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Are you overwhelmed with planning your child’s first birthday party? From the food, to the decorations, to the picture perfect first birthday party outfit; here are my best tips for creating a memorable first birthday party on a budget.

Squeaker turned one year old in December of 2014. Kyle and I had already decided that we aren’t going to have a huge birthday party for her, mostly because she’s not going to remember. In all honesty, I think that first birthday parties are more for the parents and adults than the birthday child, but that’s just my opinion.

Still, we did want to celebrate her special day, but we also wanted to do it without breaking the bank. As a one income family (or at least a steady one income family), we try to keep things as budget friendly as possible and that includes special occasions and parties.

Planning a first birthday party on a budget just got easier with my free birthday party planner.

First birthday parties are a memorable occasion for the parents. Here are some tips for planning a first birthday party on a budget.

How We Planned a First Birthday Party on a Budget

Initially, I was thinking of a budget around $200. Realistically, this would accommodate for a few guests and a few special things like a first birthday outfit and coordinated decorations. And even $200 could be seen as extravagant. Especially since this was before I was really bringing any income in from this blog.

The three major aspects of this birthday party were as follows:

* First Birthday outfit (for photo opportunities)
* Decorations (homemade or store bought, theme or no theme, minimum or over the top)
* Food (because no party would be complete without it!)

Other things that you can do, that we didn’t, include: making your own invitations

If you’re planning your child’s first birthday party, I have a free budget planner workbook! A more generic version is in the works so you can use the planner for any birthday.

Budget Friendly First Birthday Outfit

First Birthday Party on a Budget

Consider the  First Birthday Outfits from Etsy (US)

This was one area where we were somewhat willing to splurge. For our daughter, I also looked at something that she could wear over and over again. We ended up purchasing a Sock monkey themed hat and diaper cover. 

Total Budget remaining: $179.06

We’re still doing really good at this point! Though, after thinking about it again? I’d rather use that money elsewhere. Especially if food gets messy. Even if you do decide to splurge a little in this area, you would still be well under your budget of $200

Budget Friendly Party Decorations

First Birthday Party Planning on a Budget

For the birthday party, decide on a theme. We love having all of our items in one area and for that reason? Birthday in a Box was one of our go-tos in this area. And they also provide a few birthday party ideas and activities if you’re looking to tie it all together to your theme.

Take a look at these decor ideas on Etsy (US)

Total for the decorations = $53.44

Total Budget Remaining = $125.62

This leaves us with a little extra to pay for a cake, generic plates, napkins, and silverware. As far as food, that’s really your call and I think also depends on how many guests you invite.

Depending on the time of day and the number of guests, you could just order pizza and be done with it. Because we aren’t having many people, I’ll probably make something easy and crowd pleasing. We don’t plan on having a big party, just family and maybe some close family friends. Otherwise, it’s going to be a very small, simple affair.

Another option for planning a first birthday party on a budget is to get a ‘party in a box’.

Usually you’ll get some decorations (table centerpieces), party hats, plates, napkins, and things of that nature all centered around a theme. These can range from $24.55 for just the basics for up to 8 guests to $51.65 for a deluxe set which might include a personalized banner, again for 8 guests. Or, you can really go all out and get an ultimate box for $147.94 for 8 guests. With something like this set you’ll get the personalized banner, party favors, and a pull string pinata (with fillers).

What I like too, with the Party in a Box from Birthday Express, is that you can customize your package. So, for example, let’s say that I don’t want the individual candles, I just want the number candle; I can just have the number candle. Or, if I really want that Ultimate Box (but don’t need everything that comes in it- like the pinata), I can customize my package.

Our total, if we go this route would be: $66.13 (after customizing the Ultimate Box).

Remaining Budget (going this route instead of generic decorations): $112.93

Either route (generic or themed) would have taken us to a little over $100 remaining for our party budget and all of that would go towards food.

