How Much do Kids’ Birthday Parties Cost? 

by | May 14, 2024 | Spending

Your kid’s birthday is coming up and it’s time to plan a celebration. From themed decorations to entertainment and catering, you may find that the cost goes beyond your typical get-together with friends. In this post, we’ll explore the typical cost ranges for different types of parties, plus savvy tips to help you celebrate while staying on budget. Whether you’re planning your child’s first birthday or organizing a milestone event, join us as we uncover creative ways to trim costs, maximize value, and ensure that every birthday is a special and budget-friendly affair.  

Image of a wood table and chairs outdoors in a yard with balloons and banners and party hats and food representing a kid's birthday party

Average Birthday Party Cost

How much do people spend to host a kid’s birthday party? There is a big range! 

Some parents feel that birthday parties have gotten out of control with photos of extravagant, expensive parties making the rounds on social media. USA Today shared a survey that found that the average cost of a birthday party is $400, but if it’s anything like weddings, that is likely inflated by a smaller amount of higher budget parties, and the typical amount spent is likely much lower. 

Forums are a great place to get informal information and tips from real people, so we used them to cross-check the $400 budget data point. Parents on Reddit talk about spending a whole range – sometimes $100 for cake and food for an at-home party, while others note that a few hundred dollars is typical for activities like ice skating or going to an arcade. However, extra-special venues like a zoo or aquarium could go over $1,000 for something extravagant. 

To get some specific data, we looked at national chains that are popular for birthday parties to get a per-kid price. What you’ll pay depends on the activity, company, specific items included in the party package, number of children included, and your location. This is what we found as a starting point: 

  • Arcade: $25 per kid 
  • Paint party: $29-$40 per kid 
  • Trampoline park: $31-$45 per kid 
  • Driving range: $41-$70 per kid 
  • Inflatable jumping park: $500-$1000 total

The key thing to remember is that your budget for a birthday party should be set based on what you can comfortably afford. Kids will have a blast getting together and doing simple activities. What’s most important is that your child has a fun time and feels loved, not the money spent or the aesthetic!  

Low Cost Birthday Party Ideas

First, consider hosting the party at home or in a free venue like a local park. Renting a venue or paying for admission per person to an activity can quickly add up, so opting for a no-cost location will bring the overall cost down and free up money to spend on other party essentials. 

If you do want to have the party at a venue or activity center, consider scheduling the party during off-peak times. Weekday discounts are often available – perhaps host it after school on a Friday, or weekday if your child’s birthday falls over summer. 

Next, keep the guest list small; you don’t need to invite the whole class! Try inviting only your child’s closest friends and family members. It will be less overwhelming for all and saves on per-person costs like food. It can also minimize the future obligation of attending other kids’ parties, saving you from the additional expense of buying gifts. 

For budget-friendly kid birthday party food, you can go with simple party classics like pizza or a tray of sandwiches and easy sides. Check out the deli section of your local store for party platters. Make a cake (or other birthday dessert) yourself or grab something from the grocery store – it doesn’t have to be elaborate. If you’ve got to manage allergies or dietary restrictions, it can be a little more challenging, but there are plenty of options! Check out this article from All Recipes with ideas for party foods to fit lots of dietary needs. Fruit, corn chips and salsa, veggies and hummus, and potato chips are all vegan, gluten free, and can be kosher (check the label for a certification just in case).  

Entertainment is where the budget and party planning counts – whether it’s a series of games or contests, a bounce house, or a princess impersonator. Professional party planners often recommend having one main activity to keep it simple because that is truly sufficient once you mix in socializing and eating. This is what kids will focus on and remember more than other elements.  

When it comes to decorations, you don’t need to go get new ones every year. Reuse decorations from previous years or consider borrowing leftover decorations from friends or family members. Check out a Buy Nothing group in your area as a great source, too. This not only saves money – it prevents waste! If that’s not an option or you need to supplement your stash, check out a dollar store, as they tend to have inexpensive party supplies. They may not have your kids’ favorite character but you can typically still find plates, utensils, balloons, banners, streamers, and other decorations in a cohesive color scheme.  

By following these simple yet effective tips, you can throw a budget-friendly birthday party that’s big on fun and memories without the hefty price tag. So go ahead, celebrate in style without breaking the bank! 

Birthday Party Alternatives

Looking for an alternative to the traditional birthday party? Consider treating your child to a special experience! With fewer people, it can be cost-effective compared to hosting, and saves a lot of stress!  

Here are some options: 

Museum. Kids can explore fascinating exhibits and learn something new while celebrating their special day. Many museums offer discounted or even free admission during off-peak times, making it an affordable choice for budget-conscious families. Plus, you can often score free museum passes through your local library, making this even more cost-effective.  

Arcade. Let your child test their skills on a variety of games and win prizes, all while enjoying quality time with family. Look for bundles for tokens or game credits. 

Ice skating or roller skating. Skating can be a novel activity, so visit an ice rink or roller rink! This can be a great way to cool off in the summer and not have to worry about inclement weather impacting the plan. 

(Small) amusement parks. If you live in the vicinity of a small amusement park, mini golf facility, boardwalk, or waterpark in the warm season, this can be a fun way to celebrate a new year on a variety of attractions. 

By thinking outside the box and exploring alternative celebration ideas, you can create a birthday experience that’s truly special and in line with your budget.  

Conclusion

Having a memorable kid’s birthday party (or alternative celebration) doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. Stick within your budget and get creative to trim costs – ultimately your child and their friends will have a great time getting together whether it’s a backyard party with simpler foods or a day at the zoo. Next time you’re planning a birthday, think creatively, embrace simplicity, prioritize what matters most, and know you’re doing a great job helping your family create amazing memories.  

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