One of the things parents love most about hosting their child’s event at our facility is the freedom we allow when it comes to decorating. There is something so special about seeing the birthday child walk into their party and watching their face light up because their favorite character/ show/ book/ animal has been brought to life with the decor.
My favorite part of my sons’ parties when they were under 5 years old was seeing their faces when they came in through the door. Their smiles and amazement made everything simply so worth it-- and those are memories I will cherish forever.
However, creating a memorable birthday experience for your child does NOT need to break the bank. There are many ways in which birthday party costs can increase quickly, especially if you’re hiring a themed character to attend your event, if you’re getting a 3-tiered cake from a sought-after bakery in town, or if you’re wanting a professional photographer to capture your child’s day.
Whether you’re looking to have a budget-friendly party or whether you’re trying to save money on decor so you can splurge elsewhere-- I would love to share 5 creative and inexpensive ideas to make your child’s next party truly unique.
The party in the photos was planned and decorated by my dear friend Julie (who also happens to be one of our party assistants!) and I was simply blown away by the personalized touches she came up with for her daughter’s second birthday party.
NOTE: These tips can be done at home as well as at our venue! If you are hosting your party elsewhere, be sure to check their policies before spending time or money on these touches of decor!
One thing about this party that guests could NOT stop gushing about were the centerpieces, which julie painted herself! I loved that she incorporated her daughter’s age into it as well so that the piece of decor was not only themed-- it was personalized as well.
These numbers (wooden or cardboard) can be purchased at any crafting store and painted to match your party’s theme or color-scheme! And BONUS- they can be repurposed as room decor for your child (for the year at least) as well!
Now, while the adult guests loved this touch-- it’s unlikely that her daughter noticed how creative they were. BUT-- this is where Julie really took it up a notch and ALSO included toy farm animals all over the table which her daughter and the other children played with in between taking bites of her breakfast.
I thought this was so creative and she just brought the toys in from home-- so she did not need to make an additional purchase!
Favors are one thing that can really add up in terms of cost. As the parent hosting a party, it’s easy to feel pressured to send each child home with a big expensive favor, or a bag full of goodies that they will go through for hours.
However, I have heard time and time again from parents who are attending the parties we host (as guests) that they’d rather their child take home one simple activity, instead of a bunch of little toys or a large amount of candy or sweets (after all, they did likely just have cake!).
Julie found farm-animal shaped crayons that the children loved and could be used again and again for weeks or even months to come. And since coloring is an activity most children are already fond of-- it was practical as well.
To make each family and guest feel even more special, Julie added personalized and themed tags to her favors which is a touch that did not add much to her overall spend but definitely left a lasting impression on her family and friends.
As I mentioned earlier, dessert can be one of the more expensive aspects of a party, especially if you’re wanting something that matches your theme.
I loved that Julie, instead of going for a traditional cake or cupcakes, did donuts (this party was from 10am-12pm) and still found a way to incorporate the theme! She decorated the dessert backdrop to match the rest of the farm animal decor and also found an adorable pennant for the top of her donut “cake”!
If your party is not in the morning or if you’d still like cake or cupcakes- I still have a few tips for you to keep your costs down!
Get a grocery-store sheet cake and add a themed picture you can download online to make it “themed”
Get cupcakes and instead of going all-out with fondant to make them “themed”-- consider cupcake picks instead! You can usually find 24 themed cupcake picks on Amazon or Etsy and they add just as much “flair” as bakery cupcakes that can often cost $4 per cupcake or more. Wegmans lets you call in cupcake orders ahead of time and you can even choose your frosting and sprinkle color!
Use pinterest and make one yourself! It will take more time and some venues will not allow homemade food so be sure to check ahead of time (we DO allow it!) but this is a great money-saver if you are creative!
If a professionally-done cake is something you REALLY want--instead of getting a themed multi-layer cake that will likely cost well over $100, instead get a small (single layer) themed cake (it will serve around 12 guests) and get cupcakes for the rest of your guests!
Children tend to like cupcakes more than a traditional cake, and they are much easier & quicker to pass out anyway!
Put the small professionally done cake on a cake stand so it REALLY stands out!
Balloons, banners, and backdrops are also elements of decor that can get expensive. However, I have found that less can definitely be MORE.
A few themed foil balloons add much more “pop” then a large number of latex balloons-- and themed foil balloons are usually the aspect of the decorations the birthday child enjoys most!
If helium-balloons are still too expensive-- consider a balloon arch. Many arch kits on Amazon are under $10 and are less than $15 in total when you factor in other costs like an air-pump.
Many can also be assembled ahead of time and transported easily on the day of the event!
One of the easiest and least expensive ways to add to your party decor is themed signs for your food and drink.
You can easily design them yourself using a free website like Canva and use your at-home printer, or you can purchase templates/ prints on Etsy (or do something in the middle, like purchase prints from Etsy and print them at home)!
Julie has hers taped or in frames but you can also make folding signs if you print them on card stock or laminate them!
At the end of the day, birthday parties are about celebrating and making memories with family and friends. However, it’s easy to brighten up the occasion and put an extra smile on your child’s face, even if you’re on a budget!