How to Throw a Birthday Party that Won’t Break the Bank

I remember the days when birthday parties consisted of colorful balloons, streamers, a simple cake, and the classics like musical chairs and tag with a few friends.

Times have changed and suddenly it feels necessary to have aesthetically pleasing décor with fancy balloon arrangements placed in front of gorgeous backdrops, impressive entertainment, and the unveiling of a cake worthy of Pinterest or Instagram feeds.

I experienced this pressure first-hand as we celebrated my youngest daughter’s birthday earlier this year. She’s now at the age where she notices the details, and I was tempted to splurge and make her birthday extra special.

It was a tough decision, but since our family is in the process of moving and we’ve been sticking to a tighter budget, my husband and I decided to host a simple, budget-friendly birthday party for her instead. Despite the decision to keep things simple, and to my mom guilt’s surprise, my daughter had the time of her life and said it was her favorite party yet!
Moral of the story, I’m here to remind you that not only is it possible to host an awesome celebration your kids will love, but it’s also possible not to break the bank.

Here are a few suggestions to consider:

Where to cut costs and save money

  • Pick the right venue: Consider having the party at your home or, if you don’t have an ideal space, at a loved one’s house. Hosting a party at your local park or neighborhood playground is another great free or budget-friendly option to keep in mind.
  • Keep your guest list small: Consider limiting the guest list to no more than 10 by inviting your child’s closest friends and resisting the urge to invite their entire class. If you’re like me who has a big family, it’s okay not to invite every cousin, tía and tío.
  • Timing is key: Schedule the party between lunch and dinner where you can provide light snacks or finger foods and beverages instead of investing in a complete lunch or dinner for guests.

Other budget birthday ‘hacks’

  • DIY invitations: Go the digital route by creating an electronic invite to text or email to guests or design your invitation online and print copies at home to hand deliver.
  • Inexpensive entertainment: Bring back classic games like musical chairs, pin the tail on the donkey, or scavenger hunts!
  • Homemade desserts: Instead of ordering a pricey cake, consider baking and decorating your own cake, cupcakes, and other treats.
  • Effortless party favors: Have a craft station at your party, and let kids create their own artwork to take home with them, or set up a simple grab-and-go treat station with small paper bags, and allow guests to decorate them.

Keeping things simple will allow you to avoid unnecessary financial stress, have a more relaxed party-planning experience, and focus on being present and enjoying the celebration with your child and loved ones. And along the way, your child might just learn a valuable lesson that having fun doesn’t always mean spending money.