Birthday Party on a Budget

Birthday Party on a Budget

Want to throw a Birthday Party on a Budget? It’s not as hard as you think. Each year, I share photos from my kids’ parties, and we have a lot of fun. I basically follow the same formula every year, so I’m sharing my tricks & tips:

Limit the number of guests
A good rule to follow is the age of the child plus one. We’ve used that for years now, and it always seems to be the right amount. When we do an outing party (like to a local park or bowling), we can only invite the number of kids that fit in the van, so that gives us a small number automatically.

Birthday Party on a Budget

Host in the mid-afternoon
By choosing to have your party at 1:00 or 2:00pm, you can serve just snacks and birthday cake and not have to spend more money on a full meal. This was especially helpful when my children were preschoolers and their guests’ parents would stay for the party. My kids get a kick out of picking their own snack foods to fit a theme, like Cat Cookies for our Kitty Cat Party (4yo girls).

Birthday Party on a Budget

Keep the decorations simple

We tend to stick with inexpensive birthday decor, like my reusable Birthday Balloon Wreath on the door, balloon garlands or streamers in the dining room, and a big Happy Birthday banner. Instead of expensive themed cups and plates, we usually buy solid colors and decorate them with stickers or washi tape (or not at all). For my son’s Lego Party (6yo boy), we used what we had in the house and made a simple construction paper banner.

Birthday Party on a Budget

Focus on fun
For my twins’ 6th birthday, they specifically said, “We just want to have our friends over and play games.” That made for a great Zoo Animal Party. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to have fun and make them feel special. That’s why you’ll see the same games across our parties: simple party games like “Pin the tail on the ____” and Duck, Duck Goose are just right for these ages. We make our own from posterboard or look up party games online instead of spending any money. 

 Birthday Party on a Budget

Shop smart
We buy most of our party supplies at the Dollar Tree, and if you plan ahead you can shop elsewhere with coupons and sales for very low prices. I always buy Mylar balloons at the dollar store–since they’re a dollar–and they cost $4-5 at the party store! For our Western Birthday Party (7yo girls) this spring, I did spend a little money on favor-type items, the bandanas and jump ropes, but they served as the decorations and then the guests got to take them home.

What are some ways you save money on kids’ birthday parties? 

Image from Alan Cleaver


  1. I have to say that the main way we save on kids parties, is by not having one every year. Yes, we always have a family party with a special cake of my boy’s choosing, but we’ve only held one big, invite the whole class (as is done in England) party. =)
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  2. This is so helpful!! We’re throwing my toddler a birthday party, her 2nd, this Sunday and we are on a tight budget! It’s a 2:00 pm so its helpful to know that it’s the perfect time to just have cake and snacks, not a full meal!! Perfect for us!!!!
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  3. I love your ideas for saving money on parties! Lately, birthday parties have gotten so over-the-top that it seems to be more about the mom wanting to have a fabulous Pinterest board than just celebrating a lovely day with the birthday child. Our daughter’s most recent birthday party was so easy and simple–a sleepover with friends and a bonfire in the back yard, with an after-dark game of Manhunt. The girls had so much fun, and when it got late, they pulled out Twister and Clue, then put on a movie. It does get easier as they get older!
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  4. Great tips!!! You can also find very inexpensive decor on etsy. I did an elmo theme for my little one’s 2nd year party. I spent $28 bucks and got all my decorations. Yes, I had to cut them and assemble (cake toppers, banner, posters, gift bags etc) But we had snacks and cake, and the whole party was done on a low budget. And it turned out great!!!
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  5. Great tips! I think my favorite is to limit the invite list. Many times we tend to think that we have to invite EVERYONE our child knows! Keeping the list small and intimate saves money and allows the kids to really enjoy their time together and to interact with each other!

    • You’re so right, Arianne. I know that when my kids attend a birthday party, they feel much more comfortable when they know more than just the host, and that’s hard to do in a crowd.

