Smiling African American woman holding cake

How to plan a birthday party on a budget for adults that’s memorable and fun

Are you frustrated trying to plan an adult birthday party on a tight budget?

If so, use these easy but practical tips to throw an adult birthday party without having to break the bank.

All parties should be fun for you and your guests, but it shouldn’t cost an arm and leg to do so. 

If you’re worried about how you can pull off a low-cost birthday party, don’t be.

 I’m here to tell you that it is possible, my friend. 

The key to planning a cheap birthday party on a budget for adults is maximizing your party budget. 

Before we go into these budget-friendly party planning tips below, make sure you do this first.

Write all the aspects of your party and pick 1-3 you want to put most of your budget to. 

Ask yourself, What are the most important for you?

Do you mind putting most of your budget toward food expenses? Or do you put it toward your party entertainment? 

Once you’ve done this, you can use the rest of your party budget on other aspects you feel aren’t worth spending most of your money on. 

Use these aspects as a guide to help you plan the perfect birthday that won’t hurt your pockets.

Inexpensive birthday party ideas for adults

Now that you have a better idea of what you want to spend most of your budget on, 

Here are some cheap adult birthday party ideas to help you throw the best birthday party ever!

Tip# 1 Create a birthday party fund 

Start saving for your birthday party early on. 

Think about it. 

If you start putting money aside 3-6 months out, you will have more money to spend on your birthday party.

Tip #2 Choose a time that is between main meals

Your guests will know there won’t be a five-course dinner if you invite them to your wine and cheese party. 

Most likely, your guest will show up to your party having eaten their meals already.

Here is a list of parties that you can throw that is before, after, or in-between meal times:

  • tea time party
  • appetizer party 
  • wine and cheese party
  • cupcake and cocktail party
  • dessert party
  • late-night snack party

If you prefer to serve your guests a meal at your party, plan to serve breakfast or brunch.

Serving your guest breakfast or brunch options will cost less than lunch or dinner. 

Tip # 3: Delegate to celebrate

Reach out to close friends and loved ones to see if they can pitch in and help you plan your birthday party. 

Every little bit helps and can save you lots of time and money. 

Tip # 4: Pick a cheap location to host your party

It may be cheaper to have your birthday party at your house, but not everyone wants or has the means to do so.

If you can’t throw your birthday party at home, choose a free or inexpensive place instead.

Consider having your birthday party at a restaurant, a local cafe, or a lounge. 

These places have a kitchen, dining room tables, serving ware, flatware location.

If you’re looking for more ideas to host your next birthday party, check out my blog post below:

15 Cool birthday venues for adults to use right now! 

Catering a party on a budget

Tip #5 Choose local and seasonal food options for your party

Be sure to shop locally or buy in-season food. 

Do some research online or head to your local farmer’s market to see what low-cost ingredients you can use. 

Tip #6. Make a Starch the star for your meal

Use starch as the main star of your guest’s dishes if you decide to serve them a meal.

You can create two or three starch-based meals with different types of meat like beef or chicken and one that’s meatless.

In my culture, Panamanian lo mein is a popular dish that can feed many people at family celebrations. 

Similar dishes like pasta, baked potatoes w/ toppings, or stir fry are great for your party guests as well. 

Many party planners recommend not making meat the star of your meal if you want to save money. 

But if your guests are meat lovers, they will feel like they are missing out.

If you find yourself in this situation, check out tip #7.

Tip# 7 Think small

When you want to stretch your birthday budget, you must think small. 

Maximize your budget by serving your guests’ bite-sized eats!

You can prepare dessert shots, mini milkshakes, mini grilled cheese sandwiches, or sliders.

Your miniature food options will be a hit with your guests! 

Tip # 8 Presentation is key

“It’s not what you serve at your party, it’s how you serve it.” 

Pick out cheap party snacks for your guests. 

Buying cheap snacks means more money in your pocket.

Make sure you have plenty of serving dishes to separate and display your party food. If your party food is nicely displayed, people won’t focus less on what they’re eating.

Consider buying a few bagged snacks like chips and dip and putting them in serving dishes. 

It looks nicer than giving them snacks straight out of the bag or food containers. 

Tip # 9 Buy grocery store-bought cake

Grocery store-bought cake saves you money. Do you want to personalize your birthday cake without paying extra money?

If so, add your icing, candy, flowers, and cake decorations from home to make it match your birthday theme.

Do you need some grocery store cake inspiration? Check out this blog post from the Krazy Coupon Lady called: 

16 grocery store cake makeovers you’ll need for your next party

Tip #10 Stick to one signature cocktail

Sangria, prosecco, wine, or beer are good alcoholic choices for parties. 

If you want to serve a drink that matches your birthday theme, create a signature drink. 

Creating a signature cocktail will help you save money because you’re not buying several types of alcohol and mixers.

2 women talking and drinking wine

Tip # 11 Have a party theme 

Having a party theme keeps your party cohesive. 

Going with a party theme adds personality to your celebration too. 

If you’re planning a milestone birthday party, use the age like 30 or 40, and decorate your space. 

Having a party theme will help avoid buying unnecessary parties you don’t need.

If you are using random party decorations and supplies, make sure you tell your guests. 

Let your guests know you plan to have a mix and match theme beforehand, So they know what to expect once they arrive.

How to decorate for a party on a budget

Focus on lights.

Cafe, fairy, LED lights, or votive candles are great options for birthday parties. 

Cafe lights and votive candle lights a very affordable to use too. 

You can buy them at your local department store. 

Have your guests gather around a fire pit if you decide to throw your birthday party in your backyard. Lighting a bonfire will give off the same effect.

Mylar balloons will be your best friend. Foil balloons are perfect for party decorating on a budget.

Scenic locations are great options for those that want to save on party decorations. Party venues like renting a rooftop or party boat or a local park distract your guests in a good way. 

 They won’t care how much you decorate your venue if enjoying the spectacular views.

adults having a birthday party on a rooftop

Tip 12# Customize It

Adding this extra detail can make a significant difference to your party decor. 

To save money, you can create stickers and labels and DIY signs for your party food too. 

Go online and search for free printables online that match your party theme.

Spell out party-related words with mylar balloons. Buy alphabet letters or number foil balloons at your local dollar store. 

Tip 13# Rinse and Repeat

When you shop for party supplies, try to buy things that you can reuse. Disposable partyware is good to use for parties, but you’ll have to keep rebuying them in the future. 

Buying disposable party supplies will cost you more money in the long run. 

Save yourself the trouble and spend a little extra money and buy quality partyware. 

Once you do, you can reuse it over again for parties you throw in the future. 

It’ll be one less item you have to spend money on the next time you decide to have a birthday bash.

Buy party items for your birthday party that you can reuse.

Tip # 14 Make sure your birthday party starts and ends on time 

Creating a party schedule is a great way to keep your party on track.

1.5-2 hours is plenty of time for your guest to mingle and enjoy themselves at your birthday party.

If you’re throwing your party at a venue, avoid unnecessary late fees by ending your party on time.

If you’re looking for other unique ways to celebrate your birthday, check out the blog post below:

12 fun ways to celebrate your birthday on a budget 

Planning a birthday party on a budget for adults can seem overwhelming.

But what matters is that you and your guest enjoy celebrating with one another. 

It shouldn’t matter how much money you spend on your birthday.

Your guest will appreciate all the effort you spend to make sure they have an unforgettable experience!

Not to mention you’ll be saving a few dollars is in the process.

Did you find these birthday party on a budget tips helpful?  

If so, leave a comment below.

Happy celebrating!

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