5 Ways to Celebrate Kids’ Birthday for Less

Today’s guest post was written by Sharon from Real Life Deals.

If you know me, you know I’m extremely frugal. (ok….sometimes even cheap!) I always want my kids to have ‘big’ birthday party memories but I don’t want those memories to cost me big bucks!

Here are some ways we keep the cost down while piling on lots of birthday ‘bang’!

1. Start a birthday morning tradition. Several years ago my daughter woke up with a pile of balloons on her bed. That first start to the morning has become a tradition. Now we sometimes even tape streamers down the hall for them to weave their way through. Cost: $1.25 for streamers at Walmart; Bag of balloons – 1.00

2. Reuse gift bags and wrapping supplies We never have to buy gift bags. Just reuse them from one season to the next. We have a Star Wars gift bag that has seen at least 6 different family birthday parties. The kids just know to expect it.  My 4 year old even asked if he would get a gift in the Star Wars bag!

3. Decorate with streamers. You can’t get more festive than streamers hanging all over the house. Did you know that there are tons of articles on different ways to hang streamers? Who knew? Here is one article. Keep a look out all year long. Streamers can be found at yard sales, Good Will or discount bins in the off-season. That way you will have some on hand before your event.

4.Use sidewalk chalk to make a birthday card the whole neighborhood will see! We have written birthday wishes, “Congratulations! You finished 2nd grade!” and other fun notes to the kids at different times. Cost: $0 (assuming you already have the chalk in your garage).

5. Make your own cake Cost: A cake mix and tub of icing (use your coupons and plan ahead and you will get an even better deal!) I splurged this year and bought the Wilton tube of decorator icing for 2.88! That is one splurge I will definitely do again. Add a toy for decoration and you are set. We usually buy a small toy that the kids are already wanting. Then we use that on the cake. After the party, they wash the pieces of the toy and they have another present to play with.

6. Use a festive party tablecloth on the table. About 3 years ago, I paid 1.00 at the Dollar Tree for a plastic balloon tablecloth. It has now become ‘tradition’ to place it on the table for each birthday. Yes, I am talking about the cheap little plastic material. It is so bright and colorful that it immediately screams “Party!” Cost = $1.00 It still looks as good as the first day we used it. I’m kind of curious now how long it will last. Growing up, my Mom had a cloth tablecloth that was covered with bright, bold flowers. We used that tablecloth for almost 20 years for special occasions.

How do you celebrate birthdays without breaking your budget? I’d love to hear!

Sharon is a stay-at-home, work-from-home, Mom of 3 who blogs at Real Life Deals where she looks for ways to save money in real life – sometimes the savings involves coupons and sometimes it just means shopping smart!


  1. says

    Last year my son wanted to have a birthday party with his entire 27-kid class. Instead of saying no I held it at the local park (free), everyone got to get outside and play as the activity and we decorated home made cupcakes for our activity. Everyone got to decorate 2 cupcakes… one to eat there and one to take home. To take home their cupcakes everyone got a 33 cent cardboard box to decorate and take their second cupcake home in. The whole party cost me about $35 for the 20 kids who showed up.

  2. says

    I am on the frugal birthday train too…I think I may even do a post about it now! Some of the things I do though are a lot of the things you’ve listed…I make the kids cakes…my favorite now are pull-apart cakes…cupcakes, made into a shape, then frosted to look like one cake! So fun and easy!

    I use streamers and balloons and a “fancy” theme tablecloth for whatever the child picked as their theme (plastic) we don’t re-use these because they change the them every year, but I’m ok with that as long as tablecloths don’t start costing much more than $1.25.

    I also always have something special for the birthday child to wear…one year it was a plastic tiara that was in a pack of 6 that went into the favors and cost $1.50 for all of them, my son’s both have “birthday boy” pins that they wear every year…we also try to do a “birthday” outfit…usually a fun, cheap, t-shirt or pillowcase dress…homemade if possible…a lot of times with re-cycled materials so even cheaper.

    When we serve food we usually serve pasta with sauce or some type of casserole which keeps the cost down a lot too. I want our kids to have special, memorable birthdays, but I don’t want to pay a fortune for them either.

    • says

      Kelley, I think you get Most Informative Comment of the Year award! :) I love all your great ideas. I am super intrigued by these pull apart cakes. You’ll have to send me a photo sometime. They sound genius!

  3. Melissa says

    Hi! I have a question. My youngest son is turning 1 tomorrow and we decided to have his party at the park. Do you have any ideas on how to decorate and what fun things can we do to keep busy? Thanks so much!

    • Rebekah Hoffer says

      Do you have a theme picked out for the party?

      Simple crate paper is a fun way to add a pop of color. You could make a crate paper and curly ribbon garland like I did in this post: http://simplyrebekah.com/2013/10/25/frugal-photo-friday-cheap-birthday-decorations/

      Here is an idea to help pass the time. Give everyone a number and a blank card. Tell them to write your son a letter of advice that coordinates with the number they picked. Advice for him as a 16 year old, 25 year old, 10 year old… Then he can open one of those letters on his birthday in future years.

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