Cheap and Easy Birthday Party Ideas

The new Mighty Mommy has 6 expert tips on how to throw a great children’s birthday party without going broke.

Cheryl Butler
6-minute read
Episode #187

As a family with 8 kids, we get invited to well over 30 birthday parties each year! Some are simple affairs with cake, ice cream, and childhood favorites like pin the tail on the donkey. But in this day and age, sadly, such a basic, low-key party is not the norm. Instead many families opt for much more extravagant choices usually including an expensive venue such as a play gym, an artist’s studio, or even a club car on a train! 

If your family doesn’t have the financial means to hire a 3-ring circus to entertain your child and his friends at a birthday party, don’t worry—there are plenty of other budget-friendly options available that can be just as creative and meaningful. Today I’m going to share 6 ideas with you that will bring big smiles to your child’s face and will leave a lasting impression in their memories, instead of on your bank account.

Before you decide on the theme, location, and other party details, figure out a realistic budget. Remember that the birthday party is going to last for a few short hours, but the repercussions of spending more money than you can afford could last far longer. Once you have a handle on how much your family can stomach financially, then you can start brainstorming ideas for a fun-filled, creative party that your child will remember for years to come.

For Toddlers and Younger Kids

Idea #1: Teddy Bear/Stuffed Animal Party   

One of the most whimsical birthday parties my children have ever attended was a Teddy Bear Bash. The birthday girl was turning three and all the guests were asked to bring a favorite teddy bear or other stuffed animal. We arrived to a fanciful set-up in the family’s dining room where picnic blankets were set around the room and each guest had a comfy cushion waiting on the floor with a brand new teddy bear friend for each child. The kids got to pick adorable outfits from a big picnic basket to dress their new bears (bought at a local craft store) and the rest of the party revolved around all things teddy bear. This included a game of “hide and seek,” bear-themed coloring pages, and a pin the tail on the bear game that the clever mom made out of construction paper. An adorable bear cake was served with gummy bears galore and within 2 hours, the party was over and everyone left happy, full, and carrying a new bear friend!

Party cost:      

Bears and outfits: 10 bears for 10 kids at $5 each = $50.00

Cake and gummy bears: $15.00

Grand total:     $65.00

Idea #2: Storybook Character Party    

Just recently, my 6-year-old daughter went to a Princess party (check her out at right!). The 10 girls who attended were asked to come dressed as their favorite princess from one of the Disney movies. They all got to make crowns with sparkling jewels, had some glittery face painting, went on a Royal Scavenger Hunt where they found little bags of glass beads which they turned into bracelets, and then helped decorate the cupcakes that they ate and brought home. They all left with a new princess book as their favor.

Party cost:      

Craft supplies: $ 15.00

Cupcake supplies: $10.00

Face painter: $Free—the girl’s babysitter did this as her gift to the birthday girl.

Royal Scavenger Hunt items and books as favors: $25.00

Grand total: $50.00


For Elementary or School-Aged Children

Idea #3: Chocolate-Making Party    

Most kids enjoy making treats. One popular and easy treat to make is chocolate. You can get a variety of fun, playful molds and chocolate melt flavors in the craft store. Melt the chocolate in the microwave and then kids can pour the gooey goodness into the molds and get as creative as they (or you!) want with decorations and even lollipop sticks. The molds set quickly in the fridge or freezer and clean-up is a breeze if you put wax paper down on the kitchen island or other work station of your choosing.

Party cost:       

Chocolate: $ 25.00

Molds and accessories: $15.00

Wax paper: $5.00

Grand total: $ 45.00


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.