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Easy Frugal Ideas for a Kid's Birthday Party

Updated on April 8, 2014
BNadyn profile image

Bernadyn is a writer who contributes her work to various websites and magazines and is the Owner/Director for the website, B is 4.

Throw a Fun Birthday Party and Save Some Money, Too

Celebrate your child's birthday without spending too much money.  Try these ideas on how to throw a more frugal party.
Celebrate your child's birthday without spending too much money. Try these ideas on how to throw a more frugal party. | Source

Tighten the Leash Before It Goes Astray

Birthday parties are a fun way to celebrate your child's birthday and make them feel extra special.

Beware: Hosting parties are a fast way to spend a lot of money, as well.

There is still hope: Parties do not have to break the bank.

There are several easy and creative ways to keep the party budget on a tight leash, especially if you want to be frugal and not throw money away on unnecessary party spending.

Save Time and Money on Kids' Birthday Parties

Kids do not need fancy parties to have fun.    Stick to the minimum, maybe serve milkshakes and snacks to spend less on food.
Kids do not need fancy parties to have fun. Stick to the minimum, maybe serve milkshakes and snacks to spend less on food. | Source

Stick To Your Budget and Plan in Advance

Beware! Two things that can cause you to lose sight of your party budget:

  1. Excitement
  2. Stress

Both can cause one to stray off the cheaper path, influencing you to pay for things (like hiring a clown or buying an expensive cake and catered food).

Yes, it can be more convenient but usually comes with a higher price tag.

Ways to avoid over-spending:

  1. Set a realistic budget from the start and keep it in your mind whenever you are buying or planning anything for the party.
  2. It can be easier to properly plan on what to spend on the party if you have a longer stretch of time to do so and you will avoid splurging on things due to lack of time.
  3. Remember that you cannot return things like half-eaten cake or a clown that attended the party.

A little planning (and restraint to spend) goes a long way.

Let Party Guests Decorate Cupcakes

As part of the party's activities, have all the kids decorate their own cupcakes and they can take it home in a bag as a party favor.
As part of the party's activities, have all the kids decorate their own cupcakes and they can take it home in a bag as a party favor. | Source

Minimize the Party Guests and Avoid Hurt Feelings

Invite other people who want to celebrate with the birthday child  to celebrate another day.  Ask them to come over the house for a simple dinner one night or to have cake and punch at the park or beach.
Invite other people who want to celebrate with the birthday child to celebrate another day. Ask them to come over the house for a simple dinner one night or to have cake and punch at the park or beach. | Source

Limit Your Guest List

The more guests you invite, the cost for food and possibly games and activities tend to rise. Limit your guest list to the bare minimum. If your child is looking forward to mainly enjoying the party with close friends, then think about honoring his request and making it a kid-only party.

Use Free Party Venues

Parks offer space to play and run free.  You don't have to come up with many games or activities to keep kids entertained.  Many have grills, picnic shelters and tables you can use for free or pay a small rental fee.
Parks offer space to play and run free. You don't have to come up with many games or activities to keep kids entertained. Many have grills, picnic shelters and tables you can use for free or pay a small rental fee. | Source
Bring blankets and pack a picnic on the ground with brown paper bags.  This eliminates the need to rent a picnic shelter or tables. Serve cake in a box or hand out cupcakes from a box after they eat.  Parks offer nice scenery for photos, too.
Bring blankets and pack a picnic on the ground with brown paper bags. This eliminates the need to rent a picnic shelter or tables. Serve cake in a box or hand out cupcakes from a box after they eat. Parks offer nice scenery for photos, too. | Source
Party at the beach!  No decorations needed!  Build a sandcastle, blow bubbles or play with a beach ball.  Plenty of beaches provide grills and covered tables. If not, bring some water bottles, watermelon and sandwiches and pack them in a cooler.
Party at the beach! No decorations needed! Build a sandcastle, blow bubbles or play with a beach ball. Plenty of beaches provide grills and covered tables. If not, bring some water bottles, watermelon and sandwiches and pack them in a cooler. | Source

Favorite Things About a Party

When you were a child, what did you enjoy best about birthday parties?

See results

Party Venue Idea: Local Church

Some churches allows you to rent the hall or a smaller reception room for free or for an affordable price. Ask your church if this is possible.

Affordable or Free Party Venue Ideas

After you create your guest list, decided where to host your party.

Some venue suggestions:

  • Your house: Have a barbecue to cook the food as the guest arrive instead of worrying about doing it ahead of time and making too much. You have more control of the time for the party, how long it runs and can keep track of the kids easier.
  • Friend/relative's house: Ask a friend or relative to have the party at their house if it is not possible at your place ...or if they have a pool and you do not! The kids will play in the pool, saving you the hassle of planning other activities.
  • Chuck E. Cheese, Adventure Landing or other kid-friendly attractions: To keep the cost down, do not go through them directly to host the party. Invite a few of your child's friends to meet up and order a pizza there. Bring your own cake. If you reserve through them, a minimum party package is required to host the party since they will be the ones actually hosting and taking care of everything.

