Birthday Party on a Budget! 5 Frugal DIY Birthday Party Tips

Your Guide to the best DIY Birthday Party on a Budget. How to Throw a Budget Friendly Party.

Here are 5 Frugal Tips to a successful, fun, DIY birthday party: Our Little Harrison just turned one! This first-time mommy was so proud, prepared, organized and excited for his birthday party! Of course, I was “Boss-Mom” ready for his epic first birthday party. It was a huge hit, even on a birthday party budget!

birthday party budget


Birthday Party on a Budget: Made Easy! We hosted over 40 family members and friends in our condo! It was such a blast and I was honestly planning this party for months! I love organization, party planning and budgeting, so it was exciting for me! (crazy boss lady, I know…)

When planning a birthday party, you need to keep organized: with meal planning, decorating, desserts, presents and entertainment. This can also be a huge hit on the budget if you’re not organized! You need to make some smart financial decisions, and keep your household budget in mind as you prepare for a party.

Birthday Party on a Budget: Your Guide to 5 Frugal Birthday Tips


simple budget


First Birthday Party on a Budget Tip:

Regarding a birthday gift: You can still stay on budget! Start brainstorming really early. I started thinking of what Harry would enjoy as a present, many months before his birthday. He is one year old so pretty much anything was a good choice! We decided a ball pit would provide him with fun and wonderful, memorable experiences.

So, I hit all the thrift stores! I am such a thrift-store mama, they are a wonderful resource. So many fun toys for pennies on the dollar! I ended up finding him a stand-and-play musical table in perfect condition!

I had no luck at my favorite thrift stores finding a ball pit, so I turned to the Facebook Marketplace. In my experience, the FB marketplace has been very responsive with specific, local searches. I simply searched in my area for “ball pit”, and came up with lots of choices!

I found one that we liked and I made an offer. I paid an amazingly low price for a practically new toy for Harry, and he will never know the difference! He loves both the ball pit and standing musical-table gifts for his birthday! My suggestion is to definitely buy second-hand for the birthday gift.

birthday party budget

Second Birthday Party on a Budget Tip:

Shop at Aldi! Go to Aldi for your menu food list, appetizer ingredients, paper party products, dessert ingredients, pop and beverages, and even some liquor (they carry really great White Zinfandel, by the way!) I am not affiliated with Aldi, I’m just a budgeting mom who loves to save money on quality products! You never know what you will find in their seasonal isle as well. I found some great scented candles for the party, really cute specialty-designed paper plates, and even some baby items!

Remember, write your list of absolutely everything you need to shop for, and stick to your menu budget! I made two lists for that week’s trip to Aldi: Regular food for our week at home, and also the party menu list. Planning your menu and budget ahead will save you so much money.

Some of my Mom friends usually have their parties catered or hosted at a local restaurant, which can be a good option. However, we needed to stick to our Birthday Party on a budget. We made our own awesome menu. We had a taco party! We saved hundreds of dollars compared to going to a restaurant!

If you aren’t feeling inspired to cook, hit up some Pinterest recipes! After 2 seconds you will quickly realize there are endless recipe ideas for your next family birthday party!

I prefer a taco bar because it is self-serve with ‘a la carte’ options. In our large family, we have the spectrum of dietary needs. We have family members who practice gluten-free, dairy free, Vegan, Organic, KETO and Paleo diets. I feel that I still provided enough options for everyone to pick and choose what they wanted! Overall, our birthday menu was a success.

It’s no secret: I love Aldi! Read more about Aldi’s awesome organic food options, and my previous post about Aldi Food Shopping Guide: Here

Pin & Save for Later!

birthday party on a budget

Third Birthday Party on a Budget Tip:

Shop at the Dollar Store for the birthday party decorations, and stay on Budget! Don’t go overboard with decorating. At least, don’t BUY lots of decorations. I mixed Dollar Store decorations with my own DIY home-made decorations, which is another great tip! Make your own banners and birthday decorations! I love creative projects, so this was right up my alley! You can even have your mom, sister or friends help you make some banners, or birthday signs.

I ended up painting 2 huge banners with Harry’s name, I wrote quotes we love for him, I made photo streamers for the doorways, and I decorated our front door with pictures of him and our whole family and streamers! I think everyone especially loved the personal photo touches!

From the dollar store, I bought 10 helium birthday balloons, 2 plastic table cloths, blue streamers, a pack of colorful party noise-makers, birthday confetti for the tables and 2 rolls of wrapping paper. I planned ahead, truly limited my spending, and purchased frugal decorations.

