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.

budget first birthday party ideas

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!


Related Baby Tips Articles:

How to throw the best 1st birthday on a budget: 11 tips you need to know

if you make a purchase, I may earn a small commission, at no cost to you.   


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.

budget 1st birthday party ideasWhat you need for a first birthday party



Money Saving Mom

BEFORE making any purchase on Amazon  →  go through Rakuten (formerly Ebates) first!

Rakuten gives you cash back for making a purchase through Amazon, Ebay etc. It’s FREE to sign up.

After making your first online purchase of $25+, Rakuten will give you $10 FREE (for U.S. residents) or $5 FREE (for Canadians).


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!

How do you plan a birthdy party on a budget?Inexpensive birthday party ideas


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.How do you throw a cheap party at home?Cheap first birthday party ideas

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

If you’re having it outside, you can put the pictures in a portable memo board. You can put this on an easel.

Simple first birthday ideasCheap 1st birthday


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.

Something nice like this party dress or suit.

Simple birthday party ideas for 1 year oldCheap 1st birthday party ideasSimple first birthday ideasBudget 1st birthday party ideas


4. Get cheap loot bag items

You can get bubble wands, crayons or books.

Small first birthday ideas1st Birthday on a budget

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
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • 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!

Cheap 1st birthday ideas for a girl1st Birthday party ideas on a budget


6. Use digital invitations

You can use 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.

First Birthday Party on a Budget

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.

Budget 1st birthday party ideas

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

  1. Skip the fancy decorations
  2. Skip the theme
  3. Forgo the first birthday outfit
  4. Get cheap loot bag items
  5. Pump your budget into the food
  6. Use digital invitations
  7. Plan with another parent whose kid has a birthday in the same month
  8. Schedule the party between meals
  9. Skip the fancy cake
  10. Ask family and friends to pitch in
  11. 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:

Enjoyed this post?

It would be great if you could share it and follow me on Pinterest or Facebook.

How to throw the best first birthday on a budget: 11 tips you need to know


Other tips for planning a first birthday party on a budget?