Easy, Cheap, Sweet Party Treats

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Make party treats like marshmallow pops that are easy and cheap.  They are easy enough to let the kids at the party do this as an activity. They can then take some home as party favors instead of preparing goody bags.Different colored candy melts are more cost-friendly to make treats and party favors since one bag can make several candy molds.Find a candy mold tray that fits the theme and use as part of the party treats or decorations on the food table. Popcorn is easy and serves plenty, especially if you portion it out for kids on their plate or in small, individual cups.
Make party treats like marshmallow pops that are easy and cheap.  They are easy enough to let the kids at the party do this as an activity. They can then take some home as party favors instead of preparing goody bags.
Make party treats like marshmallow pops that are easy and cheap. They are easy enough to let the kids at the party do this as an activity. They can then take some home as party favors instead of preparing goody bags. | Source
Source
Different colored candy melts are more cost-friendly to make treats and party favors since one bag can make several candy molds.
Different colored candy melts are more cost-friendly to make treats and party favors since one bag can make several candy molds. | Source
Find a candy mold tray that fits the theme and use as part of the party treats or decorations on the food table.
Find a candy mold tray that fits the theme and use as part of the party treats or decorations on the food table. | Source
Popcorn is easy and serves plenty, especially if you portion it out for kids on their plate or in small, individual cups.
Popcorn is easy and serves plenty, especially if you portion it out for kids on their plate or in small, individual cups. | Source

DIY and Inexpensive Party Games, Entertainment and Activities

Party Games
Entertainment
Other Party Activities
Musical chairs
Ask a friend or relative to be the magician
Bubbles -can make your own
Charades
Ask a friend or relative to face paint (make sure to use the correct type of paint)
Play-doh - can make your own
Tag
Ask a family comedian to tell a few jokes
Arts and crafts - think of a craft that fits the party theme and kids can bring it home as a party favor
Simon Says
Ask someone to sing a few songs while you set up any other activities
Hang up a plastic tablecloth on a wall (can buy at the dollar store) or use old newspapers to set up as a painting canvas
Red Light/Green Light
Does anyone else have any talents they can offer as a gift to the birthday boy or girl?
Chalk - write/draw on sidewalk
Pin the tail, nose, crown or bow tie (on the birthday boy's photo)
 
Play pool games for a pool party
Guess How Many: put small objects like candy or marbles in a jar or container and have guests guess the correct amount
 
 
Scavenger Hunt
 
 

Reuse Glass Jars As Party Decor

Reuse glass jars to hold photos for added decoration by placing the birthday girl or boy's pictures in the jars.
Reuse glass jars to hold photos for added decoration by placing the birthday girl or boy's pictures in the jars. | Source

DIY, Reuse, Recycle to Cut Down on Party Invites and Decorations

Reusing items you already have around the house helps to cut down not only on food but possibly on decorations, games, entertainment and any other activities.

Additionally, hand making things yourself will cut down on these expenses.

Invites:

  • Send invites online. It is the cheapest and most Eco-friendly way to send out invites. It saves paper and time from buying, mailing or making invites. You can use Evite, Facebook and email. Evite and Facebook invites allows you and your guests to keep track of details for the party and for guests to easily RSVP.
  • Try DIY invites if you want to send out physical invites. Maybe have the party celebrant help hand-make them, reuse art work he has already made, scrapbook paper or cardstock you already have. DIY idea: Cut out medium-size circles or shapes from a poster board to make several invites.
  • Print out free cards and templates online. Browse Pinterest and you can be sure to find some that fit your theme.

Decorations:

Kids are usually content with simple decorations.

  • Balloons: They serve multiple party purposes and come in a variety of colors to make any party more festive. Kids can play games with them and even take them home as party favors instead of sweets or goody bags. Use a balloon to make a pinata instead of buying.
  • Reuse items you already have to make additional decoration. For example, hang a tablecloth on a wall and set up a photo booth area. Provide things around the house for props or dress up clothes for kids to use. Plastic tablecloths can be used as chair covers, too.
  • Use toys, pictures and books for decorations you already have to fit the theme. Read a book that matches the theme for a story time during the party, especially if it is a party centered around a book. Toys your kids own can help decorate the table. Put up pictures you have that go with the theme or pictures of the party celebrant as decoration.
  • Print out free templates online for food labels, cupcake toppers and decoration.

Buy These Mason Jars For Your Party and Reuse After

Reuse Glass Jars and Kitchenware You Own to Serve Food and Drinks

Reuse glass bottles you already have for food and drinks at the party.  Plan ahead so you can have time to collect these or ask friends to donate ones they are not using.
Reuse glass bottles you already have for food and drinks at the party. Plan ahead so you can have time to collect these or ask friends to donate ones they are not using. | Source
Reuse mason jars to serve drinks instead of buying disposable cups.
Reuse mason jars to serve drinks instead of buying disposable cups. | Source
Portion out food by reusing small cups/containers like baby jars, yogurt or fruit cups to place the food.   This works well for food like cheese balls, jello, trail mix, parfaits and fruit.
Portion out food by reusing small cups/containers like baby jars, yogurt or fruit cups to place the food. This works well for food like cheese balls, jello, trail mix, parfaits and fruit. | Source
Avoid buying paper and plastic material by using kitchenware you own.  This saves you money and helps the environment.
Avoid buying paper and plastic material by using kitchenware you own. This saves you money and helps the environment.