I utilized my own creativity, and I was still able to provide a wonderful party atmosphere. The best part is we can save his huge, personal ‘Happy Birthday, Harry’ banners, and use them during his childhood! Overall, it was a very festive party display!

birthday party on a budget

Fourth DIY Birthday Party Budget Tip:

DIY as much as you can! As I mentioned: I made a lot of our party decorations myself. You can also make your own birthday party invites. These days, most people go digital and utilize social media for invitations! I used Facebook for our party invites. This tactic worked out great, and most people seem to even expect that kind of invitation nowadays.

I also made all of the desserts for the party! This is mandatory in my family! I love desserts! I love making them, and I love eating delicious desserts. I bring a dessert item with me everywhere I go! And I cannot be the only person who hates birthday sheet cake! It’s always dry, and fake-sugary, and people feel obligated to eat it, Am I right? Yuck!

I made 5 different delicious desserts for Harry’s birthday party. I made chocolate eclair cake, blueberry dump cake (Vegan), apple cinnamon crumble cake, oreo balls, and cookies! The desserts were so memorable and such a hit!

Again, if you need some inspiration with easy, delicious desserts: head over to Pinterest and get cooking! All of our desserts I made ahead of time, and most of the desserts I made were actually no-bake recipes!


Fifth DIY Birthday Party Budget Tip:

Remember it’s not about the ‘stuff’ he gets on his birthday. It’s not about the decorations or even the food. It’s all about the personal memories and family traditions you create for your kiddo! I actually requested a very special item for his birthday.

I asked each guest to write a personal letter to Harry instead of a birthday card. This personal letter was for him for his future. It could be wishes for a wonderful future, a great memory of him, what you observe in his personality, or just a loving message for him.

Our family delivered! He got so many loving and personal letters. We can cherish these for years! The toys and clothes will come and go, but the experiences and personal touches (like a hand-written letter) he will be able to cherish forever!

Those letters meant so much me. I have already read them and re-read them, sobbing! haha. To read more about our Personal letters to Harry, See my full sentimental & personal letter: click here

Birthday Party Budget

Another wonderful tradition we implemented is a special birthday song my late Grandma Shirley brought to our family. It’s called “Birthday’s Come but Once a Year”.  In my family we always sing it right after “Happy Birthday”.

This tradition carries on to the next generation with my little Harrison! I am so proud and happy to teach this song to him, and talk about how much his Great Grandma Shirley loved to celebrate birthday’s and how much she would have loved him! These are the family traditions that mean so much to me.


           “Birthday’s Come but Once a Year

            When They Come They Bring Good Cheer

            Happy Birthday Harry, Dear

            Happy Birthday Til Next Year.”

One more special idea I had for his birthday was utilizing the ‘Instax’ camera my dad got me for Christmas last year. (The new Polaroid type-camera) I had every single guest take a picture with Harry and put it into his baby book for his First Birthday!

People loved this idea, and you get immediate results! Very unique and fun! I loved seeing all of the pictures stacked up in his baby book! It was so special. He may not remember his first birthday, but he has plenty of photos and family members to remind him how celebrated and loved he is!

So there you have it! My guide to the 5 frugal birthday tips, for an awesome DIY birthday Party on a Budget!

Harry’s first birthday party was definitely epic and memorable! I am so proud that I was fully organized, and able to pull off an amazing birthday party (on a budget)!

What traditions do you share for your kid’s birthdays’? Please comment and let me know any other wonderful ideas you have to save money on your DIY birthday party!

Write a letter to your baby

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LITTLE HAT FAMILY joins with Struggling with picky-eaters? Looking to healthify your family dinners or to overhaul your family’s eating habits? Head on over to our friends at for healthy eating tips, tricks, advice, and recipes. Who is Your Healthy Family Coach? We’re Stef and Rob and we are a husband and wife team raising four kids. We want to help all of you navigate your journey through the challenges and difficulties of clean eating and healthy living, especially with children! We believe in family dinners, clean eating, experience over stuff, green, sustainable living and finding the balance. Why I Love Them: focuses on real world, budget friendly clean eating for you and your entire family. From offering healthified recipes for all your family favorites to providing tips to get even the pickiest of eaters on a healthier path, provides relatable support for every parent.

Hi, I am Kelly! Creator and administrator of Little Hat Family, I absolutely adore my squishy, smiley, 10-month old son, Harrison (Harry), and my kind and cooperative husband Stefan. Our little millennial, hipster family lives in Chicago and yes, we do love hats!
As a professional nanny for 11 years in Chicago, and now a new mommy myself, I have picked up so much useful, modern, mommy advice and life hacks! I would love to pay it forward to my fellow mommy tribe!
I also love creating thrifty projects, organization, an organic lifestyle, dancing, blogging, cooking and spending time with our large families!
I absorb every drop of Mama advice I can get; and I’ve created some Modern Motherly advice along the way! We Modern Mommies have to stick together! Subscribe to my blog today, and let’s connect our Modern, Family Tribes! ~Kelly


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