5 Steps for Throwing a Killer Birthday Party on the Cheap

by Travis Pizel · 8 comments

birthday party on a budget

I recently had my milestone 40th birthday! My wife loves to throw a party, so she was asking me for weeks how I wanted to celebrate.

I’m not usually one for making a big deal out of birthdays, but this one felt like it deserved some recognition. I wanted to have a great time, but I didn’t want the costs to get out of hand. In my mind, the most important thing was to get my closest friends and family together to share in my milestone.

My wife and I worked up the following plan to maximize our fun — but minimize our costs.

cheap birthday party1. Take advantage of used decorations

I’d purchased some specialty decorations for my wife’s 40th birthday party last summer. After the party, I carefully tucked them away to use again for my party. We purchased a few additional decorations, but the cost was very minimal. Once my party was over, we again carefully packed away the decorations; we’ll offer them to some of our friends that will hit the same milestone in 2014.

2. Buy some generic birthday decorations

Retailers jack up the price of any decoration that relates to a specific birthday. Some of our decorations specifically mentioned that it was for a 40th birthday, and some just generically said “Happy Birthday.” The latter were much cheaper.

3. Start the party later

I love to cook, grill, and smoke meats, so I’m always tempted to invite people over for a full meal and make something awesome for my guests to eat. When you’re talking about 30-40 guests, however, the cost becomes way too high. We planned a start time of 7 pm so that we could provide light hors d’oeuvres and keep the food costs down.

4. Host a semi-BYOB

I know what most of my friends like to drink, but adding up the costs of getting the cocktail basics for a large group of people is expensive.

I couldn’t quite go completely BYOB for my 40th birthday, so we indicated in the invitation that we would supply some beer, wine, and soft drinks — followed by a gentle statement that they were more than welcome to bring their favorite beverage if they were so inclined.

5. Use games for entertainment

It’s great to catch up and visit with my favorite people, but to me, the best parties have some sort of game play for entertainment. At my party, we played a few rounds of Catch Phrase, followed by Cards Against Humanity.

I had an out-of-this-world time at my birthday party. I caught up with old friends, shared laughs with everyone, and made memories that’ll last the rest of my life. I woke up the next morning ready to start the next decade of my life — and thanks to these five steps, neither my wallet nor I had a hangover.

Have you hosted an inexpensive party lately? What are your best tips?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Danielle Ogilve says:

    Such helpful tips! I think some of the comments are right though (don’t necessarily agree with buying the meat that early) but at least for drinks and chips and such you can buy them early if you find really good deals.

    Also, joint birthday parties saves a lot of money too!

  • property marbella says:

    Plan in time and buy the BBQ meat a month earlier at a special offer or similar from your local dealer and then freeze the meat to the party, the same with alcohol, shop at Special offer. Many things can be found cheaper if you have the time to search around.

    • Travis @debtchronicles says:

      Great tip, property marbella – and that doesn’t just apply to birthday party planning. The more time you have to plan, the more time you have to shop for specials and save money. Always great to hear your perspective – thanks for commenting!

  • David Ning says:

    Happy birthday Travis!

    And perfect timing too, because my birthday is coming up REALLY soon. 🙂

  • Marie @ 4HWD says:

    Thanks for sharing these helpful tips! My daughter’s birthday will be this February and I’m already planning on how to celebrate her birthday without breaking the bank.

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