Joint Birthday Parties: Our Frugal Birthday Party Strategy

Joint Birthday Parties2 - picture of two girls holding up bunches of balloons

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Earlier this year, I wrote about how I was having mixed feelings on joint birthday parties.  But, despite the fact that it might be considered tacky by some people, we ended up having one anyway.  Newsflash: For the record, the point of this particular joint birthday party was not to save money It just happened to work out that way.  My daughter’s birthdays are only 6 weeks apart anyway, and we were going to be in Florida for my oldest daughter’s 5th.  And since I didn’t want to ask people to attend a different party on two weekends in one single month, I chose to lump their parties into one.  And they didn’t complain at all.  In fact, they thought it was fun!

Having a joint birthday party did lead to incredible savings since I only had to pony up the cash for one party instead of two.  In addition, I found plenty of other ways to save.  Here are a few:

  • DSCF3445I made the cake.  Custom cakes can run anywhere from $40 to $100, and come in all kinds of kid-friendly themes that kids adore.  But, since my kids both said they wanted pink and brown chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles, I gladly skipped that expense.  Instead, I made two boxes of cupcake mix and slathered them in icing and sprinkles.  They weren’t Pinterest-worthy or anything, but they were edible.  That’s good enough fr me.  The total cost: $9.49 (two boxes of cake mix, two cans of icing, sprinkles)
  • DSCF3446I bought the decorations at Dollar Tree- Party supplies are one of the best deals dollar stores have to offer, and that is especially true at the Dollar Tree (where everything is a dollar).  Instead of hitting up (expensive) Party City, I took my kids to the Dollar Tree to pick out their décor.  There we picked out Hawaiian Luau-themed party supplies for some reason.  I don’t really get it, but that’s what they decided on together.  Whatever works, right?  The total cost: $14 plus tax (plates, cups, napkins, wall hangings)  Quality Logo Products, Inc. also has a ton of cute stuff when it comes to saving on party supplies, logo products, and more!
  • I went with cheap food- Despite the fact that our party was Luau-themed, we chose pizza as the main food item.  Why?  Because Little Caesars will make as many one-topping pizzas as you can eat for only $5 each.  In addition to pizza, we also bought several bags of chips and two veggie trays.  In the beverage department, I chose to go with juice boxes, bottled water, and Coke Zero.  It wasn’t necessarily the healthiest lunch I’ve ever served, but it was cheap!  The total cost: $86 (nine pizzas, chips, veggie trays, drinks)

Total Cost So Far: $109.49

DSCF3444Then I splurged.  We have a ton of little kids in our family, and I decided to do something special for each and every one of them.  As the big attraction (and as a gift to my two kids), I rented a super cute Princess bounce house from Big Blast Rentals in Greenfield.  This gave all of the little ones something to do during the party.  Super bonus: It (mostly) kept their dirty little feet off my hardwood floors and brand new carpet.  The total cost: $155

Joint Birthday Parties: A Frugal Alternative

Even though we didn’t spend a ton of money, we had a ton of fun.  A few people got into a water fight.  Kids cried and tattled on each other.  My three-year-old had a giant meltdown because someone called her “sweetie” and she wasn’t in the moodYou know, the usual. DSCF3448

As a parent, these parties are fun but bittersweet.  I love celebrating every year my daughters spend on this Earth, but it hurts to let them grow up.  Overall, they are the reason we embarked on a frugal lifestyle years ago.  I want them to have every opportunity to succeed and every penny we can save helps make that possible.

How do you save on kid’s birthday parties? 

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  1. That sounds like a wonderful birthday party! We never had much growing up but we always had simple and fun birthday parties. A couple of games for the kids and a cake was all it took.

  2. I didn’t have many birthday parties growing up (it seems like they’re much more “a thing” than they used to be), but the ones I had were all joint with either my brother or other friends who had birthdays right around mine. It didn’t seem weird or “tacky”, and as an adult, now I really appreciate any consolidation of kiddie parties! =)

    1. Me too! I don’t want to spend all my weekends at kids parties =)

  3. Sounds like your girls had a great party. I don’t think there is anything wrong with doing a combined birthday party as long as the kids are game. I bet they really had fun with that bounce house. I remember loving those as a kid. That’s pretty great your little one didn’t like being called sweetie. Ha made me laugh. Sometimes kids are too funny.

