How To Throw A First Birthday Party For Less Than $100

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Happy birthday, little A! While Pinterest makes me yearn for a cupcake bar, with two toddlers we ain’t got the time or the budget for that. Read on to learn how we threw a cute first birthday party, serving good food to a large crowd, for less than $100.

This weekend we celebrated Little A turning one with a carnival-themed shindig at our home.

Y’all know I’m a social animal, I love throwing get togethers. But it’s not just that. I relish the triumph and sheer euphoria of pulling it off: getting the food made in time, cleaning and decorating the house just so, no child getting seriously hurt throughout the party.

And this put together a birthday party for less than $100. I mean… I want a pretty venue and good food but I’m not blowing our budget for some dude who’s not even going to remember it.

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Oh, are we starting now? 7

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Also Care Less.

This isn’t my first birthday party rodeo and it shows. I bought more things for Big A’s first birthday party. Partly because I was more excited (anxious) and partly because we didn’t have things like serving platters. This year I had more hardware. Feeling more mellow about the whole affair means it didn’t matter that none of it matched.

We bought an inexpensive carnival-themed PDF printables package on Etsy for Big A’s birthday in 2017. We reused those with no shame. You know what kind of first birthday party our third kid will have? You guessed it: another carnival-themed party.

That left only primary colored streamers, a few paper decorations, and balloons to buy. We spent $14.16 on decor for Little A’s first birthday party.

(For Big A’s first birthday party we bought all these carnival toys that just sit in our garage now, so, yeah, caring a little less provides a huuuuge discount.)

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Streamers, Little A throughout the months, party bags
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Two out of three of my favorite guys

I Will Never Stop Harping On The Benefits Of Homemade Food

The food we served at the first birthday party was simple, cheap, and homemade. We had the salty stuff covered with tortilla chips and two dips: guac and hummus. I cannot let people leave my house without consuming beans or avocado. It’s a problem. For sweets, I made two batches of yellow cake mix cookies and some Kix marshmallow treats. I serve these at every party—if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Unlike previous parties, we didn’t spend on cupcakes and veggie trays. No one eats the veggie trays. Not at a kids’ birthday party, not at a gala opening. Food cost us $46.26.

Little A was served a piece from a little cake we got at Kroger.

Food for a first birthday party
toddler looking at woman aghast while she eats chips
“You gonna share, woman?”

A Little Something For You To Take Home

I get a bit more fast and loose where party favors were concerned. Loving the idea of candy as decoration, we spent approximately $20 on rainbow striped candy gathered in vases sent home with pint-sized guests. (I decorate seasonally with candy, too, but I eat it while I’m cleaning instead of passing it out. It’s both a classy and delicious decor scheme.)

Going bonkers on hard candy pushed the cost of party bags to $38.65.

Let’s Break It Down

How We Spent Less Than $100 on Little A’s First Birthday Party

  • Decor                                                  $14.16
  • Food                                                    $46.26
  • Favors                                                 $38.65

Total: $99.07 

animation of man and toddler blowing up balloons for party

woman and baby opening presents at first bday party

Happy Birthday, Little A!

Our youngest son is a source of joy. Full of smiles; he began blowing kisses before he held his own bottle. Celebrating his first year on Earth with such lovely people seemed an appropriate way to spread his exuberance around.

How do you pull off your kids’ parties? Leave your tips in the comments below! Have a party coming up? Share this article for frugal inspiration.

Did you miss Big A’s second birthday? Check out his party here.

close up of smiling infant

baby in a diaper looking at messy playroom
Little A channels early 2000s me: pantless, surveying the damage


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Megan writes everything on Ish Mom. She possesses a bachelor's degree in psychology, a flair for theatrics, and a whole lotta nerve. She lives in the Midwest (and loves it) with her wonderful husband and three young boys.
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