How to Throw an Epic Birthday Party for Less Than $50

Last November, I posted a survey on here asking what you would like to see more of here on Side Hustle Mom and found that -- aside from work-from-home job opportunities, of course -- you would all like more money saving tips!

As somebody who loves clipping/downloading coupons and following deal sites, I TOTALLY get that and have been trying to naturally work it into both my site and social media. All of this being said, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to share this week and thought back to my oldest son's 3rd birthday party, when we threw him a movie theater birthday party right here at home. 

Folks: That party was a year and a half ago and he (plus a few of his friends) STILL talk about it, which is why I wanted to share the details with you all, as it is a truly inexpensive, easy, and FUN party for any age! 

Without further ado, I give you Jackson's (home) movie theater birthday party:

Money saving hack: Forgo the expensive birthday cake by stacking donuts... it's both pretty and costs a fraction of the price! 
The curio cabinet in our dining room doubled as our concession stand, which we stocked full of boxes of popcorn, various candy (all from Dollar Tree), pretty straws (Dollar Trees), and bottles of water (Target). 
These boxes were super cheap on Amazon and added so much to the party!

For Jackson’s movie theater party, we invited several of his best friends (and their families!), stocked up on all kinds of treats from Dollar Tree (and bags of pre-popped popcorn from Costco), dimmed the lights in the basement, turned on Finding Dory, and voila — we had a simple, yet fun birthday party for around $50 that both the parents and kids enjoyed.

I’m not necessarily saying you HAVE to have a movie theater birthday party in order to stay under $50 (though it is a theme I highly recommend and will probably use again), so I will share a few tips that I have picked up along the way in order to keep the party cost low and the entertainment factor high:

Opt for FREE invites
While I love snail mail and enjoy receiving paper invitations in the mail, it is completely unnecessary for a child’s birthday party (as — let’s face it — the invite will maybe hang on the refrigerator for a week or two before being tossed), which is why I use Evite. If you aren’t familiar with Evite, it is super easy to navigate, easy to customize, and FREE to use, which are all wins in my book!

Use what you have
Yes, bounce houses and balloon-animal-making clowns can be fun, but they can also be extremely costly and — quite frankly — unnecessary (since most kids are happy with just playing with their friends and eating snacks). If you are on a budget, work with what you have! Do you own a TV? Take my advice and host a movie theater party! Do you live by a park? Let the younger kids run and play on the playground or plan a fun scavenger hunt for the older kids (which my dad did for my 9th birthday and was enjoyed by all!). Summer baby? Water balloons and sprinklers in the backyard! Do you see where I’m going with this?

Remember: you don’t have to serve an entire meal
An easy way to keep party costs low is by planning around meal times. Remember: you do NOT have to serve your guests an entire meal (which I can almost guarantee the kid’s parents are not expecting); cake and ice cream is perfectly acceptable!

Don’t get sucked in by expensive party store decor
While colorful decor can be fun and can add value to a theme party, it is not necessary… However, if you do decide to add a little more pizzazz to your party with streamers, pastel-colored plates and cups, or balloons, do NOT buy them from a flashy and over-priced party store. Instead, I recommend checking out Oriental Trading (for cute bulk items), Dollar Tree, or even a big box store (a la Target or Walmart) for any decor or party ware.

Favors are OPTIONAL
Okay, so I will admit that I did small favors for Jackson’s party (which consisted of Finding Dory gummies and graham crackers, plus a bag of microwave popcorn), but they honestly wouldn’t have been missed had we not given them out. That being said, don’t think that you need to spend extra money on parting gifts for the kids — their memories will last WAY longer than any candy bar or small bottle of bubbles ever will.

Do you have any tips for throwing an inexpensive, albeit epic birthday bash? Please share them in the comments!