A few clicks around Pinterest, visits to parenting or party planning blogs, or even flicking through the pages of popular magazines offer up images and descriptions of flawlessly planned and executed children’s birthday parties. Birthday parties so extravagant and detailed that it seems only very wealthy parents with party planners and caterers on staff could host such events.

So, you want to host a birthday party for your little one, but you’re on a budget. Most people don’t have unlimited piles of money to put together a child’s birthday party with a professionally toddler-sized replica of Elsa’s ice castle, or four-tier cake with perfect Bob the Builder cake complete with working tools and matching character plates, napkins and cutlery. A great birthday party doesn’t mean spending loads of money. Planning a party on a budget is as easy as thinking a little creatively.

9 Tricks to Plan a Birthday Party on a Budget

Plan a birthday party on a budget

1. Skip the character plates, cups and napkins, and instead buy plain-colored items to match your child’s party theme. For example, instead of buying expensive Sesame Street plates and napkins, grab tableware in primary colors. People only put food or slices of cake on a plate anyway, what’s the point in using up precious birthday party budget for something that won’t make a big difference?

2. Send out electronic invitations instead of paper invites.

3. Schedule the party between meal times and you’re off the hook for serving a meal. If you really want to serve something, cut-up fruit and veggies and a bowl of cheddar bunnies are easy, healthy and kid- and budget-friendly.

4. Decorate with simple and inexpensive decorations, such as balloons, streamers and ribbon to match your party’s theme colors. You’d be surprised what you can do with some streamers when you get creative.

5. Use what you already have on hand to add to your theme and incorporate characters. Wooden train tracks and trains for a Thomas or train-themed party or LEGO buildings for a LEGO party add fun and whimsy to your decor without spending money.

6. Keep it simple and serve a classic sheet cake. Sheet cakes, even when professionally decorated and purchased from a bakery or store, cost a fraction of what fancy cupcakes, cake pops or multi-tiered cakes cost.

7. Nix the goody bag. Kids really don’t need a gift just because they came to a party. If you really want to give a thank you gift, try giving bubbles or small sets of crayons or chalk.

8. Host the party at home or a local park to save money on renting a party space.

9. Check out the Dollar Store. I’ve purchase party items from the dollar store many times. Anything from party plates, cups and cutlery to mini-colorful pinwheels and hula hoops, and even goody bag fillers.

What are your tricks for sticking to a birthday party budget?

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