5 Tips For Throwing Your Kid a Beautiful and Memorable Birthday Party on a Budget

In recent years extravagant children's birthday parties have become increasingly lavish leaving parents feeling pressured to live up to Instagram-worthy celebrations with outrageous budgets. So much so that in an April 2023 article, The New York Times compared the level of decor and production that goes into some children's birthday celebrations to planning a wedding.

"Social media plays a large role in pressuring parents to create these unrealistic expectations for kids' birthday parties,'' says Virginia Frischkorn, event planner and founder of Partytrick. "However, I like to tell parents that the goal should not be about creating a Pinterest-worthy event, it should be creating core memories for you and your family."

There are actually a lot of things you can do to throw your kids' dream party while still keeping your budget in check. Follow these five tips for cutting costs (and stress).

Budget According to Priority

Allocating your budget according to highest priority rather than considering everything as a necessity will help you cut back on costs. For example, "Party favors are nice to have, but definitely not necessary," Frischkorn says. "Oftentimes, I'll hear parents say favors are a good car ride home distraction, but then they are ultimately forgotten about."

Also, when deciding what are the "must haves" you need for the party, remember this party is for the kids — not their parents. "Be intentional about planning for the kids' experience," Frischkorn says. "It will help guide decisions and allow you to tailor your event much more effectively, which in turn, can help reduce budget and pressure."

Embrace DIY But Without the Arts & Crafts

It's possible to save money on decor by being selective on things you can do yourself rather than outsourcing. "You just need to make sure you have the time (and maybe even the patience!) to want to do it," Frischkorn says.

And you don't necessarily have to break out the scissors and glue, if that's not your thing. Look for shortcuts instead. For example, balloon arches can be costly, but you can find kits on Amazon for a fraction of the cost. Frischkorn also suggests skipping the elaborate cupcakes from a professional baker and choosing options from the grocery store. "Then simply add a festive cake topper that aligns with your party theme."

Think of the Design Stage in Phases

When planning, starting earlier than later is always better for reducing stress. One week out from the party, Frischkorn suggests organizing your decor and laying out the hosting essentials you'll need for the event. "This will help you envision any last minute things you may need ahead of the celebration," she adds. Then on the big day, set up reminders on your phone so you don't miss the small details that can be overlooked. "Timed task reminders are one of my tried and true event planner tricks," Frischkorn says.

Let Go of Perfectionism

Oftentimes, the pressure from social media can deter people from wanting to celebrate because they can't create the same picture-perfect, over-the-top celebrations they see on Instagram. Frischkorn suggests refocusing your vision to be less about what it looks like and more about what it feels like.

"The memories you'll be creating will help to release some of that pressure," she says. "It's always good to remind yourself that no one knows what you 'thought' it was supposed to look like in your head versus the reality of how it turned out." So instead of thinking of how it could have looked, stay present in the moment to help reduce perfectionism.

Take a Moment to Check-In After the Party

When throwing a party for your child, one of the most important measurements of success is their happiness. Did they have fun overall? "Sure, there may have been some upset moments or even some meltdowns in between,"Frischkorn says. "But generally speaking, it's not about the vision, but about the memories created for your child that will outshine anything else."

Be sure to check in with yourself, too. As the host, how did you feel during the birthday celebration? "Party planning can be stressful, and it can even take away from your own enjoyment on this special day," Frischkorn says. "Having the confidence to throw a party not based on what it may look like compared to others is a major success factor. If you were able to overcome that feeling, you succeeded!"