20 Fun Yet Cheap Birthday Party Ideas

March 25, 2015

Celebrating your child's birthday doesn't have to mean expensive entertainers and rented pavilions. Here are 20 cheap birthday party ideas to help you throw a fun-filled shindig without breaking the bank.

Your kid is super excited about his impending birthday -- and about having an awesome party to celebrate it with all his friends. Thankfully, fun doesn't have a price tag, and you don't need to spend lots of money to have a fantastic celebration. Here are 20 cheap birthday party ideas to help you and your child have a great time on his special day.

cheap birthday party ideas

Money-Saving Party Planning Tips

  1. Create a Checklist
    "That's the first thing I do, and it helps keep things in order," says Courtney Sanchez, a North Carolina-based mom and blogger at Crafts by Courtney. She suggests starting with a list of what you already have so you don't buy anything extra.
  2. Compare Your Location Options
    Consider costs early on. "It's very easy to spend $150 to $200 on party supplies," says Wendy Piersall, founder of Woo! Jr. Kids' Activities and a mother of three. "That's about the same as spending $10 or $15 per child for 15 guests at a party location."
  3. Share the Party
    A double fiesta works well if the kids are turning the same age and have similar interests, and the parents agree on the budget.
  4. Use Your Skills
    Be ready to make some things on your own, says Sanchez. "It's fun and a lot cheaper than going to a party supply store."
  5. Print Invitations
    Look for templates online on a site like Pinterest, or have your child design an invite -- then print as many as you need. If you fold them in thirds and seal them with stickers, you can even skip the envelope.
  6. Do Double Duty
    For the easiest of cheap birthday party ideas, make everything work twice as hard. For example, consider crafts as part of the goodie bag, and cupcake decorating as an activity.

Cheap Party Decor

  1. Use Colors, Not Characters
    Instead of getting expensive licensed decor featuring popular TV characters, Sanchez says to buy cheaper party decor in the main colors that fit your theme. For example, rather than splurging on "Frozen" tableware, get light blue plates and napkins.
  2. Get Fancy
    Think about cheap ways to jazz things up, like tying ribbons on lollipops and adding stickers to each cup. "I check out my local crafts store for supplies that match my party themes," Sanchez says.
  3. Use Coupons
    In addition to grocery store bargains on party food, many craft stores regularly offer money-saving coupons.
  4. Borrow and Save
    Ask friends and family for extra party supplies they might have on hand.
  5. Float Colorful Balloons
    Balloons tied with shimmering ribbon instantly make a room festive! Float helium balloons throughout the party area, then let each child take one home.
  6. Make a Party Favor Centerpiece
    Poke lollipops, pens and pencils into a block of plastic foam and make it a focal point on the table. Let kids choose a few favors before they leave.
  7. Don't Go Overboard
    Piersall says, "Unless you're inviting Martha Stewart's grandchildren to the party, most guests will care more about playing with friends rather than how pretty your table looks."

Frugal Food

  1. Simple Cupcake Decor
    Cupcakes are great for kids because they're smaller than a piece of cake would be. Sanchez says you can make your own toppers with paper straws and stickers. "They give that extra touch without spending too much." Try Pinterest for some ideas.
  2. Try a Cupcake Cake
    Piersall says, "They are visually impressive, and easy enough that almost anyone can make one." Again, you can find plenty of inspiration online.
  3. Do Some DIY Decorating
    Instead of buying a cake, bake cupcakes or cookies. Place bowls with frosting, various inexpensive candies and sprinkles on a table, and let the kids decorate.
  4. Skip Lunch
    "Minimize how much food you have to buy by hosting the party in the middle of the afternoon," Piersall says.

    Try these 11 Foods to Serve at a Kid's Birthday Party.

Inexpensive Activities

  1. Get Crafty
    Sanchez always prepares well-stocked craft stations. "Once you pick the theme of your party, you can create inexpensive craft projects to go with it."
  2. Make Goodie Bags
    Let guests use markers and stickers to turn paper lunch sacks into snazzy treat bags.
  3. Print Out Some Fun
    Download and print word searches and coloring pages, says Piersall. "I was amazed at how much the kids enjoyed this simple activity."

The key to having a successful but cheap birthday party is to continually control costs -- small things can add up quickly. But once you see how little you need to pay for a celebration that's fun for everyone, you'll never consider overspending again.

Nancy J Price is an Arizona-based mother of four, as well as a writer, editor and web developer. One of the original co-founders of SheKnows.com, she now writes for several websites, including Myria.com and ClickAmericana.com.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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