Tips & Tricks for Throwing Your Child An Inexpensive Birthday Party {Guest Post By Northshore Mama}

Confession :: I hate birthday parties.

NOMB-Title2I have my reasons, but that’s another topic in itself. I love that NOMB allows you to be honest and do so in a judgment-free zone. So, here is my “bad mommy” confession. It’s true – I loathe them to my very soul. My children, on the other hand, think they are the best thing ever! Of course they do, they are 9 and 5!

One problem I have is that birthday parties can get way out of hand and cost hundreds of dollars! Therefore, even the simplest party becomes THE GIFT in our house. I can spend $200-300 on cake and paper that we will throw away, or you can get a nice birthday gift. Both just aren’t in our budget. (Enter the mommy guilt.)

So, I have an arrangement with my boys, that I will do parties every other year for them. The alternate years, we either go do something really fun, like take a family deep sea fishing excursion, or go to the zoo. They always get to have a family party at home on their actual birthday, and they get the dinner of their choice. But, nothing makes them happier than knowing that party is coming.

So, this year is party year.

My oldest turned 9 last month, and he chose a Star Wars theme. Can I just tell you that Pinterest is such a fabulous resource for overwhelmed moms who want to be a Pinterest-ing mom, bu don’t have the time or brain capacity anymore. A simple search of your theme returns so many ideas that it’s impossible to implement them all.

Another fabulous resource is the Dollar Tree! More plates in the package than at the party stores and….ONE DOLLAR! They have decorations, plates and forks, goody bag fillers, and so much more. All just $1.

This month, I am going to show you how I threw a party that a 9 year old LOVED and actually THANKED ME for (unprompted) for less than $200.


First of all, we needed the focal point. I bought an extra tablecloth at Dollar Tree, and we taped it up to the wall. I drew a couple of stars on pieces of card board and gave the kids some yellow paper that I had in my filing cabinet and showed them how to trace the stencil. They traced and cut out every star, then we glued them on the “sky.” Literally spent $1.

Big event decor happens to be something that I have done in the past, so I have a huge surplus of balloons, poles and weights, and I know how to make columns and such. (I also have a machine that looks like a bucket, but can inflate up to 4 balloons at once … It’s fabulous!) So, that was all free and it added a nice touch to the focal wall.

Another tablecloth on the table, and I used the awesome Storm Trooper Cake Pops and Light Saber Pretzel Rods to flank the cake and add some color to the black table. These were made by my friend Angela, aka Queen of Pops. She makes the best looking and best tasting cake pops I have ever seen. The pretzel sabers were just $1, but the cake pops are a couple bucks each depending on your design. These doubled as decorations and party favors.


I already mentioned that Dollar Tree sells more plates and napkins in a pack for a lower price. So, just pick a color or two and go with solids for these disposables! I stuck with black, and used other things on the table for pops of color.

I did pass through the party section of Wal-Mart and found Storm Trooper masks for less than $3 per pack. Another double duty decoration/party favor. I only threw these in at the last minute because the birthday boy had a Darth Vader mask and cape that he planned to wear, and I thought it would be cute to have all the kids flanking him as Storm Troopers. Triple Duty! I stood them along the back of the pizza table along with some Dollar Tree bubble wands that were also “light sabers.”


Pinterest provided all the cute food ideas, like Yoda Soda (simple sherbet punch – green of course), Vader-Ade, Princess LAY-as for chips, etc. This was also a part of the decorations, so-to-speak. I searched for a font that looked like StarWars and used it to print out labels for the food.

I always order pizza from Dominos if we have the party at a meal time. You can get pizzas for $5-6, you don’t have to cook it, they will deliver to you, you can order several varieties, and pretty much everyone eats pizza. No-brainer, right? I ordered 7 pizzas, and the bill was under $50.

Following a Pinterest idea, we labeled the pizzas Skywalker Sausage, Padawan Pepperoni and Chewbacca Cheese.

The Cake!


The cake is always the centerpiece of the party. So, it is important that is both look great and go with the theme. But, above that, it should taste good! I have found two cake ladies that I use, and I know that their work is always great and reasonable priced. So, my tip on that is to do the same! Find someone in your area that you like and can use frequently. Odds are, they will work with you, give you a fair price because they know you will be back, and you will always know that your cake will both look and taste great!


I had such big ideas for this, but one activity seemed to take over and the others weren’t needed. We did JEDI TRAINING! Basically, we put a line of tape on the floor, and gave 2 kids a light saber (Read: pool noodle $1 – Dollar Tree!), and they had to try to knock the other kids off balance and off the tape. This can also be done on a raised beam….thanks, Pinterest, but, no, thanks! The tape was fine and those kids beat each other with those noodles for a solid hour! Even the girls finally got in on the action!

I did find a free printable word search that I handed out when the pool noodle beatings got too close to my focal wall and cake. I was shocked that these 7-10 years olds actually sat down and did them! Just google your theme and “free printable.” You will find all sorts of things out there.

So, over all, I spent less than $200 on EVERYTHING! I had lots of pizza and cake leftover because you just never know how many people will show these days! The kids left with a Storm Trooper cake pop, a Pretzel Rod light saber, and also a Bubble Wand Light Saber (Dollar Tree – $1!). I think everyone enjoyed themselves, and I know my son loved his party!

I have to do my little one’s party in June and then I’m free for another 2 years!

Do you enjoy throwing birthday parties, or is it a burden? (Please don’t tell me I am alone in this!)

About Northshore Mama

Kari Head ShotKari, born and raised on the Northshore, began Northshore Mama after her family experienced a couple of rough financial years.  Kari shares the tips and tricks to maneuvering each store’s different marketing of their sales, as well as introducing her readers to various programs and websites where she earns free stuff every day.  Northshore Mama’s mission is to bring you the coupon deals and show you how to match them up with each store’s weekly sales to get the most bang for your buck!


  1. I HATE it!!! Thank you for being honest & admitting it. Most of the time the kids are no shows or they don’t RSVP. If you go with a commercial party they expect deposits on kids whose parents are too rude to show up. My other gripe about commercial parties is that they all seem to expect that you’re having a MASSIVE party! I have a daughter who is turning 6 & we will be lucky if we have 4 or 5 kids at her party – including her. Most places want a minimum of 10 – 15 children. In previous years I didn’t even bother – we just did a family party & gave gifts. Last year we went to the park & had literally 2 other children attend. I can’t hold a party at my house because of pets (4 dogs & 2 cats) & an above ground swimming pool. It’s usually extremely cold at the park in late Feb, & my daughter has her heart set on her 1st real birthday party. Ugh!


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