Birthday Parties on a Budget

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Birthday Party CakeIt’s easy to get swept up in the thrill of planning a birthday party. It’s also easy to spend way too much money before you even realize what happened. With a little time, creativity, and pre-planning you should be able to keep costs to a minimum and throw some great birthday parties while staying within your budget.

While every kid dreams of having the best party sometimes that becomes lost in translation. So what does “best party ever” really mean? Essentially, it means that the child is surrounded by friends and loved ones who come to share their special day. Do you need to spend a thousand dollars to make the “best party ever” happen? No! What you really need to do is put your thinking cap on. Try to be original and think outside the box!

Pick a Theme:

Choose a theme that is suitable for the birthday boy/girl. This could be as simple as a favorite color, cartoon character, sport, princess, cowboy, fireman, etc. Once you have decided on a theme then the real fun begins.

Save the Date:

Decide on the date, time, and place. When planning the time, consider scheduling it around meal times. For instance, Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. will mean that most people have had lunch and it isn’t quite time for dinner. This can save you big money by cutting down on the costs of your refreshments. You might want to note on the invitations something to the effect of light refreshments or cake & ice cream will be served. This lets your guests know that a meal is not provided. On the flipside, if you intend on serving a meal you might want to say so on the invitations. In this case, you might want to consider pizza or hot dogs which hare both kid and budget friendly.

When considering a location for the party, think about hosting it at your home or maybe the local park. This can cut your costs tremendously.

Make a Guest List:

This is pretty simple. Decide on how many people you are inviting. Just keep in mind the location and how many people can comfortably fit.

Bring out the Craft Supplies:

Put your personal touch on the party by creating your own invitations and decorations. The sky is the limit here! If you can dream it you can make it. To make the invitations more interesting, you might consider doing something odd that will leave people guessing. For example, if you are using your child’s favorite color as your theme and it so happens to be red, you could use a paint brush dipped in red paint and dried with a note that reads Please join us as we Paint the Town Red for Frankie’s birthday!” See what I mean by thinking out of the box?

Once you have the invitations taken care of, move on to the decorations. It is amazing what you can come up with if you put your mind to it. For instance, my daughter is turning sweet sixteen this year. We have decided on a theme of “Old Hollywood.” I googled images of famous actors like Clark Gable, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, etc. I then printed out black & white pictures of these celebrities and I’m using them for my table centerpieces. Simple and Interesting! We’ll also be making a “red carpet” out of cheap red felt and a “walk of fame” out of poster board stars.

Suppose your seven year old wants to have a movie party but you think that’s too boring. Well, why not jazz it up by creating cars out of cardboard boxes and make it a drive-in party? Now how cool would that be? Each kid could have their own “car” parked in front of the movie where they could eat their concession stand popcorn. This kind of reminds me of the time my younger son wanted to have a camp out for his February birthday when he was four. Well we did it! We pitched a tent in the living room. We made a pretend fire which we sat beside of eating s’mores and making up ghost stories. Use your imagination, kids love this stuff.


Decide on a budget and STICK TO IT. By now, you’ve already decided if you are doing a meal, snacks, or simply cake & ice cream. Be sure to keep in mind the number of guest that will be attending. Use coupons if at all possible to lower the costs.

Don’t be afraid to prepare the food yourself. Yes that means even the cake. Check out this HotCouponWorld thread which includes pictures & do-it-yourself ideas for cakes/cupcakes. Try to stick with simple foods that match your party theme. Most times, the kids get caught up in the fun of the party and aren’t very interested in eating so keep it simple.

If necessary, shop the Dollar Tree or a similar store to find cheap paper products. I say “if necessary” because expert coupon shoppers are often able to get paper products for pennies or even free. Keep your eye out for sales as stores often runs BOGO on Chinet or Hefty products and when you match that sale with a coupon you score a great deal. Be sure to access HotCouponWorld’s Store Deals forums to check out the coupon match-ups for sales at your favorite stores.

Plan Some Party Activities:

When hosting a party, it is your job to make sure that everyone gets involved and has a good time. You can do this in lots of ways. For example, you could offer crafts or you could organize games. Relay games are lots of fun for kids of all ages. I love the NBC Minute to Win It Game Show and what’s really neat is there is a list of challeges posted here. Another fun idea is to let the kids decorate their own cookies or cupcakes. No matter what you decide to do for activities just remember that the more involved everyone is the more fun they will have.

Party Favors:

If you decide to give your guests a party favor there are lots of options. If you chose to make a craft as an activity that could also serve as a favor. Or, you could use photos of the guest as a favor if you have the ability to get them printed. Personally, I think that most parents and a lot of kids would appreciate these alternative favors as opposed to the normal junky dollar store toys, trinket jewelry, and candy that they normally receive. Remember, your goal was to have the “best party ever” and in doing such you’d like to send your guests on their way with a nice momento of the occasion.

Relax & Enjoy the Party:

Have Fun! Try not to sweat the small stuff. This will be so much easier to do when you realize you didn’t spend an arm & a leg too.

And, last but not least ….

Show your Appreciation:

Thank you notes are almost a thing of the past. I highly encourage you to sit down with your child and teach them the fine art of a handwritten note letting people know how much he or she appreciates them. When someone takes the time to spend with you helping celebrate your special day (with or without a gift), they deserve to be thanked. Once again, you can use your crafting skills to jazz up the notes. I am positive that every recipient will smile and have flashbacks of all the fun they had at the “best party ever.”

Remember, it isn’t about how much money you spend. It is about creating lasting memories! So have fun and take lots of pictures.

Guest article written by HotCouponWorld moderator and member ELLE-TN.

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  1. Thanks, I really like some of the ideas presented here. My wife and I are big on birthday parties for our little girl, but at the same time really didn’t know how to go about it in a frugal manner.


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