A First Birthday Party on a Budget

Of course I wanted Charlotte’s First Birthday to be beautiful and special, but we are a single income family and her birthday is 2 weeks after Christmas. Budgeting was a must! I didn’t want to skip on decorations or the “cute factor” even though we had limited funds to put towards the party.

One major factor that was a HUGE help was that I started shopping for both Christmas and her birthday months before. I would pick up things here and there as I saw them for a good price. This helped because by the time her birthday arrived all I had to worry about was the party. Her gifts were already purchased.

Alright now to the party.

First thing’s first. Utilize your local dollar store, but shop smart. One thing to keep in mind when shopping at the dollar store is that not everything is actually a good deal. A lot of the food, for instance, is in smaller packages as compared to your local grocery store, and some things are actually cheaper than a dollar at the grocery store (i.e I got marshmallows for the hot coco bar for .84 cents!). Alright so what I did score at the dollar store was fillers for the goody bags, mason jars for the hot coco bar, table cloths and some gift boxes for wrapping presents. For the goody bags I looked for items that were packaged in multiples. Here’s what I got:

Necklaces (3 to a pack)

Bouncy balls (3 to a pack)

Bubbles (3 to a pack)

Pencils (12 to a pack)

Ring Pops (4 to a pack)

Hershey Kisses

A lot of the kiddos were under 5 so these were a hit!

One thing I learned while shopping and planning is to avoid the local party store! For the most part, everything is expensive, overly generic, and cheaply made. I did order her a balloon bouquet but that was it, and it was a splurge item for sure!

Target was a great resource and I was able to hit there party supply item to get some great basics! I utilized their generic color coordinated aisle versus the character aisle and got WAY better deals. The pink and white striped banner I bought for $3 and was able to easily personalize it. The silver tassel one, seen on the gift table, was also only $3. I mixed and matched patterns and colors (silver, pink and aqua) in paper products for a cute display and each pack was also only $3!



For a lot of the decorations I looked through things that I already had and made a lot of it!

The food labels are simply 12 x 12 card-stock that I cut into rectangles and folded.


The “Happy Birthday” banner again I made from scrapbook paper I had on hand in coordinating colors. I used an awesome tutorial over on The Craft Blog Stalker to get the most pennants out of one 12 x 12 sheet. I used my Cricut to cut the letters out but you could also use stencils or buy pre-cut letters. I chose to make the banner because I didn’t like any of the ones at the local stores, but couldn’t afford to buy the ones that I liked on sites like Etsy. Here’s the finished product:


I found the cutest cake topper over at Rustic Daisy Designs. All of their designs were super affordable and they perfect one for our Winter ONEderland theme. They are all handmade in Canada and they have so many cute designs to choose from. For the exact one we used click here.


As for the cake itself, I made it and the cupcakes using the best Funfetti Recipe from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen. It was super easy to follow and the cake was delicious! Again baking and decorating myself was a HUGE money saver, and with the cute cake topper I didn’t have to worry too much about making the icing look perfect.

I drew a simple snowman on a poster board and cut out triangles so we could play “Pin the Nose on the Snowman” and it cost me almost nothing for this fun party game. Plus I set up a coloring station which was a huge hit with the age group that was present, and again it was at very little cost to buy crayons and coloring books.

The Hot Coco Bar was something that I really wanted to do and I really wanted it to be super cute. I saw a couple different signs on Etsy that I loved, but that I couldn’t afford to buy. I had a wood plaque left over from my wedding that I used but I know most craft stores sell them for pretty cheap. I sketched out in pencil what I wanted and worked on painting it little by little over a few days. I was pretty happy with the end result and will be keeping it for future parties. The cups for the Hot Coco are simple white ones that buy all the time (my husband is TERRIBLE about losing travel cups so we use them for his coffee for work). I used sharpie to draw a simple snow man face as well as snowflakes to fit our theme. Again costs very little and was super easy and fast to do.


Overall I was happy with how everything turned out and I’m super excited that the party didn’t break the bank. Don’t feel discouraged if your budget doesn’t allow you to buy all of the “Pinterest” perfect decorations, with simple additions to plain decorations any party is worthy for that perfect “Insta” Photo.

Please let me know if there is anything that you guys want to see more of from her party, if you have questions or want a demo.

Love Always,



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