Birthday Parties for Every Budget

Plus: Food, favors, decorations and invites on a budget

Have you priced out a kid’s birthday party lately? Between invitations, the site, the food, the cake, the entertainment, the decorations, the favors . . . costs can mount higher than expected. No worries. The Delaware Valley’s the perfect place to plan a party, whatever your budget.

Budget Invitations

Mystery invitations: Attach a separate piece of the same puzzle to simple homemade invitations. Ask guests to bring their piece to the party to help piece together the puzzle. 

Online invite templates: Find a plethora free printable party invitations on websites like Pinterest or through software programs like Microsoft Word.

Invitation in a bottle: Brew strong black tea, let it cool and pour it in a flat rectangular Tupperware. Coat plain white paper in the liquid for one to two hours, then dry completely atop paper towels. Print invitations on the paper, roll them up and insert them in plastic water bottles closed with a cork.

Budget party favors

Write-on chalkboards: Give each partygoer a mini chalkboard with a pack of colorful chalk to decorate.

S’mores to-go: Wrap up a chocolate bar, graham crackers, marshmallows and a skewer for a treat guests can take home.

Art supplies: Give each partygoer a pencil box filled with a pack of crayons, sketch pad, set of watercolor paints, paintbrush, stickers and other art supplies.

$50 or less

One way to make the most of a smaller budget is to celebrate at home with a crafting party. Keep the guest list manageable, no more than five to eight kids, and buy plain, inexpensive T-shirts or canvas bags from the dollar or crafts store. Have the kids decorate with paint, markers, glue, fabrics, buttons, glitter, ribbon and other art supplies all parents have around the house. Or ask guests to bring their own Rainbow Looms, then provide a heap of the colorful bands for a bracelet-making bash.

For foodie kids, a chocolate-making party’s a sweet (and sweetly cost-effective) alternative. Pick up a variety of inexpensive molds and multicolored candy discs at a crafts store. Melt the discs, then have the partygoers pour their favorite flavors into the molds and decorate. The candy will solidify quickly in the fridge and do double-duty as favors.

$50 to $100

Want to host away from home? The Camden Children’s Garden on the scenic Camden Waterfront offers a pair of low-cost garden-party options. Parties with up to 30 attendees can rent the Butterfly House tent, next to CCG’s indoor butterfly garden (butterflies are a popular party of late), for $70 to $80. The Garden Tent, which can hold up to 150 guests, is yours for $85 to $95. For either option, guests can explore the five Story Gardens, dig up fossils in the Dinosaur Garden and, for additional fees, ride the carousel or train (pictured at left). Bring your own cake; the CCG can supply goodie bags.


$100 to $200

Looking for something a bit more creepy-crawly? At Philadelphia’s Insectarium museum, party guests hold, pet or even eat bugs. The 90-minute party, $120 for 10 guests, includes a tour and time spent in the party room enjoying cake and pizza. Buggy crafts, such as decorate-your-own (real) beetle or butterfly magnet or make-your-own insect fossils, are available for extra fees.

Budget decorations

Ice cream cone balloons: Make cones out of craft paper and add them to the bottom of balloons to create floating scoops of ice cream.

Giftwrap table runner: Rather than buying a plastic tablecloth, cover the table with an inexpensive roll of wrapping paper that can be recycled after it’s used.

Poster-board ceiling swirls: Buy a few sheets of colorful poster board, cut them into spirals and hang them from the ceiling of the party room.

Budget party food

Fish in a bowl: Put a spin on an inexpensive snack by pouring Goldfish snack crackers into a fish bowl and having guests scoop them out with a small aquarium net.

Decorate-it-yourself cake: Save time and money on decorating the cake by letting your guests do it – present partygoers with a cake covered in white frosting and a pack of edible markers.

Ice cream bar: Buy a few bulk-sized tubs of ice cream, different flavors of syrup, crumbled cookies and candy bars, and chop strawberries, pineapples or other fruit for a sundae bar.

Sandwiches: Prepare a variety of sandwiches, such as peanut butter and jelly or deli, and cut them into fun shapes using cookie cutters.

If you’d rather have an at-home party at this price point and your kid’s a Lego fan, the Delaware branch of Bricks 4 Kidz sends hosts to birthday bashes in Chadds Ford, PA, and Hockessin and Wilmington, DE. These 90-minute parties integrate STEM fundamentals (science, technology, engineering and math) into games and challenges involving remote-controlled race cars and Lego spin art. The event costs $195; book at least a month in advance.


$200 & up

Pampering parties are always in vogue with young fashionistas. For $225 for five guests, Little Miss Spa Parties augments a home sleepover with mini manis and pedis, a fruity chocolate facial and a build-your-own makeup or bracelet station. Spa robes, fashion magazines, music, custom invites and thank-you cards are included.

If you don’t want kids climbing the walls at your home, take the party to the Doylestown Rock Gym and Adventure Center in Doylestown, PA. Climbing parties here start at $215 for 10 guests, who have access to unlimited rock climbing, no experience necessary. For $255, kids in 4th grade and older can tackle the venue’s indoor challenge courses.

Cheyenne Shaffer is a MetroKids intern and journalism student at Temple University.

Categories: Money, Party Features