3 Budgets: Birthday Parties for Children

It’s often hard for my hosting-loving heart to remember that for my daughters’ birthday parties, they just want a fuss, fun and friends on their special day. Ultimately, this doesn’t need to cost much or take much time.


To show you how to hold a great kid’s birthday on a budget, I’ve put together budget breakdowns for three children’s birthday parties at $25, $100 and $500 price points. Keep in mind, these tips skew towards toddler parties since that’s my experience.

$25 Birthday Party

Our family has a rule that each year you can invite as many friends as your new age, which is one trick we use to keep the cost low. I have a hunch that this significantly lessens the pressure to host an MTV-style Super Sweet 16 party!

Knowing what kind of budget you want makes planning your party easier, and less expensive party certainly doesn’t mean less fun.

For my daughter Dottie’s second birthday, two friends came over for a make-your-own-pizza party. I bought refrigerated pizza dough, mozzarella cheese, toppings and sauce at the grocery store, and prepared cleverly cut up veggies to dip in dressing, so the food and entertainment were covered.

I made the tasty birthday cake from a mix on sale, and instead of goodie bags, we handed out helium balloons. The blog “A Girl and a Boy” has a great balloon trick for an even more dynamic decoration. The balloons can do double-duty as the take-home item, instead of putting together goodie bags for the guests.

Refrigerated pizza dough $2.50
Carrots & Broccoli $2.00
Ranch dressing $3.00
Cheese $5.00
Sauce $2.50
Subtotal $15.00
Mix $2.75
Frosting $2.25
Subtotal $5.00
Subtotal $5.00
Total $25.00

$100 Birthday Party

When budgeting for a child’s birthday party, my favorite money saving tip is to ask your child directly what they want.  That’s how we wound up throwing a “Pink Cupcake Donut Rainbow Princess Yoda Santa Baby Jesus Butterfly” party for our daughter’s third birthday.

Fifteen guests joined us for just about $100. We held the summer party in the late morning at a public park. As it was a potluck brunch, costs stayed down and spirits were high. I served a cost efficient eggy pie, pink donuts and pink strawberry juice. Guests supplied the rest of the food.

For decorations, we found a roll of plastic table covering to hide all the dubious park table surfaces. I spray painted a single, small tree branch, secured the branch in a vase, and clipped small butterfly clips over the branch. A stuffed Yoda did double duty as decoration and gift.

Subtotal $15
Prosecco (for the grownups) $10
Eggy pie $5
Donuts $10
Strawberry juice $20
Pink cupcakes
Mix $2.75
Frosting $2.25
Subtotal $5
Subtotal $50
Tablecloth roll (to cover park tables) $10
Stuffed Yoda $10
Rainbow temporary tattoos $3
Clip on Butterflies $7
Spray painted tree branch Free
Subtotal $30
Pink lollipops for the take-home
Subtotal $5
Total: $100

$500 Birthday Party

If I’m spending more money on a party, I make sure there’s a time tradeoff: the higher the party cost, the less time I want to spend preparing. For bigger budget birthday parties, I also like to use the extra money to hire entertainment, like a children’s birthday professional, giving the grownups a chance to mingle, and the kids an experience to remember.

Bigger budgets can also accommodate fancier goodie bags. You can bump up the quality of your goodie bag with personalization. I like to personalize decks of cards, baked goods or even little notebooks.

For 8-10 guests, this party includes a

Bakery bought birthday cake
Subtotal $50
Catered food or takeout
Subtotal $200
Subtotal $100
Pennants to hang $25
Linens (rental) $25
Subtotal $50
Plates and glassware
Subtotal $50
Goodie bags
Personalized pencils $25
Small notebooks with pencils $15
Stickers $5
Bags $5
Subtotal $50
Total: $500

Knowing what kind of budget you want makes planning your party easier, and a less expensive party certainly doesn’t mean less fun. There are party solutions for any kind of budget. Regardless of your budget, make sure you always take plenty of photos. Memories of these special times are priceless!

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