Birthdays feel extra special for our little ones, but let’s face it: our wallets don’t always match our grand party visions or what others are sharing on social media.

I’m excited to share my practical tips to help you pull off a memorable party that won’t have you paying it off for months to come.  

What you will find in this article:  budget-friendly party planning without compromising on fun

What is a good amount to spend on a kid’s birthday?

A good rule of thumb on how much to spend on a kid’s birthday party is $15-$30 per child.  That means a child’s birthday with 20 guests will cost $300-$600. 

But, always factor in personal financial considerations, cultural norms and individual preferences.  Consider budgeting an amount that you feel comfortable with and aligns with your overall financial goals.  

Some families may choose to set a specific dollar amount, while others may focus on creating meaningful experiences rather than monetary expenditures.

It’s important to remember that the value of a birthday celebration lies in the love, thoughtfulness, and enjoyment shared with the child, rather than the price tag attached to it.

Choosing Affordable and Creative Party Themes

This post may contain affiliate links for our full disclaimer click here.

There is a lot of instagram pressure to have unique birthday themes, the problem is the more unique the theme, the more custom decor items that will need to be bought or made. 

This can add up really quickly. 

To stay on budget, look for popular themes that are sold at most party stores.  

This means that they will be widely available and will go on sale. 

Tip: You can also shop around for the best prices.  I like using the Flipp app and create a “watch list” for my upcoming theme.  You will get notified when items come on sale.

Another benefit of a more popular theme is that you can buy used party decor on places like Facebook marketplace.

Just keep an eye every week (after Saturday is best) to see if other parents are selling their kid’s decor from the previous weekend. 

Tip: Checking on Sunday’s can even score you some balloons that still have helium or those large balloon arches that are so popular.   

Here are some popular themes:

Unicorn

Mermaid

Super Hero

Paw Patrol

Carnival

(I purchased the little hats on Etsy here)

Tip: Another super easy to execute and budget-friendly idea is using your child’s favorite toys as the party theme. 

For my daughter’s second birthday, we took her beloved Little People toys and turned them into the stars of the show.

The best part? It didn’t cost us a dime, and my daughter’s face lit up with pure joy to see her toys out on display. 

Tip:  Look around your child’s room for easy decor additions. 

Do they have lots of unicorn stuffies? Put some party hats on them and use them as table decor.

Super heroes everywhere?  Have some climbing balloons to add some unique elements without spending any money.

Affordable Venue Options

Affordable birthday party in the park with recycled table cloth and children laughing

The go-to place for hosting an affordable child’s birthday party is your own home as you don’t pay a rental fee and have control over everything. 

But there are lots of other options from free to small rental fees you may want to consider

1.  Local Park & Picnic Area – look for ones where you can drive up to a covered area/gazebo and either bring your own bbq or one that has bbqs available.  Picnic food like sandwiches are also a great alternative. 

2.  Rec Center / Community center: rec centers often rent out rooms for a decent price and you can bring in your own food, decor and games.  

3.  Church:  Rent out your local church basement for a larger space on a budget

4.  Beach:  If you have a beach in your town let guests know where you’ll be and come set up early for the day. 

Just have a backup date or location in case of poor weather

5.  Movie Theater:  For the price of a child’s ticket and a small bag of popcorn you can have lots of friend’s come for a day at the movies. 

If they offer discounted prices on certain days, consider booking it for that day.  Send them home with a homemade cupcake in lieu of cake.  

6.  School Gym/Facilities:  Sometimes you can rent out the gym of a school for a reasonable price.  

7.  Family / Friend’s home:  Moving the venue out of your home may make it feel more special. 

Just be upfront on who covers damage and handles cleaning before and after.  It might be more trouble than it’s worth.  

In order to maximize the venue,  keep decor focused on one key area like the food table or games area. 

If decor is maximized in one focal area it will appear bigger and be more eye-catching.  Trying to fill an entire room with decor will be too expensive.

