How to Throw a Great Birthday Party (Without Spending a Fortune)

If you’re like me, birthdays are a big deal. You want to throw a great party without spending a fortune. How can you pull off a great party without spending a lot?
I’m saying good-bye to my 20s and hello to my 30s (gulp). I recently had my 30th birthday party.

Here are four tips on how to throw a great birthday party (without spending a fortune).

1. Secure the Venue (AKA your Apartment or house) and Save the Date        
I’ve found that as a young adult, if you want to have a birthday party, you are the one that has gotta get the ball rolling. Although our generation tends to be keen on last-minute plans, I’ve found that if you want to have a good turnout it is best to give 3-4 weeks advance notice for people to save the date.

I’m a fan of creating a Facebook event and throwing a house/apartment party. There is no minimum food/drink requirement and you know that you can play music or do whatever you want to.

I also recommend doing a pre-invite to your birthday party. Instead of going straight to sending Facebook or Evites out and getting crickets (no responses) pre-ask in person a handful of your friends that you see regularly to make sure a core group of your friends are available for the party.

2. Decorate with a Photo Booth or PYO (Print Your Own) Birthday Banners

A great decoration is to get wrapping paper that has a cool pattern and tape it on the wall. Then bam, you have a photo-booth back drop. This is great for when you throw any sort of house party.

This year for my birthday party I did PYO (Print Your Own) birthday banners.

You can make your own banners by using Microsoft Paint or any other photo editing tool. All you have to do is upload a picture and then add text. I printed my banners from Staples– they have what is called Engineering Prints. These are basically large scaled paper printing originally meant for designers and architects. I printed my banners (the picture above here and below) on 18” X 24” and it is only $1.99 per sheet when printed black and white.

3. Have a Specialty Drink

Instead of buying a ton of different drink options for your party like beer, wine, and liquor (which can get expensive fast), try having just one specialty drink. Pick out a unique drink that you like and you think would be a crowd pleaser. As you greet your guest, welcome and offer them your specialty drink. This year my specialty drink was unbelievably simple: Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka with Sprite. Pretty much everyone who tried it, loved it!

Try It: Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka with Sprite

Throw a Great Birthday Party Without Spending a Fortune


  • 1.5 ounces vodka (one shot)
  • A few ice cubes
  • 5 ounces of Sprite (or just fill the remaining cup)


Pour ingredients together in cup and serve. No shaker needed.

4. Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

For your birthday party you’ve gotta have some sort of cake, so I highly recommend this one. This is a classic Texas Sheet Cake that is SOO good. If it isn’t your birthday anytime, but you are celebrating your friend’s birthday in the near future then try this recipe! It is my go-to made from scratch cake that is yummy (especially if you’re a chocoholic like me).

Try It: Texas Sheet Cake
Throw a Great Birthday Party Without Spending a Fortune
Don’t let the Plain Jane look of this cake deceive you; it’s delish. This makes a great birthday cake.
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 cup flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream (shocker I know, but trust me this is the secret ingredient that makes the cake)


  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 tablespoons of cocoa
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 1 box powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Bring to boil the butter, water, and 4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa. Remove from heat and mix together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Then beat in 2 eggs and sour cream.

Pour batter into a large greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

While the cake is baking, start working on the icing. You’ll want to spread the icing on the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Bring to boil 1 stick of butter, 4 tablespoons of cocoa, and milk. Remove from heat then add 1 box of powdered sugar and vanilla.

Who knew, it is possible to be fiscally responsible and enjoy your birthday or birth (month)! Remember the celebration is about spending time with friends and having fun, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune to throw a great birthday party.

If you’re looking for easy recipes for the everyday, make sure to check out these easy meals for birthdays and get togethers.

Love Carly

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