Tag Archives: budget

Birthday Party On A Budget


My baby boy just turned two, we had a Choo Choo Train themed party for him with our family & friends. I had gone a little overboard on the first birthday party so I put myself on a budget for this party. His first birthday was a cowboy themed party complete with western scenes that I painted with cutouts for the kids to put their faces in for pictures, a huge spread of food, a custom ordered cake and about $100 worth of decorations. This year I put myself on a $100 budget to host a Choo Choo Train themed party for about the same amount of people. I had the theme in mind already since Cade loves choo choo’s and we have toy trains that I could use to decorate with. The colors I took from the toy train colors and I really lucked out finding a lot of items on clearance which helped me stick to my budget. Here are some pictures and how I was able to plan a party for about 35 people with a $100 budget.

First I shopped around, I lucked out and found all the plates, cups and napkins at Target on clearance. This all totaled in at $8.00. Yellow plastic cups and white plates with red, orange, green and blue accents matched the theme perfectly. I had plenty of plastic utensils leftover from various parties and I put the red & orange napkins and the utensils in a blue utensil holder that I already had.


I got the Happy Birthday banner from Dollar Tree for $1.00, the colors matched the theme perfectly! I wanted everything to be colorful!


I made the cupcake cake and all of the food. 50 cupcakes cost me $4.50 to make. I got cake mix on sale for $1.00 a box, I used 3 boxes. My secret ingredient to making super moist cake & cookies is to add a box of pudding mix. 3 boxes of pudding mix cost me $0.50 each. I made homemade buttercream icing. I had all of the ingredients for this already, as well as eggs and oil for the cake mix. I shaped the cupcakes into a 2 and iced the whole thing in green to look like grass, then I made chocolate buttercream and drew train tracks over the 2 and put a toy train on top for decoration. The cupcakes that didn’t fit were iced and put on a side table.


I did all cold foods so I didn’t have to turn my oven on and I could make everything ahead of time. I buy all of my produce from Aldi’s. They have the best tasting produce, and it’s much cheaper than a large grocery store. I made fruit & veggie “trains” with toy trains and color coordinated plastic containers I got at Dollar tree for $2.00. I made dollar roll sandwiches, pasta salad and chips and dip. Simple things that everyone likes. The food was the most important part, I had a lot of people to feed. The food came in at $65.00 including the drinks. We always have bottled water so I had to buy soda, tea and juice boxes for the kids. I had coupons for almost everything I didn’t buy at Aldi’s and my local grocery store had select soda on sale for $1.00 a piece. All of the  serving containers were things I already had, and luckily the colors matched!


I didn’t buy many decorations, so I made some with things I already had. I used a chalkboard to create a train ticket. I used a wreath I already had and wrapped it in burlap and ribbon and bought a train and an arrow at the craft store for $0.60 a piece and glued them to the wreath, this hung on the front door. I decorated around the house with toy trains and I did buy some brightly colored balloons for $16.00 (small splurge). I didn’t want to over decorate, but I think the theme was evident. It was raining so I wasn’t able to decorate outside like I had planned, but I would suggest using suitcases to decorate with by the front door and use tape to make a train track leading up to your front door. Also a home-made railroad crossing sign would be cute too.

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The favors were a Thomas The Train coloring sheet that I personalized with “Choo Choo Cade is Two”. I printed one for free online and added the personalization and made copies of the coloring sheet. I bought a pack of 8 small crayons for $2.00. I rolled the coloring sheet and attached the crayons with ribbon.

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The birthday boy had lots of fun at his party and really enjoyed everyone singing happy birthday to him. My grand total was $99.70, just under budget! I was very happy with how everything turned out and even more happy that I stuck to my budget. It took a little more planning and a lot more work, but I saved a lot of money and got the exact result I was looking for. Cade had a memorable 2nd birthday party and it didn’t break the bank! My sister made Cade his conductor hat and the overalls were a birthday gift. They said “Engineers Crew” and worked perfect! He looked adorable!


Here’s the buttercream icing recipe I used….

  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
  • 3 tbls milk

Cream together the shortening & butter, add vanilla, gradually add the sugar. Icing will appear dry, add milk one tablespoon at a time until light and fluffy. Makes about 3 cups. Add 3/4 cup of cocoa to make chocolate buttercream.