25 Budget-Friendly First Birthday Party Ideas

Check out these budget-friendly birthday party ideas for a 1-year-old that are guaranteed to make your bash memorable.

Celebrating first birthday party with child

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First birthdays are a big milestone, and come with a traditional party for friends and family alike (did someone say cake-smashing?) But your 1-year-old's birthday party doesn't need to be an expensive affair. We put our most creative hats on to come up with 25 memorable ways to celebrate your little one's first trip around the sun—without breaking the bank.

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Frame Your Baby's 'Year of Firsts'

Keep your kiddo's first birthday decor super simple and sweet with a framed photo collage of all their firsts. Not only is it an adorable decoration for the party, but it's also a beautiful keepsake you'll always cherish.

02 of 25

Crepe Paper Everything

Want to keep the budget to a minimum for your child's first birthday and still have a stylish bash? No problem! You can make all the decor out of crepe paper (no, really). You can make napkin rings, lanterns, party favors—you name it!—with cheap paper streamers.

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Get Your Snack On

Chances are, there will be a few toddlers at the party in addition to the guest of honor. Cater to their culinary needs by displaying Cheerios, Goldfish, and other "pick-ups" in cute treat cups. It's inexpensive and looks nice and polished.

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Make Treats Part of the Decor

Few things are cuter than mini donuts (besides, of course, the birthday kid), so why not make them part of the decor? Slip a few mini donuts (or cookies that look like donuts) around a straw and glass of milk, and you've got some adorable party treats that double as decorations.

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Do the Monster Mash

If you want to get theme-y, a monster bash is a fun way to go. Create budget-friendly monsters like utensil holders that are really just empty tissue boxes. Clever!

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Have a Milk and Cookies Party

Whether you're turning 1 or 100, it's impossible to resist the tried-and-true milk and cookies combo. And a bonus? Neither will break the bank, making for a super affordable party theme.

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Make a No-Sew High-Chair Tutu

Up your smash cake photo op with a no-sew tutu for your baby's highchair. The little ballerina in your life will look even cuter (if that's possible) sitting behind a big tuft of tulle.

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Have a Ball

No baby or toddler will be able to resist some good, clean ball pit fun. Simply add colorful balls to a blow-up kiddie pool, and you've got hours of (cheap) entertainment on your hands.

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Create a Balloon Arch

Balloons are a bright, colorful, fun way to add some pizazz to a birthday party. With a couple of dollars and a little bit of time, you can blow up enough balloons to create a beautiful archway that can double as a photo opportunity for your guest of honor.

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Party at a Park

Some public parks have BBQ grills, picnic tables, and other attractions that can make a family gathering outside super fun (and free!). State parks are also a great option and typically cost very little to enter.

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Wave Bubble Wands

It's no secret that babies love bubbles. Grab a few inexpensive bubble wand kits at the local dollar store and set up a bubble-blowing station outside! Of course, you may need to get a few big kid (or adult) volunteers to help blow the bubbles for your birthday baby.

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Print a Giant Photo Collage

Take a big piece of cardboard and cut out a giant number one. Then attach pictures of your baby's first year until you have a photo collage celebrating their first year of firsts. Bonus: It can double as a fun photo prop for friends and family.

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Stamp Handprint Invites

A super cute way to celebrate your child's first birthday is to use their hand to stamp out handprints for invites and thank you cards. Don't forget to save one as a keepsake!

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Have a Fingerpaint Party

A fingerprint party is a super fun way to keep a group of toddlers and babies happy. Lay down a tarp, some paper, and some cups of food-grade finger paint and let your little Picasso go wild.

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Scream for Ice Cream

Create a little ice cream parlor for your guests by setting up a table with a toppings bar. Be sure to avoid choking hazards like nuts and candies for the youngest guests. Try adding food coloring to ice cream to give it a bright rainbow feel, and don't underestimate the power of whipped cream. Kids will love topping their scoops with a swirl of that dreamy white fluff.

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Make a Rainbow Fruit Display

Try a fruit rainbow if you're looking for the perfect first birthday party food that won't cost you a ton of money. Take a few skewers and add strawberries, mango, pineapple, green grapes, blueberries, and purple grapes and then line them up in an arch shape on a platter. Not only is fruit sweet and nutritious, but the added charm of the design will enchant your guests.

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Have a DIY Beach Party at Home

You don't have to live near a beach to throw a beach party. Create a beach with some sand and beach toys in a small kiddie pool right in your backyard. For added fun, set up a water table, and give your baby (and their friends) some toys like buckets, shovels, and sieves to add to the splashy, beachy fun.

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Get Crafty With a Baby Face Banner

Add some goofy fun to your first birthday party decor by printing black and white pictures of your baby's face. Add some construction paper birthday hats and then attach them to a long piece of string, and you've got a custom-made, first birthday banner!

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Give Party-Goers Fairy Woodland Crowns

Grab an inexpensive pack of headbands and hotglue some ribbons, fabric flowers, and even faux moss to create a whimsical fairy woodland crown for your guests. The crowns can double as a sweet photo prop for family pictures.

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Have a Very Hungry Caterpillar Theme

Set up a food table with color-themed finger foods like a plate of sliced strawberries here and a plate of orange crackers there, and of course, some green cupcakes. Print some colorful Very Hungry Caterpillars and attach to toothpicks for cupcake toppers and you've got yourself an adorable first birthday party!

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Use Animal Cake Toppers

If your baby loves animals, try using plastic animals as cake toppers to create a sweet zoo or barnyard theme. If you have some baking chops, try using food coloring to match the frosting design to your birthday baby's favorite animal, like zebra stripes or a fuzzy brown bear.

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Go With a Sunny Theme

For your baby's first completed trip around the sun, try throwing a sunny theme party. A simple yellow cake with sunshine rays, some yellow balloons, and a heartfelt nod to "you are my sunshine" can make this a sweet and memorable party.

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Get Creative With Rice Krispie Numbers

Grab a number one-shapped cookie cutter and use it to mold some Rice Krispie treats. Once they set, try dipping them in white chocolate (you can add food coloring!), and sprinkling candy confetti to add some glam.

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Have a Storybook Party

Does your baby love a great storybook? Try hosting a storybook-themed party. Gather your birthday baby and their guests and read a fun story out loud. Follow it up with story-themed snacks and activities based on the book you chose.

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Throw a Dance Party

Babies love music, so why not make music a central theme for your baby's first birthday! Create a dance floor, play some kid-friendly tunes, and boogey down, just don't forget to get lots of pictures.

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