13 Brilliant Tips for DIY Party Planning on a Budget

Every single time I throw a party at our house, I unofficially give myself the challenge of doing DIY party planning on a budget of only $50. That covers it all! Food, decorations, the cake, the party favors, and anything else that might miscellaneously make its way to my party planning list!

It has become an almost monthly occurrence that I find myself doing a little DIY party planning on a budget. We recently just bought our first house and having friends and family over is something hubby and I love doing any chance we can get.

I am confident when I say, no matter what party you are throwing, no matter the size (well, let’s say 50 guests and under), I can teach you how to throw an amazing party for under $50!

I promise you that if you don’t let yourself make excuses and stick to these tips on planning a party on a budget, you can stick to a $50 party budget too! This is how to throw a party on a budget and still make it unforgettable! Simple DIY party planning ideas on a budget!

I did a full IG story all about the tips we used for our 3 year old’s bday party recently. It’s all saved in my IG highlights if you want to take a look.

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$50 DIY Party Planning on a Budget – No Excuses!

Every party is going to have it’s unique challenges but I promise you that if you don’t let yourself make excuses and stick to these tips on planning a party on a budget, you can stick to a $50 party budget too!

If you are planning for mostly adults, they are probably going to eat more food than a group of toddlers.

Or group full of teenages might require a little more entertainment options than a table full of board games from the closet.

See what I mean? There is always going to be a challenge but you can do it! Use these party planning tips to help you throw an amazing party on just a $50 budget!


13 Tips for DIY Party Planning on a Budget


1. DIY food bars

Let’s start by talking about food. When I recently posted about sticking to a $50 party budget on my Instagram page, there were dozens of comments that stated they were sure that the $50 did not include the food.  

WRONG! My $50 party budget DOES include food! Some parties I just do a dessert bar and others a will feed our guests an entire meal.

The best way I have found to accomplish feeding an entire meal is to serve a food bar. Examples would be a baked or mashed potato bar, salad bar, soup bar, taco bar, sandwich bar, pasta bar, or build your own pizza bar.

These types of foods are a fun way to serve food at a party, everyone can create what they want, and it’s cheap!

As with most of my meal planning tips, plan your party food around what you already have on hand at home or can affordably buy (within budget) at the grocery store.

Making it all from scratch is not as hard as it sounds and will save you a ton of money versus buying pre-made food from the deli or a restaurant. 

2. Plan meals with little or no meat required

One last thing with planning food to stick with your DIY party planning on a budget is to plan food that does not use meat as the main attraction of the meal.

Meat can be the most expensive ingredient to a meal, so trying to stay away from party menus that focus on this costly contribution will help you save a ton of money on your party!

A drastic example would be that you obviously are not going to be serving each guest a juicy steak on your $50 budget.  Or even stay away from focusing on something like grilled chicken. Use meal ideas like the ones I shared earlier that use meat as the side attraction to the meal.

3. Potlucks

Now I don’t recommend doing potlucks for celebrations for events like birthdays or anniversaries. The reason is that those parties are going to be focused on one or two people and intentionally asking people to bring food kinda feels like…

“Hey! It’s my birthday! Come celebrate me and bring me food!”

The exception would be if someone offers to bring something but we will talk about that in a sec.

For all other celebrations like 4th of July, a weekend bbq, Father’s Day, Christmas, group movie night, you can really have a party for any reason, parties like these are a great opportunity to save money by doing your party potluck style!

On your invitation make it clear that it is a potluck “So bring your favorite ______ dish”. Be specific what types of dishes you would like your guests to contribute.

Maybe you as the host take care of the main course and ask your friends to bring their favorite side dish, their favorite dessert, or their favorite dip. That kind of thing.

Being specific will help you know what you need to supply and work into your party budget.

4. Accept others offers to help or bring food

This one took me a long time to accept myself. If someone offers so help or bring food, let them! Not only is this going to help make room in your party budget but it also allows your friends and family an opportunity to serve.

Serving is a Christlike attribute that we can all work towards. Just as important as serving others we need to let other serve us as well.

Make sure that you do the same when you go to other parties! Always offer to bring food or help in some way!

5. DIY the cake or cupcakes

If you buy your cake and cupcakes from the store, your goal of a DIY party planning on a budget could go get smashed!

