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How to Plan a Child’s Party on a Budget

I’ve been planning birthday parties for my kids for almost 9 years now (my oldest will be 9 in May eek) and if there is anything I know, it’s that they are expensive!

Planning a child’s birthday party can be much more stressful than you might imagine. Everything from the planning to the cost, can make a parent want to rip their hair out.

But, we do it because we want our kids to have an entire day about them. An epic celebration to make them feel special.

This gives you a lot to think about. There’s food, entertainment, music, games and more, and it all depends on how old your children are, as well as their interests.

So, if you are wanting to plan the BEST DAY EVER for your child, know that you can Plan a Child’s Party on a Budget and I am sharing my best tips for doing just that!

How to Plan a Child’s Party on a Budget

Older children might be happier with a day out with their friends.

But, for younger kids, nothing beats a good old birthday party.

For us, every year we allow our kids to choose their party theme and we try to set a budget to fit around that theme.

We have to everything into account from the amount of guests coming, the location, food, games, and even the presents we give our kids.

So, step 1 is certainly setting an overall budget then you can move onto everything else!

Once my budget is set, I like to start with the guest list because that helps determine how much we have left over for everything else in the budget.

The Guest List

When your children are very young, the guest list is simple.

You’ll typically invite your friends and their children, family, and perhaps a few children from your local area, or kids that yours play with at playgroup.

As they get older, however, things get more complicated. They might want to invite their whole class or have an entire group of friends they want to invite.

The best way around this is to try to keep things very small and give them a limit on how many people they can invite.

For example, this year, my soon to be 9-year-old is allowed to have up to 3 friends in addition to cousins, siblings, and other child family members.

Once you’ve nailed down your guest list, you can plan everything else around it because now you’ll know how many people to plan to feed and entertain.


A party isn’t a party unless you can entertain your guests.

Games, music, even things such as giant inflatables (provided the weather is nice) are all great ways to entertain.

When you’re in doubt on what entertainment route to go, you can search online.

Finding the right entertainment online at gives you a great way to see what’s available and get some ideas on price and style.

But, it’s a good idea to have a rough idea of what you and your child wants. For example, your child might love magic, so a magic show or magician would be a great entertainment idea. What about a petting zoo? Or a mobile gaming truck?

The possibilities are endless but having an idea of your overall budget, can help you really nail down what sort of entertainment to have/book for your child’s party.

One year we booked a mobile gaming truck, it had all sorts of gaming consoles inside, had really cool lights and had multiple TV’s so everyone could play video games. It was really cool but totally something for older children.

Remember, young children, aren’t very patient, and need constant entertaining. They are busy bodies.

Hiring different entertainers to fill the party to entertain everyone can be tough and expensive, so you might want to throw in some classic party games and other age appropriate activities to break the day up.

Consider Timing

Ever hear the phrase, “timing is everything?”

This is certainly true for birthday parties.

Now, you can’t change your child’s actual birthday but choosing when to celebrate it, can help make or break your budget.

Things to consider are the time of the day, the day of the week, and even the month.

I’ve found that parties we can host outside cost less because we can visit a park for free while my oldest son has a birthday in May and weather is hit or miss, typically it’s raining so we have to book indoor venues and entertainment.

Parties on weekdays are typically cheaper than weekends. Even evening parties tend to be more pricey than parties during the day.

In addition to your own circumstances, you want to consider the party guests.

Do parents of the children work during certain hours? Do younger kids have to take naps?

All of these factors should be taken into account for when to plan your child’s party.

For us, earlier in the day/early afternoon tends to be the best option. It means we can serve more of a lighter lunch/brunch, it doesn’t drag on too long, the lighting is great during this time and we’ve found entertainment and venues to be cheaper since these aren’t “peak hours”.

Think About Location

I briefly touched on this above but it’s worth noting again.

Location plays a big part in a party budget.

Having your party at home can be tempting. It’s certainly cheaper (free usually) and safer.

But, is your house big enough? Do you have the space to host party guests? Would you be worried about things getting broken or messy?

If you’ve got a large room or a big yard, a party at home can be ideal.

However, if your home is smaller or there isn’t enough space for a party, you can look into cheap or free places to host a party.

Like I mentioned, parks are typically free unless you reserve a pavilion ahead of time. Sometimes local non-profit organizations such as libraries even allow parties. What about a grandparents or friends house?

For us, we like to rent an indoor pavilion at a local park. It has indoor bathrooms, a kitchen and includes all tables and chairs. Perfect for times when the weather isn’t good. It really only costs about $72.00 for the entire day and we are just responsible for set up and clean up of the facility.

Simply Google your local city’s indoor pavilions to find out more information.

Make it Yourself

One of the things that I enjoy doing is a DIY version of the party my kids want.

Often times, my kids are into something popular that year, such as Fortnite and I am finding myself having to make party decorations because not a lot of places sell what I need.

That is when I head to Pinterest.

If you are any bit of crafty, you can search Pinterest for all sorts of DIY party ideas and work on them slowly.

It gives a personal touch to your child’s party and often times, can help with your budget because you are making most of the items yourself.

Everything from the food to the decorations, can be made yourself to cut costs.

Not crafty? No problem.

I bet you know someone, either a friend or family member that is crafty and would be willing to help.

Never be afraid to ask for help when planning a birthday party, you’d be surprised how many would love to help!

Avoid Competing

As parents, we’re often guilty of competing. We want our kids to be the best and have the best.

This includes competing to throw them the best birthday party.

Remember a birthday party is not a competition and really, the only person that party should make happy is your child.

Don’t worry if Susan next door had a glamorous party where her parents gifted her a BMW for her 9th birthday (exaggerating here).

All that matters is that your child’s party is filled with fun memories and surrounded by people who love and care for them.

Everything else doesn’t matter so much.

You can certainly throw up some inexpensive decorations from the dollar store, give your kids a few dollars, a cake and just have people over to hang and it will still turn out great.

Just remember to stick to a budget and most of all, have fun planning this milestone in your child’s life because it only comes around once.