Don’t Break the Bank Birthday Parties

I originally wrote this a few years back and since I start thinking about birthdays in February, I thought I’d share again. We have all said it at some point or another: “I am not going to go overboard for the baby’s birthday”, or “They won’t remember their first birthday anyway!”  Maybe you even said something like “I can believe Brittany’s parents had a pony and a bounce house for her party!”. And then the day comes, and we are all too tempted to throw the party of the year.  But does it need to cost a fortune? Not necessarily!  Here are some tips to throw a brilliant bash without busting the bank!


Dollar stores usually have children’s birthday party invitations for eight for $1.  The party superstores have themed invites but they can run pricey, sometimes $5 or more for a set of eight.  If you want to send out more personal and customized invitations, you might want to consider photo invitations.

Vistaprint is an online printing company that often sends offers for free business cards, greeting cards, magnets, and more.  If you sign up for their special offers, you will begin to get offers sent to your email.  Click on an offer that gives you free invitations.  You can upload your child’s photo in the invitation (sometimes they even offer half price uploads or free uploads).  The free offer is usually for 10, and all you pay for is shipping.  If you order far enough in advance, you will get the best price in shipping and processing.

You might also consider taking a photo of your child and editing in a photo editor adding in all the party information.  If you take the photo to CVS or other chain drugstore, you can print out the photo invites for as low as $0.19 each.  You also have the option to use online photo processing stores such as Snapfish or Shutterfly, however, you will need to pay shipping.  Both of those companies usually give free prints to new members.  Look around for offer codes.  York Photo is currently running 40 free prints.  Check it out!

Alternatively, you might consider making your own invitations with scrapbooking supplies, stickers and rubber stamps.  However, you should look around in dollar stores for the supplies as opposed to craft stores as this will save you a fortune.


If you are at all artistic, you might want to consider making life sized (life sized according to your child, so they won’t be THAT large!) characters with oak tag and markers.  Also, check on the character websites (Nick Jr. and Disney for instance) who usually offer free printables of the characters.

Again, dollar stores often sell latex and mylar balloons for children’s parties (mylar balloons at a dollar store will save you around $2-3 per balloon!) as well as paper decorations, paper centerpieces and streamers.  And if you are trying to keep within a character theme, consider coordinating the solid color paper goods and decorations with the crafted character decorations you created and the printables you printed out.  It will save a lot of money if you avoid all the copyrighted décor that the party superstores sell!  I make personalized mylar balloons that are always a hit with the kids!


For a child’s party, who says you have to go for broke on food?  What do kids like?  Pizza, hot dogs, chicken fingers, PB&J sandwiches, French fries…  Pick one or two and there you go!

Here’s an idea:  The kids love the “do it yourself” set up.   So go and get a few packs of hot dogs, buns, mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, and set up a small table with paper plates and napkins and have the kids make their own hot dogs.


If you like baking, consider making the cake yourself and decorating it to match the theme.  Costco, BJ’s and Sams Club all have sheet cakes for quite cheap that you can have decorated in the character of your theme.  You might also consider baking cupcakes and icing them with colored icing and adding colored sprinkles.

Who says you need to spend a fortune on entertainment?  Kids love carnivals!  Go online to Oriental Trading and get some small redemption prizes.  Set up some games yourself by using what you already have around the house!  Bean bags and empty soda cans (even baby bottles) that can be knocked down for a prize is one idea.  If your child has a kid’s bowling set, you can use that for another game.  Dollar stores often have Pin the Tail on the Donkey games, small darts games with Velcro darts, even ring toss games.  You can do a scavenger hunt with some small redemption prizes as well.  All without breaking the bank!

What if you go back to playing the traditional party games that we remember as children?  There is nothing wrong with Musical Chairs, Duck Duck Goose, Freeze Dance…

Loot Bags and Favors

How many plastic party prizes do we throw out after a kid’s party?  Have you considered a children’s book from a dollar store as favors?  And bubbles are always are a hit.  It is not necessary to spend a fortune on Winnie the Pooh loot boxes or Handy Manny hammers, as long as you are creative!

Thank Yous

One idea that I find is always a hit is to take a photo of all the kids together during cake and singing time.  Print out as many as there are children at the party (see above for photo printing tips).  On the back, write a quick, personal note thanking them for attending and for their present.  The parents love the photo!

I am happy to share some more ideas for your child’s birthday using the specific theme you have chosen…  send me an email at or visit my website .

Children’s birthday parties are fun, but you don’t need to spend a small fortune on throwing a fun bash!  Just use your imagination and be creative and it will all fall into place!  Have fun!


Comments are closed.