A first birthday is an event most parents look forward to even before their baby is born. It’s an exciting time to celebrate all the milestones your child has gone through in their first year.
As special as a first birthday is, you don’t need to break the bank to make it a memorable event.
In this article, I’ll show you simple ways to save money on your baby’s first birthday.
Before we talk about how to plan a birthday party on a budget. Let’s discuss how much you should plan to spend.
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How much should you spend on a baby’s first birthday?
Since your baby will not remember their first birthday, it’s best to keep the cost down as much as possible.
On average you should spend between $400 to $1000 dollars on your baby’s first birthday. This should cover the cost of food, drinks, decorations, photography, and venue.
There are things you can do to reduce the cost significantly. Keep reading to find out.
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Should I celebrate my baby’s first birthday?
You should celebrate your baby’s first birthday, even if they will not remember the event. Think of your baby’s first birthday as a celebration of all the milestones they’ve achieved in a whole year. That’s worth celebrating. You can also think of the first birthday as a way to celebrate you as a parent because you’ve survived the first year of raising a child. That’s no easy task.
Things to keep in mind when planning a first birthday
The baby will not remember their first birthday
Your child will not have any memory of this event. A first birthday is more for the family than for the baby, so do things that’ll help bring the family together.
Simple games, arts, and crafts are all fun things that the family can do together to celebrate. It doesn’t need to break the bank to be special.
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Don’t expect perfection
Lots of things will go wrong on that day, so don’t expect perfection. Whenever you plan an event, there’s always something that doesn’t go according to plan.
On my son’s first birthday, I arrived 5 mins before the event was to begin only to see that nothing was set up yet. Even though we paid someone to set it up for us.
Needless to say, I was furious. Even with the lack of decorations, we still managed to have a great time. So don’t stress too much.
Now let’s take a look at some things you can do to plan a birthday party on a budget.
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How to save money on a baby’s first birthday
Don’t spend money on paper invites
Sending out paper Invites is one way people waste money when planning a party. No one saves paper invites after they’ve added the date, time, and location of the event to their calendar.
I usually throw mine away.
So do yourself a favor and use a virtual invite. I love the website called evites for this purpose. You can create custom invitations and send them virtually to friends and family.
Evite has a free and paid version. Stick with the free one to plan a birthday party on a budget.
Choose a cheap venue
The venue is another thing that cost the most in party planning. Choosing a cheap venue will allow you to save money when planning your child’s first birthday. Below are some budget-friendly venue ideas for a first birthday.
I recommend having your baby’s first birthday at your home. If you have enough space indoors, do it inside. You can also do it in your backyard if possible.
If the birthday falls in the summer, then a kid’s pool party could be a fun theme you can do in your backyard.
Another place you can have a cheap birthday party is in the park. You could make it a picnic with friends and family. All you will need for a picnic is blankets, games, food, and drinks. In most cases, you won’t need to pay to have a small gathering in the park.
If you really want to go all out, then consider having your event at the zoo. That’s what I did with my kid’s first birthdays. Our local zoo included a mini petting zoo.
The kids got to enjoy that while the adults went to the main zoo. After the zoo, we had a picnic in the park that was nearby.
Everyone had fun and I only had to pay for the zoo ticket to make it happen.
Choose a simple theme
I once went to a kid’s birthday party where a clown was hired to entertain the kids. They also had people miming as well. The theme of the party had to do with a carnival.
As nice as the event was, the parents spend a good amount of money to pay for the mimes and the clowns. That’s why choosing a simple theme is important for saving money on a kid’s first birthday.
You don’t want a theme that requires you to hire someone to perform. You also don’t want a theme that requires a special costume or prep time. All these things will cost money, and that’s what we don’t want.
DIY the decorations
One great way to save money on a baby’s first birthday is to DIY the decorations. You don’t need anything extravagant to make the venue look nice.
If you do it in your house or a park, then you’ll only need a banner, some balloons, and ribbons. That’s all I used for my children’s first birthdays.
Don’t go crazy doing centerpieces. People won’t care if their table has a centerpiece as long as they’re entertained and fed.
One good place to find used decorations is your local buy-nothing Facebook group. I’ve used it in the past to get a banner, table covers, and balloons for events I planned.
People are always giving away good stuff in buy-nothing groups. If you need to learn how to DIY something, then head over to Pinterest to get ideas on how to do it.
Use a homemade cake
Making homemade cake will save you tons of money on your child’s first birthday. You can get a cheap cake mix from a box and bake it in under 30 minutes.
If you’re good in the kitchen then you can bake your own cake from scratch. I also like getting a sheet cake from Costco. They’re very reasonable in price.
If you have someone in the family who can bake, ask them to help you do it as their gift to your child.
Don’t spend a lot of money on a custom cake because no one will care at the end of the day. Your child is too young to appreciate it, and the guests just want to eat a cake.
It doesn’t matter who made it and whether it was cheap, as long as people enjoy eating it.
Don’t invite too many people
One thing that makes a party more expensive is the number of people on the guest list. The more people you invite, the more mouths you’ll have to feed.
Since this is your baby’s first birthday, try to make the guest list as small as possible. You can invite only close friends and family members.
