Birthdays on a Budget


Well, it happened.   My baby turned one and I cried enough to fill up lake Zorinsky. Tears aside, we had a great celebration for him! He had a smash cake to tear apart and plenty of cupcakes to go around. I am a lover of paper invitations and sent out monster themed cards to everyone we knew, complete with matching decorations to decorate with the day of the party. We even had a bouncy castle and served a full meal. It wasn’t a Kardashian birthday by any means, mainly because I don’t have the curves or the Instagram following to pull off that kind of party, but it was perfect for us, and I was so glad to have the ability to throw my little man nugget a party!

Birthdays on a Budget

I would be lying if I said it wasn’t without struggle at first. I could have easily dropped a grand on this party. I called around to local bakeries to get cakes priced and was shocked to hear quotes of over $100…for a cake….that will get smashed and throw on the floor. NOPE. The cake wasn’t the only thing that was proving to be a bit more expensive than I had originally planned, venues, decorations, invites, and don’t get me started on entertainment. It was all a bit too much; my budget would have been blown and I would have left that party single and behind on my mortgage. So I decided to do what us moms do best, bargain shop. I reached out to some fellow mamas to hear their tips and tricks and discovered some of my own. 

The Invitations 

There are so many options for sending out invitations! I have a friend who sends out a group text to her guests and cuts out all costs of an invitation. The best part? Instant RSVPs! I have another friend who likes to send out evites to her guests. Like a virtual paper invitation, there are a lot of options for designs and it gets sent straight to your guest’s email. I am a little more old fashioned and enjoy a good paper invitation. 

I ended up getting our invites off of Etsy! For a small fee, I was given a personalized, ridiculously cute, invitation via email and full printing rights. As an added bonus, I chose to purchase from a woman-owned shop. We ladies gotta stay together! In total, I spent $12.86 on twenty five invitations. This total didn’t include stamps as I already had them at home. If you don’t have stamps at home add $0.49 per envelope.

The Cake

Your little munchkin isn’t going to remember what their first birthday cake looked like, and chances are, you probably won’t either. If you have an older kiddo I would bet a crisp 20 that they would love to have a cake made special just for them by mom or dad. Seriously, kids are so much easier than we give them credit for. They want something that looks fun and tastes delicious. But I get it, we don’t all have the gift of baking. For those of you ladies that need the options of ordering a cake or dessert, Costco makes a pretty delicious cake, and they are gentle on the budget! If it’s an option, reach out to a fellow baking friend for a cake. I decided to make a smash cake and 40 cupcakes myself bringing my cake total to $9.88. 

The Decorations 

There is something magical about a party store isn’t there? So much excitement and always that kiddo throwing a fit over a balloon (stay strong mama!). Party City has options for any kind of party decorations you may need, and they even have a pretty good clearance section for a more budget friendly option! If you are needing bulk items Oriental Trading Company is never a bad idea either and the dollar store always has one or two good steals. Luckily, I was able to find everything I needed at Dollar Tree and clearance sections at Target. Plates, silverware, decorations, everything for a dollar or less! For plates, silverware, and decorations, I spent a whopping $11.90. 

The Venue and Entertainment

This was one of the most expensive things on my birthday check list. But it was also the easiest to budget! If you aren’t too picky about the venue, reach out to your church or local community center. We ended up hosting our party in my mom’s backyard and paid a whopping $0 for Nana’s venue. We did luck out with our entertainment and had a bounce castle purchased for us to use for free, but we also decided to fill up the backyard pool and utilize the swing and climbing set. Entertainment total was $0.

The Food

We chose to have a taco bar at our party because… YUM! I planned our party for 4:30 PM to give myself the day to cook and prep the meal myself; this cut out any catering costs. If a meal isn’t for you, then plan your party around meal times! It’s easier to provide snacks than a full meal and if you plan around meal times your guests won’t show up hungry or expecting more. Another great option is to host a potluck party! You provide the main dish and ask your guests to bring a salad, dessert, or beverage. I shopped in bulk at Sam’s Club, because I just can’t do Costco ok? Don’t judge. Not including cake, I spent $50.85 on food and beverages (bottled water and pop).

Party Total: $85.49

You could always choose to ditch the party all together. Younger kiddos won’t remember and certainly won’t be upset with you for not throwing a party. I’m a sucker for birthdays and love throwing parties for my littles, but I’m also all about saving my pennies. For older kiddos, have a pedicure and movie day or hit up laser tag and pizza with a small group of friends.

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Brey is married to her husband, Casey and stays home with her two little babes; her daughter Arlo (3) and son Hayes (1). Originally from the Black Hills, Brey has called Omaha home since 2013. Always sporting the baby on her hip and a coffee in her hand, she enjoys staying busy and getting out of the house. She has a love for all things motherhood and appreciates a good birth story. In her spare time she enjoys escaping to a yoga class, exploring the outdoors with her littles, and traveling. Her hobbies include sneaking a glass of wine and a frozen snickers (which she hid in the ice machine) while binge watching the next best tv show.