Cheap Birthday Ideas for a Fun & Fabulous Party
Most of us want to celebrate our birthdays, but we don’t always have much money.
We all know that birthday parties are fun and great for building relationships with friends and family members, but they can also be expensive. With these great tips, you can throw a fantastic party without spending too much money. Your guests will love all the fun they have at your party, and you’ll love not having to pay too much out-of-pocket for it!
These inexpensive party ideas will help you throw the best birthday ever without breaking open your piggy bank. Read on to learn about these frugal birthday ideas that will keep your wallet full while still celebrating in style.
How do you celebrate a low budget birthday?
The first step to finding cheap birthday ideas is to set your budget for your party. By knowing your spending budget, you can plan your party expenses and save money on your big day. Figure out how much you want to invest in each category to figure out what you can spend without going overboard.
Some categories to consider include:
- Food, cake, and drinks
- Decorations, supplies, and favors
- The guest list / the number of guests
- Entertainment (including activities, crafts, games, etc.)
Start by planning for food, drink, location, invitations, and supplies. Don’t forget about entertainment, too. It doesn’t have to be a live band or anything extravagant – but you should think about how guests will keep busy at your party.
You’ll also have to budget for decorations and gifts, though neither of these is absolutely necessary. You can even skip it altogether if you don’t want to spend money on your birthday that way.
Once you’ve got your budget set, start planning cheap birthday ideas that are within your spending limit. We’ll help you get started with cheap birthday ideas for every category.
Finding a Cheap Party Location
One of the most significant expenses when planning a birthday party is finding cheap but great places to have your party. You can avoid paying for an expensive place by having your party in your home or borrowing space from someone willing to let you host there.
If you have your party outside, consider a public park. They’re free to use and come with pretty green grass, trees, and picnic tables for cheap birthday ideas that require outdoor space.
Having a party at home or borrowing another place can save you time as well as money. If you’re wondering how to make a birthday special at home, skip the rental fee or instead focus on decorating with cheap supplies available at most stores.
If you need to pay for a venue, look into inexpensive options that don’t charge too much money – like cheap party halls or restaurants, or the local firehouse, playground, YMCA, or public indoor pool.
And, most importantly, if you decide to pay for a cheap party venue, don’t forget to factor in tipping the staff well. They’ll be more willing to help you out on your big day!
Your birthday location can also affect your food and drink spending. For example, if you have an outdoor party, plan to buy ready-to-eat foods that don’t need to be hot, cold, or cooked. If your party is inside, you can get more creative, but remember that it’s more expensive to buy food that needs to be served at specific temperatures.
Cheap Birthday Party Food Ideas
Food is probably the most expensive thing on this list of cheap birthday ideas. To keep costs down, figure out how many guests to expect, then plan for those people to eat two servings each.
For example, if you’re expecting 12 guests, plan to serve 24 servings of food. If your party is buffet-style, let each person help themselves, and then they can refill as much as they like.
Keep party food cheap and straightforward by serving buffet-style snacks or picnic foods that allow guests to munch throughout the party. Or, make it a potluck and ask everyone to big a dish instead of a gift.
Remember that cheap doesn’t always mean less tasty. You can find affordable and delicious party foods without costing too much money. Look into these cheap and easy birthday food ideas:
- A taco station
- Burgers, hot dogs, and sausages
- Pasta salads or macaroni & cheese
- Finger foods like chips, nuts, or veggies and dip
- Chips and salsa or fruit salad (both require little-to-no preparation time)
- Cheese, meat, crackers, and fruit trays
If you’re feeling like cooking, some birthday treats to consider are:
- Sausage and peppers sandwiches (you can get cheap sausage and peppers at a deli counter)
- Crockpots full of party foods like chili, meatballs, or macaroni & cheese
- Dips like buffalo chicken, french onion, or crab dip paired with veggies or chips
- Large family-style dishes like lasagne or enchiladas can be prepared beforehand and baked in the oven
Cheap Birthday Party Cake Ideas
Like food, the cake can be a significant expense when planning a cheap birthday party. To cut costs, you can bake your own cake by using a cake mix if you’re really strapped for cash. Just grab a boxed cake mix at a great price, and follow these directions.
How to Make a Bakery Cake from a Box Cake Mix
- Add the correct number of eggs plus one.
- Substitute the required amount of water with milk.
- Replace the oil with the melted butter
This show-stopping cake that tastes amazing – just don’t tell any of your guests how you pulled it off!
If you’re not feeling like letting your inner baker loose, that’s ok too. Look into supermarkets or a grocery store that sell cheap pre-made birthday cakes. You’ll pay much less than going to a specialty bakery.
Birthday Party Activities and Entertainment
In addition to cheap birthday cake ideas, you’ll have to think of inexpensive party activities as well. If you’re hosting the party in your home, affordable birthday party games can be fun.
