Sharing my best tips to decorate affordable kids birthday parties at home (that still look modern and amazing!).
With four kids, we have hosted a lot of birthday parties over the years. We’ve even hosted friends kids parties and honestly, I find it so much fun. As I’ve shared some of our kids birthday party themes, I’ve had some of the same questions over and over in DMs and thought I would put together a post with the three main tips that I share over and over.
We use these same things for almost every single party we host to create modern kids parties on a budget.
Almost all of the parties we’ve held have been at home. Up until this past year, our kids have loved having their friends over for their birthday parties and choosing a theme to decorate and party around.
This past year, my daughter wanted to have a swimming party at our local pool and we decorated that party room the exact same way we do our own home, so these tips are perfect for at home but can also be used for other spaces as well!
I love to be able to DIY my kids a birthday party- it’s totally customized to them and their preferences, it’s novel for their friends and it helps me save money over paying for a themed party to be sent to me.
I also love the brainstorming and getting creative with my kids. It’s special time we spend together, drawing up ideas and I get to hear more about what they love as we dream about their party ideas together. I definitely recommend making time for this! I do this when we decorate their bedrooms too!
Here’s the thing though, I love parties. I really enjoy having kids parties in our home. If you don’t like birthday parties… that’s okay too. You don’t have to do things my way. Even if they’re not your favourite but you’re set on hosting one- these tips will help make things easier and more affordable :)
4 Tips for decorating a kids birthday party on a budget
1. Choose a party theme.
I used to be very against themes. I don’t know what it was but I wanted to be creative and I didn’t want to have to match a specific cartoon or something like that. As my kids have gotten older, our themes have gotten much more recognizable because… that’s what they love! And their party should be about what they love!
But in addition to this making your kids happy… a theme will help you make decorating decisions so much easier. If you’re not wanting a full theme, even just choosing some colors or elements for your theme will help.
After you’ve chosen a theme, then choose some colors to work with. I like to start with black and white to modernize a theme, then add a few colors to that. Starting with black and white will instantly make things coordinated and modernize almost any theme.
You can choose your additional colors a couple of ways. Choose from what you can get your hands on or from the theme itself. For example, a kids Pokemon birthday party theme will probably call for red as your accent color. And a LEGO birthday party theme might call for yellow.
If you have lots of options from your theme? Take a look at what you can get your hands on for supplies. For example, for this ice cream themed birthday party, I really wanted to make a honeycomb balls ice cream cone backdrop. I chose from the colors of honeycomb balls that were available to me and ran with those colors as the party theme colors.
Now that you have a theme and colors, as you’re thinking of ideas or seeing fun decor ideas, you can easily pick up what you need to in your party colors for a custom look!
2. Focus on the party table.
When I started hosting and decorating parties for baby showers and wedding showers way back when I was in university, I would deck the space. My friends and I would craft decorations for every room the guests would walk through. For the front door, for the entryway, for the living room, the kitchen, the table, everywhere.
Cool? For sure.
But a lot of work and when you sprinkle a little everywhere, the impact isn’t as big as if you focus on one space or one table even. Most of the time, I like to keep all the decor in my dining room at the party table.
I also add something to the front door… but that’s really it unless there’s activities in other room where the activities act as decor (target balloons for a Nerf party for example).
For the party table, you can decorate the table itself and the wall or backdrop behind the table. If your setup doesn’t call for a party table, a backdrop for guests to take photos at also works. I love to take a photo of my birthday kid in front of this setup as a special image to put in our photobooks to remind us how they looked at that milestone and what they loved (the party theme).
3. These party supplies will be MVPs in your party tool kit
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There’s certain supplies that I find myself using over and over again for every single party. These supplies are super affordable and work for almost every kids birthday party theme.
How to upgrade your kids birthday party decor with balloons
Okay let’s talk about these. Balloons are kind of an obvious one, but I used to go get them blown up with helium to have by the party table and that was the extent of my balloon usage. You can totally do that (I love a giant foil number!) or you can blow them up yourself to save some money.
