How to Host a Frugal Children’s Birthday Party

We love to celebrate birthdays in my family. Kids’ birthday parties seem to get more and more glamorous over the years. I remember watching My Super Sweet Sixteen as a teenager and I was floored to see how much parents would spend on an elaborate party for their child.

As a parent now myself, I know that pricey parties aren’t just reserved for teenagers. Young kids can work up quite the bill as well when it comes to having a nice birthday party.

This can pose a lot of financial problems for your household especially if you’re trying to reach other goals. Plus, I feel like you can still throw an awesome party and create memories without spending an arm and a leg. My son will be 9 this month, and my husband and I have enjoyed planning affordable birthday parties for him that fit in the budget.

Here are a few of my best tips for planning and hosting a frugal children’s birthday party.

Decide on a Budget For Your Frugal Children’s Birthday Party

First, you have to be realistic with how much you plan to spend on the birthday party. Decide on a budget you can stick to that won’t make you feel like you spread yourself too thin.

Most parents do this the opposite way. They decide on all these conditions for the party first without considering their budget. Don’t work backward and make it hard for yourself.

Instead, figure out what you have to work with first, then determine what you can do with the funds you have. If your child is old enough, you may even want to have them help with budgeting for the party. This is something I want my son to do in the future.

Ideally, I’d give him the budget and have him help plan his own party. This will help him understand how expensive things can get and also develop more self-control when it comes to spending.

Decide on a budget you can stick to that won't make you feel like you spread yourself too thin. Share on X

Limit the Gifts You Buy

We have a rule in our household that when we throw a birthday party, we don’t buy gifts and our son knows this. The party is his gift from us. He will get the rest of his gifts from guests who attend.

It makes perfect sense in my mind and eliminates the stress most parents feel surrounding paying for a party and buying lavish gifts.

Choose Your Location Carefully

Where you have your birthday party can play a huge role in how much you spend. If you’re trying to host a frugal children’s birthday party, the best place you can do it is in your home for free. I remember the sleepover birthday parties I attended when I was younger as the best ones.

You can also consider a local park if the weather is nice or a clubhouse if you rent or have a homeowner’s association membership.

If you feel your home is too small to host the party, ask a friend or family member if you can host at their house and offer to do all the prep and clean up.

We actually hosted my son’s birthday party at our home one year when we were still living in an apartment. Sure the space was small, but we only invited family. It was a pirates theme so I decorated the house, ordered some pizza, and I set up a pirate’s treasure hunt for the kids.

Consider Using a Coupon or Discount

You may not have realized it but there are some coupons or discounts available for birthday parties. If a new fun center just opened in your area, they may offer discounts for birthday parties that you can take advantage of.

I actually found a discount on Groupon one year and we hosted my son’s party at a fun play place in the area. If you are thinking of having a party at a place that usually doesn’t host birthday parties, you may be able to score a group discount.

It’s worth a try to ask and search for a coupon to help cut your costs.

DIY What You Can

You can cut expenses and throw a frugal children’s birthday party by DIYing here and there. Instead of buying a cake, bake your own. Instead of ordering food, prepare your child’s favorite meal and snacks.

If you can opt out of a party place decorating the birthday room for you, ask to decorate it yourself and see if you can get a discount.

Have your brother or uncle dress up in a character costume to entertain the kids instead of paying someone else to do it. Get creative!

Limit the Guest List

This is something we did when our son was younger and not in school. He didn’t have classmates or too many friends (since you can’t really have a legitimate friendship at 2 years old 🙂 ) so we kept the invite list small and saved money on party packages.

Packages are often priced by the number of kids you will have attending. So the lower the number, the less you’ll pay. For his 5th birthday, we did a bowling party and I only paid $60 for 6 kids. It was super cheap and super fun!

Now, we purpose to invite his entire class to his party in order to give people a chance to RSVP if they can make it. If your child is in middle school and they don’t really have a homeroom, you can just invite a few of their friends to a movie or to do something fun as a small group. This will be much less stressful and costly.

I like to book parties at places that will allow you to change your head count a few days before the event. This means, if some people don’t RSVP, you can lower your guest count and that will lower your price.

It makes no sense to pay for people who are not going to show up at your party to be sure to make sure the place you’re planning to have the event it allows you to lower the package and change your guest count.

Host the Party In-Between Meal Times

Paying for food for 20 kids plus their parents can add up quickly – even if it’s just pizza and pop. If you’re trying to keep your party on the frugal side, one thing you can do is host the event in between meal times.

By hosting a party after lunch and before dinner, you may be able to get by without serving a meal. I once took my younger brother to a birthday party where they only served cake and ice cream for food and I was totally fine with that. The party was around 3pm and I know how costly it can be to feed everyone.

If you want, you can offer some finger foods and snacks like chips and popcorn but you don’t have to feel pressured to provide a full meal.

At the end of the day, the party is about celebrating your child’s birth and creating memories and experiences together. Don’t get too caught up in trying to throw the perfect event and overspend on.

Will you be planning any parties for your kids this year? How will you keep costs controlled?