Whether you’re at a party venue, the local park, or at your own home, find cheap but fun activities for guests to do indoors or out. You could:
- Go on a scavenger hunt
- Play outdoor games like relay races, capture the flag, or freeze tag
- Host a dance party
- Play video or board games
- Have a pool party
- Enjoy an at-home spa day (one of the best cheap birthday party ideas for a teenage girl)
- Set up a crafting station
- Have a wine or bourbon tasting (one of my favorite cheap party ideas for adults and always a good time!)
Base party activities on what your guest of honor enjoys most, since it is their special day, after all. For example, if they love to dance, plan cheap fun games that revolve around music. If your best friend is more artistic, create an affordable birthday event based around an arts and crafts activity like painting pottery or making bracelets out of glass beads.
Cheap Birthday Party Favors Ideas
Giving cheap party favors is a great way to say thank you to your guests for coming. You can go simple and inexpensive with party favors that consist of candy or toys from the Dollar Store. However, if you want to get more creative, cheap party favors don’t have to be boring.
- Give small but fun toys as prizes. Kids love cheap party favors like bubbles, a coloring book, or other small items.
- Be resourceful and use things around your house to make party favors – wrapping paper, ribbon, or even extra photo frames.
- Offer a craft as an activity that doubles as a take-home favor.
- Send home cupcakes, candy, or other treats in a cup bag or box.
Don’t forget, you don’t have to give favors – this is a relatively newer idea that’s cropped up more recently. There’s no rule anywhere that says a fabulous party has to send you home with anything more than memories of a great time!
Free or Cheap Birthday Decorations
Decorations aren’t always required – you can always skip them to save a lot of money. But if you still want to decorate your party location, don’t shop at a party store for decor – you’re more likely to get a great deal buying from the Dollar Store or even big box stores to get them cheaper. You don’t need a birthday party theme – you can just select your guest of honor’s favorite colors if planning a theme is too much.
Decorations can be minimal but impactful and easy on the eyes as well as the wallet! Consider one of the following great ideas to decorate your party:
- Using cheap or free items around your house as cheap party decorations. For example, if you have an old basket sitting around, fill it with toys and party supplies like paper plates to make cheap birthday decorations!
- Use party supplies from the Dollar Store like streamers, table cloths, balloons, garlands, etc., to brighten up your party location.
- Fill old vases with fake flowers or colorful rocks and set them on tables around the room. Or, pick up cost-effective flowers at Aldi’s to decorate tables.
- Ask close friends and family for their old, unused supplies.
- If you have a friend who loves crafts, ask her to teach your guests how to make cheap decorations you can use around the party venue – this is especially fun if your guest of honor is into art!
- Check local buy-sell-trade Facebook groups for recycled party supplies that you can grab during a porch pick up for little to no cost.
If none of these inexpensive birthday party ideas work for you, don’t forget to use your imagination – and that less is always more. You don’t have to go over the top with decorating. Just using color-coordinated plates, napkins, and utensils from the Dollar Store can pull a room together and give the party a warm and fun feeling.
Birthday Gift Ideas
The most crucial cheap birthday party idea that is left is the gift. Instead of buying the guest of honor an expensive gift (no matter how much they would like it), consider giving a cheap, great gift that still show you care.
Gifts don’t have to be expensive. Give them something you’ve created, something they love to eat, or a gift card to a place they enjoy shopping. You could:
- Give your friend a photo album with photos taken throughout the year – a perfect and meaningful gift to remind them of how much fun you’ve had together.
- Try giving a Groupon for an experience as a fun way for them to enjoy a birthday activity without breaking the bank.
- Give them something homemade that they’ll love. For example, if you’re crafty, make a picture frame with your friend’s photo in it or DIY her favorite soap. Try searching Pinterest for cheap birthday ideas for her or him!
- Give them their favorite food or snack wrapped up in a beautiful package.
- If you’re not sure what they want, gift cards are a fail-proof good idea for a birthday gift. Gift cards to their favorite shops are a great present that you know they’ll use – or they can return the gift cards for something else.
- Take them out to spend quality time together and score all the birthday freebies they can in one day. Perfect if they want to do something for their birthday instead of a party.
It can be tough to plan special occasions that are low budget that is still festive. These are just a few of the many easy ways you can spend less and still have a fantastic party. The more creative your ideas, the better! You don’t need to break the bank to celebrate with friends – all it takes is creativity and imagination. What other cheap fun party ideas do you know? Share them below in our comments, and many happy, money-saving birthday celebrations!
A forty-ish web designer/developer by day, a budget & financial fanatic by night. I’m a mom, wife, avid reader, and DIY enthusiast who’s tracking our journey to debt freedom. Read More