5 Tips for a Banging Birthday Party on a Budget


A couple years ago, a well-known site conducted a voluntary poll asking parents how much they spent on their child’s first birthday party. The answer might surprise you. The overwhelming majority said more than $500. If you’re ramping up for your little one’s first birthday (or any other birthday, really!), and want to avoid that kind of price tag, we’ve got five tips to keep the party hopping—without breaking the bank.

Email or Facebook Invites

Printed invitations, intricately designed with photos of your beautiful little one can get pricey. Depending on the card stock and method of mailing, you could be looking at $200-$300 dollars if you have a large invite list. I would venture to guess that not many guests (outside of the grandparents, anyway) will still have that sparkly embossed invitation tucked away in a scrap book when the kid goes to college. I have found that email or Facebook invitations work just as well—and prove easier for the party planner to track RSVPs. Facebook also let’s you update the invitations cover photo. So when the birthday boy—for example—decides he doesn’t like dinosaurs anymore, you can quickly swap the photo out for a Ninja Turtle.

Resist the Urge to Etsy

I know. It hurts me to say this, really it does—but resist the urge to buy all that cute handmade stuff on Etsy. I know those cardboard door hangers, personalized water bottle labels, and hand-sewn high chair banners are freaking adorable, but—with just a little elbow grease—they can easily be replicated at home. Or you can avoid homemade decorations altogether and buy the dollar store or wholesaler crepe paper. I can guarantee the two-year-old won’t remember where you got the decorations.

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Pick a Free Venue

I’ll confess that I researched the possibility of hosting my son’s second birthday at Chuck E. Cheese this year. Not gonna lie. Year two has been crazy, and the thought of not having to cook or clean or argue with family members about where to park (East Nashville is a little light on non-street parking) was appealing. But when I crunched the numbers, we were looking at several hundred bucks. So opt for a free (or low cost) venue. A local park or your own home can be the perfect backdrop for a fantastic party—with a little clean up required on the back end. If you’re looking for a few options in all price ranges, check out our list of Nashville venues.

Ask for Help

News flash—I can’t cook, I don’t like to cook, and I don’t want to cook. So I ask for help when it comes to birthday party eats. Most of the time, moms and mothers-in-law are all to eager to whip up some finger sandwiches, fruit trays, and party dips. If you have friends or family who like to cook (or make homemade decorations or clean up party messes or park cars), don’t be afraid to ask for their help!

Skip the High-Dollar Cake

See reference to cooking above. Professionally decorated cakes are beautiful, but for something that’s going to end up smashed on just about every surface of your home, it might make sense to buy a box of Betty Crocker. Cupcakes are always a good go-to for little hands and—bonus—don’t require as much cutlery. Additionally, the decoration possibilities are endless—snakes, train tracks, caterpillars, Barbie skirts, etc. Or just plop a toothpick or popsicle stick with a sticker of your kid’s favorite cartoon character attached to it in the middle, and—bam!—instant cool.

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*If you want to throw all this out the window for a first birthday party, we understand. Those are always ridiculous and special and joyful—and heartbreaking. Spend as much on those as you can or want! We won’t judge.


  1. That is the way a party should be. I remember well the party last year. Great party. Looking forward to this year. You do an awesome job.

    Rory’s friend, Foo Foo.


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