I Totally Wowed with This Budget-Friendly Birthday!

Birthday parties are so much fun! Decorations, super cute themes, games, cake and children screaming for hours! Maybe not the screaming part, but hey, that’s what wine is for. Birthday parties are great, but I must admit that I don’t love attending birthday parties as much as planning them. It can be stressful, time-consuming and expensive (not to mention not altogether necessary), so it’s not something I do for every birthday. This year I threw a fun classroom party for under $80 with just a little elbow grease and several items I already had at home.

A few weeks ago my middle kiddo turned the big 3. My four-year-old had a real party at a trampoline park in June, his first real party since he turned one. We aren’t a party-every-year kind of family, so we weren’t planning to have a big party for my son’s 3rd. Nevertheless, I wanted to do just a little more than cake and ice cream at home. He had talked about his birthday coming up in November and wanted to have a monster party– no doubt inspired by his favorite learning game character, Pinkerton. I decided to put together some gift bags for his preschool friends.

Classroom Party

The first thing I did was hit Pinterest. A search for “monster birthday party” returned lots of good ideas that were functional and relatively easy to pull off.


I baked cupcakes and created furry monster frosting using a piping bag and open star tip. I added googly candy eyes and drew black mouths with decorator gel. The cupcake recipe I use is from scratch, but box cupcakes could easily be used for even less money. I placed the cupcakes in sturdy snack cups so that they wouldn’t get smashed, then wrapped them in clear bags tied with curled ribbon.

Cupcakes, $15

Clear bags, $6

Snack Cups, $8

Ribbon $2

We picked up balloons from Party City the day before the party. I had them add the glue substance that makes the balloons float longer, which cost me a little extra but was totally worth it. I glued monster eyes and teeth onto the balloons using construction paper and glue sticks, which I already had at home. The smiling mouths were drawn with a sharpie.

I also got small Monsters Inc. paper cups from Party city. I filled them with DumDums and a couple other pieces of candy from an unopened bag we had left over from Halloween. Everything went into plain Kraft gift bags from the Dollar Tree (5 for $1). Everything turned out great, and Chubbs said it was the best birthday party ever.

Balloons and cups, $27

Gift Tags, $5

Bags, $3

Candy, $5

Party at Home

The night before Chubbs’ birthday, I spent about an hour fluffing poms and gluing on monster eyes and mouths. Party City sells poms ($7.99 for 3), but I got thse from Dollar Tree instead where they’re 2 for $1. The dollar poms aren’t as fluffy, but you can tie or glue them together to make them fuller. I only needed the half size, so they worked well for me.


I decorated our kitchen space because the kids eat all of their meals and snacks there, and it’s also where we sing Happy Birthday and have cake. The remaining ribbon was curled and used to make things more festive. As we sang happy birthday, my son blushed and smiled the biggest smile. It was just the five of us, just his immediate family, but I could tell he felt how special he is to us and how much we loved him.

Poms, $8


As parents we sometimes feel guilty about not giving our children the world. We want them to have the biggest birthday parties with the most elaborate decor and Pin-worthy tiered cakes every year. But it’s not a reality for most parents, and it’s not really necessary for kids– especially the little ones. This year I learned that 20 minutes worth of attention and feeling special to and celebrated by family is what’s most important. It’s totally possible to give your kids a memorable, fun birthday without breaking the bank.

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I'm a stay at home mom of three kids 4 and under, and all I ever want is a good nap. My goals in life are to love my husband forever, raise fantastic human beings, support and love on other moms, and occasionally take my own advice.


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