Easy, Frugal Party Food and Decorations

Lollipop Sticks to Make Marshmallow Pops or Other Candy

Limit Food Servings

Food can end up being where you spend the most for the party. There are multiple ways to keep the cost down.

  • Choose a time for the party where a lot of food is not expected like the early afternoon.
  • Portion out food servings prior to the party instead of just laying them all out on platters and trays. This way, guests will not just pile food onto a plate and then throw it away, particularly younger kids who do not eat as much. Bonus: Serving smaller portions helps your guests who are watching their food intake!
  • State on the invite that the party will have limited food. For instance, specify that it is a "cake and ice cream" party - set up an ice cream sundae bar where guests make their own ice cream treats. For a party closer to lunch or dinner time, choose one big entrée like spaghetti which is easy, inexpensive and serves plenty.

The video shows an easy way to use food not only for eating but as décor on the table. The best part is that it does not take much time and no baking or cooking required!


Frugal and Thrifty Cake Decorating

Use toys and accessories around the house to easily decorate cakes and cupcakes.
Use toys and accessories around the house to easily decorate cakes and cupcakes. | Source

Make Your Own Cake

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Don't buy an expensive cake from the bakery.  DIY and bake your own from a box to make cake or cupcakes.
Don't buy an expensive cake from the bakery.  DIY and bake your own from a box to make cake or cupcakes.
Don't buy an expensive cake from the bakery. DIY and bake your own from a box to make cake or cupcakes. | Source

Party on a Leash

You can still throw a fun bash that the kids will remember and appreciate without extending the leash on your party budget.

In the end, the memory of a good time is all that matters to the birthday boy or girl and other guests!

Happy party planning!

©BNadyn 2014

No Need to Spend A Lot for a Fun Birthday Bash

Let them eat cake!  As long as there are good friends, cake and fun, kids will appreciate the effort you make to throw a memorable party!
Let them eat cake! As long as there are good friends, cake and fun, kids will appreciate the effort you make to throw a memorable party! | Source

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  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I'll read any article that has the word "frugal" in it. Well done. This is one of those articles that should do very well with Google. What parent doesn't want to save money? Well done!

  • BNadyn profile image
    Author

    Bernadyn 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

    Thank you, I'm trying to plan my son's party for his upcoming birthday so I had all these ideas I wanted to use to have a frugal party . I figured maybe other parents would want to save, too, so hopefully this helps them!

  • raymondphilippe profile image

    Raymond Philippe 3 years ago from The Netherlands

    Fun ideas for an affordable kids birthday party. But to be honest I am happy I don't have to bother with them any more. Dealing with my own kids was often tiresome enough ;-)

  • BNadyn profile image
    Author

    Bernadyn 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

    I know what you mean, I'm sure I'll be happy to not have to worry about all of this when my kids are older, too! Thanks for dropping by, have a nice weekend. :)

  • Kevin Kavi Rao profile image

    Kevin 3 years ago from Rao

    It is very hard to organize a birthday party because it is very hard to do something special for children and children are the main attraction of birthday parties.You have to care about children fun and also their food items..

  • BNadyn profile image
    Author

    Bernadyn 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

    Hi, Keven, yes, I think any party can be hard to do and even more so for children. I'm actually planning a party for my son right now! I think as long as you plan well and plan in advance, you can throw a fun party that's not too stressful or expensive...and that's very true, kids are the main attraction, so for them a good time doesn't take much when there are other kids to play with! Thanks for reading, enjoy the rest of your week. :)

  • joedolphin88 profile image

    Joe 3 years ago from north miami FL

    Great idea, this can save a lot of money over the course of multiple birthdays.

  • BNadyn profile image
    Author

    Bernadyn 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

    Hi Joe, thank you so much and yes, definitely can save much more this way. We've tried it the other way where we bought all new party supplies and ordered a $50 cake for our child's first birthday and quickly learned that was not the way to go!

  • joedolphin88 profile image

    Joe 3 years ago from north miami FL

    Yes in this kind of economy spending too much just isn't smart. But he'll have a good first birthday memory.

  • mosaicman profile image

    mosaicman 3 years ago from Tampa Bay, Fl

    Hey B, I have used three of the ideas previously for our daughter's birthday party and they worked out well. We threw a party at Chuck E. Cheese, our Church, and at our house. These options were very economical. There are some other interesting ideas that I can use in the future. Thanks for the hub.

  • BNadyn profile image
    Author

    Bernadyn 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

    That's great, mosaicman, they are preferable to save a little money! I'm glad you found some more that you can try out.

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