Hadley’s 1st Birthday Party (Under $150!) + 7 Tips To A Budget-Friendly Birthday Party



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I’m giving myself a pat on the back today because I SURVIVED the first year with two kids! I’m not gonna lie, it’s been hard. But it has also been the most rewarding year thus far. I love seeing how happy my babies are and I feel so lucky to have them every single day. Hadley is turning 1 tomorrow and we are heading up to Lake Tahoe today for a family weekend getaway!

I forgo the idea of throwing Hadley a big birthday bash, and am, however, having a bit of mother’s guilt. Given that her actual birthday lands on a Saturday, it would’ve made the perfect day to throw her the most unforgettable, biggest birthday party ever! But you know what, this time around, I just didn’t want the pressure. Nor do I want to spend a whole lot of money on it. I wanted to take it easy, do a sweet little celebration, and just go with the flow, you know.

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So last weekend, I put together a little party for Hadley and invited her cousins over for treats and cake. There were about 15 of us and that’s about how many people we can fit in our tiny apartment anyway. I am kind of proud that I put everything together under $150… and eeeks, also kind of last minute. But I thought the party turned out pretty well. So, just in case you’re looking for a less costly route to throwing a baby party too, I’m sharing ” 7 personal tips to throwing a budget-friendly birthday party”.


1. Plan your party at a time that’s not at a meal time. That way, your guests are not expecting real food. I had Hadley’s party from 4:30-6pm., just right before dinner, so I only needed to provide nibbles and cake. (What if it runs into my kid’s nap time, you ask? Well, I suggest you drive around for an hour or two with your kids OR do whatever it takes to get your kids to nap right before the party. That’s exactly what we did – drove all the way across the city and back and both kids got a little nap in before the party.) 


2. Find one spot at your home and deck the hell out of it! I live in a small home so I have always been hesitant to host parties. But I just decided to dress up the dining area and configure some furniture placement in the living room to open up the space. I’m telling you, finding a decent venue AND paying for one is what eats up my budget. So if I can pull it off at my home, that’s what I will do.

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3. DIY whenever possible. There were two things I DIY’d here and it saved a little bit of money. (1) The Star Cups. I bought plain white paper cups and glued star confetti on them. I thought it suited what I needed and looked even better than the more expensive ones I found in the market. (2) Felt Birthday Crown. Thanks to my crafty friend Christine who was able to whip one up for me last minute because I couldn’t order this one from little blue olive in time. It turned out so cute!!! This is SO going into Hadley’s keepsake box. I will share another blog post later on how to make one soon!


4. Gather everything you can use in the house first. And then figure out what else you need. I know that’s a no brainer. But really, spend some time around the home before the party and see what you can use. I thought I needed to buy a table cloth, but then realize I have these white “flat sheet” from my bedding set I never use and that became my table cloth. And don’t forget to find party decor that you can reuse again for another party, like these botanical customizable party garland I bought.

5. Stash usable-but not-so-pretty-items on another counter top. I didn’t buy extra paper plates, napkins, nor utensils for the party. I just used what I had leftover from previous parties. But the way I did it was that I set it up on a tray, put it aside on another counter top, and brought it out to use when needed. That way, it didn’t compete with my overall decor on the table, yet I didn’t have to spend extra money on items I already have at home.

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Now, here’s where my $150 dollar went (you can pick up most of these at your local party store and local market):

Cake (Miette) – $35 |  Star Confetti (Fantastico) – $1.50 | Balloons (Fantastico) – $25 | Paper cups (Fantastico) $2.50 | Straws (Target) – $3 | Drinks (Whole Foods) – $12 | Assorted Cookies (Whole Foods) – $10 | Mini Pinata (Fantastico) – $2.50 | Customizable Party Garland (Rifle Paper Co.) – $16.95 | Flowers (Whole Foods) – $10 | Candy Favor Bags (Miette) $15 | Birthday Crown (DIY | materials from Discount Fabrics) – $8 | Candle (Tantrum SF) – $4

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The only other advice, yet probably the most important one, I would give you is that 6. be your own photographer, but don’t forget to take a pre-party photo with your baby! No matter what size the party is, there’s always a chance you forget to get in the photo with your kid because you were either too busy hosting or too busy taking pictures of your baby and other people. I got a chance to sneak one in with Hadley before the party, and so did grandma.

Ok, I lied, one last tip! 7. Be sure to get your photos in when there’s good light in the house! When we did our cake cutting, the sun was already going down and we were losing light in the house. So, the rest of our photos turned out darker than I wanted. Be sure to plan accordingly to get the best light possible. That way you get the best pictures, and you save money on hiring a photographer.

Since we were able to save some money here from this party, we were able to treat the rest of our family to a Chinese banquet style dinner, which had about 40 people! I think everyone had a great time at dinner, but guess what? Hadley slept through almost half of the dinner. That girl, haha!

Happiest birthday to my sweetest, feistiest, funniest, little girl! Mommy loves you lots!!!

xo Jeanne