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Frugal Kids’ Birthday Party Ideas

Kids Birthday Party Ideas

My son’s first birthday is coming up, and I have just started to plan his birthday party. It’s not going to be elaborate or anything of that nature since, well, he’s turning 1. It’s not like he’s going to remember everything about the party!

I do believe that the 1 Year birthday is pretty important, though, so I do want to have a little party for him.

As much as I would like to, I’m not going to go all out on this birthday party. I don’t want my guests to think we’re cheap by not having a lunch or dinner (we’re having the party from 2-4pm), it’s just that we really cannot afford to feed a bunch of people.

We will have finger foods and things of that nature, but that’s about it. I’ve been researching ways to save money on birthday parties and have found a lot of great ideas that I thought I would share with you.

The Invites and Guest list

  • Don’t Use Paper Invitations! – With almost everyone and their grandma on the Internet these days, it’s cheaper and easier to send party invites though email. You can also call people and invite them to the party if for some reason they do not have the Internet (whaaaaaat?!).
  • Make Your Own – If you really like the idea of sending out invitations, I would suggest making your own instead of buying cards from the store. You can find printable invitations online (from here, for example) or you can make your own from construction paper.
  • Limit The Number Of Guests – You don’t need to invite every single one of your child’s friends to the party. Tell them they can pick 5 friends. Then stick to it. 5 only! If your party is for children who are too young to have friends (like my babe!), limit the party to only grandparents and your child’s aunts and uncles.

The Food

  • Make Your Own Cake – Don’t feel intimidated! Just buy a box of cake mix and a can of frosting, if need be, and make a birthday cake yourself! No one cares if it’s beautiful – they just want to eat it! As long as it tastes good, that’s all that matters.
  • You can make your own cake for $5 or less, instead of paying $50 or more for someone else to do it. Save your money and do it yourself! Cupcakes are fun and easy too!
  • Serve Finger Foods – Mini sandwiches, chips & dip, popcorn, veggies, crackers & cheese, deviled eggs, fruit, pretzels, cookies – these types of foods are fairly cheap and easy to make/serve.

If you are having the party around lunch or dinner time, you can serve hamburgers and/or hot dogs (depending on the time of year) but this can get pricey if you have many guests.

If you only have a handful of people coming, this would be cheap to do, but if you have many people attending the party, I would stick with finger foods only.

The Other Stuff

  • Stay Home – Rather than shelling out big bucks at a local restaurant, why not have the party at your house? If your home is much too small, you might want to consider having the birthday party at a local park, instead.
  • Skip The Treat Bags – When did it become necessary to give presents to your GUESTS? They come to the party to celebrate this person’s birthday with cake and ice cream! If you just cannot fathom the idea of not having treat bags, as least be frugal and buy the goodies for the bags at the dollar store!
  • Play Simple Games – Pin The Tail on the Donkey and Musical Chairs and simple, are fun games that don’t cost a lot (if anything) to set up. Buy prizes for the winners at the dollar store, too.

What are your frugal ideas for kids birthday parties?


  1. Amanda

    This a great idea!!! My sister has never been much or the party planner in our family so that’s what we give our nephews for their gifts πŸ™‚ we plan the party and host it too. We usually invite the entire class, just ’cause I remember how unfair it was with some kids being left out and my best gf from Kindergarten her twin brother wasn’t invited to my party and he was crying…I’ll never forget that πŸ™ so I invite everyone – lol

    I do shop for the loot bags year round and collect end of season things (one nephew’s b-day is March ~ Easter/Spring theme – egg hunts were fun, another is June – so summer theme (bubbles/side walk chalk), and the other one is October so we do Halloween themed…these aren’t a theme every year for the party but things I can use and watch for deals for the ‘loot bags’ or prizes πŸ™‚

    Great things for loot bags if you watch end of season’s sales or just good deals would be bubbles, side walk chalk, crayons, pen’s (if they are in school) – there is some neat stuff in September with school supplies, slinky, balloon’s – can usually get a mixed bag of 1lb of these at the dollar store for $1, liquidation worlds can have some GREAT things too…I got little travel games for 4/$0.10 how do you beat that!!! I bought them ALL ~ knowing that they won’t go bad and that all the boys can use them at their parties until they are gone πŸ™‚

    My sister does make the b-day cake though usually and she does a GREAT job, last year she made a 3-D Cat, 3-D Wiggles Car with the Wiggles in it, a frog head and race track just to list a few πŸ™‚ Sure cuts on the cost of a bakery cake.

    Another thing we did when my one nephew was in his early years of school was the kids made their own party hats and they LOVED that πŸ™‚ a simple craft can be great for the kids as most kids love to make something and they have something to take home too.

    If you do a pinata get your treats after Halloween if you can…not sure how long they last before going bad or if you are like me and would eat them…I usually would go to costco though…

    I guess that’s enough rambling but I like this idea and hope you have a lot of fun planning your little guys party…don’t stress like lots of parents do, it’s not as bad as some people think πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  2. Amanda

    Another thing would be if you wanted to make it a dinner/lunch thing with your family and friends just make the party a pot luck. We have 3 b-day’s in June within a week of each other so we have a big family BBQ on father’s day and it’s a pot luck πŸ™‚

  3. Cassie Howard

    ah yes a potluck is a good idea as well!

    and when my boy is older we for sure will be doing some crafty things! πŸ˜€ i always loved that when i went to parties as a kid.

    thanks for the comments, amanda. πŸ™‚

  4. Becca

    I’m sure many parent’s can agree that loot bags from the dollar store are the worst. Within 5 mins of getting them, they are forgotten and soon end up in the garbage. IMO frugal isn’t always about spending the least, but making sure the things you buy are enjoyed and used, even if it costs a little more.
    Instead, I buy a bunch of neat snacks (goldfish, dehydrated apples and gold chocolate coins etc) for the loot bag. I have also bought fork and spoon sets or cups when they go on sale at the Disney store and let the kids choose which they would like.

  5. Laurie

    I suggest making your own decorations…my 4 year old loved helping me make tissue paper pom poms to hang from the ceiling and that sort of thing…also instead of dollar store loot bags we make scented play dough for all the kids…it cost only a few cents and I had jars to put them in from my mother in laws who stopped making jam and had left over jars, but you can also pick them up at the dollar store…then the kids also got candy from a game we did and a take home craft…I think that made a great loot bag, low cost and no junk!

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