15 Inexpensive Birthday Party Ideas & Tips for Throwing A Budget Friendly Gathering!

Did you know that the average kid’s birthday party cost $500? I don’t know about you, but that is a chunk of money out of the family budget that isn’t really a necessary expense! And when you consider that your child will likely remember who was there or the activities rather than the overpriced decorations, you realize that you need to consider some inexpensive birthday party ideas!

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Nothing is cheap anymore! And when there is a demand, the cost goes up (thank you high school economics)! So, with all of these Pinterest-perfect parties, it’s no wonder that many kids’ birthday parties are costing as much as some weddings.

I love a good party! And I love pretty things! So it is SUPER easy for me to get sucked into the trap of the big fancy, ridiculously expensive kids’ party! I have done that in the past, but now after 4 kids, I am learning some simple inexpensive birthday party ideas & tips to keep me on a budget.

1. Inexpensive Birthday Party Ideas- Plan Ahead

My first inexpensive birthday party idea is to plan ahead! If you have an idea of the theme you want, you may find cute decorations, plates, and napkins at the Dollar Tree or the dollar bin at Target (oh I love those dollar bins!!!). And even if you do find an item that costs a little more ahead of time, spreading your spending out will keep you from having to dig deep (like into your savings) to pull off this shin-dig!

2. Be Flexible

There are a million birthday party themes these days! If you are set on the newest trend, you may not find the exact items that you want at a discount store or on sale. However, if you are flexible and open to other options, you may find some awesome items at a good price that will make a fun and unique birthday party for your kids. And if you are like me, you don’t want every party you throw to just be a trend! So, think outside of the box! Maybe just get lots of colorful decorations and go to town making your party location festive!

3. Balloons

You have to have balloons… LOTS of them! And guess what? Balloons are CHEAP! Do you know what isn’t cheap? Helium! Look at these great inexpensive birthday party ideas from Twigs & Twirls for ways to decorate with balloons without using helium!

4. Streamers

Streamers are also inexpensive and you can pick out all kinds of colors and hang them anywhere! We once attached them to ceiling fan blades and turned the fan on… talk about a fun way to use streamers!

5. DIY Your Birthday Party

Make the most of your own decorations! And if you don’t have lots of craft supplies, find your local teacher’s center and make friends!!! I work for our local school system, but long before I did, a friend from church revealed this awesome secret place where you can find all kinds of paper, posters, die-cut letters, bulletin board paper for a backdrop, and many other things to make banners or birthday signs, etc. you don’t have to be a Cricut queen to DIY your child’s party decorations! And DIYing is one of the best inexpensive birthday party ideas & will definitely help keep your party on a budget!

6. DIY Invitations

I have made my children’s birthday invitations by hand and that is a sweet memento that grandparents might enjoy keeping. However, today, since we have mostly family coming to our parties, I will often make a cute e-invite (I use the FREE app Canva) in about 3 minutes and text it out! Super simple and FREE!!!

7. Printable Decorations

There are many inexpensive options for birthday party decorations on a budget, but there are many cute (and theme-specific) printable decorations. Search on Pinterest or Etsy for free or low-cost birthday decorations that you can print yourself!

8. DIY Birthday Cake

If you check out this post about cake-baking essentials, you will find that for my oldest son’s first birthday, I was looking at a cake that would have cost me at least $200!!!

Now, I totally understand why cakes cost so much to buy! I make a lot of cakes, and they take a lot of time and supplies.  However, it is altogether possible that you can make your child a beautiful and delicious birthday cake for less than $20 if you are willing to put in a little time!  And there is something so special about making your child’s birthday cake yourself!!! I actually have a friend whose husband made & decorated their daughter’s 13th birthday cake when he had never even baked a cake before (and it was pretty impressive)!!!

So, take a chance and make a special birthday cake for your birthday boy or girl! And if you are looking for a great recipe, look at this cake recipe and this frosting recipe! And then, check out my post about simple birthday cake ideas!

9. Have an Old Fashioned Cake & Ice Cream Party

It used to be that a birthday party started at 2 pm on a weekend and there was cake, ice cream, opening presents, and a few games and everyone went home. There is no reason that you can’t stick with cake, ice cream, and punch! If you choose to do a meal, think about something like a taco bar so that the meat isn’t really the star of the show and you can fill in with beans, rice, and all the fixings- that will help you keep to your birthday party budget!

