Free or Cheap Places to have a Birthday Party

Shannon Cairns

July 2, 2021


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If you have kids, you’re probably always on the hunt for free or cheap places to have a birthday party.

We are on a tight budget as we try to get out of debt, and so free or cheap places to have a birthday party are a priority when party planning for our 3 kids.

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    Party planning is so much fun, but can get expensive fast!

    The number one way to save money on your kid’s birthday party is location choice.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent a pretty penny on kid’s birthday parties in the past.  This year we were on a mission for cheap, and I think we did well for ourselves.

    RelatedCheap or free date night ideas, DIY Organizing Hacks

    Birthday Party at Home

    This is the obvious option because there are no fees for the location.  However, you can easily wrack up a big bill for your home birthday party if you’re not careful.

    We experienced this in the past with our first baby.  His first birthday party was at our home, but we went ALL OUT.  We had the best of the best party decor from Party City, Target, and even custom Etsy invitations.  The party was even catered!

    I’m pretty sure we spent well over $500 on that party when it was all said and done.

    This year our third baby turned one!  We decided to keep the entire party budget under $100.  This included gifts, food, decorations…literally EVERYTHING!

    Free or cheap places to have a birthday party
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    We stayed on budget, and I think the party might have turned out even better than his brother’s much more expensive one!

    Tips to keep your kid’s home birthday party costs low:

    • Purchase party decor, favors, cards, gift bags (and even some food items) at the Dollar Tree.  Everything is literally a dollar, and you can get the same stuff that you would find for much more at Party City or Target.
    • Make Your Own Cake or Cupcakes.  You don’t have to be “the Cake boss”.  Grab a box of funfetti and some vanilla frosting and scroll Pinterest for a simple design that anyone can do.
    • Keep the Guest List Low.  The more people that you invite, the more food, party favors, and cake you will need to provide.  I learned this from planning my wedding, the bigger the guest list, the bigger the price tag!
    • DIY.  I love to use free graphic design software like Canva, to DIY my own invites and printable decorations.  This saves money and allows you to customize things just the way you want.
    • Timing is everything.  Host your party during mid morning, or mid afternoon so you aren’t expected to serve a full meal.  If you have the party during lunch or dinner time, your guests will be hungry and hoping for a full food spread.

    Park Birthday Party

    A local park is the perfect set up for a free or cheap birthday party.

    There are usually picnic tables, grills, and unlimited entertainment and space to run around for the party guests.

    You can easily grab some hot dogs and chips on the cheap, and throw a fun park bash for a super low price!

    Indoor Playground Birthday Party (Check Local Churches)

    Indoor playgrounds are this whole world that I had no idea existed, until I stayed home for 6 months after the birth of my third child.

    They are awesome for letting the kids burn off energy, without having to brave a super hot summer or frigid winter that would normally keep everyone inside.

    Most indoor playgrounds are free to enter but might only be open certain days, or may require a small fee for birthday parties.

    Check local churches to see if they have an indoor play area, and inquire about birthday parties.  Most church play areas that we have been to are pretty amazing, and some even have coffee shops for mom.

    Splash Pad or Sprayground Birthday Party

    If you have a summer babe, a spray ground or splash pad might be the perfect summer birthday setting.

    Most spray grounds that we frequent are free, or less than $5 for entry.

    They are usually attached to a park or have picnic tables nearby that would be the perfect frugal party setting!

    Local to DFW? Check out our favorite Free Splash Pads here.

    Ice Cream Birthday Party

    Take your kids, and a few of their friends out for ice cream!

    This is similar to having a big party at a restaurant, but the bill will much lower, and the atmosphere much more casual.

    Bonus if you can find an ice cream shop with an outdoor playground or picnic tables.

    Craft Birthday Party

    If you have a child that loves art and creativity, a craft birthday party could be the perfect frugal birthday bash!

    You could host this party in almost any location, making it easy to do on the cheap.

    This party would be easy to host at home, outdoors, at a church, or even a library.  There are so many directions you could go with this.

    Swimming Pool Party

    Do you have a community pool in your neighborhood, or a friend with a great backyard oasis?

    A pool party allows for unlimited entertainment for party guests, and can be a very inexpensive.

    Where are your favorite free or cheap places to have a birthday party for kids?  Let me know in the comments!

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      This blog post was originally published in November 2019 and was updated in July 2021.

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      1. A few years ago I held my most frugal b-day party yet for my then 8 year old daughter. It was Webkin themed (popular stuffed animal toy that my daughter LOVED then) – I made a Webkin themed cake, Webkin themed games, and bought little prizes to give away for the winners of the games. They also had a sleep over where we had frozen pizza, soda, and other snacks during a movie. Tori still talks about how awesome that party was, and it cost all of $36.

      2. I have yet to see a free or inexpensive indoor playground. All indoor playgrounds know what they have and now cost an arm and a leg to play there, and even more to host a party. So please update this.


      hi! I'm shannon

      I’m a wife, mom of three, doctor, and blogger! In 2018, I decided to turn my mom blog, into a personal finance blog so others could follow along on our journey to pay off over HALF a MILLION dollars in student loan and practice start up debt. I hope you enjoy following along, and maybe even find some inspiration along the way.