Frugal Celebrations: How to Have Money Left After the Party

Celebrations of any kind are fun but can be costly.  Ever have to host a celebration when your bank account is not in a partying mood?    I have some ideas for frugal celebrations that may help.

frugal celebrations


  • Let them eat (real) cake!

It’s cheaper to make your own cake.  Of course, making a cake from scratch is the most frugal and least costly.  My family insists on this chocolate cake recipe for most birthdays.  The boys are also partial to cookie cake (I just use the chocolate chip cookie dough recipe and spread it in a big pan).

Cake mixes go on sale often and are handy to have in the pantry for all kinds of celebrations.  I used a yellow cake mix earlier this month to make a Three Kings Cake.   Canned frosting is nice and keeps for a long time (unopened) but homemade frosting is also fairly quick and inexpensive to make.

  • Get real (with the plates and cups)

I know it is tempting to buy the cute designed paper plates especially if you are having a children’s birthday party with a theme.  One thing, however, I’ve never heard said by a child at a birthday party, “Look at these cool plates!”   They are a lot more interested in the treats going on those plates.

I know paper plates and cups make clean up easier but if you are trying to host a frugal celebration, it is also just as easy to simple wash the plates and cups you already own.  It’s also better for the environment.

  • Recycle

The “birthday box” and I have parted ways now that my boys are older.  However, when they were younger, all our leftover party supplies went into a tub in the basement aka the birthday box.  Invitations, favor bag extras (Am I the only one who would need 9 things for favor bags and yet they were only sold in sets of 8?), decorations, crepe paper, basically anything leftover from parties went into the birthday box.

When the next celebration rolled around, I would first check out what was in the birthday box especially for party favors.  I also like to recycle the birthday box contents at Halloween by sticking the favor bag extras in the Halloween Candy Bowl as non-candy treats.

  • Find free decor

Decorations, of course, make a celebration feel extra special.  However, when hosting a frugal celebration, it’s important to know your audience.  Most adults aren’t going to care and most kids will give the decorations a passing glance.

Still, who doesn’t love to make celebrations feel special with decorations?  I start, by of course, raiding my birthday box.  Crepe paper is a cheap and easy way to decorate.  Free printable pages are also an easy way to decorate.

I’ve also used Microsoft word to create signs and decorations (actually, this and coloring pages are good ways to put the kids to work!) for our parties and celebrations.  PicMonkey would be another great option for creating party decorations.  Borrowing a special centerpiece from a friend is another frugal option.

  • Timing matters

If you are trying to host a frugal celebration, try to time it so you aren’t worrying about feeding a crowd a full meal.   Host the event between traditional meal times.

A fantastic frugal option is to have everyone bring something to a celebration.  I confess I struggle with this because I prefer not to do it when I host things (it’s a control issue).

A completely and totally unscientific observation is that I’ve noticed people seem to eat more at parties where dinner is provided than lunch timed ones especially if the dinner provided party happens on a weeknight (or Friday).

I’ve used all of the above ideas to host frugal celebrations.  However, I’ve also bought cakes in the store bakery, used paper plates and store bought decorations.  When hosting frugal (or any) celebrations, I do think it is also important to place proper value on your own time.

What ideas do you have for hosting frugal celebrations?

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