18 Best Tips To Plan A 1st Birthday Party On A Budget

  • If you are someone who loves to celebrate birthday’s, then you know having a child’s FIRST birthday party is a big deal.
  • Throwing someone a birthday party is a way of showing that individual they are loved, appreciated and celebrated for being them! Yes, I know a one year old won’t remember their birthday, but they will have amazing pictures of it! πŸ™‚ Your family and friends will also really love to celebrate your little one as well! I started brainstorming and planning my daughter’s 1st birthday when she was about 5 months old. I know I know it’s ridiculous…but hear me out! The reasons I started so early were because, I already struggled keeping up on the house and other day to day obligations and for me personally making plans in advance helps me to succeed to get those things done.

What Makes A Birthday Party So Expensive?

“This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link.”

  • Any celebration in life can end up costing A LOT of money. It is important you are aware of this so you know how to plan properly.
  • You don’t need thousands of dollars to throw your child their first birthday party, but if you plan on a budget of how much you want to spend, it makes things less complicated in the long run. Everything about a party costs money…
    • Sending out invitations
    • Food
    • Decorations
    • Renting a place out
    • Renting tables and chairs
    • Plates/cups/napkins/utensils
    • Goodybags

Why Is A 1st Birthday So Important?

  • To me, every birthday for my child will be important. Her 1st year meant so much to me, as well as other family members and friends. We are able to celebrate her life, health, and create amazing memories we can look back on. Even though Carmie may not remember her first birthday, when she gets older she will see all of the pictures taken, and the people who were there to celebrate her. I personally love being able to look back at my childhood birthday pictures and see all the happiness and love in everyone’s faces.
  • It is okay to celebrate in different ways as well! You could simply just have a cake with close family, or take your child on an outing they may enjoy. There is no right or wrong way on celebrating your child’s 1st birthday!

18 Best Tips To Plan A 1st Birthday Party On A Budget

Tip 1: Plan According To The Time Of Year

  • Depending on where you live, and what month you are having the party, plan around the weather. My daughter’s birthday is in May, and we live in California so it’s a 50/50 chance if it will be sunny or rainy! Figuring out if you are having an indoor or outdoor party can help determine where to host it at.

Tip 2: Plan And Save Ahead

  • The best thing about a birthday, it comes the same time every year! So you can give yourself as much time as you want to start planning and saving for your child’s birthday! Another reason I started when Carmie was 5 months old was to start saving every month and buying things in advance so it wouldn’t be a huge financial hit all at once.

Tip 3: Set A Budget

  • Whether you are planning and funding the party on your own, or with your significant other, it is always a good idea to have a budget. This ultimately makes the event less stressful. Budget out how much you want to spend on food for guests, decorations, cake, etc.

Tip 4: Invite List

  • Important tip! Depending on how many people you invite, is a huge factor in the cost of the party! The more people, the more food you will need to supply, goody bags to make/purchase, invitations to send out, etc. I made the mistake of over inviting…which caused me to over buy! I then had 15 people who RSVP not show up. Then I had A LOT of left over food/drinks/desserts/goody bags. If I could have a redo, I would only invite close family and friends that I have a close connection with. This financially would have suited us better.

Tip 5: Invitations

  • Another thing I would redo. I went the old fashion way /polite/professional…whatever you want to call it. I sent invitations through the mail. At a whopping 55 cents a stamp, I paid $22 alone to send out invitations!! Instead of purchasing invitations somewhere, I paid $11 through Etsy to have one personally made with our theme on it. (It was super cute by the way) Then they were printed off at home on card stock. So not including paper and ink, that’s already $33 just on invitations. While some may disagree, I think to cut back costs a simple call/text/email or online invitation would be a great way to send out an invitation.

Tip 6: Birthday Party Theme

  • When choosing a theme, I decided to choose a cute girly theme that was simple, I could DIY alot of the decor, and that I wouldn’t have to worry about her choosing in the future (princess/unicorn/character from a show/etc.). I really enjoy doing birthday parties, and I want each of her future birthday’s to be different and to her liking! So with this being said, I chose a watermelon theme. I remember seeing it on Pinterest “ONE in a melon” and I just loved it ! The colors were pink/green and a hint of black and so easy to incorporate in everything!

Tip 7: Where To Host

  • Planning where to host the birthday party is huge. Think about if you want to pay for this or not. I was going between hosting the party at our house, or at a nice local park. Not knowing in advance if it would rain or not, I decided to go with our house! Where we currently live (in a rental home) we are limited in space. I wanted to set up areas where everyone wasn’t crammed in one place. So I spread it out to have seating/gift opening in the garage, food in the kitchen, drinks and the babies high chair set up in the small dining area, dessert table in the living room, and children activities in the backyard. Needless to say our space was still too small and we had approx 30 people. If you want to host at your place keep in mind the cleaning you will be doing beforehand and afterwards. The best part is you could set up the decorations a few days in advance, that’s what I did. πŸ™‚ But if you decide to host elsewhere you will be on a certain time frame, which makes the decorating portion somewhat stressful. Ideas for places to host a birthday:
    • Your home/backyard
    • A family member’s home/backyard
    • A nice safe and family friendly park
    • A local community center
    • Children’s Play center
    • Restaurant

Tip 8: Choosing A Time Frame

  • Choosing a block of time for your child’s first birthday is important for a number of reasons.
    1. Plan around their nap time
    2. Set an end time so people know when to leave. YOU WILL BE EXHAUSTED.
    3. Helps you to stay on track and get things moving with the party.
    4. It will exhaust your little one, since having a lot of people around can be overwhelming.
    5. You will still have to clean up

Tip 9: DIY Decorations

  • Purchasing decorations adds up quickly and tends to be very pricey. Start pinterest-ing ideas on how to make your own decorations!
  • For Carmie’s birthday, I made a lot of things myself:
    • The welcome sign
    • Front Door Mat
    • Utensil Holder
    • “Happy Birthday” banner
    • Goody Bags
    • Ceiling and wall decorations
    • 12 month banner
    • Bowling Pins
    • High chair Banner
    • Carmie’s Outfit
    • Balloon Arch
  • Think about certain decorations you really want to have, and find affordable ways you can make them yourself! Picture collages are GREAT decorations! You can also do so many different decorations with balloons as well! Most important tip, is to just utilize things you already have.

