How to give your kids a fun birthday party while on a tight budget.
I think all parents know that kids are expensive. They just are. The clothing, extra curricular activities, school supplies, food, etc. adds up fast! I am always looking for ways to pinch pennies as I raise my three wonderful kids. One way I have learned to cut down on kids expenses is by throwing them a budget friendly birthday party.
Kids are really great (better than me tbh) at not caring about the price tag. All they truly crave is our love and attention. They don’t care if they have the most expensive party or the cheapest, as long as it’s a fun day centered them (and cake, they always want cake 😉 ). Once I finally learned this I started changing the way we did birthday parties and it’s made my wallet much happier!
1. Start a birthday sinking fund.
Have I mentioned before that sinking funds are my favorite part of budgeting???? Cause they totally are! If you don’t have a birthday sinking fund for your kids, I recommend you start one ASAP.
So, what’s a sinking fund????
A sinking fund is a way to save for an upcoming expense by slowly adding money into the fund.
We contribute money each month into our birthday sinking funds and then when a birthday comes along, we are already prepared financially!
- Related: How to Budget With Sinking Funds
2. Don’t throw a big party every year.
We celebrate our kids birthdays every single year (of course!), but they only get a “big” party every other year.
When my kids turn an even number (6,8,10,etc.) they get to have a big(ish) birthday party. This includes friends, a theme, games, decor, and all that fun party stuff.
When they turn an odd number (5,7,9,etc.) they have a small party. This party is only for close family members. It’s usually just cake and presents. They are still celebrated and loved on all day long, just not a big friend party.
Having a big party every other year helps to keep expenses down because we aren’t paying for multiple large parties each year. My daughters birthdays are just 4 days apart. It’s so nice to not have to pay for two big parties right in a row.
3. Choose a free location.
When deciding where to host your birthday party choose somewhere that will be free.
My favorite free party location is our own home! It’s just so easy to do all the prep and clean up from the comfort of my own home.
Another cheap location would be to have the party at a local park, if the weather is warm of course. A park is a perfect party location because it gives the kids the freedom to run and play, without having to worry about keeping your house clean.
4. Only invite a few friends.
The less friends your child invites, the cheaper the party will be. Limit the guest list by encouraging your child to only invite their few closest friends.
There is nothing wrong with saying, “You can invite “X” amount of friends.” It’s a good way to teach your kids about budgets and spending limits.
5. DIY the party invitations.
Make your own party invites instead of buying fancy, expensive ones.
You can get crafty with paper, scissors, and glue. Here’s a Lego party invitation I made a few years ago.
Or, make them online using the free website Canva. Canva makes DIY invites so easy. They provide free templates, fonts, stickers, and more to help you put together a quick invitation. Save on printing costs by emailing or texting your invites out.
6. Only serve dessert.
Plan your party during a time when a meal won’t be expected. This could be around 10:30 for a mid morning party or 1:00 in the afternoon.
Throwing a party during these times mean most party goers will already have a full belly and you can save money by only serving cake and ice cream.
7. Make the cake yourself.
Don’t spend your money on an expensive cake when you can make one yourself. Your homemade cake doesn’t even need to be anything fancy!
Research a few simple cakes on pinterest until you find one you feel confident making. Here is an easy cake I made for my sons birthday when he turned three. It was so easy, but turned out super cute (and I promise I am NOT talented in creativity or cake decorating).
You could also just make a simple sheet cake. Spruce it up by decorating it with your child’s favorite toy/characters.
- Small toy tractors for your tractor loving boy
- Toy princess characters for your princess loving child
- Characters from their favorite movie
The Dollar Tree is a great place to find small toys perfect to top on cakes.
8. Avoid Pinterest.
Okay, seriously just don’t look at pinterest if you’re trying to save money on a birthday party.
Which, I know basically contradicts what I said in tip number 7, but hear me out.
Every single time I search on pinterest for birthday party ideas I am left with the feeling that I need to spend more money if I want my child to have any sort of special birthday.
The thing is, your child is not looking on pinterest, they don’t see pictures of the perfect expensive parties. They just want something special, it doesn’t need to as fancy and beautiful and Sally and Linda posted online.
Just do you! Whatever feels right for you and your budget and your child is the type of party you should throw. If pinterest will tempt you to spend more money, than just avoid it!
- Related: LEGO Birthday Party for Under $20
9. Use decorations that you already own.
Get creative when decorating for your kids birthday parties. Instead of going to the store to buy decor, search your house to find items you already own.
For my sons cheap Lego birthday party I put some of his lego pieces into mason jars and used those as a table centerpiece. It was completely free, but ended up being a cute, easy decoration.
Get creative when searching your house for decorations. If you have empty cardboard boxes laying around, use the cardboard to cut out shapes to go with your theme. For example: for a Moana themed party you could cut the box into a palm tree shape, just paint the leaves green!
10. Shop at The Dollar Tree
The Dollar Tree is full of budget friendly party supplies. Search the store for decorations, goody bags, table cloths, etc. This is always my first stop and a great way to plan a party on a budget.
Kids truly don’t care if the party tablecloth cost a $1 or $5, so save your pennies and buy what you can afford!
11. Plan free games/activities.
Skip paying for entertainment, and plan free games and activities instead!
A few of our favorite are:
- Water balloon toss
- Human knot
- Relay races
- Musical chairs
- Photo scavenger hunt
- Minute to win it games
12. Double the activity as the goody bag.
Save money on goody bags by letting one of the activities also be the goody bag! This can be done by planning a hands on activity that they can make and then take home.
At my daughters “Cupcake Wars” birthday party the girls all made cupcakes, and brought them home instead of a goody bag.
There are many different ways you can cut costs on birthday parties. As long as you are focusing on giving your child love and attention, it will be a wonderful day! Even without all the glitz and glamour!