Budget Friendly Birthday Parties

Written by Shaundra

I love birthdays! When my birthday rolls around each year, I get just as excited as my kids get on their birthdays!  The only problem is that birthday celebrations can be expensive. More than just presents, birthday parties include food, decorations, and favors for the guests which can really add up. I would like to share with you a few ideas that I have used to stretch my dollars when planning a party.

I begin by setting a budget and scheduling the party. If I say 12 pm, then guests will plan on eating lunch at the party. Sometimes I provide a meal, but when money is tight, I set the time for 2pm. This kindly tells people to eat before they come.

Next, I consider the theme. Usually, my children have already decided on a theme. The prices on these plates and napkins can be expensive. I search for sales at the store and online. If I can get a good deal, I feel much better about it. To save more, I will mix some plain colored plates and napkins with the themed plates. One way to cut costs more, is to skip the character theme a use a more general one. For my daughter’s first birthday, our theme was polka dots.  It all started with a sweet little dress I found when she was a few months old. I saw it and thought, “This is a party dress!” It had polka dots and pink tulle around the edge of the skirt.  I attached some pink tulle to her highchair tray with stick on Velcro. It tied in very well with the dress and cost only about 3 dollars to do. This theme turned out to be so cheap, and easy.

Here are some ideas for a polka dot party:

  • Pick about 4 colors to use, so your house doesn’t look too overwhelming!
  • Have the kids make polka dot confetti with a hole punch and some colored paper.
  • Make your own happy birthday banner by cutting out multi -colored circles, stringing them together, and either writing the letters or using alphabet  stickers.
  • Make your own cake or cupcakes and use polka dot sprinkles to decorate them.

Think about the guest’s bags. You can find lots of circle candy and such to fill these.  (I used chocolate and strawberry malted balls and those little candy dots on strips of wax paper.) I found a lot of these materials at the dollar store.

Next, I plan refreshments.  If I am not serving lunch, I can spend a little more money on the cake.  I enjoy decorating cakes, and I can do this cheaply, but sometimes I feel rushed and don’t think I can take on such a big task and still get the house together for the party. Do you have a friend who likes to decorate cakes? Ask if they would help you! A cake made by a friend would still be cheaper than buying one from the bakery.  I did end up finding cupcakes at the store with polka dot sprinkles. They were very inexpensive, so I used them. Just watch for good deals at the bakery.

When it is time for the guests to leave, it is nice to have a small gift bag for them to take home as a thank you. The small toys and stickers in the party section of the store are not cheap, so many times, the kids and I have made cookies and bagged these up for their friends to take home. I think it helps my kids to be involved in thanking their friends for coming, rather than just giving a cheap toy that will break in the car on the way home.

Planning ahead in each of these areas will make your party planning cheaper and more fun. Make sure to include the kids. Ask them to think of decoration and gift ideas that go with your theme. Kids are very creative!

Most importantly, have fun! Set a budget, stick to it, and don’t stress over it!


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