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10 Tips to Plan A Birthday Party on a Budget

Guest post from Erin of Perfectly Port Family:

We are in the thick of birthday party season around our house. We have 3 children and all of them have birthdays within a 3-month span. We love to celebrate them on their special day, but between presents and festivities, our budget can easily be blown if I am not careful.

Over the years, I have adopted some principles that help us keep birthday parties a celebration for each child while not breaking the bank.

Here are my top 10 tips for planning a birthday party on a budget!

1. Find Inspiration

Incorporate what your child loves. What do THEY want to do at their party? This year, my son wanted a basketball party and my oldest daughter wanted a Shopkins theme and hair chalking as an activity.

Once you know what your child wants, you can head over to Pinterest to gather up inspiration for invitations, decorations, games and food.

2. Pick a Budget and Stick to It

If you know your budget on the onset, that can inform your purchases as you prepare for your party. You can have a party on a very small budget using stuff you already have!

3. Pick a Budget-Friendly Location

If your house doesn’t work for your party, there are many places like parks and churches that will let you rent the space for a nominal fee or a security deposit you will likely get back if you clean up!

This year we reserved the gym at my husband’s work for my son’s basketball themed party. It was free to use as long as we clean up afterwards!

4. Choose a Budget-Friendly Time

Parties in the morning or the afternoon mean you don’t have to serve a meal, which can become quite costly.

If you want to have your party at a location that costs money, sometimes the prices vary based on times. You might choose a time that fits within your budget.

5. Make Your Own Invitations

Once you have the location and time squared away, it’s time to invite your guests.

I love using to create my own invitations that I print at home on cardstock paper. Once we cut them out, my kids are always anxious to skip the mailbox and hand deliver the invites to their friends!

You could also create a free online invitation. We have been invited to several parties that way!

6. Reuse Decor and Shop Your House

Over the years, I have purchased decorations that are not theme-specific, so I can reuse them for parties in the future. Instead of buying a theme-specific birthday banner, choose one with complimentary colors that you can reuse.

Choose a couple of items to be theme specific, maybe the napkins and/or plates and then reuse decor in similar colors.

Remember to also shop your house for decor that you already have that relates to that theme. My daughter has a Shopkins blanket, pillow and lots of figurines that she can’t wait to incorporate as party decorations.

7. Make the Cake

Bakery cakes are so cute but can be SO expensive.

You might choose, instead, to buy a boxed cake mix. You can find fun cupcake liners in coordinating colors or you can even make some cupcake decoration picks to stick on top. You might even have a figurine in your toy box you could stick on top of the cake.

8. Reimagine Popular Games to Fit Your Theme

Party games are a great way to have some fun. Traditional party games can be tweaked a bit to fit any theme.

We plan to play “pin the Shopkin to the shelf” which is a variation of “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”. Pinterest has lots of great ideas for games using items you already have around the house.

9. Gift Purposeful Parting Gift

It tends to be tradition to give guests a gift — but they can become quite costly. Consider if there’s a way you could incorporate your parting gift into your party.

For example, you could create your own coloring book related to your theme for each guest to color at the party and then take with them. My daughter was invited to a painting party and she brought home a canvas she painted. We made personalized water bottles (from the dollar store) for my son’s basketball party and they will serve as both their drink for the party and their parting gift!

10. Perspective

It’s so easy to feel pressured to create “Pin-worthy” parties or compete with other birthday parties you see on social media. You can make a party fun on any budget. Incorporate your kids in on the process and they will be so excited for their special day.

Birthday parties are a great way to celebrate your child and can be memory-filled no matter what your budget is!

Happy birthday party planning on a budget!

Erin is an Iowa girl, wife, and mom of 3. She blogs at Perfectly Port Family, where she encourages women to keep on keeping on with a joyful, faith-filled life. You will find practical tips and encouragement on motherhood, marriage, organization and keeping your house running with children while making memories. She loves McDonald’s french fries and ath-leisure wear — even if she isn’t working out!

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  • Great tips! Sometimes it feels like the kids’ parties are a mom-competition, thanks for bringing this back to the real point – celebration of our children!

  • Jennifer says:

    Sometimes we as parents want things to be so Pinterest “worthy” we forget the party is for the child and not for us to impress the adults! Last year my daughter wanted a chocolate cake with sprinkles. I was thinking , dont’t you want something fancier, then caught myself! $3 cake versus $30? I don’t mean this to sound negative, but if you start with mega parties they will only expect more and more, it’s only natural. Keep it as simple as possible when they are young:)

  • Kimberly says:

    Great post! We use our church for cold-weather parties and the free splash pad for summer ones. And limit “friend parties” to every other year for each child (copying another family).

  • Allison says:

    We’ve never felt obligated to send guests home with anything, because we don’t ask them to bring anything. Since our first child’s 1st birthday we made a point to say no gifts – but offered a charity we support as an alternative if people want to make donations. Our kids still get a gift from us and grandparents, we don’t end up with a mountain of toys they don’t need, and they view the parties as a celebration with friends not a day to get more things 🙂 it has worked very well for us so far!

  • Heather says:

    We have 5 kids. They each get to pick a special meal and dessert on their birthday and get their present from us. They also get to choose a special outing. To save money on parties (and since a lot of our family lives 4 hours away) we have one big party for all five of them every year. Their birthdays are all between january and July so we normally do a party in early May when it gets warm enough to go outside.

  • AM says:

    My 2nd-grade daughter recently went to a party where she was asked to bring a wrapped children’s book instead of a gift and these were exchanged so each child took home a book. My son also went to a smaller party of close friends where each boy was asked to bring a wrapped lego set under $15 and these were exchanged. This was a fun way to share in the fun of giving and receiving with everyone receiving something.

  • Angie says:

    I love Erin from Perfectly Port Family!!! Great post! Birthday parties can be overwhelming but young kids don’t care if they are “Pin” worthy. They just want to have fun with their friends.

  • Emilie says:

    Awesome ideas! We try to keep things simple but make each child feel very special on their birthday! We always let them pick all their meals on their birthday as well as a fun activity as a family!

  • Erin Port says:

    Thanks for letting me guest post on your site. It was such an honor. I hope it provides encouragement to others that parties can be special and fun on any budget! xoxo ERIN

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