How To Throw A 50th Birthday Party on a Small Budget

by Dagmar Bleasdale on November 12, 2012

50th birthday party on small budgetHow To Throw A BIG 50th Birthday Party on a Small Budget

{or really any birthday party}

On Sunday we celebrated my husband’s 50th birthday. I was determined to make this a special day for him, even though he wasn’t in a mood for a party and we are on a budget.

And I’m thrilled that I pulled off a nice party with our immediate family, and that Don really enjoyed the party in the end.

How was I able to throw a classy party for 25 people in a beautiful venue for only $500? Smart budgeting and some good luck!

Here are 3 tips for creating a big birthday party for less:

1. Barter and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I had my eye on The Lodge at a local farm, which is a pretty venue with a lovely main room, but I couldn’t swing the rental fee plus the costs of food, etc. So luckily I mentioned the upcoming party to the owner and she let me have the Lodge for free, in exchange for social media consulting. It was a win/win for the both of us.

I asked one of my sister-in-laws to make a cake (she also brought her iPod for free music), the other for appetizers, Grandma to bring her pretty silverware, and my third sister-in law to pick up the catered food.

My girlfriend Heather, a talented florist, made a beautiful floral arrangement as her gift to Don.

2. Order affordable, catered food and pick it up yourself.

We do a lot of potluck for family events, everyone usually makes a point to chip in, but for this event I didn’t want anyone to have to cook or do much. I wanted to offer catered food, and it had to be affordable and yummy.

The first place that came to mind was Panera Bread. Don, Landon and I love their food. Sure, I would’ve loved to offer a three-course meal with a warm entree, but that just wasn’t in the budget.

So I ordered 20 sandwiches — which came with potato chips, baguette, and pickles — plus mac and cheese, and coffee and tea.

My sister-in-law usually makes the birthday cakes for everyone, and she was happy to make Don’s favorite: carrot cake.

And I bought several other cakes, salad, cheese, bottled water, lemonade, milk, and juice from Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joe's haul

3. Decorate the venue yourself, and with things you already own.

I had a huge room to work with and had to somehow make it feel comfortable and inviting for 25 people.

Thankfully The Lodge room comes with folding tables, nice chairs, and three little sofas, but that’s it. I had to bring in everything else.

The Lodge at Tilly Foster Farm Museum in BrewsterThe Lodge at Tilly Foster Farm Museum in BrewsterRenting the linens I needed would have cost $100, so I decided to buy five table linens at Kohl’s instead. And I also bought six simple throw pillows at Target for the three sofas.

At the party decorating store, I opted for the simple balloons for $1 instead of the ones that cost up to $10 each. I bought golden paper plates, and we used Grandma’s real silverware. That made for a much easier cleanup, yet it looked classy thanks to the silverware.

And for the rest I used what we already owned: pumpkins, silver tea kettles and cups, flameless candles, candles and candle holders, and two small suitcases that I made into a “coffee table.”

Since two babies were going to be at the party, I even brought toys L had outgrown so they’d have something to play with, and after the party I let them take them home.

And I had my own little bartender who was thrilled to help out:

This is what the room looked like in the end:

DIY table fall decoations for birthday partyWhat I ended up paying:

Panera Bread (sandwiches, baguette, mac and cheese, coffee/tea): $270

Trader Joe’s food (water, juice, cakes, cookies): $50

Party decor store (plates, cups, party decor, candles, balloons): $50

Kohl’s (5 table linens, I used 30% off coupon): $50

Target: ice bucket, ice, and 6 pillows: $80

My total to host a 50th birthday party for 25 guests: $500

It took a lot of time to organize everything and then to decorate the room, but it was so worth it.

Landon helped me unload the car and we put up the tables together one day, and we made the run to Trader Joe’s, Kohl’s, Target, and Party City together.

On the day of the party, I did the rest of the decorating with his help. We finished just in time, I threw on my dress, and we all had a wonderful evening celebrating Don’s big day.

When it took seven people 45 minutes to take down the decoration and pack up, Don got a sense of how much work had gone into making this party happen, but it was a labor of love for me and I’m kind of proud that I did all the decorating by myself.

I’ve made throwing your own DIY party on a budget super easy: check out these amazing deals!

Do you have tips for planning a 50th birthday party on a budget? How much would it have cost you to plan a party for 25 guests?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

donna November 8, 2014 at 12:49 AM

I would like to rent a place where i can bring my own food and dj


VICTORIA August 31, 2014 at 7:05 PM

this is great and spectacular.
thank you for the tips.
i love it


Rebecca November 22, 2012 at 7:14 AM

Dagmar, I read this with particular interest as my husband’s 50th birthday is coming up in January. Thanks for all your great tips. Great post and thank you so much for sharing it with us at Seasonal Celebration Sunday! Happy Thanksgiving! Rebecca x


Dagmar Bleasdale November 22, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Hi Rebecca, I’m glad you liked my post! I’m planning to post one more about how I decorated that big room on a dime.


Azara November 16, 2012 at 2:57 PM

Very nice! I did a post once about the fiasco I caused shopping for my daughter’s first birthday party. My face gets red just thinking about it. Let’s leave it at…no, I cannot plan a nice party for 25 people for $500. So I’m impressed that you pulled it off.


nadia @ mamemima November 14, 2012 at 2:06 PM

Looks great and sounds like you had a lot of fun. I love organizing and designing parties. I always try to do everything myself. Which not always ends up being budget-friendly! ;) For my son’s 1st birthday party, I designed all the paper things (invitations, signs, toppers, banners) and did all the decor with the help of my mom and sister, who also baked all the cupcakes and cake. It was truly a labor of love. You just remind me I have to do a post about his party. I never did!


Dagmar Bleasdale November 18, 2012 at 10:06 PM

Labor of love-work never feels like work, right? Let me know when you writer that post – I’d like to read it.


Kathy Morelli, LPC (@KathyAMorelli) November 13, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Happy Birthday, Don! Looks like fun! I think he is about the same age as my husband was when my son was around 7…! We celebrated Bill’s 60th last year and we had a gr8 time!


Rosey November 12, 2012 at 10:30 AM

That’s awesome (the decorating looks great and the pillows are just the right touch!). Glad your hubby had a nice 50th and I bet he’s happy to have such a thoughtful wife. :)


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