  6. Woohoo! Another mom of multiples! I have 2 21mth old surviving triplets, so I can relate! Now, for the birthday party thing… I have one more year of lockdown before we can experience those… our birthday falls in December, and because they were 3 months early (plus the added fears I have from having lost their brother), we do the lockdown method. But next year – next year we may have trouble sticking to a budget since it’ll be like 3 birthday parties in one!!! :)
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  7. Awesome post on how to save on parties! I’ll for sure be saving this one for when I am throwing my next party! Thanks
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  8. We just threw our 2 year son a construction paper birthday and it was ridiculous to buy all those construction themed paper products. Our biggest downfall is the guest list. We invite people that are meaningful in our lives (as parents) too, so that really grows the list. When they get older, we’ll switch it to friends, maybe. Once, we had an “unbirthday” party and everyone brought an old toy they didn’t want anymore and we swapped packages. Then we painted outside and ate cupcakes. It’s 2 years later and my daughter still talks about that party! Simple is sometimes best. :)
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  9. We have found that the mid afternoon time is best as well, even though we always seem to go overboard. Inviting the age plus 1 is a great idea though. Maybe we should try that next time. Last year was pre-K, and her class was only 8 counting her. It wasn’t bad even after a few showed up with siblings.
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  10. These are great tips! Thank you for sharing. :) My son is turning 2 just after Christmas, so I will definitely be using some of these ideas. We’re planning to have a sports themed party because he is really into baseball and football! I’m hoping to find some awesome decorations on clearance after the season is over, and will be making DIY baseball cupcakes. Thanks for the reminder to shop smart!
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  11. I buy the assorted color tableware from WalMart, a buck each to coordinate with some themed stuff I order cheap online (etsy this year, $15 party pack I can print as much as I want). I make alot of layered beautiful paper elements using scrapbook papers (often 50% off at Hobby Lobby). I made cute coordinating envelopes for about $0.10 each. So it’s very pulled together and “done” but a fraction of the cost of these boutique party stores and sites. My fav money saver is using party decor you can repurpose. Last year’s multi-tiered cupcake stands (I made thanks to $ Tree and spray paint) are holding hairbows and play jewelry now. This year’s bubbles (clear ornaments 40% off at Hobby Lobby) will be decorated for our Christmas tree. It’s a sweet reminder of all the birthdays we’ll celebrate. We don’t need fancy decor or even invitations but it’s how we make the day special so I just DIY everything on the cheap.

  12. I agree, the dollar store is the best for paper products and also for the goodie bags. And the rule of inviting only the kids age + 1 is perfect.

  13. I love the dollar tree. Love those themes too. Munchkin will be three in April and I have a feeling she’s going to want to choose her own theme by then. I can’t wait to see what kind of birthday she chooses!
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  14. These are great ideas. I agree simpler is better. Sometimes kid parties become more about the parents than the kids!
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  15. love this, great idea’s. Thank you so much for sharing this.
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  16. Who doesn’t love saving money??!! You sure gave some good tips for doing just that. I’m sure the party was a fantastic success.

  17. I love this post, really nice ideas! I’ll share this with my brother and sister because the have 7 and 6 kids, so with this tips they’ll save a lot. Thanks for sharing! 😉
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  18. Those are great tips! Plus doing some amount of DIY and having your kids buy into your plans is great!
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  19. I love the idea of themed parties! I had never spent money on decoration (I try to get creative with the things I can find around the house), so food and drink usually cost the most. When I was a kid, I always wanted to have a perfect party. But I was always disappointed because there is no such thing. As an adult, I like to keep it simple. :)
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  20. I don’t have a lot of experience doing a party on a budget – but I have done a lot of over-the-top big parties as a nanny :-) You’ve got a lot of great tips here that I’ll have to use as my little has her parties the next few years as I have no budget for them at all being a SAHM. Dollar Tree was always my favorite Party planning store – and still is as I do other events!
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  21. These are great tips! Have you ever run into the problem of the twins wanting something different? I always wondered that about twin parties – and …I always wanted to be a twin. Bet my Mom is glad I wasn’t LOL.
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  22. These are great tips. We save by not having over-the-top parties. Generally, it is just family and close friends. We have a BBQ and limit the decor. My mom bakes and decorates the cake. I’ll think next year, when he turns 5, I’ll have a “friend party” but keep it simple and fun!
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  23. We always have our girls’ birthday parties at home to save money. They actually want it that way because they like to come up with a theme and decorate our basement. I always make the cake or cupcakes, which they also like because they don’t just get a store bought cake. I pick up party favors at garage sales throughout the year. I used to make all my own food, but now I just get $5 pizzas from little caesars. It saves a lot of time and stress! recently posted..JCPenney Swim Clearance!My Profile

