A Budget-Friendly Birthday They Won’t Forget

Sometimes money is tight, but you don't have to sacrifice birthday party fun because of a budget! Learn a few tips and tricks on how to save while delivering a perfect party experience.

A Budget-Friendly Birthday They Won’t Forget

A Budget-Friendly Birthday They Won't Forget

There are a couple of times a year that my family has clusters of birthdays and holidays stacked together. For me, it’s May and June when we have kids’ birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, grandparents’ birthdays and even our wedding anniversary. Not to mention school and summer camp registration fees and end of school graduation events. Without even blinking, the bank account is drained and we are well on our way to disappointing someone’s special day if we don’t have a plan in place. Wait, it gets worse.

Two weeks ago my car decided to unexpectedly become the most unreliable hunk of metal that I owned. The nerve!! In the middle of our most expensive months, I had to purchase another vehicle. So, when my daughter was turning 7, days after financial woes, we made the decision not to splurge on a birthday at an entertainment place like we had done for years before. I had to embrace the budget mindset, and think of something inspired, fun, and feasible to celebrate her birthday.

I’d like to share how we coped and created what was deemed as “the best birthday party ever,” all for less than $150.

Here are the ingredients for our success:

(Caveat: my daughter and her friend have birthdays a day apart, so teaming up with another mom is always recommended if possible. Not only do the kids learn to share attention, they also have a chance to collaborate if you let them).

First, get the kids involved! Let the birthday girl or boy pick their favorite theme and add the theme to the invite. For us, the kids picked Squishmallows, and our invite instructed for kids to bring their favorite Squishmallow to the party.

A Budget-Friendly Birthday They Won't Forget

Next, hands-on activities are always a winner. TIP: Just be prepared for the mess ahead of time. Cover your tables (and underneath the table if needed) with plastic tablecloths and don’t stress when the drops and splatters happen. Because they will happen, so just embrace it.

1. Activities:

  • Craft stations: bulk packs of DIY crafts
    • We painted stepping stones, squishies, dinosaurs, and rocks. Our local Five Below on Siegen Lane was a lifesaver for these crafts, as was my local Walmart. It’s a good mixture of boys and girls activities and kept the kids busy. Perhaps the biggest hit of all the crafts were the doodle socks for kids, which the kids created for themselves and colored for each other. Finally, friendship bracelets with beads and string rounded out the crafts station. Best part of all, these crafts double as the party favors as the kids can take home everything they created! Cost: $60A Budget-Friendly Birthday They Won't Forget
  • Nails and Makeup: if your girls are anything like mine, they probably already have an abundance of kids makeup and nail polish. Dip into their stash! But also remember that the dollar stores and Walmart have inexpensive kids makeup and nail polishes, all which can be purchased for less than $20 total, and can make a good spread! Now, if you’re extra brave, another party hit was the Orbeez hand massage station. You can get a large bag of Orbeez and use cheap tubs to setup the fun. Just make sure to monitor the mess. Cost: $20
  • A Budget-Friendly Birthday They Won't ForgetPlan something active: let the wild energy run free with stuff you already have, like  gymnastics mats or a beam, or a planned freeze-tag or Frisbee. It’s important to help the kiddos channel their energy so they can exhaust themselves with all the fun. Cost: FREE

2. Food:

Food isn’t cheap, and feeding parents and kids could drain the wallet quickly. But go kid-friendly and you won’t have to spend until you’re broke. Hot dogs, buns, condiments, chips, and cookies. Spread them out like they are fancy and skip the birthday-themed plates and napkins, just use your paper towels and standard disposable plates. Cost to feed 25: $60

3. Decorations:

Skip the helium balloons. Standard balloons and Balloon Garland strips, all for less than $5. Simply blow up the balloons and tie a knot, then put the balloon knot through big hole of the strip, and then set up on high places. Use your living room TV as a birthday banner by making a power point slide or set of images and cast them on the screen. Let your kid and his or her friends draw decorations to hang up, matching their chosen theme, of course.  Cost: $5

4. Finally, let kids be kids.

They’ll make up their own activities along the way with each other. We had kiddos attend that were anywhere from 3 years old to 10 years old, and all had fun!

It’s not about the elaborate gifts and high-dollar destination parties, it’s about getting the kids involved and invested in their party, creating memories, and not losing your sanity over money in the meantime. You can do it!

A Budget-Friendly Birthday They Won't Forget

Kimberly Wigglesworth
Kimberly is a wife, mom, friend, community leader, and full-time business executive. She’s a Baton Rouge native, third-generation LSU grad with an MPA, and a self-proclaimed champion of both mastering chaotic schedules and creating coocoo jingles (mostly about burps, butts, and farts) to laugh kids out of tantrums. She enjoys playing board games with her husband and friends, jamming to throwback songs from the 90s, hosting neighborhood game nights, and spending time with her family and two puppies. Coffee is her crutch and comedy is her prescribed medicine for life’s insanity.


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