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7 Ways to Save Money on Children’s Birthday Parties


For my daughter's 1st birthday, my husband and I decided that we were going to make it all about her and so we threw a birthday party at home with just the family. After all, was she really going to remember any of it? We bought the cake and the gifts and she had a fabulous time. For her 2nd we went all out, picked a venue and spent an astronomical sum making sure that not only she, but the invitees were happy. Does she remember? You bet she doesn't! Children’s birthdays have become huge events these days. With everything from characters, equipment rentals, petting zoo’s, presents, fully catered affairs, and all sorts of excess. Today I want to share how you can scale back and save money with these 7 tips,  and still throw your child a fun and amazing birthday party.


Use what you have on hand: Whenever we have a theme party-dinosaurs, fairies, bugs, camping, etc., I hit my own stock first and by stock I mean I am literally pulling decorations off the kids' walls, stuffed toys off the bed, etc., I will look into what we have around the house to set the scene. Chances are good that if your child has picked a theme they already have lots of toys or items on hand. Pokemon party? Use their double cards ( you can’t touch their precious cards in the binder, trust me!) to decorate tables or hang from the ceiling. Plush characters can be set onto tables to set a mood as well.

Make cake/food yourself: You may want to give your child the most memorable fancy beautiful cake and the most delicious gourmet food but you know what? They are going to remember the hot dogs and handmade decorations just as much or perhaps more than the chafing dish full of shrimp scampi and perfectly tied bows. So grab a couple boxes of cake mix, some frosting, and create something with your hands and all your love- your kid won’t care if it’s slightly lopsided.


Borrow what you can: Instead of spending money renting or buying tables, chairs, tents, punch bowls umbrellas for shade, or other items borrow from family and friends. Most people are more than happy to share their excess that is likely wasting away in a garage or shed.

The Dollar Store: Even if you have a theme party there is no reason to spend extra money on character plates and other disposable items. Grab plates, plastic ware, tablecloths and balloons in a solid color that match your theme from your local dollar store and save yourself a ton of money.

Stay at home: Opt for a home party instead of renting a location, or shelling out big bucks at a kids game and a pizza place.  Indoors or out your home is the perfect place to celebrate your child.  You can also look for other free locations like shelters at your local parks.

Schedule party between meals: If you want to avoid feeding a whole big group of people an entire meal, snacks, and cake, then schedules it between lunch and dinner, or after dinner. Offer something like an ice cream sundae bar or light snacks (make it clear, most people expect food) but if they know no one should be  be too disappointed without a big spread.

Skip the goodie bags: I can’t tell you how many cheap toys from goody bags I have thrown away in my stint as a mom. Both leftovers from our parties and ones they have brought home. While it is nice to give the guests a little parting gift it is not necessary to spend so much when it usually ends up on the floor of the car before they get home. Parents especially might appreciate something more personal like a photo of their child-instant cameras, a quick printing, or emailed.

Let's discuss: In what ways do you save on your own children's birthday parties? 

Annmarie John
52 Comments
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52 comments:

  1. These are great tips for saving money on children's parties. We do every single one of them except the meals part. That is only because we have family traveling over an hour away most times and so feel like I should have a meal for them to eat since they will be here pretty much all day. BUT, everyone usually chips in and brings something so it isn't too bad. I love the first tip about using what you have on hand for decorating. It is true that the theme the child picked out is something they have a lot of already!

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    1. Aren't those the best though. Make it a buffet birthday party and yes, for example if Madison wants a Shopkins party, she sure has a ton of those just ready for decor.

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  2. Last year was insane, as was the two years before that, so I know we're looking to downsize this year! Maybe even just with the guest list. Instead of inviting everyone we know, just maybe her class and some special friends. And maybe no giant bounce house this year!

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    1. We went rather low key this year but next year for her 5th we're going to do it big. We're not even doing it at home. I have a 16th that I have to plan this year. Wish me luck!

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    2. Oh wow - good luck! Wish I could come take photos!

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    3. That would be so awesome if you could. You're always welcomed here in Colorado.

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  3. Great tips! Sadly, we found when the party venue moved to our home - nobody came. :( We now just let the boys invite 1 friend somewhere fun. Everyone has a great time!

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    1. Awwww, so sorry to hear that but having them go to a place that everyone would enjoy is good too!

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  4. Birthday parties can definitely get very expensive. I have had the distinct pleasure of learning that first-hand. These are some great ways to host some great parties on a budget.

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    1. Oh yes they sure can be expensive. Tell me about it and with a 16th birthday party coming up soon for me, I need to get my game on.

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  5. I'm all for staying home and making do with what you have on hand. Like you and most parents we've done the full on party (yes, that crazy pizza game place) and really, the most memorable one for both boys was one we hosted at a local park on a whim with neighbor kids. ^_^

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    1. Those impromptu ones can also be fun. Choose a spot like the park like you said and just have a great time. I might do that this year for my son.

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  6. I agree with making the cake and/or food yourself. That stuff can be soo expensive. For kids you can even opt for cupcakes instead of a full cake.

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    1. Oh yes. We did cupcakes this year for my daughter. Worked out well for everyone and was a lot more cost effective. Everyone got their own mini cupcakes with toppers.