  24. Thanks for the great tips! I always make my own decorations and usually with inexpensive materials. I love the idea that you schedule the party after lunch so that it would just be snacks and a birthday cake.
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  25. Oh wow…this post has some really good suggestions. I never heard of hosting a party by the age (number of kids plus one of the child’s age) – that is such a good rule to follow, and it makes sense. Also, hosting mid-afternoon is a great idea to save money and make things less complicated.
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  26. Great tips! I’m glad I’ve had the “ability” to raise my children with the idea that, what’s important about parties is being with the people we love! The gifts are little “extras”! :-)
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  27. I love throwing birthday parties for my kids. We’ve done many – I always let them pick out a theme and then we do a little decorating, plan some games and make some goodies. Like you I love the dollar store for balloons! I’ll also keep my eyes open for party favors after holidays. Bubbles are inexpensive at the end of the summer, pencils after back to school and flavored chapstick always goes on sale after Christmas!
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  28. Great ideas, especially with Pinterest birthday images everywhere! Sometimes a reminder to keep it simple and actually enjoy the birthday is the BEST advice. I personally love buying Mylar balloons at The Dollar Store. That’s a trick I’ve been using for years and it saves quite a lot! Thanks!

  29. These are great tips and even can be adapted for older peoples birthdays. Love the tips!
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  30. When it comes to throwing parties the Dollar Tree is my best friend. :) I love your idea of decorating cups and plates with washi tape. I need to remember that for my next party!
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  31. It’s been a while since we had a birthday party. One I remember was at home, we invited some friends, had a pinata, ordered $5 pizza and the prizes in the pinata were the takeaways from the party. The kids had fun.
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  32. I love creating fun parties for my kids. I use the Internet to find fun games and, in some cases, the decorations. I also shop the Dollar Spot section at our Target or keep an eye on Amazon items for party favors. For my daughter’s Hello Kitty party, we found a jewelry set of a necklace, ring, and pierced earrings for $1.99 per set. The girls loved the favors, and I liked the price. 😉

  33. I am a DIY-er. l buy themed napkins and plates, but the decorations are few, I do my own graphic design for any Happy Birthday signs, and the food and/or snacks are homemade (food is generally grilled hot dogs). We do give out Favor Bags to each of our guests, but the items in the bags are stickers, bubbles, and packages of fruit snacks (bought in bulk). For the bag itself, I buy a package of plain bags at Meijer and then we decorate them to match the party’s theme. This is great since my boys love to do crafts and projects, but I like our craft items to be practical and/or useful if possible. So it serves as a good family activity as well! Good tips!
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  34. thank you so much for such awesome ideas. this would come in handy for many! I am totally not up for lavish bday parties for kids and loved your post!

  35. Cupcakes instead of a whole cake. Love that idea! As well as timing the birthday so only snacks need to be served. Great post, Gina. Visiting from Commentathon.
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  36. Does it count if we don’t usually do big birthday bashes? Most of the time we just have a small family get-together with Grandparents, Aunts & Uncles, and Cousins. Only once in a while do we do something more elaborate–one time our son wanted a swimming party so we reserved the pool at a local hotel for the afternoon. It really didn’t cost very much and the kids had a fun time.
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  37. One way to save is to only have parties every other year. That”s what my parents did. I’m 22 and barely remember my childhood parties. Plus, you end up going to friends’ parties throughout the year anyways!
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