Plan a Birthday Party Without Going Broke

Twice a year about a month before my daughters’ birthdays, I ask myself a multitude of questions: 

  1. What kind of party should I plan?
  2. How many of her classmates should I invite?
  3. How will I make this year top last year.
  4. How will I afford this? 

The final question is the one that hits me hardest and determines the answers to the previous questions. 

Cost Saving Tips


  • Local Parks – They’re free. They often have pavilions for inclement weather. No clean up at home. 
  • Nature Centers – If you have a local nature center, call them. We have one in Aurora that has amazing staff and fantastic programs. 
  • Somewhere that has an entry per vehicle such as a State Park, City Park, or National Park – Bring mini vans full of kids and you have yourself a cheap venue. 
  • Discounted Theaters – We have the Elvis Cinema theater here. The kids can see a movie that they may or may not have already seen for a cheaper price. 
  • Places that have all inclusive pricing – party packages = super easy. 
  • Local government buildings with meeting rooms. Kids don’t care where it is, they just care if they get cake and play games. 
  • For the adventurous – go camping, hiking, biking. 
  • At home – not ideal but definitely cheap. Basements, back yards, sleepovers. 

Invitations, Cake, Decorations, Goody Bags:  

  • I have, on occasion, spent a lot of time and effort on making (yes, making) invitations. Though they are super cute and make me feel better about my Pinterest obsessions, they also take a lot of time, effort, and money – they’re actually more expensive than buying pre-made invites. 
  • Tiered cakes are nice for weddings. Sheet cakes are perfectly acceptable for birthday parties and King Soopers has a great selection of cakes and cupcakes. I spent hours on extravagant cake pops for my daughter’s 6th birthday. They were cute, yes, but much more expensive and time consuming than a sheet cake would have been.
  • Decorations are nice but aside from balloons… Kids. Don’t. Care.
  • Goody bags. Two words. Dollar Store. 


Handmade Tutus for Every Child (12 total) at Daughter’s 6th Birthday


Lorax Cake Pops


Lorax Bear Cake Pops


Lorax Truffula Tree Cake Pops

What to spend money on: 

  • Activities – whatever the kids are going to be doing. 
  • Helpers – if you don’t have a husband or mother that’s willing to help, bring in helpers especially if there are going to be more than 10 kids under 10. 
  • A bottle of wine – you need something to celebrate your success after the party.  


  • You don’t have to compete with classmates’ birthday parties. You know your child and what they would like. Don’t go overboard just to keep up with the Joneses. 
  • Though your kids will seem like they don’t care and may ignore you, your presence at their party – smiling, taking pictures, etc – is way more important than everything else. 
  • Encourage people to RSVP but be prepared for additional kids to show up. RSVP’s don’t work well with kids’ parties for some reason. 
  • Make a budget and stick to it. 
  • Keep your eyes open for deals. Groupon, Living Social, Etc. 

Good luck in your party planning endeavors! 

~ Thankfully Exhausted


3 thoughts on “Plan a Birthday Party Without Going Broke

  1. Great ideas! We love store sheet cakes because no one beats their designs when you are a kid. (And you aren’t messing up frosting your own and redoing it last minute-still not good enough and feeling like a failure either like my OCD self lol!) Sam has a birthday at the end of this month and we are doing lunch at the Aquarium in Dtown, he always wanted to see the Aquarium, and then Lego place at Colo Mills where they can build there own lego characters for cheap- all the kids love it! Can’t wait to see you birthday creativity this year! Last year (or two?) when you did the Lorax, that was amazing! You rock this stuff 🙂

  2. Pingback: Epic Fail & Nailed It | Thankfully Exhausted

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