Frugal birthday party ideas

If you know me, you know I’m extremely frugal (ok….sometimes even cheap!) I always want my kids to have ‘big’ birthday party memories but I don’t want those memories to cost me big bucks!

Here are some ways we keep the cost down while piling on lots of birthday ‘bang’!

1. Start a birthday morning tradition. Several years ago my daughter woke up with a pile of balloons on her bed. That first start to the morning has become a tradition. Now we sometimes even tape streamers down the hall for them to weave their way through. Cost: $1.25 for streamers at Walmart; Bag of balloons – 1.00

2. Reuse gift bags and wrapping supplies We never have to buy gift bags. Just reuse them from one season to the next. We have a Star Wars gift bag that has seen at least 6 different family birthday parties. The kids just know to expect it. (My 4 year old even asked if he would get a gift in the Star Wars bag!)

3. Decorate with streamers. You can’t get more festive than streamers hanging all over the house. Did you know that there are tons of articles on different ways to hang streamers? Who knew? Here’s one…. ***Keep a look out all year long – Streamers can be found at yard sales, Good Will or discount bins in the off-season. That way you will have some on hand before your event.

4.Use sidewalk chalk to make a birthday card the whole neighborhood will see! We have written birthday wishes, “congratulations-you finished 2nd grade”, and other fun notes to the kids at different times. Cost: $0 (assuming you already have the chalk in your garage).

5. Make your own cake Cost: A cake mix and tub of icing (use your coupons and plan ahead and you will get an even better deal!) I splurged this year and bought the Wilton tube of decorator icing for 2.88! That is one splurge I will definitely do again. Add a toy for decoration and you are set. We usually buy a small toy that the kids are already wanting. Then we use that on the cake. After the party, they wash the pieces of the toy and they have another present to play with.

6. Use a festive party tablecloth on the table. About 3 years ago, I paid 1.00 at the Dollar Tree for a plastic balloon tablecloth. It has now become ‘tradition’ to place it on the table for each birthday. Yes, I am talking about the cheap little plastic material. It is so bright and colorful that it immediately screams “Party!” Cost = $1.00 It still looks as good as the first day we used it. I’m kind of curious now how long it will last.

Growing up, my Mom had a cloth tablecloth that was covered with bright, bold flowers. We used that tablecloth for almost 20 years for special occasions.

How do you celebrate birthdays without breaking your budget? ! I’d love to hear!

Sharon is a stay-at-home, work-from-home, Mom of 3 who blogs at Real Life Deals where she looks for ways to save money in real life – sometimes the savings involves coupons and sometimes it just means shopping smart!


  1. MeganL says

    glad to hear someone else uses a tablecloth over and over like me… all my family laughs but knows we have to wipe over the tablecloths to try to keep them!!

  2. says

    I too reuse gift bags, and wrapping paper! I will often use printables either made by me or free from the internet to decorate the cupcakes with. Nickelodeon website has a great set of free printable characters games, puzzles, coloring pages, stories etc! Oriental trading often runs some killer sales, so if you keep an eye on them year round, you can get quite a collection of great reusable party supplies!

    Keep the tips coming!

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