Budget-friendly Decor for Children’s Birthday Parties

Balloons, streamers, and homemade banners add a festive touch and are also inexpensive.

pom pom how to

Tissue Paper Pom-Poms:

Create fluffy and vibrant pom-poms using tissue paper. Stack several sheets of tissue paper, accordion-fold them, and secure the center with a twist tie or string.

Gently separate and fluff out the layers to form a pom-pom shape.

Paper Bunting:

Make your own bunting using colorful construction paper or scrapbook paper. Cut out triangles or other shapes, then string them together with twine or ribbon.

Money Saving Tip: Look for discounted paper or use leftover scraps to keep costs down.

Here is a fun Youtube video that only uses dollar tree items and this balloon inflator ( a must have in my mind). 

It also comes with a tie tool which saves your fingers!

Balloon Backdrop:

Create a colorful and eye-catching backdrop using balloons. Inflate balloons in various sizes and colors, then attach them to a wall or string them together to form a balloon garland.

Money Saving Tip:  choose plain balloons rather than themed ones.

 

DIY Photo Booth:

Set up a photo booth area with props and a backdrop.   Create your own props using cardstock, such as mustaches, hats, and speech bubbles.

For the backdrop, hang a colorful sheet or use a large piece of patterned fabric or use the balloon arch from above. 

Money Saving Tip: use free printable templates.

Affordable Food and Snack Ideas

Food is a must have at any party, but can really add up.  

Of course you can put out chips and pop and call it a day, but there are more impactful ways to feed a crowd.  

Below you will find some ideas for budget-friendly snacks and treats, but also consider a pot-luck style party to help spread out the costs.    

1.  Mini Banana Split Cups:

These adorable desserts are simple to make as they don’t require baking.  

See the full recipe here.

Money Saving Tip:  Use store-brand cookies and whipped cream

2.  Mini Pizzas:

Prepare mini pizzas using English muffins or pita bread as the base. Let the kids add their favorite toppings, such as cheese, vegetables, and pepperoni.

Money Saving Tip:  use store-brand ingredients.  Bread can be frozen in advance – look for 50% off ones that are getting close to their best before date. 

3.  Fruit Kabobs:

Create colorful fruit kabobs using chunks of fresh fruit like strawberries, pineapple, grapes, and melon.

Alternate the fruits on skewers for a visually appealing treat.

Money Saving Tip: opt for seasonal fruits or choose frozen fruit when it’s more affordable.  Amazon link for sticks:

4.  Veggie Cups:

Serve individual cups filled with crunchy veggies like carrot sticks, cucumber slices, and cherry tomatoes.

Add a small portion of dip, such as ranch dressing or hummus, for extra flavor.

Money Saving Tips: Buy vegetables in bulk or consider using locally grown produce for a cost-effective option.

5.  Popcorn Bar: Set up a DIY popcorn bar with plain popcorn as the base and offer different toppings like grated cheese, cinnamon sugar, or flavored seasoning. Let the kids create their own unique popcorn mixes.

Money Saving Tip: Purchase popcorn kernels in bulk and make your own seasoning blends to save money.

You can purchase popcorn boxes from Amazon

 6.  Mini Sandwiches:

Make bite-sized sandwiches using affordable bread, deli meat, and cheese. Cut them into fun shapes with cookie cutters.

You can also include vegetarian options like cream cheese and cucumber which will be cheaper.

Money Saving Tips: Look for discounted bread (you can freeze weeks before you need them) and deli meat deals.  

7.  Rainbow Jello Cups:

Prepare colorful layers of Jello in individual cups. Let each layer set before adding the next one. Kids will love the vibrant and wiggly treat.

To make it more budget-friendly, opt for store-brand gelatin mix and reusable plastic cups instead of disposable ones.  

Idea: You can send each child home with the cup when they’re done eating as a goodie bag treat. 

8.  DIY Nachos:

Set up a nacho station with tortilla chips, shredded cheese, salsa, and toppings like diced tomatoes and olives.

Kids can build their own nachos.

Money Saving Tip:  Purchase store-brand tortilla chips and buy shredded cheese in bulk to save money.  

9.  Mini Fruit Pizzas:

Use sugar cookies as the base and top them with a layer of cream cheese or yogurt.

