Our $100 Birthday Party Bash!

Marias Birthday1Yesterday was kiddo’s first birthday. On Saturday we had a birthday party for her with all our friends and family. When it comes to hosting 20+ people it’s easy to allow the costs to add up. I was a little taken aback when I started discussing my plans with other friends to find out they were spending on average of $1,000 for their little one’s first birthday party, and these were the ones who were paying attention at all! Some just buy what they want when they want…

I love my child but no way would I spend $1,000 for a first birthday party. Especially when the highlight of her day is a cupcake mom made and the box her toy came in.

Decide on a Theme

When planning an event, I find having a theme sometimes makes things easier. It gives your party a focus and you’re able to streamline your plans. We decided on an owl theme since the first thing kiddo really started to recognize, and get excited about, was two owl paintings on her wall. It seemed appropriate and fun!

Plan a Menu

Having a June birthday means BBQ!! This was a great money-saving opportunity too. For about $60 we bought enough food to feed over 25 people, with leftovers.

Our menu included:

  • Burgers
  • All-natural chicken hotdogs
  • Broccoli salad
  • Taco salad
  • Apples and caramel fruit dip
  • Chips and pop
  • Cupcake supplies
  • Buns, additional condiments

Even though it was a torrential downpour, hubby faced the weather for our little one’s party and cooked food for us all! True love.

Limit the Decorations

I bought everything at the dollar store, a party supply haven! I spent less than $20 and got:

  • Table cloth
  • Napkins
  • Balloons and streamers
  • Paper lanterns to make owls
  • Ribbon
  • Cupcake stand
  • Odd craft supplies

We decided providing a meal and treats enough and didn’t do a ”favor” for our guests. As kiddo gets older we may look into party favors for the other children, but she was the only child present so it didn’t seem like a good use of money this time.


I made her invites on PicMonkey (I’m pretty proud of how they turned out too!) and had them printed at Staples for less than $10. Honestly, we didn’t even need an invite but I wanted the memory more than anything.

I also made a few of the decorations which was cheaper than buying anything pre-made.

It’s easy to get carried away with planning events, especially ones for kids when emotions get involved but I want to instill the importance of forming memories with family and friends more than how much mommy and daddy spent on a party!

How do you save when planning/hosting parties?


  1. I’m sorry but $1000 for a first birthday party? I have to wonder about that…spend the $100 you did and put the rest in the child’s RESP! Sounds like a wonderful party for the little darling!
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  2. Great job on the party, and happy, happy birthday to your girl!!! We do a lot of this same stuff. We are planning an anniversary party for my mom and stepdad for August, so I’ll have to blog about how much we spent to entertain and feed the 80 people they’ve got on the list. Luckily I’ve got a couple of brothers to share the costs with. 🙂
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  3. We just did a birthday party for our kids and I have a post coming up next week on the same topic. It’ll be interesting to see the similarities and differences that we both went through. I don’t think ours was $100 but we did celebrate for two kids, and I still think we kept spending in check. Great job!
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  4. $1,000! That’s insanity. I love your ideas, it sounds very similar to what a lot of my family members do for their young kiddos. You’re right, once she is older, you might want to consider favours since there will be a bunch of other kids there too, but at 1 year old, it’s not so important. Congrats on baby’s first birthday and making it through year 1 of motherhood!
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  5. Kudos to Mom and Dad. I am sure Maria had a blast! Parents throw these elaborate parties usually for their own enjoyment as the kids don’t care, especially before the age of 5!

