A Simple and Frugal Toddler Birthday Celebration

Post by Contributing Writer, Beth

When raising kids in our internet-centric culture, the pressure to host a Pinterest-worthy birthday party celebration for your kids each year can be overwhelming. There are some seriously elaborate and finely detailed themes out there, beautifully photographed and blogged about to inspire mamas like myself. The creative ideas are endless if you are in search of the perfect theme for your little one’s special day.

Nonetheless, a few weeks ago when my daughter turned two, I found myself questioning whether I really wanted to make an elaborately-themed party (and all of the time and money it would cost) a priority for our family, especially as we had just welcomed our third child into the family just 3 weeks prior.

I really didn’t want to just do nothing, however, so we decided to do something simple and frugal that also happened to be super-exciting for the birthday girl. We sent out an e-vite and invited four other families to meet us at the playground across the street from our house, and brought cupcakes, ice cream, and lemonade.

When we told Aliza that we were going to have “ice cream AT the playground!!” she was beside herself with excitement. Two of her most favorite things in the entire world at the same time? Perfect!

We spread out a blanket under a tree, watched the kids play for a bit, then served cupcakes and ice cream in disposable bowls (my environmentally-friendly conscience was nearly scarred forever, but I figure with a 3-week-old baby, sometimes you just have to let go of ideals).

Clean up was a breeze – we threw the blanket in the wash when we got home, and washed a plate and some spoons. It was laid back, simple, and most of all – incredibly fun for the birthday girl.

It was perfect for the wide age-range of kids that we had, simple enough that we could (mostly) just sit and enjoy our daughter’s special day, and frugal too!

It can be incredibly difficult to not feel like you need to always live a life straight from the Pinterest-boards, but rest assured – no mama can possibly do it all. If one pulls off a gorgeous and elaborate birthday party, then inevitably she is not doing something else that you’re great at, and vice versa. There’s nothing at all wrong with fancy birthday parties – but the pressure and stress of feeling like you must have one for each and every birthday occasion is quite unnecessary.

When planning your next birthday celebration, consider what you really want, and how you might make it simple and frugal. Perhaps cupcakes and ice cream at the park is all you need to do to delight your little one too.

What are your favorite frugal and simple ways to celebrate a toddler’s birthday? Share in the comments below!

Beth is a natural redhead, wife to a pilot husband and mama to (almost) 3 little ones. She is passionate about missions, motherhood, and finding the beauty in everyday life. She blogs from the Canadian prairies about the art and soul of audacious homemaking at Red & Honey.

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3 comments to A Simple and Frugal Toddler Birthday Celebration

  • sarah ner

    with my son’s 5th birthday quickly approaching. We have decided to have a ball hockey game at the church (as long as it gets ok’d and we don’t forsee that as being a problem).
    with that said we’ll serve homemade cupcakes or do a small hockey rink cake and serve water.

    It’s fun, simple and easy.

    We also do a family gathering where we serve hotdogs and ask a couple of people to bring salads. This year it is going to be so busy around his birthday that I think we might just do cake and ice cream with family and a couple of neighbors! I like to keep it simple!


  • We had a smaller party this year, with just 3 kids as guests. But we realized that our daughter is a lot happier just having one friend over at a time. So next year, we’ll just have a family party, some palaydates, and some dinners with grandparents. B-day parties are usually just for the parents, so it’s nice to have the pressure taken off!


  • We have “big”(ish) parties at age 8, 13, and 16; all the rest are “family” parties. We invite all the nearby relatives, plus one special friend (and often their family); we cook whatever the birthday child loves and wants and we make a cake. We’ve had MANY spaghetti dinners, but also a sushi one, a shepherd’s pie one, one with all kinds of foods “wrapped” (eggrolls, enchiladas, etc.)

    My mama used to make us “cut-out” cakes from books by Baker Coconut, so quite often we use those patterns. The focus is on family – not having the most fantastic party. Our kids always have fun because the celebration exceeds their expectations. I think they actually like the family birthdays better than the party ones!


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