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How To Host A Birthday Party on a Budget

Yes, you can host a fabulous kids’ birthday party on a budget! Get ideas for birthday party themes, how to save money and more!

Yes, you can host a fabulous kids' birthday party on a budget! Get ideas for birthday party themes, how to save money and more!

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.

How to host a Kids’ Birthday Party on a Budget

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.

Kitty Cat Birthday Party - birthday party ideas 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. Then you’re not spending 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). You can either make or buy snacks for any birthday party theme.

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. We do simple party games like “Pin the tail on the ____” and Duck, Duck Goose, since they’re just right for kids this age. We make our own from posterboard or look up party games online instead of spending any money. 

Western Birthday Party theme - birthday party ideas


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. The same balloons 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? 

Birthday Party on a Budget


Thursday 7th of November 2013

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!


Wednesday 18th of September 2013

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.

Kimberly H. Smith

Wednesday 18th of September 2013

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.


Wednesday 18th of September 2013

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!

Makeovers & Motherhood

Wednesday 18th of September 2013

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!