Sticking to a modest budget and creating a memorable kids birthday party may seem on the opposite sides of each other. Yet, one thing our children teach us is that if you combine your imagination with a desire to make something magical happen, it certainly will! All you really need is an idea and the right places to optimize your kids birthday party budget.
There are many ways to spend a lot of money on a kids birthday party these days. Shops are full of pricey party supplies. If you go in one of them thinking to buy just a few cute balloons and cake candles, don’t be surprised to walk out with a lot more party supplies and an emptier bank account. That’s why you need a plan you can stick to.
There are parents who don’t spare anything on their child’s birthday and go as far as renting a very expensive venue, hiring a birthday planner, and a crew of entertainers for the party. While I think these parents are more admirable than those who intentionally choose not to acknowledge their child’s birthday as a special event (I could never understand this!), it is not necessary to spend a lot of money to have a fun and memorable kids birthday party.
Below are the steps on how you can make your small budget kids birthday party awesome. The only two stores you’ll need to make it happen are Party City (or a similar store with party supplies) and Dollar Store (or similar). By getting most of your party supplies there, you can have a beautifully themed party for less than $60 (excluding the cost of cake and snacks, which you can make yourself at home).
Here is a step-by-step strategy how to make it all happen:
1. Have a clear idea of the birthday theme your child will enjoy
This will determine the main color palette for the party, which is like 70% of the planning job done! For me, this step is quite easy since my daughter is quite verbal about the kind of birthday theme she would like. This makes my planning job much easier. For example, last year she wanted her birthday to be all about Disney’s movie “Frozen”. This gave me a good idea of the colors I would need to incorporate into her birthday party. Lots of baby blue, white and silver hues. This is pretty much all you need before proceeding to the next steps.
2. Get main party supplies at a specialty store
Go to a party-supply store (we have a few Party City stores in my area). Buy a disposable table cover to match your birthday theme and enough cups, dessert plates, and balloons as you need for your party. The reason you want to buy these in a party-supply store rather than a Dollar Store is that you will find a much bigger selection of colors and themes there. These stores also have sections specifically dedicated to popular Disney and other characters, which is hard to find at a Dollar Store.
For a party of 10 people, I spent roughly $20 at the Party City store.
*If you live very far from a specialized party-supply store like Party City, you can get your supplies in their online shop. However, this will result in higher expenses due to the shipping costs. In general, I recommend buying small items at a physical store location to avoid paying for shipping.
3. Add cute and cheap necessities
For birthday party necessities, go to a Dollar Store, or even better, two different ones. I find that some Dollar Stores have a much better selection for certain items than others. Buy theme-matching solid color napkins, cake candles, a couple of foil serving dishes, solid color plastic spoons and forks there.
I spent a total of $12 on these essentials.
You might also want to get some small party favors for children guests at a Dollar Store (read more about party favors below). I recommend a maximum of $2-$3 per favor per child. For a party of 10 guests, you are looking at $20-30 for favors. You can make something crafty and cute at home.
4. Exhale and say ‘Done!’
That’s it, your birthday party shopping is done! Can you believe it? And all this for roughly $60!
When you have the right coordination of colors for your kids birthday party, you will be amazed how beautiful it will look. Your budget kids birthday party will have enough “premium” feel with the items you get from a party-supply store, and all the functionality with the complimenting essentials you get at a Dollar Store.
Choosing a location for your kids birthday party
This one depends on the time of year when your child was born. I know many parents who complain that summer birthdays are easy to celebrate, while winter ones offer no choice but to rent an expensive venue. I hear you, and totally agree! You need to be more creative when picking the right location and/or venue for your kids birthday party during the colder months (have ideas for free winter venues? Share with others in the comments section below). If your child’s birthday happens when it’s sunny and pleasant outside, your best bet is to have the party outdoors.
Choose a location convenient to the majority of your guests and yourself. It could be a family-friendly park or your own backyard if you live in a house. It is free and offers more flexibility than any typical for-rent venues in terms of hours and physical space. Some new condo buildings have nice outdoor patios available to their residents. If you live in a condo, ask your building manager about hosting your party there. Don’t forget to confirm details such as any rental fees, restrictions, by-laws, and the number of guests allowed.
What about party favors for children guests?
When it comes to kids birthday party favors, you really have two options. You can purchase inexpensive cute items like coloring books or small toys at the Dollar Store and package them in cute little packages. Or you can create something more unique together with your child at home. I like the second option, but I don’t always have the time or crafty skills for it. Try to buy or make party favors that have something to do with the birthday theme. You want to make everything look cohesive and memorable, so coordination is important. Create something that matches your theme colors or related movie characters.
Food and snacks for the guests
As far as the food goes, you can never go wrong with pizzas, toasty bread and dips, fresh veggie trays, and nutritious salads. Plan to have enough food for all adult and children guests. You don’t want anyone to get hungry and rush home soon after their arrival. For the party of 10 children and 9 adults, I spent roughly $50 on all the yummy food by getting it at Costco.
You can either buy a birthday cake or bake it yourself. It really depends on your baking skills and how much time and energy you want to spend on creating a cake that looks and tastes good.
My baking skills are not the best. Yet, every year I make an effort to bake a cake because my daughter loves it when I do. Baking the birthday cake instead of buying a custom one will save you a lot of money. Custom cakes range from $50-250, and while they look pretty they do not have kids’ favorite key ingredient, aka mommy’s love 🙂
If your child or party guests have any special dietary needs, you can ensure that the birthday cake doesn’t include anything that can cause an allergic reaction. In my case, baking it myself helped me ensure that the cake is made with vegan ingredients. By using less sugar and bad fats, it turned out to be a much healthier version of cakes sold in stores.
Do you have any fun ideas on how to make a small budget kids birthday party amazing? Share your tips in the comments below!