first birthday party ideas on a budget

First Birthday Party On A Budget

Our top tips for hosting a memorable First Birthday Party on a budget!

So, it’s your baby’s first birthday! Congrats! Can you believe it’s already been a full year since you brought home your sweet bundle of joy? Now, it’s time to celebrate! Whether this is your first time hosting your child’s birthday party, or you’re an experienced mom with older kids – we’ve put together this guide to help you throw an amazing first birthday party on a budget!

First things first, breathe. You’ve got this!

We know. The thought of putting together your little one’s first birthday party on a budget might seem stressful at first. But know this, it’s also the one they’re the least likely to remember! So, it’s just as important for you to have fun and create memories as it is for them. A first birthday is a great time to start some meaningful birthday traditions.

And we’re here to help. This guide will give you some ideas to create memories you can share with your child for years to come.

first birthday party ideas on a budget

Top Tips for Baby’s First Birthday Party on a Budget

Host at Home

Use the homecourt advantage. For your baby’s first birthday party, simpler is better. Of course, home is where your stuff is and a one-year-old is…a one-year-old. Messes happen! And what better place to be than at home in case of an emergency clean up? Hosting your baby’s first birthday party at home is the way to go on a budget. Rentals can be expensive and unnecessary. At this age, your baby doesn’t need you to do much have an enjoyable time! So stay home in your comfort zone and have the party come to you!

Go DIY With the Cake

Now there’s no need to be elaborate on your baby’s first birthday cake. In years to come, you can count on them begging for a princess or superhero-themed cake, but for now, simpler is sweeter! Plus your baby won’t be eating much of it anyway! Homemade cakes are more affordable than store-bought and taste better without the stale icing. You can even let your baby help you toss in a few of the ingredients (with a helping hand, of course). This is a wonderful opportunity to break out a cheap box mix or recipe from scratch. Plus, you can impress your guests with your baby’s culinary skills.

Schedule the Party to Avoid Mealtimes

Just because you’re the hostess with the mostess doesn’t mean your party has to have the most food. If you schedule your party around traditional mealtimes so nobody shows up expecting a full meal. Serving light hors d’oeuvres and finger food will keep your guests and wallet happy. That way, you get less clean up and can save on catering and time spent in the kitchen. We call this a win-win!

Serve Simple Food

No need for oysters and champagne! Just keep it simple with easy finger food: deviled eggs, pigs in a blanket, bacon-wrapped mini sausages, stuffed peppers, mini bruschetta, cucumber canapes, chicken wraps, tomato and mozzarella kabobs, fruit and cheese kabobs, tater tots, veggie rolls, pretzel bites, mini pizza bagel bites, crackers and cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables (grapes, tomatoes, celery, carrots), and apple slices all make delicious, easy budget snacks.

Serve Soft Drinks Instead of Pricey Alcoholic Beverages

So, mocktails are the new cocktails! Since your baby’s first birthday party will most likely be held during the day, why not have light soft drinks and skip out on the expensive alcohol? Your guests will understand due to the hour of the day. Plus, with a two-hour time limit, not serving alcohol will make wrapping up conversations a lot easier!

And these easy non alcoholic punch ideas will give you some inspo!

Keep It Short

As parents, we’ve all been there when too much of a good thing turns into a meltdown. Our little ones are still growing, and naptime is very real! So keep your gathering short and sweet. Our advice? 2 hours max. Simply list the times on your invitations so guests know when to pack it up!

Keep the Guest List Small

Although your child’s first birthday may be something you want to share with the world, you don’t have to invite a ton of people to your party! Try to keep the guest list small and give yourself a break with an intimate party of close friends and loved ones. Save on food and beverage costs while cutting down on the number of people you need to entertain. Sounds good to us!

Send Digital Invites

This one is not only good for your wallet, but for the environment as well! Go green and go paperless. While traditional invites can be expensive, get lost in the mail, and accidentally be thrown away or stuck underneath a stack of papers, digital invites are not only sustainable but guaranteed to make it to your friends’ phones. You can customize your digital invites to include all the info your guests need, including the timeframe for the party! Remember, we recommend two hours, tops!

Ditch the Entertainment

Now, who doesn’t love ponies, face painting, and balloon animals? Your wallet! Also, your baby really doesn’t care yet. So take advantage of that while you can! For a baby’s first birthday, all they need to be happy is you. A fun playlist from your phone is all you really need to keep your guests chatting and the party’s atmosphere going. And for fun and affordable party activities, scroll down to see what we recommend for your baby’s first birthday party on a budget!