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  7. The Dollar store has always been my one stop shop for buying decorations and party favors for children parities. Barbecuing is also a great way to make delicious food that everyone can enjoy for cheap.

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    1. The Dollar is totally the place to go. You can get so much there for next to nothing.

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  8. My boys are both born in August, so I always so a joint party. It saves me tons :)

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    1. Both of my boys were born in November, 8 days apart in birthdays so I sometimes do it, but this year it's going to be different since one of them is celebrating their 16th.

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  9. I am lucky in that son never had birthday parties because no one showed not even family. That said we usually do dinner out so that helped a lot to save. I like your idea about using what is on hand for parties that is great thinking.

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    1. I did that last year for my boys. I took each of them out on their birthday to eat and then gave hubby and the boys tickets to go see a basketball game of their choice. This year however is my oldest son 16th birthday so we're doing it big and using some of these tips.

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  10. These are great tips. We always party on a budget!

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  11. These are all great tips. I am guilty of spending way too much money on parties.

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    1. I used to then decided to start doing it on a budget. The money I've saved has ben worth it.

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  12. Great tips. You can find really awesome party items at the Dollar Stores at a fraction of the cost of normal retail stores and serving store-bought desserts instead of custom, designer ones really saves $ too!

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    1. Oh yes I do agree. The dollar store has been my favorite store to shop at when it comes to decor.

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  13. These are great tips! I used most of these when my guys were little. Gotta love the Dollar Store!

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  14. These are great tips. I always liked having my children's parties at my house. They seem more personal and special. I am big on the "homemade" Cakes. Mine are not quite as pretty as the professionals, but they always taste so much better than the store bought. I am also a big fan of racking up at the Dollar Store for parties. They are my first hit before anywhere else. Great tips!!

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    1. I suck at baking cakes that taste great. They look great but don't always taste great if it's not from scratch so I buy mine. When I'm having a big party I also want the kids to enjoy their time spent with us, but the dollar store is by far my favorite place to shop.

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  15. I like the idea of cupcakes instead of cake. Easy to make, just the right size for a kid's dessert, and a cinch to serve.

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    1. Yes that is true! The kids actually prefer them too because they get their own personal cupcake.

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  16. We do not go all out for birthday parties. Our kids are happy with food, cake and homemade decorations. They have never asked for it to be different, so we just gonna roll with it.

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    1. That's awesome! My kids, while they don't mind, it's their big day so I try to make it a little special for them.

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  17. I agree with these but I like to feed my guests so we usually do pizza, a few sides and an array of desserts but I do make my daughter's cakes every year as I think it's more personable too

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    1. We also do pizza because the kids just love them! I don't make the cakes though, I buy them since I prefer them and they taste better than mine. :)

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  18. We do a lot of birthday celebrations with just family. Every few years we do a party with friends. I don't think it's necessary to do big parties every year. Plus I can spend more money on fun things for the whole family to do in celebration.

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    1. That is so true. We haven't done a big party in years, but this year is going to be different.

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  19. One of the best stores ever created for birthday party decorations: the Dollar Store. You nailed it in that one!

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    1. Thank you Patrick. The Dollar Store is AHMAZING!

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  20. Some great idea to say money on a child's party. Those parties can expensive. I've used dollar store to make goody bags.

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    1. Oh we've dollar store goody bags and have received them as well, so we know that they work.

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  21. The dollar store thing is the way to go. Well, that and staying home. I've done parties both ways, but I really love doing them at home.

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    1. At home can be less stressful at times but sometimes it can be. Unless you're doing paper plates etc, you start thinking about all the clean up after. :)

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  22. When my daughter was little, I didn't have a lot of money. So, I used a lot of things that I had around the house for decorating for her birthdays. That's a really good idea!

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    1. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Nothing wrong with that at all. I don't always have the cash to do what I need to do and sometimes having things on hand to help out is a great help.

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  23. These are great tips! I've been meaning to try some cake recipes for my daughter's birthday this year. My grandma always made me a strawberry cake growing up and I loved it.

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    1. That's a great idea and I'm sure she'll appreciate you making her cake for her.

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  24. Great tips! My son's first birthday was such a huge party, I would have done differently if it was today!

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    1. I think we go all out for their first few birthdays. For her first we didn't do it big but we did for her 2nd. We did the others pretty small but are going big for her 5th. :)

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  25. What great tips! It reminds me how we used to prepare for birthdays!

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    1. And I'm sure you saved tons of money doing it that way.

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[name=AnnMarie John] [img=https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-X9gUeVik-ZY/WJjwNTOobII/AAAAAAABTJ4/qEhU0n62_AIo-j6-6LA2OFOr44lKCHASwCLcB/s100/AnnMarie%2BJohn%2BHeadshot.JPG] [description=AnnMarie John is a lifestyle blogger, mom of 4, retired army veteran and a huge Disney lover. Formerly from the beautiful island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean and now living in colorful Colorado, she loves sharing her opinions on everything, crafting and food.] (facebook=http://www.facebook.com/theannmariejohn) (instagram=http://www.instagram.com/theannmariejohn) (twitter=http://www.twitter.com/theannmariejohn) (pinterest=http://www.pinterest.com/theannmariejohn) (email=mailto:annmarie@annmariejohn.com)

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