How To Plan Toddler Birthday Parties On A Budget

Everyone deserves to be celebrated on their birthday, including toddlers. But it doesn’t have to be a huge bank-breaking party. I prefer to plan simple and exciting toddler birthday parties on a small budget.

How To Plan Toddler Birthday Parties On A Budget

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Improvising Toddler Birthday Parties

For my son’s second birthday, I had to change his party location and setup within a few hours due to weather conditions. I had planned a simple and casual gathering with his friends at a playground but instead we had it inside our living room.

I’ll be honest, with my anxiety and the delicate and irreplaceable items in the house, we don’t like having many small children in our home. So I had to come up with a plan.

We moved a little furniture and brought over the Skip Hop play mat for the little ones. From there, we filled the space with toys from the kids room and even a play tent.

And the kids loved it! It was a great toddler birthday party, nothing fancy, and completely improvised.

This was our setup for the party. We chose a Curious George Theme for our son’s 2nd birthday party and got him a few Curious George T-shirts for a great deal online.

How To Plan Toddler Birthday Parties On A Budget

The Truth About Toddlers and Birthday Parties

Toddlers won’t know if we’ve spent $100 or $600+ on their birthday parties because all they really care about is having a great time. That’s not to say that your child won’t enjoy an expensive party or that it’s wrong.

Personally, we kept to a minimal budget without looking too much at the numbers and without compromising too much and everybody had a great time!

For our kids’ 1st birthdays we stuck to simple at home family meals. This year for our son’s 3rd we’re going to Magic Kingdom! I also hope to do a park playdate type of non-party “party” for him when we get back if the weather allows.

How To Plan Toddler Birthday Parties On A Budget

How to Plan Toddler Birthday Parties On A Budget

Here are some tips and things to consider when planning a kid’s party:

Plan Your Guest List

Who are you inviting? Its your child’s birthday so invite their friends of course! Some birthday parties are a mix of family and friends while others are just family or just friends. There’s nothing wrong with having multiple small parties or just having a meal together either.

These days most people invite digitally via Facebook or a text invitation. Facebook Events are great for gathering RSVP’s in one place.

You could also order invitations online.
Curious George Invitations
Kids Birthday Invitations

Location, Location, Location

Deciding on a location is often a struggle for me because of the weather and our concern for having lots of children inside our home. But location is where one can save the most money.

The cheapest options for toddler birthday parties are at home or at a park. For park parties you can either speak to your City and rent out a space with tables, usually under an awning and may allow things like bounce houses or animal shows. You also have the option to do something smaller and try to grab an empty table that doesn’t need to be rented out (again check the City for different park rental requirements)- but neither usually allow alcohol.

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You can also rent out other kinds of spaces. Cities have indoor spaces that can be rented out for events, I actually planned a baby shower in a City building. Or you can check out your local indoor kids gyms, such as places like Monkey Joes, Gymboree, ChuckeCheese, MyGym… etc. Rented locations might provide  food and entertainment packages in the $300-$500 range but scheduling might be limited.

Set a Date and Time that Works For Your Child and Your Guests

If your toddler is still on a nap schedule, plan the party on hours when they are awake and in their best mood.

My son naps after lunch so mornings are usually best for us. But I also had to consider his friends’ schedules and adapt. 

Decorations

You really don’t need much to decorate toddler birthday parties. And there are many different routes when it comes to this.

Dollar Stores sell things like tableware, birthday banners and balloons. Party City has a wide variety of thematic party decorations in all categories. But if you’re planning in advance, I’d suggest checking the internet for better deals.

I started a little tradition of surprising the kids with a bunch of latex balloons, without helium, all over the floor on their birthdays. We usually inflate the night before and set it up outside their rooms to kick and dance first thing in the morning.

For my son’s second birthday party as home, we went with the Curious George theme. We decorated with a few helium balloons, banners, pictures on the wall, table settings, and the loose latex balloons. Much of which we got from a party decor kit.

Honestly, the kids don’t pay too much attention to the decorations at this age, but they do love balloons.