    We don’t do elaborate parties either. I find a lot of my friends do it mainly as a way to show off their party planning skills….;)
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  6. The best I’ve ever done was around $35 for a completely at home, made up games, frozen pizza kind of party. But that was when the kids were younger, things are a bit more expensive as they get older. I have one kid that has grown completely out of the organized birthday age range, and my daughter has only a few years left. I’m not sure if that makes me happy (cost savings) or sad (why do they keep growing up??).
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  7. One of our friends just had a first birthday for her son. She went to town for this party. She had a theme and a spread on an 8 ft table that would make your mouth water. It was cat in the hat and everything matched from cupcake tiers to blue jello with fish, cotton candy you name it , it was there. She spent money on it and I asked why so much for only a few people. She told us it was for a memory so he could look back on it and the video and piccies. I’m curious to see how year 2 goes and if she spends as much money again. I’m not a parent so I don’t know the feelings behind parties but I’m sure if I were I’d keep it simple yet fun and memorable.
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  8. Congratulations on making it through the first year! I spent maybe a little less on our first birthday, and a lot less on her 2nd birthday (she ended up being sick and we had to cancel – before I bought any food!). Because we do invite folks from my local mom’s group with similarly aged children, we just bring toys out to share so that everyone can play, and I bake a cake or cupcakes and get a fruit/veggie/cheese tray from the local grocery store. For her first birthday, I bought a lot of cups/plates/etc in a Hello Kitty theme. I had plenty left over to re-use for her 2nd birthday. I still have some, so her 3rd birthday is likely Hello Kitty as well, especially now that I have the Hello Kitty cake pan!
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  9. Well obviously I only have parties for adults but if it’s food I so a potluck, and everyone almost always brings some kind of beverage (alcohol or otherwise). The thing is to not go too crazy buying a ton of food yourself because when people bring stuff there is almost always too much and you kick yourself for spending too much money on food. I also never decorate.
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  10. Sounds like you did a great job! I’ll model our party after this plan, as well.

  11. Great job! $1,000 is absolutely INSANE.
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  12. You did a really good job with costs. Being able to feed 25 for $60 is awesome.
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  13. Wow, a grand for a first birthday party?! We were much closer to the $100, under it I believe. They remember nothing at that age, though it is a fun day to enjoy with them.
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  14. I LOVE your invitation and theme – adorable! I agree themes make it a bit easier to plan. 🙂 You did a fantastic job throwing a great party at a great price. The Dollar Store is a treasure trove for party decorations, especially for kids who don’t care how much that ballon or paper plate cost! $1000 seems a little extravagant for a 1 year-old b-day party but some parents get a little exuberant in their planning. 🙂
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  15. A $100 for a one year old’s birthday party is plenty. If someone is spending $1000 then it is really for the adults rather than the child.
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  16. $1000 for a birthday party? Wow!

    We never had any birthday parties. It was always a quiet (but special menu chosen by the birthday girl) family affair. We visited our grandparents, thats it. Looks like you did a great job with $100! Dollar store really comes through for anything party related. Hopefully when its time for us to have a birthday party for our little one we will be sane enough to not go overboard.
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  17. I must say – those are some good looking invites. Although, I must say – the eyes remind me of South Park characters, heh.
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  18. In my culture, baby’s 100 day and 1st birthday has been celebrated. But these days, people don’t do a big party for 100 day celebration (since surviving the first 100days isn’t a rarity like it used to be long long time ago), so they make the 1st birthday party bigger. My friends spend between $1000-$3000. It’s like a wedding with beautiful baby table decorations with traditional items that are expensive to rent and food for around 100 people at a banquet hall. Some do a small gathering with immediate family and close friends at their house, but I’ve seen a lot of parties lately.

    • Catherine says:

      I think it’s a bit different when there’s a cultural component. As long as you’re not going overboard!

  19. No way the wifey and I are ever spending 1k on a childs birthday. June birthdays do make it easy with just being able to BBQ. We did it for my son since his bday is also in June. Hit up Sam’s got the meat and things we needed. Went to the party store for decorations. Only invited a few close friends and had a great time for about $150.
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  20. Nice job with the low budget. I can’t stand the thought of spending $1,000 on a 1st birthday that they won’t even remember! When our little one turns one, I plan on having a cheap birthday as well.
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  21. My daughter’s second birthday was this past Friday. I bought some cheap Dora decorations and we had pizza and cupcakes. My big expenditure was renting a bounce house.
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  22. I wish you had pictures to of your lantern owls! My friend and I made a party for an engagement for 12. It turned out to be a lot cheaper than I expected….devilled eggs, jello parfaits and tea sandwiches look fancy but are cheap to make!

    Deviled Egges ($3)
    Cake from a box ($1 at no-frills)
    Icing ($1 at no-frills)
    Tea Sandwiches ($10)
    Tissue paper to make Pompoms and Balloons ($8)
    Spinach Dip ($4)
    Cheese plate ($12)
    Bacon wrapped mini-sausages ($15)
    Fruit Bouquet ($8)
    Veggie Platter with homemade dip ($7)
    Jello fruit parfaits ($4)
    = $74?

    • Catherine says:

      Sounds like a great party! I can send you a link to the site that inspired me to make them if you want?? I don’t have a great pic of mine.

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