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The 4 best inexpensive birthday party ideas

So your child’s special day is coming up, and you’re looking for budget-friendly birthday party ideas. Yes, you want to throw them a fun party, but you have a budget. Have no fear! There are some parties that will always be a hit and are also relatively inexpensive to implement. Don’t let your budget get in the way of having an enjoyable day: It is possible to have fun and save money. Let’s have a look at four ways to do just that.

Three kids celebrating a birthday party
Sergey Novikov/

Shop smart

While party stores may be full of flashy merchandise, many similar items can be purchased for less at grocery stores and even dollar stores. You can buy blank cards in large quantities for less than a pack of thank you cards or invitations. Plastic goodies for goodie bags are often overpriced and you may want to skip them altogether, but definitely look for them somewhere other than a party store.

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A child might want plates and napkins featuring their favorite movie character, but those items just get dirty and thrown away in the end. Maybe cutlery and plates of a solid color associated with that character will do just fine instead. This means you might also want to reconsider purchasing licensed cupcake toppers — you might be able to make your own instead! We’d rather spend more money on a present than a fancy card and gift bag.

Shopping smart also goes for the venue you choose. If you have a budget, it’s a good idea to stick to it. Unless the birthday party involves an experience (like going to the zoo), there’s no reason to pay exorbitant amounts of money for a fancy venue. A park pavilion or backyard will work fine for most situations and will also work to save you money!

Make your own decor and food

Going along with the smart shopping theme, centerpieces and cakes displaying characters are tempting to children. However, they’re a bit more child friendly than budget friendly. Forgo professionally made products in favor of those you (and perhaps also your child) make.

Having a party is a great excuse to take on a few craft projects. Piñatas can be handmade from paper-mâché, for example. You could sew a pennant banner from felt, and cut tissue paper to make festive flowers and other decorations. Cupcake toppers can also be handmade; some recipes for edible cupcake toppers exist, in fact. Instead of handing out goodie bags, children might complete a craft together and take it home — you would just have to purchase materials. Printables available for free and for purchase on the internet might be helpful here.

Even a non-themed birthday cake from a store will likely cost $20 or more. Instead, you might bake a cake at home. Or you could bake cupcakes and create a unique cupcake cake. If your child isn’t into cake, you might make homemade chocolate or candy. And if party guests are to eat ice cream, purchase a large tub to scoop out of instead of pre-portioned ice cream cups.

Do free activities

There’s no need to be a big spender on activities for your child and their friends to do at a birthday party. Indeed, there are many activities that cost nothing at all to do! Indoors, children can play board games or heads up seven up. Outdoors, they might play red rover or do a three-legged race. Activities suitable both indoors and outdoors include hide and seek, charades, Marco Polo, hot potato, and Simon says.

Three children playing with balloons outside
Anna Nahabed/

Have fun with a few

Particularly if your child’s birthday party involves something that is priced per child, you can easily save lots by limiting the number of attendees. Also check out any special deals for groups. They say “the more, the merrier,” but a more intimate group means more quality time spent with each friend.

Birthday parties don’t have to break the bank. You can save money when planning birthday parties by following our handy tips. Use our suggestions as inspiration for other ways you can save money.

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