10 Ways to Save Money on Your Kid’s Birthday Party

I feel like we have a different birthday party every weekend in Summer. It’s not like we know more kids born in these hotter months; I think it’s just that parents have more time to throw a big birthday bash when you don’t have a holiday to celebrate every few weeks (yeah, I’m talking to you Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s season).

Well my kid was born just a few short weeks before Christmas… ya  know, when I’m already broke and struggling for extra cash? So I thought I would throw together some tips and tricks for a more affordable kid birthday party…

Five Birthday Candles

1. Buy solid colored paper products. 
Even though your daughter might want all of those Disney Frozen paper plates and cups, choose the plain colors instead. They are MUCH cheaper. One suggestion would be to have solid colored dinner plates, napkins, and cups, then you can spring for the expensive themed plates for dessert (if anything). Also buy the white or clear plastic silverware. You can buy it for pretty cheap in bulk and always use the extras for school lunches, picnics or big family dinners.

2. Use FREE themed party printables.
Although Etsy has some adorable themed party printables online, try to check out the FREE options instead. I personally have offered about 9 different party printable packages on my blog in the past… all which include invitations, birthday banners, water bottle labels, favor tags, food cards and cupcake toppers.


3. Don’t give out party favors.
Some kids will come home with a bag filled with candy and small prizes, but isn’t it really just a bunch of junk that barely makes it through the front door? Plus candy can be expensive in bulk! Either skip favor bags entirely or try to purchase one small toy for each kid from the $1 bins at Target or Dollar General.

4. Only serve cake and ice cream.
Serving lunch or dinner can be expensive. Think about having your party in between lunch and dinner so you only need to serve cake and ice cream.

5. Decorate your own cake.
This one scares even me. I am NOT a great baker. I don’t think I’ve ever made cookies from scratch in my life. But I can certainly make a cake from a box. No kid is really going to care. They just want cake! Another idea is to buy a plain birthday cake from your local grocery store and decorate it yourself with some little toys. Example: having a Frozen birthday party? I’m sure you have some little figurines in the toy box that you could clean and place on top of the cake during the birthday song! And don’t forget cupcakes are a great alternative!

owl cupcake toppers

6. Have a party at your house or the park.
You can still have a fun birthday party without shelling out hundreds of dollars at the local bowling alley, paintball range or Chuck E Cheese. How about an in-home cooking party? Think decorating cupcakes (no birthday cake required!) or making pizzas. A nature scavenger hunt (like this one) could be fun at the local park. Or try a “sleep-under” (a sleepover in the afternoon… kids come in their PJs, have popcorn and watch a movie!).

7. Make your own invitations.
Remember in #2 when I talked about using FREE birthday party packages for decorations? Well you can find a lot of free templates online to use. And all of the free party printable packages found on my website INCLUDE the invitations! Just remember to add a line about RSVP. You can save money by having a head count before the party (less favors, cake, ice cream and more!).

birthday free printables

8. Don’t invite your child’s entire class.
I know you don’t want to hurt any feelings, but inviting an entire class to a birthday party can be expensive. Try keeping the party small with just a couple close friends. You’ll have a better time controlling the youngsters too!

9. Create your own games.
Trust me, you can be creative! Think of alternatives to Pin the Tail on the Donkey or Tic Tac Toe. If you’re having the party outdoors, break out some of your lawn games like washers or corn hole.

10. Decide on a budget and stick to it!
Give yourself a spending limit and do your best to stick to that number. Whether it’s $250 or $50, you can throw the perfect kid’s birthday party!


So, do YOU have any good tips and tricks?
Please share below!

Five Birthday Candles


  1. Jess M says

    We used your Pirate theme party invites last year for my son’s birthday (he picked that over the fire trucks)! I for one am happy that you have offered these and will use them in the future too!

  2. Jodi says

    The last few years I have made and decorated my own cakes and it has been surprisingly fun. We always have our parties at home. We use real forks for all and real dessert plates for the adults. I get colored or themed dessert plates for the children. If we have food (frozen pizza or hot dogs), we have it after the party. Meaning we do the cake and presents and then those that don’t have to rush off stay around and play games and such and eat. We mostly invite family and life-long friends, they travel about an hour to come. So I do want to have food but it ends up being a lot of people.

  3. says

    Great tips! I especially loved the sleep under party idea! My kiddo is only 6 mos old, born just days before Christmas… i know you said you have one at that time… any tips on making her first birthday special when its so close to a holiday? We’ve gone to so many 1st birthdays this year, I dont want hers to be a bunch of no shows. :/

    • says

      Yes, my daughter’s birthday is in December as well. Very tough to plan a party right around the holidays! People always seem to have other holiday events to attend, especially on the weekends. We actually celebrated my daughter’s 1st birthday a little bit early (the weekend of Thanksgiving) so it wouldn’t interfere with the hectic schedules. Also, one year we had her party at a local indoor carousel on a weeknight so more people could attend. Something short and quick, like from 6-7:30pm. I hope that helps a little. Good luck to you!

      • Trish West says

        My daughter is 3 and is also a December birthday baby (28th) and we’ve held her birthday the first weekend in January every year. Although, we do some rather large parties and its just easier that way. I like the separation from holidays and her special day and it has worked out great!

      • says

        I love the separation too! And waiting until January is a GREAT idea! I usually wait until last minute to buy her Christmas presents since I’m worried a relative will buy my kiddo the same thing. This would help tremendously!

  4. says

    Thank you SO much for the free printables. What a blessing! I am planning my son’s 2nd birthday party to be held in three weeks and I’m using the construction theme. You’ve inspired me to try the cake too. I love the construction cake idea! Perfect!

