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Planning a DIY Birthday Party Like a Pro On a Small Budget For Your Child

Birthday Party Cake

Planning your child's birthday party on a small budget is much easier and more fun than you would think.


Let me be honest. I tend to dread birthday parties, and asking me to stay within a small budget is typically out of the question. With five kids 10 and under, I feel as if it's party planning, friend inviting, cake ordering, and goody bag stuffing (Let's be done with the goody bags.) every other month.

Once one party wraps up, the next kid comes up with amazing ideas for his birthday party, such as inviting 10 of his closest friends for a weekend trip to Legoland. It's exhausting bursting their balloon with explaining that things cost money, and while I would love to rent a traveling petting zoo, how about we pet our dogs instead? I love crafting. I love baking semi-homemade cakes, and I can do a pretty good job replicating simple birthday themes found by extraordinary Pinterest pinners.

So, after my oldest son’s $300 Chuck E. Cheese birthday party for 20 kids, complete with my daughter throwing up all over the whack-a-mole, I threw my hands up and said I'm done! Since I enjoy the hands on planning aspect of birthday parties almost as much as I enjoy sneaking the spoonful’s of frosting while birthday cake baking; I figured I'd do it myself. I've done quite a few themed parties for my kiddos, so I decided to share my favorite one with all of you readers! Without further ado, allow me to present The Princess Pampering Party.

Planning the Birthday Party Theme – Cost: $0
The plan to keep my child's party within a small budget was to spend no more than $60. It will cost you nothing to take some time to sit down with your child and begin negotiations on birthday business. I suggest having this sit down at least a month prior to the date of the party. My daughter was turning 6 and loves all things girly. She had mentioned that a friend of hers had an actual Disney Princess at a party. I checked it out, and at $200/hr., I crossed that off the list. After a few more minutes of brainstorming, we decided on an alternative to the Disney Princess: The Princess Pampering Party.

Planning the Birthday Party Activities – Cost: $0
Once you have nailed down the birthday party theme, you have to plan the birthday party activities. We decided the party would be held at our house. It would have to include swimming, since we live in the Sunshine State. Then, we aimed high for Princess Pampering activities.

We wanted to offer:

  • nail painting
  • hair styling
  • face painting
  • crafting

Looking at this list could make some feel slightly overwhelmed, but I was determined to make it work. I decided each item on the list should have its own “station”. The girls could rotate through them, so they wouldn’t have to wait as long to get pampered. I knew that I would need to be the ringmaster for this circus, and couldn’t also supervise four different activities at four stations on my own. It was time to call in some reinforcements! I asked four of my closest friends to each be in charge of one of the stations. I have some pretty talented friends and family. It was easy for me to utilize their talents without feeling guilty for asking for them to give up a Saturday to pamper ten 6 year olds.

Purchasing the Birthday Party Supplies – Cost $20
I hit up my local dollar store for some pink paper plates and cups as well as some fun tablecloths. This took $5 of my budget. My talented, generous friends would each bring the supplies required to pamper the princesses. The only cost for birthday stations was craft supplies. My daughter loves Beanie Boos and I found some cool Perler Bead patterns online here. I purchased the Perler Beads and some pegboards from Amazon for $15. My crafty side-kick would supervise the craft station and hopefully prevent tiny beads from spilling and spreading throughout my entire house.

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Planning the Birthday Party Flow – Cost $0
Once you two have nailed down your party theme, party activities and purchased your party supplies; it's time to start organizing the flow of the birthday party. I spent some time plotting out the flow I thought the birthday party should follow. Since hair, nails, face painting, and crafting were going to be birthday party activities; I decided upon arrival the birthday party guests would head straight to the pool.

When the princesses were worn out from the pool, I decided it would be the best time to serve lunch. The choice to serve lunch outside while the girls were all wet would kill two birds with one stone—the girls dry off in the sun and eat lunch at the same time. Once lunch was gobbled up and the birthday party guests were dry, the pampering could begin. When everyone was sufficiently dolled up and crafted out, cake and presents would be next.

Feeding the Birthday Party – Cost $25
Feeding a crowd and deciding the right amount of food to provide can be a bit challenging. Growing up, I had a pretty uncomfortable food provision situation which, I believe, has scarred me for life. You see, we were one of 4 large families invited to a friend’s home for lunch. 25 people + one 5-pound ham + 2 side dishes = a whole bunch of awkwardness and hungry bellies.

My 11-year-old self vowed to always have an over abundance of food to avoid putting anyone in this situation. But I digress. Over the years, I have come to the realization that birthday party guests care about 1 thing at a birthday party: birthday cake.

I was already planning on channeling Betty Crocker for my semi-homemade cake, and since cheese pizza is a diet staple for 6 year olds, I let Papa John’s Pizza take care of lunch. I found a great coupon – 2 large pizzas for $12. Still haunted by my traumatizing lunch experience 20 years ago, I was wondering if this would be enough. I reassured myself that Papa John could always deliver one more pizza should the princesses require more cheesy goodness. The birthday party princesses could choose 1 of two beverages—water or Coke. Water is free and a couple 2 liters of Coke is $3. Perfect. I still had $15 remaining in my small budget for my cake creation.

Creating the Birthday Cake – Cost $10
Depending on where I ordered a cake, the birthday cake would definitely cost much more than the meager $15 remaining in my budget. Being a Martha Stewart wannabe, I was going to make it myself. Of course, my 6-year-old couldn’t pick something easy like a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. She had suddenly decided she didn’t like cake. Who is this child? She wanted an ice cream cake.

Ice cream cake is something that I have never made, but I actually found a super easy and inexpensive $10 recipe during an online search. To put it simply, it was ice cream sandwiches layered with cool whip and hot fudge then covered with cool whip frosting and frozen overnight. I added M&M’s for some color. Below is the birthday girl with her cake.

Youg Gril's Birthday Party

Birthday Party Outcome – Cost: PRICELESS
The birthday party was a smashing success. The girls squealed with delight when they rotated through each station, devoured the ice cream birthday cake in less than 6 minutes, and left the party with an adorable beanie boo craft. Did you notice I was actually able to keep this birthday party under budget?! I planned to spend $60 and actually ended up spending $55! Keep in mind, whether your budget is $20 or $100 for your DIY birthday party, giggles, squeals, and a fun atmosphere cost nothing! No matter the theme you choose, your DIY birthday party is sure to be fun, original, and engaging. Your outcome will be outstanding.