6 tips to throwing a party on a budget


We all want our kids (or anyone!) to feel special and celebrated on their birthday. It reminds us of our childhood, all the different birthday cakes we had and the excitement of our friends and family coming to our house to celebrate. Then, we snap back to the present and compare our birthday party vision for our child’s party to our budget, and the record screeches to a stop.

How in the world did our parents afford to have all those birthday parties for us?!

6 tips to throwing a party on a budget by Christa from @sweetoliviacelebrations for female entrepreneurs, lady bosses, women in business and the busy creative on the Belong Magazine blog

I ask a group of women, “What is the hardest part of party planning for you?” Time and time again, one of the most popular answers is: budgeting. There is never enough money to do all the things you envision for your child’s birthday party. I don’t care if your budget is $200 or $2000, there is going to be something you want to do, but can’t afford.


know where to shop /

I very rarely shop at a party store for party supplies. Why? Because they know that busy parents will take advantage of that one-stop- shop benefit they offer, so their prices are higher. It might be convenient, but when you’re working with a budget, you might have to sacrifice a little more time shopping. My favorite stores to stretch a party budget are dollar stores, craft stores, and big box stores.

Here is an idea of the things you can buy at each place:

DOLLAR STORES: crafting supplies for games and decor, games, party favors, party plates, utensils, ready-made decorations, wrapping paper, plastic tablecloths, serving trays

CRAFT STORES: crafting supplies for games and décor, home décor items that can be used for party theming, cake making supplies and decorations, candy molds for easy party favors, scrapbook paper for easy décor DIY projects, fabric

BIG BOX STORES (think Walmart or Target): on-trend party décor, party favors, craft supplies, cake from the bakery department, and groceries

rent supplies /

If you don’t have room in your budget to buy the extra tables, chairs, or any extravagant decorations that will be perfect for the party…but you will likely never use again… consider renting these items. You should be able to find a party supply rental company near you with a quick google search. You can rent tables in all shapes and sizes, chairs, arches, centerpieces, linens, plates, etc. You can really customize your supplies to fit your party theme and save up to 75% versus buying the supplies.

simplify /

You can have an amazing party without decorating your front yard, your porch, the entryway, the living room, and the dining room. Your whole house does not need to be party central! You will get more bang for your buck if you concentrate your party decorations in just one room of the house. I suggest choosing the dining room, so when cake is served and “Happy Birthday” is sung, all the photos of the happy birthday child will include your decorations.

Similarly, don’t go crazy with your party menu. Offer one main dish and a couple snack options. Choose something that is easy to prepare, yet can feed a crowd inexpensively. Some good options include spaghetti, chili, or hotdogs with all the fixings. If you’d rather outsource the cooking, call your local pizzeria or sub restaurant and ask about special pricing for large orders.

limit the guest list /

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to invite your child’s entire classroom to the party. I know…I know…I feel bad when I don’t, too. I never want a child to feel left out. If your child has one or two good friends at school, try to get the parent’s phone numbers so you can invite them without sending invitations to school with your child. You can always reserve the birthday party for family only, but then send cupcakes to school to share with the classroom. (Just remember to coordinate with the teacher on this!)

diy /

Those three little letters could be a nightmare for you to think about, but give it a try! If you have a friend that is particularly crafty, invite her over for lunch (and maybe wine) and have a DIY-decoration-making session. Searching Pinterest will give you all the ideas you need for centerpieces, photo frames, dessert tables, and party games.

recoup some funds after the party /

After the party, recoup some of your money spent by selling your party décor. These are just some of the places you can sell them:

 Facebook garage sale group for your city

 Buy-Sell-Trade apps like OfferUp

 Another mom in a local play group

 The school PTA

 Craigslist

 Consignment Stores

Someone is planning a party and would love to have all their decorations already made for them!

At the end of the day, your child isn’t going to remember how extravagant the party was. He may not even remember what decorations hung on the walls. What he will remember is the way he felt on his birthday—the same feeling we have thinking back and reminiscing on our childhood parties.

Christa has always been a creative in her personal life, but it took her almost 20 years to realize her work should reflect that, also. Through her event planning company, she helps brides-to-be make their wedding unique by infusing their own relationship into the wedding details. And through Sweet Olivia Celebrations, she empowers busy moms to celebrate their loved ones through parties.

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Free one-page party planning printable: www.sweetoliviacelebrations.com/checklist

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