How to Plan an Awesome Birthday Party on a Budget

Birthdays are so exciting, but if you’ve ever tried planning a party for your kid, your friend, or even yourself, then you know the stress of trying to cover all the costs!

This information is great for any upcoming birthday parties you may be hosting. Additionally, most of the information is still applicable to almost any kind of party you may be throwing in the near future. Whether you’re planning an upcoming Birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Holiday party, these are great tips that can help you stay within your budget for your next event!

Location: Where are you going to party?  

Stay at home. No need to rent out a room, pay for a bunch of movie tickets, or buy a bunch of food. Going anywhere can become incredibly expensive incredibly fast with so many people!  

  • Not sure your house or apartment has enough space? If you’re planning on inviting almost 100 people to your party, you may want to reconsider why you’re inviting them. Do you actively enjoy hanging out with all of them? Ensure you’ll have a good party by inviting only the people that you or the birthday person will actually want to hang out with. If your guest list is closer to about 30 people, you’re probably good. Not everyone will be able to make it; and the ones that do, won’t notice or care that you don’t have enough chairs. Most people, especially kids, are more than happy to sit on the floor.
  • Is your house a disaster? None of your guests will care that your house hasn’t been recently remodeled. They won’t care that the walls don’t have fresh paint or that the bathroom sink makes a weird noise. They’re just there to have fun. Your house doesn’t have to be spotless; it just needs to be clean. Spend a few hours picking up the day before the party. With a few hours, you can easily clean and put away the dirty dishes in the sink, pick up the kid’s toys scattered around the living room, clean the toilet, and vacuum. That’s all you have to do.
  • Worried about having to pick up after the party? Disposable plates and cups are so convenient. No need to do dirty dishes. You can make cleanup even easier by making sure you have multiple trashcans. Take out the trash before the party starts, then move any recycle bins or trashcans you have around the house, into the living room instead. This will ensure that people actually throw their trash out. Since you picked up the house the day before, there shouldn’t be much you have to do, now. You may just need to clean the bathroom and vacuum again.

Decorations and invites: How are you going to bring the party to life?

  • Decorations: You can save money on decorations by not having a theme. No theme = no need for decorations. If you really want decorations though, a trip to a dollar store may be a great idea. You could walk away with multiple balloons, a table cloth, table displays, and wall decor for less than $10!
  • Invites: It’s 2019. Who’s sending invitations in the mail these days? Make a private event on Facebook and invite your friends. You can also use a free service like Evite to design gorgeous cards and then just send them via email. Not only have you saved money, but you’ve also saved time.

Activities: What are you going to do at the party?

  • Movies: If you want to ‘go to the movies’ you can stage it at home. Rent a movie instead, pop some popcorn, bring out a bunch of pillows and blankets. If this is for a kid’s party, you have the bonus of knowing that you won’t have to worry about bothering other movie goers with a loud group of kids.
  • Laser tag: Children (and children at heart) will find an exciting water balloon fight in the yard just as fun! If it is a kid’s party, remember to ask parents to bring a swimsuit or a change of clothes for their kids, before the party.
  • Painting: Have a child that’s crafty and artistic? Have a painting party. Stopping by the dollar store to purchase water colors and paper allows this to be an inexpensive afternoon. You can save money by having two kids share each water color paint set.
    If this is for an adult’s birthday, you can always turn it into a wine and art experience. Purchasing a box of wine for the group is a lot more affordable than taking a group out to a paint and drink venue.
  • Need more ideas for your kid’s party? has 20 more ideas for party games that are fun for kids of all ages!

Food: What are you going to eat at the party?

  • Planning food that is easy to prepare and share is perfect. Cook one or two frozen pizzas, a box of chicken wings, and put out a few bags of chips.
  • If it’s your party, or a friend’s party, you can ask the guests to bring food for a potluck. A potluck is a meal or party where each guest contributes a dish. Some people will bring dessert, and some people will bring sides. You can provide the main entree. This helps split up the costs. Need ideas on what food item you can bring? Check out some of our favorite recipes. These recipes are perfect for the summer but you’ll find that they taste just as good during the fall and winter, too.
  • Bake your own cake. A store-bought cake is often over $20. A cake mix can easily be bought for about $2. Even after you’ve purchased frosting and candles, you can easily spend half of what you would if you were to buy a cake instead. Don’t know how to decorate a birthday cake? Check out these five ways to decorate a cake without decorating supplies.
  • Soft Drinks: Water is always a great choice. It tends to be relatively inexpensive and is a healthy alternative to sugary drinks. If you know your guests have a sweet tooth, you can easily make lemonade. It’s another drink that tends to be relatively inexpensive to make. If you do decide to get soda, be sure to find a few dark and light sodas. You can buy off-brand sodas for just $1 at most dollar stores.
  • Alcohol: When you’re planning a birthday party for adults, don’t even consider going to a club or bar. Between the cover and the cost of a couple drinks, you can easily find yourself spending over $40 if you go out. You could take a trip to the liquor store before the party and spend just half of that for an entire bottle. Looking to save more money? Provide some basics, but then let your guests know that it’s BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer). It’s a great way to make sure people bring something they actually want to drink.
    Bonus: If the party is at your house, you and your guests can drink responsibly. You can have more fun knowing that you don’t have to worry about your friends making it home safe. Instead of driving home, or having to pay for an Uber, they can crash on your couch for the night.  

Party Favors and Gifts: What are you going to gift them?

  • Have we mentioned how much we love shopping at the dollar store? You can find items for an at-home spa day, puzzles and games, or even a box of hot cocoa for $1. You can make a $6 gift look like you spent $15-20 on it, easily.

Birthday parties are supposed to be fun. The last thing they should do is cause you unneeded stress. No one attending the party will remember that you didn’t take them out for food or entertainment. They won’t remember that the cake was homemade, or that your apartment was a little crowded. They’ll just remember the fun memories of hanging out with a bunch of their friends, eating cake, and celebrating an exciting life milestone.

Your next party can be fun and exciting, all while staying within your budget. Just don’t forget the most important part of any party: to have fun!

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