10. Party Favors

Keep you party favors simple! Most kids don’t need any extra toys or gadgets! Think of bubbles with a cute label, or a fun candy kabob with a tag (check out this How To from Oh Happy Day). Or you can even pack up the extra cupcakes to send home with your guests.

11. Limit the Number of Guests

There is no reason that you have to invite every student to your child’s class. Make the party a small gathering of close friends, unless it will hurt feelings. This can allow your child to enjoy some fun time with friends and keep the party manageable.

12. Have a Family Birthday Gathering

We typically have our children’s birthday with our family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, & cousins). This started when they were young because my children stayed at home with me and our church is about an hour from home, so inviting other kids their age wasn’t usually feasible.

This has made our children’s birthday a special time for our whole family to be together and for our child to feel loved by family members and not entertain friends. And our kids don’t usually need a lot of gifts, so they will be getting presents from the family that would likely buy for them anyway.

13. Encourage a Destination “Party”

If you aren’t terribly hung up on the traditional birthday party, you could find a fun activity that your child would enjoy and take them and a friend or two. We have taken our sons to a rodeo and also to a rock climbing gym for birthday fun! This can turn out to be a great way to stick to a birthday budget, even if you treat them to lunch and cupcakes or ice cream!!

14. Have lots of kids!

Ok, so this one is a little tongue-in-cheek! But let me tell you now, as a mom of 4 kids, the days of big blowouts are gone!!! Not that we have ever really thrown a truly over-the-top party, but when you have a relatively large family, you have to think about every purchase!!! That $15 souvenir x 4 turns into a $60 expense that is NOT in your budget! So, when you are party planning, remember, what you do for one, you will need to do for all! In our family, we are finding that we may do slightly bigger parties or maybe larger gifts for milestone birthdays. And on the other years, we can focus on doing smaller parties or taking our children to do something that they really want to do!

15.  Chose Your Venue With Care!

Just because all of your child’s friends have had their party at the crazy-expensive trampoline gym, doesn’t mean that you have to follow suit!  Get creative and come up with fun backyard games to include in your budget-friendly but wildly unique and fun birthday party!  Think outside of the box and dream up some ideas that no one else has done before!

Feel like you have to entertain your party guests somewhere other than your house?  Think about a family member’s pool or a local park.  You could even check with a local restaurant or ice cream shop to see if you could have your party there and bring a cake if you will purchase food (or ice cream) from them!  Just remember, when working with a budget, a free party location is a HUGE PLUS!!!

piggy bank: inexpenisve birthday party ideas

Birthday Party Budget

Obviously, a birthday party budget is going to vary from family to family and based on the number of guests.  However, these guidelines can help you keep your budget reined in! The basic budget below can serve as guide for a simplified birthday party for those needing to throw a party on a shoestring, or it can be a bare-bones starting place for others!

Cake/Cupcakes $10-20

  • DIY Cake $20

Plates, Napkins, Cups, etc. $3-6

  • solid colors- $1 for 20-count napkins/plates at Walmart/Dollar Tree, etc.  Total $3-$6

Decorations $6-12

  • Balloons ($1 for a small bag) x 4- $4
  • Streamers ($1 per roll) x 4= $4
  • Tissue Paper Flowers/PomPoms- $1 per pack of tissue paper x 6

Total – $6

  • Or these cute colorful decorations from Amazon- $11.99

Food $25-$50

  • The cost of food can vary widely,  but plan for around $5/person ( if serving pizza, hot dogs, spaghetti, sandwiches, etc. you could decrease that amount significantly). And of course, you can REALLY cut costs by having cake, ice cream and punch without a big spread!

Total $25-50/10 people

Party Favors $10

  • Aim for $1 per child and add a cute label &/or ribbon!  x 10 children

Total $10

Grand Total $54-$100

Keep the Focus on the Fun

No matter how much money you spend on your child’s birthday party, remember that what your child remembers for years to come is the love they felt and the special people they shared it with!

Do you have any great inexpensive birthday party ideas?  Please share them with us in the comments below!

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