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Baby’s First Birthday on a Budget :: 5 Tips for Thrifty Moms

Baby's First Birthday on a Budget - 5 Tips for Thrifty Moms - Columbia SC Moms BlogI used to LOVE throwing parties. There is nothing better than choosing a theme, sending out real, paper, snail mail invitations, and having people over to celebrate.

But even more than hosting parties, I love making the fun happen without spending a lot of money. Pinterest is my best friend (and biggest time waster, but whatever), and I have found so many ideas there for games and DIY things. I haven’t thrown an adult party in awhile, but lucky for me, my little nugget just turned one, so I traded in my plastic champagne flutes for bottles and smash cakes.

And I did it all without spending hundreds of dollars. And it was adorable. Here are five tips on hosting a sweet first baby birthday party on a budget.

1. Timing is everything

You don’t have to serve an entire meal at the party. Choose a time that is between meals so that snack food and cake will be just enough to ruin everyone’s dinner. Mix in a few cute accessories and have fun with the food, and voila, a table so cute, nobody misses the hot dogs.

birthday food table

Anchor veggie tray with hummus crab. Crab-wiches. Bowls of gummy worms, candy ropes, and Goldfish.

2. Size matters

We decided to keep this first party to a small-ish family and close friend only event. There will be plenty of time for the boy baby to invite friends from school or daycare, but keeping the guest list small means less mouths to feed and less party favors to purchase.

3. Nothing beats home sweet home

I realize in the future I may have to rent a facility, and I will admit that the prep took a little time for this working mama, but having this first party at home made a huge difference. I didn’t have to factor in a rental fee, and just spent a little extra time making everything presentable. The plus side is my house is clean now and I’m going to try to keep it that way (ahem … we’ll see how that goes).

4. Utilize Dollar Tree – where everything is $1

Yep. That is a tip. I purchased the bulk of the decor and all the silverware and paper products for $1 per item at the Dollar Tree (I would have spent 3x the money at Walmart or Target). And I found the cutest stuff – like mini “tackle boxes” to fill with gummy worms as the favors for the kiddos. Look at that table pictured above! Made possible by Dollar Tree.

5. Tap into your crafty side

You read that and rolled your eyes, didn’t you? I hate these blogging moms who have time to craft artwork for their child’s room, wearing a dress they made themselves, after cooking a healthy dinner and working all day.

Not realistic.

But, I did find time to turn our cardboard boxes into fun things. I built a boat with colorful duct tape, a Swiffer and baby blanket sail, and a $1 piece of white foam board. Then I painted another box and gave it teeth for a shark bean bag toss. Boxes make the best toys, paint or no paint. Make it work for you.

party games

Left: Cardboard box ship. Right: Shark beanbag toss

Clearly this all took time, but I chose easy, doable crafts and not something that required a lot of brain power. All these crafts took less than an hour a piece. But I spent less than $5 on supplies. I planned ahead, so by the time I pulled out my giant cardboard box, I already knew exactly how I was going to turn it into a ship. And truly, I could have opened it and told the baby it was a ship without doing anything and he still would have loved it.

Don’t forget to borrow things from around your home or from generous family members. My mom has a lot of nautical decor in her own home, and she was willing to take her house apart temporarily to provide her grandchild with a few knickknacks — a ship for the food table, a few paddles for the cardboard box boat, etc.

I used baby pools we already owned for entertainment and made a banner using pictures of the baby. I filled glass containers I already had with nautical things and paper straws for decorations. I walked around my house and moved things around to work for the party. I made the cake myself.

bday decor_

The result? I probably did spend more money than I intended, but when Amazon has a Captain’s hat for $8, you buy it. There are things I splurged on, but I still did not break the bank paying for a party he will only remember through pictures.

My best advice is to host the party that will make you happy, be it big or small. Buy the things you want to make a happy memory, and use your craft talents (or your friend’s) and your creativity for the extra stuff. Don’t spend $100 on tablecloths you will never use again when you can purchase plastic ones for $1.

And please don’t stress out about it. It will be perfect because there is nothing more perfect than that one year old’s toothy grin. This is a celebration of you too, mama, for all the work you did a year ago. So whatever you do, soak it in and enjoy every minute.

What are your tips for throwing a birthday party on a budget?

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