People like To Eat

Guests may not be expecting a full meal but will always accept snacks. Have a variety of easy to eat foods for the parents and children. Consider bite sized foods and appetizers. Also consider dietary habits and allergies.

You can get catering from a restaurant or grocery store to make things easier. For more budget friendly options, you can buy frozen appetizers in bulk or prepare everything from scratch. But consider your work load if you’re making things yourself or reheating because you’re already going to be running around from hosting and enjoying your child. Sometimes a few extra dollars on catering and food prep will save you sanity.

Cake

Who doesn’t want cake!? If its a birthday there better be some version of cake or desert, no matter where you’re from people will be expecting it!

You can make it yourself, order it for a reasonable price, or even hire a professional baker to do an amazing decorative cake for a little extra money.

Last year I decided to play my hand at making and decorating my own cake for our family party and cupcakes for the kids party. It was a great experience but it was a lot of stress and although it turned out pretty interesting I probably won’t be doing it every year.

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How To Plan Toddler Birthday Parties On A Budget

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Entertainment

Entertaining a crowd can be difficult but its actually pretty simple.

Kids: give them something to do, provide toys and companionship and they will be busy for a while. Adults: provide food, music, and conversation and they’ll be happy.

You don’t have to provide much formal entertainment but you could hire a company to do a little show. Toddler birthday parties often have face painting and balloon art. It can even be a friend or family member doing you a favor.

As for music, you can have your own music library or you can find a kids playlist on Spotify or Youtube.

Setup

Along with entertainment, make sure you have a good setup for both the kids to play and the parents to watch and sit or be comfortably close enough to the food.

Have a nice setup for play, surrounded by seating for parents. Prepare an accessible section with food and drinks.

When we have parties at home, I set up the food on the kitchen island on multiple serving dishes and spread them around the main areas as well. Sometimes our laundry room acts like the self-serve drink station, with a fridge and counter space.

How To Plan Toddler Birthday Parties On A Budget

Take Pictures!

Between checking up on food and drinks, the entertainment, and trying to enjoy your kid its easy to forget taking pictures.

Have your guests take pictures to share with you afterwards, invite a few close family members or friends to take some photos, and take a few group photos and selfies with your kiddo.

For most parties I’m in such a rush I forget to take pictures or ask for them.

Party Favors

In my culture, birthday parties are extreme. People usually rent out a big space and have various desert tables with layers of decoration and food with a balloon wall behind and they give out these gift bags to all the guests with a bunch of goodies.

I guess I’ve been in the US too long because I’m so far from this but I’ve been noticing the culture is spreading now.

I’m probably one of few people that doesn’t love party favors but since I felt I was expected to give some out I tried to plan something small and enjoyable.

With young toddlers, its kind of hard to find affordable party favors that are age appropriate, since most are choking hazards. I found a couple of things on Amazon that came in bulk and put them together in little bags. I got kids sunglasses, but the lenses popped off too easily and the glasses were too big for the toddlers, and temporary tattoos, which are intended for older children but most of the kids loved them and I still have extras of both.

Here’s a few cool and affordable favor options that come in sets:

How To Plan Toddler Birthday Parties On A Budget

What are your budget tricks or cool things do you do for your kids birthdays?

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Crystal Russell
August 3, 2018 9:59 am

very cute! and you are right they don’t care how much money we have to spend it is about making their day special. I love the dollar store 😀

Cin
Cin
August 3, 2018 2:27 pm

I love making the decorations myself so I usually save a good buck with that! I look forward to my kids birthdays just for that lol and we usually just invite family since we have SO many kids already in our family the cost can be extremely high! Maybe a… Read more »

Kesi's Korner
August 3, 2018 4:27 pm

Great tips! I’m working on planning my sons 1st birthday party and I’m so excited .. more for his little photo shoot than the party, lol… love the curious George theme.. and party favor ideas!

jennpohlman
jennpohlman
August 7, 2018 1:43 pm

I will be starting to plan my little one’s first birthday here in the next month! While July can certainly have its weather related challenges, this can be applied to all year long! Spring, winter, what part of the country you live! These are all great tips to consider and… Read more »