You’ll save money this way because you won’t spend too much on food and drinks. You can even cook your own food to save on cost. Inviting a small group of people will also help you save on decorations and party favors.
Make finger foods like hotdogs or sandwiches
Another way to save on the cost of your baby’s first birthday is to serve finger foods. Finger foods like hotdogs, sandwiches, and hamburgers are inexpensive and very filling.
You can get cheap hotdogs, burger patties, and buns from Costco for a reasonable price. I only use Costco sandwiches when throwing a party because I get good deals from them.
If you serve hotdogs and burgers, you can ask someone else to man the grill for you. This way, you’ll be free to do other things at the party. That’s another benefit of serving finger foods.
Make it a potluck
One of the best birthday parties I’ve ever been to was a potluck style. If you throw a potluck birthday party, you’ll save a lot of money.
You won’t have to worry about the food and drinks because other people will be responsible for bringing them.
Think of how much money you’ll save if you throw a potluck birthday party in your house. You’d have already cut down on the cost of food, drinks, and a venue. Those are the things that usually cost the most.
To add to this, using a homemade cake will help you save even more.
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DIY party games
To cut costs, try picking party games that don’t require special equipment or prep. Print simple party games online and do those with the family.
Skip the bouncy house and other fun attractions
As fun as bouncy houses are, they’re also expensive to rent. I know this from personal experience.
Kids this young will benefit more from sensory activities than playing in an expensive bouncy house. Try putting out some sensory toys and activities for them.
Some things you can try are rainbow rice, rainbow spaghetti, jello molds, bubbles, a ball pit, etc. A simple google search will give you tons of sensory play ideas for toddlers.
Don’t buy expensive gifts
Your baby doesn’t need anything expensive as a gift, because they’re still too young to appreciate it. Instead of buying them gifts, focus on having a good time with friends and family.
You can open a gift registry on Etsy and Amazon so your guests can bring gifts. This way, you won’t have to worry about buying something yourself.
Open a 529 plan for your baby
Another thing you can do to save money on your baby’s first birthday is to open a 529 savings plan for them.
With the 529 savings plan opened, you can ask your guest to contribute money to it, instead of bringing gifts. They’ll be happy to help secure your child’s educational future.
A 529 savings plan is a special savings plan that helps you pay for your child’s education. You can use it for K-12 education through college and beyond.
Here’s how a 529 plan works according to Investopedia. A parent puts money into the account. That money is then invested in a mutual fund of your choice.
It continues to earn interest the longer you keep it there. You can withdraw it and use it at any time for qualifying educational expenses such as tuition, books, etc.
What’s great about a 529 plan is that the money in it is tax-deferred until you withdraw it. If you do use it for educational expenses then you won’t be taxed at all.
Make your own drinks
We already know that food and drinks are the most expensive part of throwing a party. To reduce that cost, you can try to make homemade drinks.
I prefer homemade lemonade because it appeals to both children and adults. If any of your guest drink, they can simply turn the lemonade into a “hard lemonade” using alcohol.
If you’re not up for making your own lemonade, then simply serve water. That’s the cheapest way to save money for a first birthday party.
No custom-made outfit for baby
If you search Etsy or Amazon you’ll find so many custom baby outfits for first birthdays. Those outfits are usually marked up high.
Sellers know that parents will pay anything to make their baby look cute. So don’t fall for it. Your baby will only wear the outfit once and then you’ll have to throw it away.
You may be able to reuse the first birthday outfit only if you have a second child of the same gender.
So skip the custom outfit and go for a general outfit for your baby. It goes without saying that you should choose something cute, but it doesn’t need to be custom-made.
Don’t hire a photographer
Nowadays there are iPhones that have great camera quality. So you can get a very good picture with just your cellphone.
Because of this, I advise you not to hire a photographer for your baby’s first birthday. This will help you save a significant amount of money.
Photographers tend to upcharge for special occasions like first birthdays, weddings, and newborn photos.
Ask your guests to take good photos and share them with you in a dropbox folder. You’ll be surprised by the quality of the photos you’ll get.
That’s what I do for my kid’s birthday parties.
Don’t do a cake smash photo session
One trend that’s been going around lately is the cake smash photo session. I’m not a fan of this trend for many reasons.
The most obvious one is that it leads to food waste. Making a cake just to destroy it is not cool to me.
Another reason I suggest skipping the cake smash is that photographers generally charge extra for photo sessions like this. You’ll end up spending a lot of money if you’re doing a professional cake smash session.
If you really feel the need to do a cake smash, then use your cell phone to take the photos.
Get dollar-store party favors
The dollar store is a great place to get party favors for kids’ birthday parties. This is because most kids care more about getting a new toy than how much the toy cost.
So get as many cheap toys from the dollar store as you can, and use those for your party favor. That’ll help you save money on your child’s first birthday.
It is possible to throw a first birthday party on a very small budget. Remember that the most important part of any birthday celebration is the unity of friends and family.
It’s more about family than gifts and cake. That’s the lesson our kids really need to learn.
I hope that this article has given you ideas on how to save money on your child’s first birthday. If I missed anything, please comment below and let me know.
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