How to Throw a Birthday Party on a Budget

Birthday Party Planning on a Budget -

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. With all of the great inspiration it gives me, it also leaves me feeling very overwhelmed and inadequate. I mean, do you really need to go all out for EVERY single holiday?  No. Hell no. When does Pinterest make me feel my worst?  When planning my kids’ birthday parties. Because as much as I want to throw a great celebration for my kids/husband/sister/etc., I live in the real world that has budgets and other restrictions such as raising a family and running my own business. So here are my tried and true tips for throwing a party on a budget. It may include a link or two to Pinterest, but I promise that they are only feasible ones. Girl Scouts Honor.



This is where Pinterest gets me. All of those adorable and perfectly coordinated cupcake toppers, banners, personalized EVERYTHING….sigh. But here are some easy and affordable ways to cut down on the cost of your decorations:

Get all your color coordinated paper products (and some plastic too!) from the Dollar Tree. For example, my boys love the ocean and we have thrown a whale/dolphin/shark themed birthday party a time or two. So all I do is head to the Dollar Tree and scoop up streamers, balloons, plates, napkins, and cups in shades of blue. Another option is to simply choose basic white or clear cutlery and serving wear so you can use it time and time again.


Really want something personalized? Here are my two favorite options. Collect your favorite photos of the birthday boy or girl and arrange them on a wall in the shape of their birthday age or first initial. Super simple and easy. You can also put them on a poster board if you don’t want to tape anything to the walls. My other favorite thing to do in order to add a splash of color to a party is put the birthday child’s artwork on display, such as transforming it into party bunting. Easy peasy.


Oh, and on the topic of balloons….everyone seems to love helium balloons. But here’s the thing: helium is getting to be very expensive since we are running out of it as a resource, and the helium leaks out of the balloon pretty quickly. I recommend tying together regular balloons and saving yourself some hassle and money all at once.


The cost of feeding a group can really add up, especially if you are catering a party. That’s why we always cook for our parties with a little bit of help from the store (I am so NOT a baker and leave room in my budget for that). I take full use of my Costco membership and buy things in bulk that will appeal to all different ages at the party. Here are some of my favorite menu options:

Brunch—Homemade muffins (using a boxed mix, because as I mentioned before, baking is not my forte), frittatas, fruit salad, green salad, pre cooked ham from Costco, juice and coffee….and champagne, of course.

Italian—Frozen lasagna premade from grocery store, sliced Italian bread, green salad, platter of buttered noodles, wine, iced tea.

All American—Pulled pork in the slow cooker, rolls, roasted potatoes, corn on the cob, baked beans, fresh fruit, beer, soft drinks

Mexican—Ground beef tacos, grilled veggies, taco toppings (cheese, lettuce, tomato), tortillas, cheese quesadillas, guacamole, salsa, beer, margaritas, juices.

Breakfast party—Bagels, yogurt, fruit, coffee, juices, DIY cereal bar.

Oh, and about those cakes. My trick? Get a basic cake frosted in a color that matches the party theme, and then top it with small toys or figurines that go with the party theme. I got this cake from Mariano’s for $15 and the toys for $3. $18 awesomeness!



Depending on the age of the birthday child and his/her friends, you might not really have to do anything for activities other than put out some toys. But if you have an older and more high maintenance bunch, I like to choose from an array of different activities using what you already have at home depending on your party location. Some of our favorites include obstacle courses, sports games, and Lego and other brick building contests.

I also like to put out a craft for kids to do, especially since it serves as an adorable favor that they can then take home (buh bye, goodie bags!). Simple craft ideas that you can alter to fit the party theme (princess, animal, super hero, etc.) include puppets, masks/hats, bookmarks, etc. I like to buy different craft supplies either online from Oriental Trading or in store at my local Michael’s location.



If you are reading this post you are obviously looking for ways to stretch your dollar, and what better way than to win a free copy of Dr. Seuss’s Happy Birthday Baby! Simply share (in the comments section below) your favorite way to stay on a budget while party planning to be entered to win. The winner will be chosen via on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 and contacted via email.

Oh, and don’t forget to stick to a budget when you are attending parties, too! Here is my secret weapon birthday gift that only costs me $15!


For other birthday party planning tips, be sure to check out my top suggestions about other ways to throw a birthday party on a budget.

Happy Planning…and am I invited to the party?!? 😉



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  1. Heather says

    My son is only ten months, but one way I’ve managed to stay on budget for planning his first birthday – no impulse purchases! I’ve seen many cute ideas but instead of buying them right away, I wrote it down and then I’ll decide by my drop-dead date.
    Great ideas in this article!

    • Amanda says

      That’s a good strategy. I found that once I had two kids, things really piled up and I became so overwhelmed! ;(

  2. Amanda Love says

    These are all great tips and for me having 2 kids celebrating birthdays within a week of each other, these will come in handy for me. Pinterest always win when it comes to ideas.

    • Amanda says

      I love Pinterest for creative ideas but then I use my own tips for my reality stricken budget and time constraints.

  3. Pam says

    Mexican food is always popular for a birthday party. We did a sandwich bar for my daughter’s baby shower and that worked out really well. You could get a bunch of spreads, chicken salad, and lunchmeat from Costco and probably save a bunch of money.

    • Amanda says

      Those are good options, too. Since I don’t eat lunch meat I selfishly didn’t put it on the list. 😉

  4. Eloise says

    what great tips for saving money on a bday party, they can be so expensive these days! I have two kids to throw parties for, I will definitely use your tips, thanks!

  5. Heather lawrence says

    I would love to know what it would be like to throw a birthday party without a budget to be totally honest with you! LOL!! Love the cute little “2” collage. What a great way to remember!

  6. Angelic Sinova says

    These are great tips for throwing a birthday party on a budget. Tomorrow is actually one of my really good friends birthday and I actually make her a cute homemade gift inspired by this cute DIY Pinterest craft <3

  7. Kita says

    I love simply and budget friendly parties. I usually pick a budget and stick to it. Great tips and yes to shopping in bulk. I also start 3-4 months in advance to ease the pressure and the budget.

  8. Theresa Sutton says

    These are some fab ideas. I learned from my daughter 1st birthday that waiting until the last minute is NOT a good way to save money. Her birthday is in May, and I’m already planning and making small purchases! Gotta get started early.

  9. Jeanine says

    Such great ideas. All my kids birthdays are right after another from May-Oct so a budget is something I have to work with when it comes to brithdays and celebrating!

    • Amanda says

      My problem is that I tend to spend too much money DIYing when I could have just bought something completed already!

  10. Jessica Simms says

    We always plan parties on a budget and usually have to accommodate a slightly big crowd. I like to take advantage of my mom’s Costco membership as well and order our cakes through there, and then just make small snacks from scratch.

    • Amanda says

      Hi Lauren–Please check your email to find out how you can claim the birthday book that you won. Thanks!

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