Buying a cake or cupcakes from the store will easily cost you starting between $20 and $50! But if you make the cake from scratch (it’s not hard! With the help of Pinterest you can do it!) or with a $1 cake mix, you can slash that cost easily below $5!

That can be over a 75% savings! I am going to call you crazy if you don’t make your cakes at home next time! Think of all the other fun things you could do for you party with the money you save here!

Use this free printable party planner checklist to help you throw an amazing party on a budget! Don’t let your party budget stop you from throwing an unforgettable party! These DIY party tips and tricks are going to help you when planning a party on a budget!

6. Party Favors

To help cut costs on party supplies I like to use take home treats as our party favors. When kids see a bag with a super fun treat in it, they get WAY more excited than a bag filled with knick knacks that are going to end up in the trash in less that 24 hours.

A fun sugar cookie made at home ahead of time is always a crowd pleaser. It’s perfect because you can always decorate the cookies to go along with your party theme.

Something that I did recently that I shared on my Instagram was that my now 3 year old wanted an ice cream party. So for the favors I bought a box of ice cream cones for $1 and two bags of cotton candy from the dollar store, plus the bags from the dollar store. Which brought my grand total for party favors to $3 for 12 gifts!

I balled up some of the cotton candy, stuck it on top of the cones to look like ice cream, and then put them in the bags. Super easy and super cheap!

7. Watch out for the Dollar Store

Speaking of the dollar store, be careful! You can walk through the store filling your cart and just as quickly as your cart is filled your total at check out will grow too!

So go into the dollar store with a plan! BEFORE you go in, have on your list all the items you plan to buy and how many of each item.

Also, when searching for packages make sure to find ones that have multiple items per package!

8. Use a party budget planner

Any time you are planning a party you need a shopping list. To make sure that you are sticking to your $50 budget, you will need an estimated cost to go along with every item on that shopping list.

To make this process go a lot smoother, I created this simple Party on a Budget Planner to help you make sure you don’t forget anything BUT ALSO to help you stick to your budget!

Fill out the information below to join our weekly Pearl Email Newsletter to get your FREE Party on a Budget Planner!

9. Use what you have at home first

As you are brainstorming ideas for your party, plan the activities, food, decor, all of it around what you already have on hand! Using up what you have at home is going to help you save a ton on money on your party planning!

Even using decorations you already have in your house and using them in a unique way in your party location, can be a fun way to use what you already have at home to save money on your party!

10. Hold the party outside

If the weather allows, throwing a party outside is going to help you save a lot of money on party decorations! It doesn’t even have to be a magical location. Your backyard will probably work great!

Put up a few leftover twinkle Christmas lights in the trees or around the porch and count your party decorations as done! 

11. Choose one splurge

When doing DIY party planning on a budget a “splurge” is going to look more like a $10 or $15 purchase. But with that “splurge” you can choose one supply for your party to kinda let loose with.

Maybe fresh flowers, a cute banner off Etsy, a tasty treat, whatever makes you feel happy! One tip though is to, if possible, use your splurge money on something that can be reused for other parties in the future.

12. Activities and games

Pinterest is going to be your best friend. No matter the age of your guest, looking up DIY games, crafts, or activities that go along with your theme is going to help you save money on your party!

For our little kids we like to do crafts or science experiment (think DIY slime) type activities.

Teens might like a DIY ninja warrior obstacle course, a selfie photo booth, or a DIY dance floor.

Adults are a lot easier to please! Put out some food, get a good Pandora station on, put out some games, and you are set. But if you have a more active party in mind, look on Pinterest for “group date night ideas” and those work great for parties!

Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest while you are there! I am always pinning DIY party ideas on a budget.

13. Invitations

You should never feel the need to pay money for your party invites. At least the design end of it! Use the free templates at Canva.com and customize them to fit your party theme.

The best way to DIY your party invites is to find a free template that you like, and then change the colors to match your theme. Super simple!

Then you can simply email or text out the invites. Or print them at home on cardstock or print them as photos (I usually print at Costco) for a cheap option if you want a physical copy to hand out. Make sure to print as “lustre” to make them look more like an invite rather than a photo!

How do You Save Money When Doing a DIY Party?

I know my Pearls out here have some great ideas on ways to save money on a party! Let’s chat about it down in the comments!

Thanks so much for stopping in and I’ll talk to you soon! xoxo


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