Throwing a rockin' birthday bash doesn't have to break the bank! Use these cheap birthday party ideas to make your celebration fun for you AND your bank account!
Birthday parties can be such a BIG DEAL! Have you ever seen that show My Super Sweet 16!? Yeah… parties can cost a fortune (literally!!), if you let them. Between food, venues, favors, entertainment and all the other little costs that go into throwing a birthday party—let's just say things can get out of hand quick!
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Keep reading and we'll show you how to reign it in and throw an awesome soiree for less with these cheap birthday party ideas! You won't be missing anything—including the money in your wallet!
PLANNING THE BIRTHDAY PARTY
If you're working with a small birthday party budget, thoughtfully planning and preparing ahead of time is SO important. Knowing what you can and cannot afford before you send out invitations will save you time, money and stress!
CHOOSING A TIME
Choosing a time for your birthday party may seem insignificant, but it can have a major impact on your budget. To save money, choose a time between major meals so that you can stick to finger foods and snacks instead. Serving a full blown meal may seem like fun, but it can get pretty pricey!
THROW A JOINT BIRTHDAY PARTY
Do you have friends or family members with close birthdays? Join forces and throw a birthday party together! If your guest lists overlap, this can save all of you TONS!
Decide on a theme you all love then divide responsibilities between hosts. One person is in charge of the invitations, one will bring decorations and one can bake the cake, etc! Be fair when you are divvying up jobs and keep track of all your receipts. Tally up all that was spent and split it evenly to keep things fair! Just be sure to set a FIRM budget beforehand that way if anyone goes over—they'll know it's coming out of their own pocket!
Here are some awesome joint party ideas that will be a hit with the guests and help everyone stay on (or under!) budget!
- Movie Marathon for Star Wars Lovers – Or whatever movie series tickles your fancy!!
- Drive in theater in your Back Yard – Save money by going in together on the projector.
- Mexican Fiesta! – Split up food responsibilities and serve tacos for CHEAP!
- Create a Backyard Water Park – Slip ‘n slides, water guns, sprinklers and water balloons—go crazy and they'll have a blast!
- Host a Backyard Campout – Set up a few tents and build a bonfire.
- Make it a Dance Party – Grab Alexa and crank up the tunes. Clear our someone's living room for a free space and everyone go in on a small colorful disco ball!
- Rent a Pavilion at a Local Park – These are usually cheap! Use the park grills to cook hotdogs for guests.
- Host a Tea Party – Bake your own treats to save the dough! (HA! Pun intended!!)
Sharing a party with a friend or family member can be fun but it can also be a challenge. We suggest only taking this on with people that you trust to keep up their end of the bargain and stay on budget!
MAKING THE GUEST LIST
When it comes to making the guest list for a birthday party, we may feel inclined to invite everyone just so we don't hurt any feelings. While it's great in theory, it's rough on the budget! More guests equals more food, which equals more money! Do your best to whittle the list down to only your closest friends and family. If someone asks you about it, tell them you just want to keep it small and intimate this year!
If you do decide to leave the guest list long, consider all the costs that may result. Do you have enough seating for all of the people? If not, you will probably need to borrow or rent tables and chairs. You'll need to plan for more food, drinks and you may even need a bigger cake!
SENDING OUT INVITATIONS
Remember the days when we had to personally stuff and lick each birthday invitation envelope? YUCK! Well, thankfully those days are over! Forget the paper invitations and take advantage of our ever-growing digital world to send out invites instead.
Hop on Etsy to find a perfectly themed digital invitation that you can customize just for you. These digital invites typically only cost a few dollars and are often available to download instantly! (This one is for all of us procrastinators!!) Send them via text or email and save the money on paper and stamps.
If you want to save even more money, create a free event page on Facebook and invite your guests that way! This also gives you an easy way to track RSVPs so you don't overspend on guests who can't make it.
CHEAP BIRTHDAY PARTY FOOD IDEAS
Food can be one of the biggest expenses when throwing a birthday party. If you're planning your party between meal times, serve a variety of snacks and finger foods. A great way to make food go further is to serve small portions sizes. When you serve bite-sized food in a wide variety, people can try a little bit of everything without wasting food!