    1. She has been so crabby lately. This morning I told her that her outfit looked “sporty” and she freaked!

  4. We just had my son’s second birthday party over the weekend (he actually turns 2 today). We saved money by renting a shelter at a city park and let all the kids play on the play ground and the splash park they had there. We got his cake from costco (it was like $20) and we had a veggie tray, apple slices crackers and hummus (doesn’t sound the most kid friendly but my little guy loves hummus and veggies… for now). The only beverages we provided were water and gatorade.

    Everyone really liked it and thought having it at the splash park was great and had no idea you could rent the shelter. In the end we could have save the $100 rental fee and taken our chances that a shelter would be open, but the park we went to only had the one shelter. Total costs was like $180 for his party.

    1. That is an awesome idea! I would love to have my kids parties at a splash park.

  5. Sounds like a great time! I don’t think a joint birthday party sounds tacky at all. I’m assuming the girls had a great time (except for the sweetie meltdown)and that’s the main thing, right?

  6. The ‘sweetie’ thing rinds me of when my
    friend’s son was that age- he thought ‘adorable’ was a bad word. If anyone said he was adorable he ran away screaming 😉

    1. She’s in her terrible threes so you never know what will set her off right now!

    1. Oh, well that’s good. Hopefully that means they won’t hate me one day.

  7. Whether you do a joint birthday party or not, making your own cake is a huge savings when you’re talking about a lot of people. making a cake is CHEAP. I made a rainbow layer cake for my daughter’s bday a few years ago, and her friends are STILL talking about it….and it cost me less than $5.

    1. Nice! Yeah, I didn’t spend a lot. I did splurge for a few different kinds of sprinkles though =)

  8. I think joint birthday parties are a great idea especially since kids parties can be so expensive now. I remember having a couple of joint birthday parties with one of my cousins when I was little.

    1. I don’t think I ever had a joint party but our birthdays are spaced out pretty well.

  9. That’s actually *more* than it costs us to have the local science museum do a party (about the same after a generous tip). I <3 the local museum. Unfortunately, DC1 is growing out of it… I think next year we're going to do it at the gaming store instead. I don't know what their rates are.

    1. Yeah, it was cheap until the bounce house rental! What kind of party would you have at a gaming store?

  10. MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    Sounds like it was perfect! I only do the big party with friends on what I consider milestone birthdays! We did the big family thing for each of their first birthdays and we did their first friend party for their 5th. Then I think 10, 13, 16, 18 and 21 are the biggies (just my opinion). My youngest’s 5th will be this weekend. We are going to a pottery painting place. Our whole cost will be $300 (including a gift and me making a cake) BUT I’m ok to splurge since we don’t do it often and we just have to show up, have fun, and leave! I’m all about saving time and I really am not the entertaining type!
    Now that they are in school I will probably just let them take 2 friends to our local movie theater for lunch and a movie.

    1. Yeah, it seems like it changes once kids grow up a little. Once I was in grade school, I wanted a sleepover with my friends.

  11. Sounds like it turned out great Holly and I think we all have those “sweetie” moments with the kiddos. 🙂 Our two oldest are only about five weeks apart for their birthdays but have never done a joint party. Truth be told, if we did, I fear I’d be in my own personal Frozen hell. 😉

  12. Sounds like it worked out perfectly! The Dollar Tree is so good for party supplies. Every summer they have that Hawaiian stuff, and it always makes me wish I had an excuse to throw a party.

    1. I agree- I bought some other stuff there too including a really cute pair of sunglasses for a buck!

  13. Yikes! I’ve been to catered kid’s parties before. It happens!

  14. I so feel you on the bittersweet aspect! Time goes by so quickly!
    I think a combined party is such a fun idea and I love that they collaborated on the cupcakes and decorations – adorable!
    We’re about to have a 1st Birthday party for our daughter and I’m determined to make it frugal and fun. Thanks for the tips!

  15. I have to confess that I have not done well as far as the saving on my son’s birthdays, although, I did budget for them. He has a February birthday and I just don’t want to have 20 little boys in my house, so we have typically gone to a sports-type place and they can get pricey. The great news is that we agreed that next year, he will have a slumber party with just 2-3 friends. So I may not get any sleep, but I will save a TON of money, so I am psyched!

