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article-birthday-budgetHost a birthday that’s big on fun… not big on bucks.

Celebrating the little one’s birthday soon? We have tips to help you plan an on-budget, stress-free event. Over the past few years, birthday parties have often become extravagant, expensive affairs, complete with bouncy castles and hired princesses. But throwing a fun, memorable party doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) break your budget. Here are seven areas you can cut costs without holding back on the fun:

  1. Stay close to home: Booking a play center, movie theater or other party venue is a sure way to increase your budget. Not only do you have to pay for the venue, but many places also make you spend more on food, drinks and decorations. If you can, have the party in your house, backyard or at a relative’s home. It’s one of the easiest ways to save. Also, try to limit the party to 10 guests. This will allow you to spend a little more on the party activity and can also make it a lot more memorable.
  1. Get creative with your theme: If the little one loves superheroes, sports, or a certain movie (Frozen, anyone?), run with it. But don’t hire a party planner or professional entertainer. Instead, do it yourself! You can pick up a package of themed dessert plates, cups and napkins for a few dollars each. You can print pictures of the characters to use as signs and decorations. And you can follow the next tip to decorate your own cake.
  2. Baking is a sweet idea: If you can, bake the birthday cake. By skipping the specialty bakery, you’ll save between $30 and $50. However, if you and baking simply don’t mix, you have a couple of options: You can ask a relative or friend for help, or you can decorate a plain cake from the grocery store. For inspiration, look to 31 awesome birthday cake designs (step-by-step instructions included) from
  3. Pack your own favors: While a jam-packed loot bag may be exciting to a kid, the cost can quickly add up, with some parents spending as much as $15 to $20 per bag (Yahoo Shine). Do yourself a favor and create your own: Buy a bag of balloons, a pack of stickers, and bake the little one’s favorite cookies. Put a few things in each loot bag and spend less than $2 per guest. For more inspiration, see nine more inexpensive ideas, including customizable bubbles and “s’mores to go.”
  4. DIY your décor: You could spend $30 on a bouquet of helium balloons or, for a few dollars, you can buy a couple bags of balloons and blow them up yourself. Invite your kids to help decorate the house by taping balloons to the walls, creating birthday signs (inspired by your theme), and making streamers by threading popcorn on strings. Get creative — like this adorable DIY photo booth from Oh Happy Day or this vintage campaign theme from Design*Sponge.
  5. Make your own fun: Instead of renting a bouncy castle (a good way to bounce right past your budget), create your own activities. You can save a ton by visiting your local craft store. Plus, the right activity can double as a party favor — like any of these 15 party hats from Brit + Co. Another option is to buy wooden picture frames for the kids to decorate and put photos from the party — or your DIY photo booth from above — in each frame. Take a picture of each guest with the birthday boy or girl, print it, and fill the frame for a simple customized favor. Here are a few more fun activities from
  6. Skip the paper invites: Embrace the digital age, and save costs along the way. Use free online invitation sites like Evite or Punchbowl, both of which have an extensive selection of kids’ party invitations. Another great invitation site is ECHOage, a free online birthday party service that lets your guests contribute to both the birthday gift and charity of your child’s choice.

The biggest takeaway: Do it yourself whenever possible. By spending a bit of time, you can save a lot of money. Roll up your sleeves, get a little creative, and make your own decorations, cake and party favors (they’ll be that much sweeter).

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