How to throw a great toddler birthday party on a budget

Every modern parent wants their toddler to have the cutest, most picture-perfect birthday party. DIY parties are a growing trend among parents who want to celebrate without breaking the bank. The key is to keep it simple and remember that it’s all about the kiddos. With a little elbow grease and creativity, your little one will have a lovely celebration that family and friends are sure to appreciate. Our budget-friendly ideas focus on the activities that toddlers enjoy, so your child feels special on their big day. Let the festivities begin!

Location, location, location

Toddler near table at a backyard birthday party
fotoliza/Shutterstock.com

Party location is a big savings opportunity for you. If you have a backyard at home, consider hosting the party there. Enlist family members to help you set up and clean up, for an easy and laid-back celebration in the comfort of your own home.
If you live in an apartment or don’t have your own outdoor space, you’ll probably want to hit the park or a beach if weather permits. These inexpensive or free locations are perfect for kids to run around and have a blast. They also photograph nicely, for those Instagrammable moments.

If your toddler has a wintertime birthday, it’s best to move the party indoors. For families with spacious homes, your own den can be the ideal location. Otherwise, look for an inexpensive indoor playground or other party venue. Recreation centers, gyms, and churches usually rent out rooms at lower rates.

Time

Timing your toddler party is key for little ones who still take naps. Lucky for you, this means that anywhere between 2 and 5 p.m. is the perfect time to throw the party and avoid having to provide a full meal for your guests. With this timeframe, the party becomes more about the kids playing together and less about the food.

Food

Even with an afternoon party, it’s still a good idea to offer your guests some snacks that keep the kids happy and fueled. These are some creative snacks that children love and keep you within budget:

Creative snacks:

  • Toddlers love finger foods. Serve them in small cups for easy eating and less waste.
  • Fruit kebabs are a fun and healthy snack that children can’t resist. They also help with portion control and minimize leftovers.
  • Small portions are great for small stomachs. Hard-boiled eggs, string cheese, and yogurt tubes are high-protein snacks that come in the perfect size for little hands.

If homemade food is not your cup of tea, these are some inexpensive, store-bought options that kids always enjoy:

  • Pizza is a sure party hit. Order some pepperoni and some cheese pies and you’ll have a happy bunch of kids.
  • Subs are great because they offer variety at a low price. With a mixed tray, your party guests are sure to find a sandwich that they enjoy.
  • Wraps are just as yummy as sandwiches and less of a mess. Many grocery stores offer ready-made trays for you to pick up and serve.

Entertainment

Hiring a party entertainer is a big expense that toddlers often don’t need. Instead of booking your typical princess or superhero, consider keeping your guests busy with these simple activities and games that toddlers enjoy:

  • Make your own ball pit in an inflatable kiddie pool.
  • Connect your phone to a speaker and get a game of musical chairs going.
  • Hot potato is an easy and popular game with toddlers.
  • To keep parents engaged, plan a scavenger hunt that’s fun for everyone.
  • Toddlers aren’t shy. Give them a karaoke machine and watch them entertain themselves and everyone else at the party.
  • Freeze dance gets everyone moving and sets the mood for any children’s party.
  • Dress up is an excellent activity that keeps toddlers entertained and creates the best photo ops.

Party supplies

Happy boy with hat at a birthday party
Maria Sbytova/Shutterstock.com

If you’re looking to save a buck at your toddler’s next party, avoid a character theme at all costs. Branded decorations and party supplies are pricey and rarely worth the expense. Instead, choose a color scheme and run with it. Plates, streamers, and balloons look just as festive in bright colors.

Other tips

Here are some extra, money-saving tips to celebrate your toddler’s big day with a not-so-big bill:

  • Keep your guest list short. Hosting 10 children is usually enough for the celebration to feel like a party without inviting everyone and their uncle. Remember, toddler parties aren’t drop-off, and having one or two adults per child means you have to serve that much food.
  • Hit the dollar store. Nowadays, these discount stores carry a wide selection of high-quality party supplies and decorative items.
  • Crafts can double as party favors. The best part is that they also keep kiddos entertained while they’re at the party.

And there you have it: Our best ideas to throw a great toddler birthday party on a budget. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to stress. Little kids are easy to please and keep entertained for a couple of hours. Plus, there’s no need to spend too much when your child is so young. Just make sure you have snacks, music, and games planned out for a jolly good time that your toddler will love.

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