How to Save Money When Organizing a Birthday Party

How to Save When Organizing a Birthday Party
Written by Irina Vasilescu

For a parent, one of the most challenging tasks is organizing a birthday party for kids. Although there are years when you may hold a small celebration with family only, there are times when you’d want to share the joy with a bigger circle of friends and relatives.

The good news is that there are many ways for you to organize the event yourself. There’s no need for you to hire a party planner especially if you are only holding a small celebration.

What’s important is for you to create a checklist so that everything will be organized. It also helps if you know which areas of the party planning you can save on, so that you would not have to spend so much but still have an ultra-fun celebration for your child and the guests.

Advanced Birthday Party Preparation Checklist

Is your son or daughter celebrating a first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh birthday? Children of this age can still enjoy a traditional kid’s party which should be fun for the whole family. When organizing such an event, it pays to do the preparations in advance so that you would not feel rushed once the birthday of your child is nearing.

To give you an idea about the tasks that you should complete prior to your kid’s birthday, here is a quick checklist that you can use:

3 Months Before

If you’re holding a big birthday party, a three-month preparation period should be fine. Smaller parties can be organized two or three months beforehand, although a longer preparation time gives you more leeway in ironing out the details. The first thing to do is ask what kind of party your son or daughter wants.

Decide whom to invite. If you’d like to save money, you can hold a smaller celebration for the kids in your child’s class at school – then have a different party at home. If you would like to have entertainment options like a clown, a mascot or inflatable castles, make a list of what you want so you can book them in advance.

Set up a date for the party which can be the exact birthdate of your kid, although holding the celebration a few days before or after the actual date should be fine. If there are special people in your kid’s life that you wish to be there on that date, notify them in advance so that they would be available.

1 Month Before

A month prior to the birthday party, you can do the following tasks:

  • Send out invitations.
  • Make a schedule of the activities for the event.
  • Make a list of the supplies you’ll need for the party.

3 Weeks Before

Three weeks before the actual celebration, here’s a checklist of things to do:

  • Plan which food items and drinks you are going to serve for the party.
  • Make a list of the grocery supplies you’ll need.
  • Enlist the help of friends, neighbors and relatives in supervising the activities during the party.

1 Week Before

A week before the birthday party celebrations, do the following:

  • Clean the house or the venue to make sure that everything is safe for the kids.
  • If you are holding the party outside, have a major yard clean-up.
  • Order the cake and the balloons. By this time, you should already have a theme for the party so make sure that the suppliers are informed.

3 Days to 1 Day Before

If there are only three days to go before the party, you can do these things:

  • Do the grocery shopping.
  • Make sure that everything is clean and safe for the kid visitors.
  • Put together goodie bags for the kids.
  • A day before the celebration, decorate the venue and finish any last-minute preparations.
  • On the day of the party itself, pick up the cake and balloons, display the food and if you have other volunteer parents, give them tasks to oversee.
  • Follow the program of activities for the party and make a list of the gifts for your child, as well as who gave them. You can send out personalized thank-you notes later on.
  • Send everyone off with party favors, goodie bags, balloons or even slices of the birthday cake.
  • After the event, send out personalized thank-you cards for the gift givers, all who attended the party and everyone who helped out with the celebrations.

Ways to Save Money When Organizing a Birthday Party

Next, how can you save money when organizing a birthday party? Here are the different aspects of planning that you should focus on, and how you can save money on each:

The Venue

If you have a tight budget, your home is the cheapest venue where you can hold your kid’s birthday party. If you have a huge backyard or front lawn, you can gather everyone there for the party.

For those with smaller apartments, you can simply hold the party indoors and invite a number of people who can fit into the venue. If you’re worried about carpet stains, cover the floor with picnic blankets or those rubber puzzle mats that you can buy from the dollar store.

Other possible party venues include the park, a community hall, a soft play area or a party venue with an entertainer. If you’d like to save money booking a venue, it does pay to do so in advance. There are some venues which offer all-inclusive party packages, something that you may want to check out if you would like to have a stress-free party planning experience.

The Entertainment

If you are holding the birthday party at home, what are money-saving entertainment options? You can organize games for the kids. You can also enlist the help of adult friends who can supervise the kids as they play games or engage in sporting activities while you are busy preparing the food in the kitchen.

If you are thinking about hiring clown, a professional kid’s party host or if you’re thinking about renting a bouncy castle, ask around for the best rates. You should also book the services in advance to save money on rental or service fees.

The Invites

To save money on your kid’s birthday party, it is best to keep the numbers down. Don’t feel pressured to invite the whole school or even the whole class.

If you want, you can have a separate celebration for your child at school – then invite only close friends and family for the party at home. This will save you money in the long run. There’s no need to have fancy invites printed out, even the cheap ones that you can purchase from thrift stores will do. Keep a list of the people to whom you will send the invites to, and make sure that there’s enough food for everybody during the party.