- Make Your Own Fruit and Veggie Tray – Skip the pre-made trays at the store and cut the fruit and veggies yourself. Shop seasonal and sales to get the best deals.
- Baked Mac N' Cheese Cups – Bake macaroni and cheese inside sturdy cupcake liners for easy and cute Mac n' cheese bites!
- Make Your Own Treats – Bake cookies, cake balls or dip your own chocolate covered pretzels. Anything you can do yourself will save so much money over buying pre-made!
- Homemade Ranch Dip – Grab a bag or two of chips and serve them up with homemade ranch dip. All you need is sour cream, mayonnaise and a few spices you probably already have in your cabinet! So simple and yummy!
- Deviled Eggs – Lots of work—but super cheap!
- Bite-Sized Sandwiches – Stretch your sandwiches by using a small, cute cookie cutter to make them bite-sized!
- Chocolate Bundt Cake – This doctored cake mix will be a hit! It is sooooo good!
If you are planning to serve a meal at your party, try making something that will stretch! Instead of a main dish of meat, serve something like pasta with meat sauce or creamy chicken soup! It will be tasty and delicious WITHOUT blowing the budget!
Another way to save on birthday party food is to bake your own cake. If you're not a baker, don't worry! There is no shame in buying a box mix!! Seriously… NO SHAME!! Don't feel like you can decorate a birthday cake? Opt for cupcakes instead! Grab some store bought frosting, cute sprinkles and fun cupcake liners and you're good to go!
BIRTHDAY PARTY DECORATIONS
It's time to take advantage of the digital world once again! Skip the over-priced party supply store and shop online for printable decorations. You can find entire party packs ready to print and cut that include banners, water bottle wraps, cupcake toppers and even thank you notes! Sure, it'll take a little extra work, but your wallet will thank you for it!
Another great place to buy birthday party decorations is at the dollar store. They always have TONS of party supplies like plates, napkins, banners, confetti and even plastic table cloths! They also have lots of craft supplies that you can use to make your own decorations that match your theme.
It can be so tough trying to entertain party guests, especially when their ages vary from young to old! You may be tempted to take your party to a venue where they handle the entertainment but that can be SO. EXPENSIVE. Here is a list of cheap birthday party ideas you can do at home to help your guests have fun!
- Play Minute to Win It – Give out small candy bars as prizes!
- The Bowl Game – This is one of our favorite party games! This one isn't for the young crowd, though—you have to be able to read!
- Borrow a Pool – Take advantage of a friend or family member's pool and make it a pool party! Entertainment…check!!
- Make Your Own Games – Get a poster board and draw your own pin the tail on the donkey. It doesn't have to be pretty—the kids won't mind, we promise!
- Set up an Outdoor Obstacle Course – Use cheap pool noodles and hula hoops in the backyard!
- Rent a Bounce House – If you're hosting a joint party and sharing the cost, this really can be an affordable option! Plus, it's zero hassle and always a kid favorite! Check local listings for the best price around.
- Play Some Music – Even if you don't have many activities planned, everyone loves to hang out and listen to some good tunes!
It doesn't have to be complicated! Keep it simple and just focus on spending time with those you love… that's what makes a great birthday party!
CHEAP BIRTHDAY PARTY FAVORS
Remember when we were kids and we ALWAYS got sent home from a party with the same ole' bag of goodies? Ah, the days of plastic hand clappers and finger cuffs… Those may be easy to throw together, but all that junk and candy can add up!
Instead, go for an inexpensive bubble wand or a treat bag of homemade cookies! Tie a cute handwritten thank you tag on it for a personal touch. The kids will enjoy these more and so will the parents!
See… you CAN throw a fun birthday shindig without spending a fortune! Use these cheap birthday party ideas for your next bash and you'll be able host a fantastic party while keeping that budget right on track!
Let us know your favorite ways to save on a fun birthday bash in the comments below! We'd love to hear from you!
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