Tip 10: Organize And Map Out The Party

  • This is going to probably sound silly, but I promise you it helps! Since I knew I was having the party at the house, I drew out my set up! This helped me from over buying/making on decorations. I drew out how I wanted the dessert table, the food table, her high chair/cake smashing area. I admit I go a little overboard and tend to be a perfectionist…but hey we all have our quirks. When I have a plan like this, there’s no confusion and I am able to execute it in a timely manner!

Tip 11: Activities

  • You may have a lot of young kids coming to your child’s first birthday, and it’s a good idea to look into planning different activities to entertain them as well. Outside where I had all the kid’s activities, I utilized what we had. I had the baby pool set up, a water table, a ball pit, and I made bowling pins for the kids and adults to use.

Tip 12: Food Planning

  • This took me a while to figure out. At the time, it was a few months my child had been introduced to solids, but she was still mainly dependent on breast milk. So I knew I wanted to have healthy sides for her to eat. A majority of people I know don’t eat like we do, so I wanted to provide food that the people who were attending would eat as well. I looked into catering from different local places, but it was just TOO expensive. I didn’t budget hundreds of dollars for food. Definitely was not going to do any cooking, because I knew I would fall behind. So that’s when I decided to have a sandwich bar!! Best decision I could have made. I had different breads, meats, vegetables, condiments, and sides. It was easy! I get it, sandwiches can be boring, here are other options as well:
    • hot dog/ hamburger bar
    • taco/nacho/burrito bar
    • appetizer foods
    • pizza
    • catering
    • potluck

Tip 13: Cake / Other Desserts

  • I knew I wanted to have a personalized smash cake for my daughter and cupcakes for everyone else. I didn’t want to take the time to slice up a cake and serve everyone. Just not my thing. I also decided to do a dessert bar just because. I always liked the way they looked, and I wanted to try doing one. The one thing I would have changed, was buying candy to put out. I had WAY too much left. Just an unnecessary expense. It helps to think about these things to know where to budget. The nice thing about desserts, you can always make them yourself a few days in advance!

Tip 14: Simple Decorations

  • I like to have each area decorated. Where people were sitting down to eat, I really wanted to have a cute centerpiece. So I painted some cheap frames in her theme colors, and put her picture in it. I also purchased some pretty, cheap flowers from Trader Joes that I stuck in a mason jar, and then used a nonflammable tealight decor I filled with sprinkles with her theme’s colors. TAH-DAH a cute, easy, cheap centerpiece.

Tip 15: Goody Bags / Favors

  • Personally, I don’t believe that this is something that you HAVE to do, but it is a nice way of saying thank you. To save money with sending “Thank You” cards, I gave out homemade goody bags instead. There are so many different ways to make a favor to give someone as a thank you gift, be creative! I folded and painted paper plates to look like watermelon slices, and filled them with a pair of plastic sunglasses (they were really nice actually), assorted candy, a homemade lip balm I made, and a watermelon sticker.

Tip 16: Make Signs

  • This is an important tip that I totally missed when planning the party. It’s always helpful to have things be convenient and easy for your guests. With the sandwich bar, I should have made a sign so everyone knew they could serve themselves and make their own sandwich. I also should have made a sign leading to seating in the garage, and a sign to the activities in the backyard. Sure people figured it out eventually, but it would have felt more organized if I had easy to read signs in each area.

Tip 17: Accept Help

  • I am so appreciative for the help I received on the day of the party! If people really want to help then let them. I have such a hard time asking for help from others. Even when people offer I more than likely say “I really appreciate it, but I think I have got it”. But if it wasn’t for my Aunt, and one of my close friends…I would have been a mess. It isn’t easy planning a party while taking care of a little one at the same time. Whether you have someone who can come watch your child, or simply help you decorate and set up it helps A LOT. Other ways people can help:
    • Being the designated photographer (so grateful I had my sister in law to help with this!)
    • Making the food (my Aunt and Mom really helped me with this)
    • Lending Items you may need (between my Mom, Mother In Law, Aunt and friend they let me borrow decorations, tables and extra chairs)

Tip 18: Have Fun

  • This day is about your baby turning 1! Everything else is just extra! Enjoy this day, appreciate those who came to celebrate and remember what a blessing that your little one year old is!

The Last Thing You Need to Know About Planning A 1st Birthday Party On A Budget

There is no rule-book on how to throw a birthday party for your 1 year old. Do what works best for your family, finances, and lifestyle. Even if you may not be able to throw a party for your baby, it’s OKAY. There will be plenty of other birthdays in the future that you can celebrate. πŸ™‚

How Did You Celebrate Your Child’s 1st Birthday?

How did you spend the day for your little one’s big day? I would love to hear about your experience!