The Goodie Bags

Also called loot bags, goodie bags contain a few items for the kids to bring home after attending a birthday party. Check out dollar stores and thrift shops where you can buy small toys, candy and knickknacks for kids. If you want goodie bags which reflect the theme of the party, you can come up with something homemade.

Let’s say that you have a safari-themed party for your son’s seventh birthday. You can purchase animal-shaped cookies from the supermarket or even bake them yourself. Match this with small toy animals which are age-appropriate, and you have a themed goodie bag which does not cost that much to put together.

The Food/Cake/Balloons

Themed cakes for children’s birthday parties are usually more expensive than the ones you can buy from cake stores. If you have baking skills, it’s actually cheaper to bake a birthday cake by yourself.

When it comes to the food that will be served, how can you save money? On the invitation, there should be a printout of the time when the party will be held. It’s a good idea to hold the event in between lunch and dinner – so that’s about three or four in the afternoon. This way, you would not have to spend money on lunch or dinner dishes, but simply prepare kid-friendly snacks.

If you want to fill the venue with balloons, you can simply purchase party supplies from the store and buy what you want in bulk. These end up being cheaper in the end.

You can also check the decorations that you have in stock for birthday parties, and simply reuse what you already have instead of buying new ones. If there’s a theme for the party, hand-drawn decorations or cut-outs are better, adding a more personalized touch to the party décor.

In the end, what the children guests will be more excited about are the games, fun and play. As long as you have everything organized, you can successfully organize a fun birthday party for your son or daughter, without spending too much.

About the author

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu is our crafty designer. She joined the team three years ago and is also involved in the writing process.


  • This is great that I ran into this article! Just today I was thinking that I’m two months away from my king’s second birthday and I need to start getting myself organized especially since we’re on a budget. This article has great info and definitely one to bookmark for reference! Thanks!

    • For a most birthday parties I feel they definitely doesn’t have to be lavish for kids to have fun. We keep it very simple in our house, coloring activities, specific toys out for the kids to play with, or outdoor games.

      I don’t give out goodie bags ever at my kids’ parties. I don’t like my child bringing home the dollar store junk from parties, I just have to throw it all away later, so I don’t hand it out when I have a party. Goodie bags are not needed, kids should come to the party to celebrate, have fun, and be happy, junk items and candy to take home shouldn’t be needed and they are a waste of money.

      I definitely like the suggestion about the party being between lunch and dinner, at least when kids are old enough that they won’t be missing nap time. Otherwise I have had parties early, between breakfast and lunch which is better for the younger set.

      Like Lemonbell said, cupcakes are great, not only for children but adults as well. In fact, I like mini cupcakes of different flavors. It limits the sugar in take, and they can even eat two with it still being less than a regular cupcake. Kids always feel like they got more if they get two of something.

  • Try cupcakes for a kid’s birthday party. They are easier and less intimidating than making a cake. They also have built in portion control and a self-contained (mostly 😉 ). Try browsing Pinterest for absolutely amazing birthday party ideas that are quick and easy and cheap.

    Making a checklist is great because it will help last-minute expenses from adding up quickly.

  • Wow this list is great! Very comprehensive. Planning children’s birthday parties can be horribly expensive especially if they have a lot of friends. These tips are very likely to be invaluable to me over the next few years.

  • Thanks for posting. Supplies for children’s birthday parties can be sooo expensive. I try and purchase things throughout the year in advance and when they are on sale so that I can be prepared when my daughter’s party comes around.

  • These are great tips. I like the idea of having a mid-afternoon party. It is easier on the host because you can just do snacks instead of an entire meal. I think guests prefer it as well, so they can get home by dinnertime or any other evening plans they might have, and for younger kids, they can get to bed on time instead of being out too late. Cleanup is also much easier for a mid-afternoon party because you have time before bedtime after the guests leave to cleanup, so you can get some normal sleep too.

    Making your own invitations is also a very simple idea. You can search online for free invitation printable websites, or design your own simple invitation using a program like Microsoft Word. This also gives the birthday boy or girl the opportunity to help by adding stickers or writing the details on the invitations.

  • These are great tips. My mom use to do it all in a week but it was a very small gathering. She was a housewife also so she constantly had the house very clean. Never did invitations though she would tell us we could invite a few friends and we would just walk up to who we wanted to come and they would come if they wanted to.

  • If you’ve got a lot of friends, especially ones with the right jobs, it could be ridiculously easy to spend less when organizing your birthday party. Like the article suggests, plan ahead and call them to invite them a month before; they’re certainly going to want to add a little more extra flair to your plans and that’s always a good thing. Their enthusiasm in being involved will likely take the whole event up a notch.

  • Awesome share. These are great tips. Supplies for children’s birthday parties can be so expensive. Choosing the right party rental is also very important.

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