Host a Shared Party

If a friend’s baby is turning one in the same month, why not share the load? Having a double party cuts your responsibilities (and budget) in half while building lifelong friendships.

budget friendly birthday party ideas

Here are our First Birthday Party on a Budget Don’ts (Nobody Will Miss These Things if You Don’t Do Them!)

DON’T Go All Out on the Décor

Skip the fancy decorations! First birthday parties don’t need balloon arches and tented ceilings. Regular balloons and crepe paper make wonderful, colorful (and affordable!) decorations that will delight your smaller guests and create that festive party atmosphere you’re looking for.

DON’T Have A Theme

Themes require a lot of work and are often expensive. Themed plates, napkins, tablecloths, balloons, toys, etc. add up! Instead, opt for colors! All you need to bring a little life to your party is a splash of color, which you can do with balloons and crepe paper! And your baby won’t mind one bit!

DON’T Worry About Loot Bags

You can say goodbye to goodie bags. Babies don’t need them! Choking hazards, anyone? No thank you! You can absolutely skip out on loot bags for your baby’s first birthday party. Your guests will most likely be other babies and their parents who will be just fine taking home any leftover cake. Remember, your little one and guests will have plenty of time to enjoy loot bag toys and treats when they’re older

Baby’s First Birthday Party Games on a Budget!

By now, we hope you have seen how hosting your baby’s first birthday party on a budget is easier than it sounds! Luckily, they’re at the perfect age where they don’t need much to be entertained. That being said, here are a few special activities that can make your baby’s day and build memories to last a lifetime:

  • Bubbles: Remember this simple childhood treat? Babies can be entertained for minutes on end with bubbles. Make your own with dish soap, water, and a Tupperware you already own, or pick up some bottles from your local dollar or discount store! This cheap, fun activity will keep your little one smiling and giggling. And it’s sure to be a hit with other kids at the party.
  • Edible Fingerpaints: This fun treat only requires 2 ingredients, is safe for your baby, and requires minimal cleanup! Grab your baby’s favorite yogurt or dairy-free yogurt alternative and some baby-safe food coloring of your choice! Simply lay down a disposable plastic tablecloth, and let the fun begin! You’ll have a little Picasso on your hands in no time. Just make sure the children are wearing play clothes and the food coloring is washable.
  •  Sock Puppet Show or Talent Show: This one is great if you have older kids who want to participate in their baby brother or sister’s first birthday party. It’s a fun way to keep everyone engaged, and a good excuse to go through the house and get rid of any socks with holes! Have your kids use a washable marker and color on an old sock. Just rearrange your furniture or prop up an old box as a stage. Then, let your kids take it away!
  • Dance Party: By now, we’ve all seen viral videos of babies getting Alexa to play Baby Shark and other songs. Letting your little one “shake their groove thang” and boogey down is a great way to tucker them out before nap time.

Check out our post “What to do at a First Birthday Party” for more fun activities.

Baby’s First Birthday Party: Memory Must Haves on a Budget

diy first birthday party ideas
  • Baby’s own cake: Of course a birthday party wouldn’t be complete without the cake! Or whatever dessert you and your baby prefer. It’s important to have a cake just for your little one – especially if it’s their first birthday and they’ve never had one before! Some tiny tots choose to dive in headfirst – others like to take fistfuls of icing! This is a great photo opp. Small personal sized cakes are super easy to make – or if you aren’t a baker – tiny cakes are much cheaper to buy and will make for adorable Instagram worthy baby photos. Jell-O is another affordable, DIY dairy-free alternative!
  • Number 1 – everywhere: Your baby is number one! Having a number one shaped candle isn’t required, but this is a milestone! Time to put that number everywhere. If you’re the crafty kind, get some cheap colored posterboard and string. Using a ruler, trace and cut out number-ones to decorate with, hang from ceilings or stick to walls. You can have your guests sign one of these at the end and save it for the future. When your baby grows up, they’ll know who was at their first birthday!

Final note

Understandably, the thought of hosting your baby’s first birthday party can be pretty daunting. But that’s why we’re here!

We hope that by sharing our top tips, your baby’s first birthday party will be all that you dreamt. Remember, your baby won’t remember this party as much as you will, so have fun in the moment and create the memories that will make it worth telling about someday. We trust this guide will help you make your baby’s first birthday party on a budget one to remember.

About Author

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Jane Sheriff is the founder, creative director, party planner and mom of three. She started Darling Celebrations back in 2012 to share easy and beautiful ideas for celebrating the special events in life.

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