  5. Jenny Deiser says

    I learned the hard way about those favor bags. It is more cost-effective to get the items from a $1 bin and the kids like them better. I also buy a lot of foods in bulk and make my own cake as well as reuse birthday candles and cake decorations (after washing them well).

  6. Meredith says

    Growing up in my family we had the tradition that each kid got to make and decorate our own birthday cake (with Mom’s supervision). Our cakes were never very fancy but we loved them because we made them, and Mom loved them because it was inexpensive. It was so much fun I think I’m going to continue the tradition with my children when they get old enough. :)

  7. says

    My twins (boy/girl) birthday is 16 days after Christmas. Needless to say, we are broke when their birthday rolled around. Mine are grown now, so we don’t really do the parties anymore. I always made their cakes. (and I made each their own) Parties were always at our house. Always made the invitations. If I did party favors, I did pencils and balloons. We played games like tag, hide and seek. One of the favorites for all of them was shooting balloons I had hung on the clothes line with BB guns. (We live in the country) Lots of adult supervision with that one. We also did bon fires when they were older and they would play capture the flag. Lots of good memories from parties at home.

  8. Amy says

    Re the suggestion about not inviting the whole class- if you’re not sure who your child hangs out with at childcare or school your child’s educators may be able to provide a list of names. They did this for my daughter’s 2nd birthday and it was so cute watching her with her little friends.

  9. says

    My youngest has a July 1st birthday which can be tricky with the 4th of July just around the corner. We started right from her first birthday having her party the first weekend in August. I LOVE doing that so instead of being busy getting ready for a party we are CELEBRATING our daughter and the milestone’s she’s reached. It also gives me the motivation to get her ‘baby’ book done in time to have it at her party so guests can see it. Here’s a peek at the book about my daughter’s second year: http://campgroundcubs.blogspot.com/2013/08/looking-beyond-baby-book-how-to-record.html – maybe it will inspire others to get those photos off their phones/computers and into a book. My kids love looking back at their books and I think it helps solidify the memories in their minds.

    • says

      I love, love LOVE baby books and scrapbooks! My siblings and I still go through our old baby books all the time at my mother’s house. And great idea for pushing back the party. We’re moving up my daughter’s since her birthday is right around Christmas/Thanksgiving. We all know how hectic that time of year is!

  10. Kelly says

    Love all of your ideas, thank you so much.
    My sons birthday is exactly one week before Christmas. This year I am stuck…new rule at school (he is in first grade) that if you invite children to a birthday party then EVERY child must get invited. I understand that this is so children don’t feel left out, but having a party for 18 classmates plus family is going to be crazy!
    Any ideas on how to invite his friends, but not inviting all of his class?

    • says

      Oh my goodness, 18 would be a lot of people at a party… and expensive! In prior years we have just asked a small handful of friends to attend and mailed out the invitations so we didn’t have to worry about other children seeing the invites getting handed out at school. Also, honestly I would just go ahead and break the rules (then ask for forgiveness!). It’s silly to ask parents to accommodate such a large group for a [artu. I understand they don’t want hurt feelings, but considering the expense and the responsibility to watch and entertain 18 young children, it’s not the school’s authority to tell you who you can and can’t invite to a birthday party. Just my two cents ;)

  11. currinp says

    I just bought a birthday cake kit from Walmart and it was pretty easy to make the cake. I have been searching the craft stores for clearance cake decorating tools so I can make them myself. Saves at least $20-30 each party. I also have parties between meals at the house every other party. We can invite more people, and the kiddos have so much fun they don’t want to leave!

  12. Zsofia Maklari says

    Thank you for the printables. They are really useful. We are doing the 3rd birthday of my first son in 3 weeks, and we are using the construction theme. I need to edit them a bit because of the translation to Hungarian language, but anyway they are COOL. I would like to share some great games with you, that are really inexpensive and lots of fun. We use to play them since the childhood of my parents :) make teams and build a toilet paper mummy. every team gets 10-12 rolls, and one of team members should be the mummy, standing still. The others have to wrap the mummy. The fastest and the most beautiful wins some little price. The other is hot-dog eating contest. hang the hotdogs on a string and the kids have to eat them with hands tied back! It is such a great fun to. Or try eating a bar of chocolate (wrapped) with fork and knife. These are all really cheap, but great games!

  13. says

    I love these ideas! I prefer the solid colored plates. I tend to pick up colors that reflect the theme and I think it looks nicer. I do that and then pick up one main decoration to highlight the theme.

    Unfortunately, my children hang out with everyone in daycare according to the teachers. Wait a minute! That’s a good thing. But, both my children have birthdays in July so we tend to have low turnout (and have combined them on occasion also saving on cost).

    As for the not serving food, how do you communicate that to the people invited? It is the standard to have pizza and one time we went to a party and there was no food. Well, that lead to toddler tantrums (and hangry parents). Any suggestions for that?

    I try and scope out locations way a year in advance to see when they typically have sales or have coupons. This year, I was able to get a great price for my son’s party. We try and select birthday theme ahead to search for bargains in advance.

    • Kim says

      I think timing is important like 2-4pm, which is not a meal time and state something on the invitation like “come enjoy cake, ice cream and games.” This keeps it positive and is clear what can be expected. I personally always feed my kids ahead and pack a snack because they get caught up in the excitement of the party and don’t eat well anyway. Good luck, just maybe others will catch on and go simple, I have to believe there is another mom out there who is looking for permission to do what you’re doing.

  14. Colleen says

    I like the selection of birthday supplies at the Dollar Tree. You can set up a photo booth area an make props. The kids can have their pictures taken and you can print off the picture and have your child write the thank you note on the back. You could have a decorate your own cookie station instead of a goodie bag.

    • says

      LOVE the photo booth idea. My daughter just recently when to a party that did this. They all painted picture frames too. And decorating a cookie station is another great idea. Save some money from those expensive cakes!

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