If you’d rather not host the party at your home, consider one of these birthday party locations. And if you have older children that will be attending, consider hosting a birthday scavenger hunt for them.

What we ended up doing for Squeaker’s birthday cost us around $100.

  • box caked mix
  • cupcake wrappers
  • chips
  • dip
  • veggies (baby carrots, green peppers)
  • spinach and artichoke dip (homemade)
  • queso

My mom brought a cheese platter and we didn’t really decorate the house. It was already somewhat decorated for Christmas.

Instead of a cake, we did cupcakes. But you can also make cake pops for a fun twist.

squeaker's first birthday

And while we certainly could have done more, I’m pleased with what we did. It was a memorable occasion for us, and we’ll always have pictures.

Our budget was small, but reasonable and realistic. Have you ever thought about using gift cards to plan a birthday party? Why not!

And believe me, the temptation is there to spend more money. When it comes to my own personal money, I’m a bit of a cheapskate. But when it comes to other people’s money, I can be a bit of a spendthrift. This is a terrible habit but I reminded myself that it’s not his money.. it’s household money. So if I can do it? Anyone can do it.

It’s really not that difficult when it comes to planning a first birthday party on a budget. The key is to make a budget and stick to it.

If you had a first birthday party for your child, what did you end up doing? Did you have a big party or a small party?

If you’re planning your child’s first birthday party, I have a free budget planner workbook! A more generic version is in the works so you can use the planner for any birthday.

First birthday parties are a memorable occasion for the parents. Here are some tips for planning a first birthday party on a budget.
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Digital Product Creator at Kori at Home
Kori is a late diagnosed autistic/ADHD mom. She is currently located in Albany, NY where she is raising a neurodiverse family. Her older daughter is non-speaking autistic (and also has ADHD and Anxiety) and her youngest daughter is HSP/Gifted. A blogger, podcaster, writer, product creator, and coach; Kori shares autism family life- the highs, lows, messy, and real. Kori brings her own life experiences as an autistic woman combined with her adventures in momming to bring you the day-to-day of her life at home. Kori is on a mission to empower moms of autistic children to make informed parenting decisions with confidence and conviction.

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Megan Elford
9 years ago

Oh my, I love the birthday outfit you chose! How adorable! And I agree, I love the idea of using the number t-shirts for a yearly birthday photo (before they get cake all over them, of course!).

Tiffany (NatureMom)
9 years ago

I have the best budget idea…just say no. We do a gift and a cake with family.

Mrs. Mashed Up
9 years ago

Great ideas! Throwing a party for kids can be so expensive! I plan on throwing my son a party by this time next year–and I plan on doing it on a budget! lol

9 years ago

That birthday outfit is so adorable! Looks like someone will have a fun first birthday. For our eldest son we had a very small party with family only. We decorated a little and had cake. We thought this was enough. For our second son we plan to do the same.

9 years ago

Birthday parties can get expensive. Those are awesome tips.

Juliana RW
9 years ago

For both our boys, we celebrated their 1st birthday with simple birthday party just for families member. Lovely lists of your party budget

Melissa Matters
9 years ago

I’ve done most of our kid’s birthday parties for about $100 to $200 including food. I usually have a few simple games and we have it at our house or the park. Those Gymboree outfits are very cute.

Ann BAcciaglia
9 years ago

We had simple birthday parties when my kids turned one. Family and lots of good food and cake.

Martine - MeUnfinished
9 years ago

Cool ideas! Thanks!

9 years ago

We just did cake and ordered pizza when my son truned one. Now I have a 4 month old and they are two weeks apart birthday wise. So for now we will just have one big birthday party for both of them.

Keyuana Gray
Keyuana Gray
8 years ago

I really appreciated this, I’ve been really stressed about baby’s birthday coming up because I didn’t want to spend a fortune since she won’t remember but I did want it to be decent. I also an working of of one income so the suggestions were extremely helpful. Thanks