Let the kids decorate their fruit pizzas with an assortment of fresh fruits.

Money Saving Tip: Look for sales on sugar cookies ahead of the party as they usually last a long time or make your own from scratch to cut costs.

10.  Pita Pocket Sandwiches:

Stuff whole wheat pita pockets with a variety of fillings like turkey, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes.

Cut them into smaller portions for kid-friendly servings.

Money Saving Tip: Choose store-brand pita pockets and buy ingredients in bulk or on sale for added savings.

General Tip: Shopping in advance makes it easy to compare prices, buy in bulk, and take advantage of sales and discounts to keep costs low. 

Affordable Games and Activities

Keeping kids entertained when in your home, at a park or rented space can be a challenge.  These fun ideas are a mix of some classic party games that need little to no prep/accessories. 

1.  Musical Chairs:

Set up a classic game of musical chairs by placing chairs in a circle, one less than the number of children. Play music and have the kids walk around the chairs.

When the music stops, they must find a chair to sit on. Remove one chair each round.

To make it less expensive, borrow chairs from friends or use cushions or mats instead.

2.  Freeze Dance:

Play upbeat music and have the children dance. Randomly pause the music, and when it stops, the kids must freeze in their current position.

Anyone caught moving is out.

Restart the music and continue until only one dancer remains.

3.  Scavenger Hunt:

Organize a themed scavenger hunt, hiding clues or objects around the party area for the children to find.

You can create your own clues or find printable scavenger hunt templates online.

Consider using household items or toys as hidden objects to keep the cost minimal.

4.  Obstacle Course:

Design a simple obstacle course using household items like hula hoops, cones, and jump ropes.

Set up stations with different challenges, such as crawling under a table, jumping over cushions, or balancing on a beam.

Time each child as they complete the course for added excitement.

Use items you already have at home to avoid extra expenses.

5.  DIY Craft Station:

Set up a craft station where children can engage in hands-on activities like decorating masks, making friendship bracelets, or creating their own artwork.

Collect and repurpose materials like cardboard, ribbons, beads, and markers.

Look for discounted art supplies or use coupons to save money on craft materials.

6.  Bubble Fun:

Set up a bubble station with bottles of bubble solution and various bubble wands.

Let the kids have a blast blowing and chasing bubbles.

You can find inexpensive bubble solutions at discount stores or even make your own using dish soap and water. 

7. DIY Face Painting:

Offer face painting using non-toxic, washable face paints. Use stencils or simple designs that can be easily recreated.

Look for affordable face paint kits or use coupons at craft stores. Here is an affordable option from Amazon. 

Easy Amazon add-ons to consider:  These are all under $20 and can help with entertainment

  1. Twister
  2. Water balloons
  3. Art pack 
  4. Coloring books
  5. Temporary Tattoos 

General Tip:

By repurposing materials, utilizing items you already have at home, and taking advantage of sales and discounts, you can create entertaining games and activities without breaking the bank.

These ideas are not only budget-friendly but also designed to keep children engaged and excited throughout the party. 

Budget-Friendly Party Favors

I love party favors.  I know many parents don’t share that opinion, but I love seeing the excitement when kids get them.  

I’m not a huge fan when they are filled with candy, as my kids want to eat them immediately and usually we’ve already had our fill of cake so I know the sugar crash is coming.  

However, I did include some sugary treats below because I know others don’t mind the sugar and of course kids love them!

Here are 10 affordable party favor ideas for a child’s birthday party, along with tips on saving money:

Budget-Friendly Party Favors

Party favors are a simple way to express gratitude to guests and leave them with a special memento of the celebration. 

With these affordable party favor ideas, you can provide memorable and enjoyable tokens without straining your budget. 

Remember, you can add a personal touch by customizing or assembling the favors yourself.

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for discounts, bulk deals, and coupon codes to maximize your savings. 

Conclusion: Budget Friendly Children’s Parties

I hope you found these tips helpful in throwing your next birthday party.

You can throw an amazing party for your child without breaking the bank that they will remember forever.

Happy Partying!