Planning Your Child’s Birthday on a Budget

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Children’s birthday parties have become very expensive and commercial.  Parents can spend from $400-$1000.00 on their child for a birthday party.  Many families cannot afford to spend this, but also want the best for their child and a great party. Here are some ideas to give your child a great birthday party that will not empty your pockets in the process.

Places to host the party

It sounds really nice or cool to have your child’s party at a venue that has games, things to jump in or roll around on.  However, this can become very costly just to rent.  Then you need to throw in food and drinks.  Some venues only give a couple of hours so the party seems rushed.  Hosting at home is will most likely be the cheapest way to go. 


E-vites are the cheapest and easiest way to go.   Send out bulk invites with an RSVP to your email.  If you would like to do paper invitations, get creative.  You can make an invitation right on your computer that is going to be one of a kind.  You can print out three or four per page and save on buying costly ones that only come with three or four in a package.


Pick a theme first what you want or your child wants.  There are so many ideas now on Pinterest or the web where you can make decorations from scratch.  Print colored pictures off the computer and laminate them or put them in picture frames around the house.  Buy steamers to decorate around the house.  Balloons you can buy and purchase a helium tank.

Theme ideas

Hoe Downfor a cowboy or cowgirl, check around where you live if there is a local farm close by that will donate a few bales of hay or you can purchase for cheap.  Place them around the yard.  Next collect cans from dinner, green beans, corn, peas and so on.   Clean the cans, place them in a pyramid, and use tennis balls to knock down.  On a tarp shred a bale of hay and hide trinkets in the hay for kids to find.  This is your goodie bag as well as a fun game.  Out of 2X4 build a simple cow, use a paper dish for face, fill a latex glove with water and flour, and poke holes tie to bottom of 2×4 kids can pretend to milk a cow.

Candy Land  use colored tag board to make a live candy land game board.  At every few squares, have a treat for kids to put in a bag, such as large lollypops, chocolate pieces, or a something else you may like to add or your child wants to add.  For decorations, you can decorate paper plates and twist on clear wrapping paper for hard candy effect.  You can paint a large Styrofoam circle add a long stick, cover with clear wrapping paper and make large lollypops.  Place them around the house or around your yard.

Who to invite

Obviously, you will invite family members and close friends.  How do you handle not inviting your child’s whole class or baseball team?  If you are working on a budget this can become costly or not enough room where you having the party. One way is to see if the teacher will let you bring something in for the whole class to enjoy for your child’s birthday.  Same with the coach, after a game can they all have cupcakes in honor of your child.  Let you child know only a certain number of friends can come.  Your child most likely does not play with the whole class.  Therefore, have your child just invite the friends they play with everyday and you will bring something in for everyone to share. If you can invite the whole class with their families along with the baseball team and their families, that is great but remember how costly this will be as well. 


Let the themes inspire you and your child.  This will get ideas flowing on how to plan and how to decorate for the party.  Do not wait to the week before or month before the party to start planning.   Three months ahead of schedule is good.  However, if your child’s birthday is in the summer, but you are planning a winter theme and cannot find winter items in the summer.   If you are a planner and can plan early, start looking for items right after Christmas or right before March.  You will find tons of items at little to no cost at the end of a season.  Same advice if your child has a winter birthday and you want to do a summer theme.  Right at the end of the summer, start gathering sale items.  Just plan, make props yourself, make your invitations, and you are sure to save money and be ahead of the curve.  

Tracy has been in the field of early childhood education for 22 years.  She started with The Children's Workshop in September 1999 as an assistant director for one of the Massachusetts sites and has since served as director, regional, and currently as a VP regional overseeing seven facilities throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts.


Tracy earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Early Childhood education from the University of RI.   Besides overseeing sites she has also managed successful fundraisers including golf tournaments, developed and given countless training sessions, and served on boards and committees.  Tracy is currently one of the faces of The Children’s Workshop appearing on segments of “The Modern Parent” on Fox Providence’s morning television show, The Rhode Show.  In her role, Tracy enjoys most supporting and helping the staff, families, and children she works with every day. When she is not working, she enjoys gardening, cooking, and spending time with her husband and children.