Create a Kid’s Birthday Party on a Dime

Little Billy wants a circus act to come to his birthday celebration. Annabelle is requesting a spa party. What’s a budget-conscious mom to do? Here is a plan to make their day extra-special without breaking the bank.

Choose a theme

Figure out a theme for the special day. This can be done by simply asking the birthday child what they would like, or you can do a little research to make sure you make the best choice and it is less likely that minds will be changed later. Look up birthday themes online, or browse through a party supply catalogue. If you are not a crafty type, try to pick a more common theme that has a few pre-made items with the chosen theme such as tablecloths or plates. If you feel like being creative, feel free to choose a theme that you have to make to yourself.

Make a plan

First, you need to make a list of what your birthday boy or girl would like at their party from the cake to the guests. Discuss how many people will be attending and what kind of food will be served. Take a good look at your budget to make sure everything can be done. This plan will be your starting point and most likely will be changed throughout the planning process, so don’t worry about starting out with an exact list.

Get creative

Now take a look at your planning list and take a look at what you realistically can and can’t do. Those items that are too far out of your budget, figure out a substitution. If your daughter wants a real princess at her party and you can’t afford to hire one, see if you can find a high school student to play the part. If catered Mexican food is in the plan, try creating a festive taco-bar instead.

It’s all about the venue

Party venues can be the biggest budget-buster. While they claim to provide everything you need for entertainment via rides, games or inflatable bouncers , they are extremely expensive. Often times they actually provide very little and you end up having to provide the cake or buy extra pizza. Skip the party venues and create your own. It doesn’t have to be at your home, you could go to a restaurant, the park, a lake, campground or a community pool. Look at your city website or call your city’s Parks and Recreation department to see if there are any locations that might work for you. Also try calling your town’s visitors bureau for location ideas.

Theme items

While it might seem like a good idea to have every single plate and cup done up in the party theme, not only does it look busy, but it can quickly drain your party budget. Consider the themes colors and use those for your plates, plastic-ware, tablecloth and balloons. Then you can splurge on one or two theme items such as a banner or centerpiece.

Saving on the Supplies

Don’t rush to make your purchases, take your time looking for deals on the items you need. Check local discount stores and take advantage of online specials at party-supply websites. They often have free-shipping deals and percentage-off coupon codes. Ask your friends and family if you can borrow items like cake platters, cupcake stands and extra tables.

Games and Activities

Utilize party websites to come up with some fun and free games you can play. Simple games such as hot-potato and Simon-says are great ways to keep them entertained. Incorporating the activities into the existing food and decoration is a great way to keep them busy too. Instead of bringing pre-decorated cupcakes, you can bring plain ones and make a decorating station so each child can make their own. Bring plain paper table cloths and lay out crayons and markers for the kids to write birthday wishes.


Use a free online invitation service such as evite to invite your guests. This is especially helpful if guests need to bring anything. You can change and update the invitation when you need to and you have the option to send the updates to the guests. When the event is over, you can send a thank-you to your guests through the service as well. To personalize it further, you can use a free online greeting card service to send an individual thank-you message to each guest.

Carefully consider each item in your plan and really think about how you can get it for the best possible price. Don’t be afraid to make changes and updates as you prepare for the party.

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