  16. Little trip down memory lane, my good friend and I in I think 6th and 7th grade had a joint dance party for our birthday’s. It was pretty cheap from what I remember just renting the hall, soda, and chips(our parents paid for that of course). Plus I remember we got a lot of money for our birthday since we could invite a ton of people:)

  17. We often had birthday parties at home for friends and relatives. The importance of a birthday or similar celebration is to make it special and memorable. I still remember that some of the best celebrations had nothing to do with how much you spend.

  18. I think the joint b-day party is great…now that I’ve been to so many kid b-day parties as a new parent…I’d be happy to go to a joint one rather than 2 separate ones! My son’s one year old b-day is coming up…I have friends who went all out, but we’re having it at a park. We’d have it at our apartment, but it’s way too small.

  19. Sounds like your daughters had a blast and that all that counts. I think I prefer homemade cakes to the store bought ones. Seeing the bounce house reminds me of a news report I saw recently were the bounce house went flying in a wind storm with the kids still inside! It was scary looking.

  20. Hey Holly, joint b-day parties are a great way to go, no matter who thinks it’s tacky. Although it wasn’t your reason, I always had my birthday coupled with my brother’s for financial reasons. I couldn’t have told you why when I was a kid, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The truth is, I had more fun. Instead of just being able to hang with my friends, I got to hang with my brother’s too. Definitely an awesome way to go!

  21. My sister just spent $180 on a cake for my niece’s first birthday party. INSANITY! I’m glad you went with home-made. Smart choice and it looks fabulous!

  22. We’ve done the birthday-bounce-house before. Those are tons of fun. The best big attraction we’ve ever done was provide pony rides. We found a local company that would come to the house with two horses. They were there for two hours giving all the kids rides through trails we had in our woods. Believe it or not, it wasn’t that expensive either. It would have been worth it anyway because the kids had so much fun.

  23. Baking your own stuff is definitely cheaper, and it’s something we usually do for birthdays. Hell, my grandma got me a little pound cake for my last birthday as there were only three of us celebrating. My birthday was often combined with 4th of July celebrations, as it’s only 10 days later. My cousins were both born in November, so they either had joint parties, or we celebrated one, and then the other with Thanksgiving. No one ever complained!

  24. Holly this is an easy question for me to answer: I save on my kid’s birthday parties by not having kids! Haha sorry I couldn’t help myself. I definitely want kids one day and had fun holding my friend’s baby this weekend. A lot of our friends have kids or babies at this point, or will within the next 5 years. You’d think it would give my wife – or both of us – baby fever, but it hasn’t. My wife did say seeing our friends Chris and Bek with their baby makes her excited to have kids…in 7 years.

  25. I thought the best part was, “…it hurts to let them grow up.” Like you have a choice. Enjoy the moments now. My mother used to say, “you were cute and adorable until you could walk and talk.” 🙂

  26. I see nothing wrong with a joint birthday party. Sounds like fun! I’ve been craving pizza 🙂

  27. We didn’t even have a party this year so I’m sure my kid is scarred for life. I also won her cake in a radio contest. We did go to sea world the following week, so it’s not like we are super cheap or anything!

  28. Seeing the princess bouncer makes me both smile and feel a little sad. I remember when those were a big part of the girls’ birthday celebrations but now they have outgrown them! I don’t think there is anything wrong with a joint birthday party as long as each of the birthday girls feel special. Honestly with their birthdays so close together it makes a lot of sense and they obviously had a blast, which is all that matters in my book!

  29. Lisa E. @ Lisa vs. the Loans says:

    I have great memories of shared birthday parties. My mom, dad, grandpa, and myself all had birthdays in the same month and it was just part of growing up and I wouldn’t have it any other way! One way we saved money was by asking our other family members to take care of certain side dishes/desserts and all we took care of was the main dishes!

  30. For my son’s 2nd birthday party, we bought a bounce house. This was driven by the fact I didn’t want to drive 30 minutes each way to pick it up and 30 minutes each way to return it. The cost to rent the bounce house was $180 plus my travel time. Instead, we ordered one from Amazon for $330 ( – I see the price is now $400.

    For me, I spent an extra $150 to actually own the bounce house. We’ve owned it for almost 3 years, and the kids still love it. It goes to many birthday parties (3 in the first two weeks we owned it). It was a splurge at the time, but it doesn’t seem like one now. I’m actually considering getting a bounce house with water features given how much the kids use the one we own now.

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