Birthdays are kind of a big deal at our house. Austin’s birthday was a few weeks ago and it basically turned into a whole weekend of birthday celebrations!
Birthdays can be a very expensive event but they usually aren’t with us.
How to Make Birthdays Special When You’re Broke
We decorate for birthdays whether there’s going to be a birthday party at our house or not. Decorating is so inexpensive and easy. Plus, it’s a fun way to make a birthday visually more exciting than a normal day.
A lot of times, if it’s Austin’s birthday, I’ll stay up late for a few minutes the night before his birthday to decorate so that he gets to wake up to fun decorations! He does the same for my birthday.
Decorations can be very inexpensive. The dollar store is the best place to find supplies.
We usually buy a few colors of streamers to hang, twist, and drape all over. The big rolls last for multiple birthdays. You can also buy a Happy Birthday sign from the dollar store that can be reused. And don’t forget a pack of balloons.
To spend even less, you can use craft supplies already on hand. It can be as simple as making signs with markers and printer paper. One year, I even made a Happy Birthday sign from a pile of paper plates and stuck them to the wall.
Instead of going out to eat for a birthday, it’s much less expensive to make a meal at home. To make it extra special, let the birthday boy or girl pick their favorite meal.
If you’re having a birthday party, here are some easy and inexpensive foods to serve for a crowd:
- Baked Sandwiches: I love this recipe and it can be made ahead of time
- Grilled Brats or Hotdogs
- Lasagna: This can be made the day before and put in the oven before people come over (my cheater lasagna is even easier)
So, you need cake, right? Or at least a birthday dessert. It’s super cheap to make your own cake and you don’t have to be a fabulous baker.
Just a simple boxed cake mix looks great if you bake it as a layer cake. I’ve also discovered a delicious secret. You can adjust the basic boxed cake mix recipe to make it even better. Here’s how:
- However many eggs the recipe calls for – add one extra
- Replace the water with the same measurement of milk
- Replace the oil with the same measurement of melted butter
These three adjustments make a boxed cake mix more moist and rich, like a cake made from scratch or bought from a bakery.
Again, a homemade cake can be even more special if you let the birthday person pick what kind of cake they want.
Birthday activities don’t have to be expensive or over-the-top.
Here are some of the free or cheap activities we’ve done for our birthdays or family birthdays:
- Play Board Games
- Beach Day
- Scavenger Hunt
- Play Charades
- “Just Dance” Party
- Play Video Games
- Go Kayaking
- Play Yard Games
- Do a Craft (I taught everyone how to make candles for a party once)
- Pool Party (if you or a close relative has a pool)
It usually works best to keep birthday activities simple. Just make sure that the activities focus around the birthday boy or girl and what they like to do.
Of course, gifts are where birthdays can get pricey. If you’ve previously spent a chunk on gifts, you might think about telling the birthday person that you’re doing things differently this time.
If you don’t have much to spend on a birthday gift, don’t skimp on the card. You can create a homemade card for free. Write a long heartfelt note in the birthday card. Kind words mean so much and most people don’t take the time to write a great note.
Gifts don’t have to break the bank! I’ve already written a list of gifts that are $15 and under, so be sure to check that out.
Here’s a quick list of inexpensive gift ideas:
- A treat, like fancy tea, coffee, beer, chocolate…
- Print and frame a favorite photo
- A flowering plant that they can enjoy for years
- Gift card to an ice cream or coffee shop
- Supplies to do a craft or project
- Kids: A sticker activity book or brain quest (we got these for a niece and nephew recently and they loved them)
Another good way to get a great gift is to go in together with a few other people so that you can afford a nicer gift, so don’t forget about that option.
You can absolutely make someone feel extra loved and special for their birthday without spending a fortune. Inexpensive decorations, homemade favorite foods, fun activities, and a thoughtful gift can all add to a fun birthday celebration!