I bought a balloon pump off Amazon a few years ago and it’s been SO great for us. You can inflate balloons for a balloon arch in way less time and save yourself the light headedness.
This baby has more than payed for itself and I even pack it along if I’m travelling to someone else’s house (or vacation house) to help set up for a bachelorette party or something like that. Just pack the balloons and pump and inflate there instead of trying to transport 50 inflated balloons!
Balloons arranged in a balloon garland is an easy big impact decor piece. You can get packs of balloons on Amazon that are coordinated to any color scheme or theme and you can easily inflate them and pop them onto a balloon garland tape. I often will just choose my own colors with the kids and we go pick them at the local dollar store.
A balloon garland tape costs under $5 and can be reused for years. It’s essentially a ribbon of plastic that’s been hole punched for you to pop the balloon tails through. It’s really easy to use and you can just cut the balloons out after you’re done to save it for your next party. You can even add some fun bonuses to your balloon garland. Think honeycombs or paper fans or even feather boas and star shaped balloons.
You can also customize balloons for your party theme. Adding paper masks to regular balloons for a superhero theme or ears and eyes for a puppy balloon. You can try writing on them with a paint marker too... instant balloon targets for a nerf themed party!
If you do have a Cricut or Silhouette, you can also cut out specific characters or decor for your balloons (like I did for this Zuma paw patrol balloon).
Cardstock + Posterboard for Affordable Birthday Party Decor
I end up using cardstock or poster board… or both for almost every single birthday party. They’re just so versatile!
I use them for party backdrop pieces and stick them on to the wall with double sided tape from the dollar store. I’ve cut white poster board into banners using scissors and a brush marker or flipped them over to water color paint on the matte side and cut them out for a backdrop.
I’ve cut black poster boards into smaller banners or buildings for a super hero city scape with white paint marker. I’ve cut them into strips to make a giant spiderweb or for signs to share a one year old’s milestones.
I’ve used cardstock in similar ways, printing illustrations and cutting them out for the wall or cutting out shapes- paw prints or hexagons (the hexagons are actually felt cut to size, but paper would have worked here as well!). Use cardstock to cut out letters or pennant pieces to make some garlands as well.
Again, scissors work great for this but if you do have access to a Cricut or Silhouette of course this will make your party prep go much faster.
Speaking of tape- washi tape (or glitter tape) can be used instead of paper strips for some decor like the lines of this giant this ice cream cone party backdrop.
4. DIY a Themed Birthday Cake.
Other than a backdrop, the party cake is the one thing I spend time, money or effort to make sure is on theme. Other than the party backdrop, it’s the one thing you’re going to get pictures of… those candle blowing photos are so dang sweet, especially when they’re little and candles are magical!
A custom cake can be SO expensive though. So I have some tips to make it affordable while still being on theme and so much fun.
If you’re not a baker, did you know you can skip that part and still get to decorate the cake? I know you don’t *need it* but please consider this my permission to take the shortcut and either use a box mix for your kids birthday party cake or even buy a store bought cake, scrape off those yellow roses and decorate it yourself. Yes. Scrape the icing off a store bought cake. You heard me.
I have done this so many times and I’ll get asked for the recipe of a cake when I use a boxed cake, buy a store cake or make it from scratch with the good cocoa. I promise- especially at a kids birthday party where it’s mostly kids eating the cake, you can totally save yourself the time and effort and skip the baking. It’s all good.
As for decorating the cake, I’ve shared a few DIY cake decorating ideas over the years, but I’d recommend grabbing some pre-mixed icing tubes to write on the cake after you ice it with either plain white icing or some of your other party colors.
I put together a whole party around decorating cakes and included a printable checklist of the supplies I’d recommend having for cake decorating (like my favourite icing spatula!), you can pop over there and check that out!
No matter what you choose to decorate with, a fun topper can make the cake look fancy with minimal effort. You can make one yourself using a Cricut (like this one!), order one from Etsy or take a peek at your local party or craft store. There’s so many options out there!
Well, what tips would you add to this post? Any supplies you rely on that I totally missed?
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