How to Throw a Frugal Party for Kids

Posted by Adrienne on June 19, 2012

Throwing a frugal kids party is both fun and easy if you let it be. I just counted and I have thrown 11 kid’s parties (and counting). Here are some tips to make it an enjoyable time for you, the kids, and your wallet.

source: Adrienne

Tips for a Frugal Kids Party

  • Make Your Own Cake. I personally make mine from scratch because I like how it tastes and I don’t find it any harder than a box mix. Either a box mix or scratch will save you a lot over a store bought cake. I cook mine in a rectangular pan (rather than round layers) so it’s easier to cut and I don’t have to frost the sides.
  • Decorate with Candy or Toys. What keeps some people from making their own cake is lack of decorating skills. This is an area where kids are very easy to please. Clean off a few of their small plastic toys and you have instant decoration (Scooby-doo, batman, etc.). I’ve also spelled out their name or year in M&Ms. Worms in Dirt (broken oreos with gummy worms) is also very popular. The most complicated I’ve ever done is the candyland cake above and even that was easier than writing “Happy Birthday” with frosting.
  • Limit the Food. Don’t feel you have to serve a big meal. I’ve had some parties where we did dessert only. (That’s really what the kids want anyway…) If you’re only serving cake and ice cream make sure to explain so people will feed their kids beforehand.
  • Simplify the Food. If you want to have a meal it doesn’t have to be complicated. I recently went to a kid’s party where instead of ordering pizza they made a few boxes of mac and cheese. The kids thought it was the best! You don’t have to offer 100 different choices for food a drink. Pick a few simple things and it will make the party easier as well.
  • Use your Home. The biggest cost for parties is usually the venue. In my area these start at over $100 for 2 hours. For that reason I prefer to do things at my house. Again here kids are easy to please. They don’t care about the state of your house or if your couch is ripped. They care that there are other kids to play with.
  • Use a Public Place. If your home won’t work for a party you can also look at having it at a public place. Using a local park is a great way to host a bunch of people. To the kids the location could be as exciting as the party.
  • Easy Games. I don’t think you have to have specific “games” for the party. If you do want some activities here are some we’ve done in the past: treasure hunt (clues hidden around the house), Pasta necklaces, Pin the horns on the Monster, and dancing to music.
  • Party Favors. I personally think it’s fine to not do party favors (most parents will probably thank you). If you do choose to give favors you can always go for a single item instead of a bag of many things. Here are a few single item favors ideas: Box of Crayons, Punch Balloon, Shovel and Pail, Bubbles, Glow necklaces. All of these can be bought for $1 or less.

Most importantly remember to relax and have fun!

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Comments to How to Throw a Frugal Party for Kids

  1. My daughter will be 27 in August…but she was told she could invite her age in the number of kids to her parties. At age 7, she could invite 7 kids…also, we used to BAKE her a cake (you don’t COOK cakes) in a bundt pan and turn it upside down and cut it in half and place the halves to make a cute caterpillar which could be decorated with candy and drizzle icing. It was simple and fun and she could plan months in advance who she could invite as the numbers grew when she got older.


    • Ah yes BAKE (not cook). I love the caterpillar idea. Will have to try that out.


  2. I think parents stress out too much about parties; I know I have in the past. Thanks for the reminder!


  3. Thanks so much for these tips. I needed to hear these words. Planning an August “blow-out” (haha) for my 6 year old in our home and I think I needed someone to tell me that she will appreciate simple just as much as some of the elaborate schemes coursing through my head…and knowing my kid, she definitely will. Mostly, I think, she wants mom enjoying the party and her friends with her on her big day…something more delicious than cake and I understand I better savor it while that’s still the case!!

    Penny Matzelle

  4. We let our son choose if he wanted to invite a couple of kids to do some big event or if he wanted to invite a large number of kids over to just play in the backyard.


  5. This is a great list – reminds me of my childhood. I’m pregnant right now too so these tips will coem in handy in a few years


  6. Great ideas and you are right on the money. Just enjoy the day and so will your birthday child.


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