with friends and keep things low-key for the family event.
More Festive & Fun Birthday Resources:
- 15 Birthday Breakfast Ideas Kids Will Go Crazy For
- 24 Unforgettable Birthday Traditions to Start With Your Kids at Any Age
- 15 Tips for Throwing a Birthday Party on a Budget
- 8 Birthday Traditions Kids Love (No Big Party Required)
- The Modern Parent’s Etiquette Guide to Hosting Kid Birthday Party
- 3 Reasons To NOT Open Gifts at a Kid’s Birthday Party