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19 Money Saving Birthday Ideas

Birthdays are meant to be special, joyous times—especially for families. Filled with desserts, gifts and games, and all with the people we love. If we’re not careful, though, birthdays can cost more than we’d like. But don’t worry, there are several ways to save money without sacrificing on the fun. Instead of stressing, let the good times roll: use these 19 money saving birthday planning ideas to save your family money on both small and large celebrations.

1) Head to the park

One great idea to save money on a birthday party is to head to the local park. Instead of paying entrance fees and venue rental prices, choose a local park for your festivities. Check their open hours and any party policies. Most community parks allow use of their picnic tables and grills without any reservation.

Bring inexpensive food to grill, like hot dogs or burgers, and add chips or popcorn into the mix.

party in the park

Serve lemonade and water for your beverages, and let the kids roam free. They can play on the playground, toss a frisbee, play catch, and enjoy the great outdoors. It’ll be fun for the whole family, at a fraction of the cost.

2) Have the party in your home or backyard

Similar to using a local park, you can save money on your birthday party by hosting the party right in your own backyard or home.

The kids will have a blast knowing they have the freedom to explore, while the parents will enjoy having the children in a safe, contained area.

3) Buy food in advance when it’s on sale

birthday cake

Whether it’s birthday cake mix or ground beef for hamburgers, watch for sales in the grocery store.

Purchasing items in advance allows you to save money, and be extra prepared when the big day rolls around.

4) Consider throwing a party every other year

Some families choose to throw birthday parties only every other year, like for even-numbered celebrations (i.e. ages 6, 8, 10, and 12). This reduces spending, and allows you to have intimate family time on the opposite years.

2nd birthday

If it’s a family tradition, the kids will see it as normal, and show extra appreciation for the times when they do have a party.

5) Use decorations you have around the house

From leftover streamers to tea party dollies, you can find simple ways to decorate with the items you already have.

You can also create banners, posters, and signs all from your computer. If you do buy decorations, ensure they are reuseable.

Purchase decorations that are neutral for different age groups and genders. This allows you to reuse the decorations in future years, rather than spending money on every birthday.

Pro shopping tip: Solid-colored items tend to be cheaper, and are easier to reuse.

6) Use free printables online

Many online blogs and websites have free printables for birthday parties. They have themed decorations ranging from cars and trucks to butterflies and princesses.

7) Plan a free or low-cost activity

To throw an exciting celebration, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. Kids are easily entertained and appreciate any day that is made specially for them.

free activities birthday

Ideas for free and low-cost activities for kids’ birthdays include:

  • Play dress up and have a fashion show
  • Have a sidewalk chalk party
  • Host a scavenger hunt
  • Decorate sugar cookies
  • Play games like ring around the rosy and musical chairs
  • Have a play day in the park
  • Go on a hike
  • Build indoor forts
  • Play in the sprinklers
  • Go on a bike ride
  • Many more.

With just a little planning, you can create a day that your child will never forget.

8) Let their creativity shine


Throw a party where the kids get to use their imaginations. Offer options for the kids to get their hands busy making crafts and creations.

Ideas for kid-friendly crafts:

  • Lego building
  • Watercolour painting
  • Creating shapes with playdough
  • Drawing with coloured pencils or crayons
  • Making greeting cards for their parents or grandparents
  • Using paper mache
  • Making beaded jewellery (i.e. bracelets and necklaces)
  • Creating animals and shapes out of origami paper
  • And many more.

 9) Look for high-quality second hand gifts

buy secondhand toys

From garage sales to second-time stores, you can often find neat gems at an excellent price.

Gifts that are great second-hand? Board games, books, shoes, toys, and even clothes.

10) Use credit card rewards to purchase a birthday present

Many credit cards have rewards systems, where you can earn points or even cash back. Exchange your rewards for items, cash, or gift cards that can used as a birthday gift.

11) Consider a homemade pizza party

pizza party

What could be more fun for kids than creating their own pizza with all of the toppings they love?

And it’s affordable too. Pizza dough, sauce, cheese, and toppings don’t cost much, especially if you make the pizza dough and sauce yourself.

Set up a “pizza shop” in your kitchen and allow the kids to roll the dough, spread the sauce, and sprinkle on the toppings they want.

They’ll have a blast designing their pizzas and letting you help them with the oven.

After the pizzas are sliced and cooled, the kids will have a delicious meal they can be proud of!

12) Make the dessert yourself

Rather than buying an expensive, professionally decorated cake, bake it yourself.

A range of yummy desserts can be made without much time or effort.

Cost-effective birthday desserts include:

  • Cakes (from a mix or from scratch)
  • Cookies (i.e. chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin)
  • Cheesecake
  • Ice cream cake (several recipes are available online)
  • Cupcakes (you can make these in a variety of flavours)
  • Fruit pizza (a healthier option!)
  • Chocolate mousse or lemon cream pie
  • Homemade popsicles or frozen yogurt bars
  • Brownies
  • Rice crispy treats
  • And many more.

make your own cupcakes

 13) Forgo the party favours

Some birthday parties send kids home with bags of candy or small trinkets, but they usually aren’t of much value and may even get tossed in the trash.

Skip the party favours this year and save yourself the money!

14) Make and send your invitations online

Instead of spending on cards and postage, create your invites online. Use a service like to track attendees and communicate all of the details.

15) Throw a dual birthday party

A great money saving birthday idea is to share a birthday party between two kids! If two of your children have autumn birthdays, for example, consider throwing a joint party.


dual birthday partyYou can also throw a dual party with friends—like one with a child who has a birthday in the same month or season. This reduces planning, saves money, and is double the fun!

Before you plan it, make sure both kids are on-board.

16) Keep the party small

Skip inviting your child’s entire class at school.

Choose a handful of close friends and family members like cousins.


This is the fastest way to reduce your costs, and throw a party that is much more manageable!

17) Stick to a budget

Pick a budget for the party, whether that’s $50 or $100. Having this mindset will help you avoid spending on frivolous details.

No matter what you spend, you can throw a super fun and memorable party for your child.

18) Forget the competition

Don’t worry about what other families or friends are doing. Focus on what your child enjoys. The goal is to make it a special day for him or her, not everyone else.

So forget the competition: this is about celebrating your child!

dual birthday party

19) Don’t make gifts the focal point of the birthday

Focus on the special moments and activities rather than the gifts. Prepare a special birthday song, cook a delicious birthday breakfast, or do other things to make your child feel loved.

If gifts become the focus, it can take away from the special moments, putting more stress on the need to purchase items in the future.

If you’re planning a birthday party or have other upcoming family expenses that require a little extra cash, consider an online loan. Review the details to see if it’s right for you.

You can apply with Swoosh today through our easy online application. It takes only a few minutes, and approval usually occurs within the next business day.