How do you plan a first birthday party on a budget?
The first birthday party anxiety is real!
The first birthday is a big deal. When you look on social media, you see pictures of extravagant first birthday bashes! With sparkly backdrops. Elaborate candy bars.
When my daughter was 9 months, people were already asking me what I was planning for her birthday party. What the theme would be. I was still figuring out how to get more sleep. Let alone think about birthday planning.
There’s this expectation that you have to throw a glamorous first birthday party. Like this is going to lay the foundation for your kid’s future. And then the mom anxiety kicks in…
It’s okay if you don’t go all out for this party.
It doesn’t make you any less of a good parent. If anything, you’re a more responsible parent. You can use the extra party planning time and money towards essentials for your family.
That said, your child’s first birthday party can still be special and memorable without breaking the bank.
The key is keeping it simple.
This also means less pressure for you! Because this is a party and you should have fun too!
Here are tips for how to throw a quality first birthday party on a budget!
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11 Tips to Plan a First Birthday on a Budget
1. Skip the fancy decorations
This is money down the drain! You put them up for 1 day and then that’s it. They go into the trash.
If you want to set the atmosphere and tone for the event, you can do this with just a few decorative pieces.
I love this burlap birthday banner! It’s REUSABLE!! It’s gender neutral and appropriate for any age. You can use it for your baby’s first birthday and your husband’s rustic birthday soiree.
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You can get a pack of 100 balloons. Blow up 6 of them to use on both sides of the birthday banner and that’s it! Save the other balloons for the next party!
2. Skip the theme
The problem with a theme is that you have to match everything to it. The cake. The decor. The napkin holder.
Your kid IS the theme. You don’t need an additional theme to have a fun party!
If you’re having the birthday party at home, you probably already have framed pictures of your kid around the house.
If you don’t, I love this photo display.
It’s so much easier to use than traditional photo frames! You can put PHOTOS OF ALL SIZES on there! You don’t even have to put photos on there if you don’t want to. Post notes or important docs. It’s up to you!
For your baby’s first birthday, here are ideas of how you can arrange the photos:
- a collage of your favorites
- photos from month 1 to month 12
- photos from a specific photo shoot
3. Forgo the first birthday outfit
You just need a nice outfit. It can be one your baby already owns.
If you want to get a special outfit, I highly recommend getting something that doesn’t say “birthday” on it. That way your baby can get more wear out of it.
4. Get cheap loot bag items
You can get bubble wands, crayons or books.
You can also DIY by baking food or have the kids make a craft at the party they can take home.
Or just nix the goodie bags altogether! My daughter rarely uses the loot bag items she’s received.
5. Pump your budget into the food
Your little one is not going to remember the party.
This day is a celebration for you, your family and friends. You survived your first year! Your family and friends supported you through it! This day is a gift to you and a thank you to them.
Put the majority of your money towards good food and drinks.
You don’t have to get steaks and lobster. We just served:
- 7 layer dip
- Hummus and salsa with chips
- Cheese platter
- Variety of sandwiches like cucumber and cream cheese, salmon, egg salad etc.
Don’t forget to have snacks for the little ones. Perhaps some cheerios and goldfish.
You can display them in cupcake liners. It’s festive, cheap, and non-breakable!
6. Use digital invitations
You can use evite.com or send an invite through Facebook or email.
It takes less time because you don’t have to print out invites and send them (also more environmentally-friendly). It’s easier to track RSVPs and send reminders. The best part is that it’s FREE!
7. Plan with another parent whose kid has a birthday in the same month
If you know another parent with a kid close in age, you can combine your resources. This will mean significant savings!
If you’re close family or friends, you’ll probably be inviting the same people anyways.
If you want to acknowledge the kids individually, you can have separate cakes.
8. Schedule the party between meals
Like 10am-12pm, 2-4pm or 3-5pm.
These times are great for 2 reasons:
- It’s a short window so you can time your baby’s naps around it. This will appease both your baby and any other baby attending the party.
- It’s not during lunch (unless you have a late lunch) or dinner time so most guests will not be expecting a full meal.
9. Skip the fancy cake
Customized cakes can cost upwards of $50.
If you’re handy, you can bake your cake or cupcakes! Use a cupcake as a smash cake.
We just bought our’s from the grocery store. A simple strawberry shortcake for $25. It came with a complimentary smash cake.
10. Ask family and friends to pitch in
A party is a lot of work! You have to clean your house, buy and prepare the food, put up the decor if any…
It’s especially difficult with a baby around pulling things out of cupboards!
Ask a family member to help out and:
- Bring some food.
- Be the photographer at the event.
- Clean the house.
Alternatively, you could just ask him or her to watch your kid for a few hours. That way you can focus on getting the preparations done. You can better enjoy the party!
11. Host at home or at the park
Hosting at home is free. If you have limited space at home, you can adjust the guest list. In fact, you probably want to adjust the guest list anyways! Less people means less food and less time spent hosting = more time enjoying the party!
If your weather and climate allows for it, you can also host at a park or beach. You can use the public tables or just throw a picnic blanket on the ground.
Recap of the 11 tips to planning a 1st birthday party on a budget
- Skip the fancy decorations
- Skip the theme
- Forgo the first birthday outfit
- Get cheap loot bag items
- Pump your budget into the food
- Use digital invitations
- Plan with another parent whose kid has a birthday in the same month
- Schedule the party between meals
- Skip the fancy cake
- Ask family and friends to pitch in
- Host at home or at the park
Final Thoughts on First Birthday Ideas
When all the work is done, don’t forget to kick back and enjoy yourself at the party!
Mingle and eat some food!
It can be easy to get caught up in the details and worry about a little bit of dirt or a stain here and there etc.
People understand you’re a mom now. You’re doing the best you can!
Have a great first birthday!!! It’s a milestone you’ll never forget.
Related Budgeting for Babies Articles:
- Best Presents for the 1st Birthday
- 0-3 Month Must Haves for Minimalist Parents
- 6-12 Month Must Haves for Minimalist Parents
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- Toddler Camping Essentials to Make Camping So Much Easier
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