Throwing a Birthday Party on a Student Budget

March 22, 2019

Most people remember childhood birthday parties with fondness. Hanging out with your friends until your friend’s mom told you all to go to bed, pizza and cake and ice cream, fun party favors, and games- tons of great memories come along with a party. But how you can you throw a fun, enjoyable party for yourself or one of your friends in college?


Just because you’re tight on cash doesn’t mean you can’t host a great birthday party. Here are some ways you can make your money stretch a little further and enjoy your friend’s or your own special day!


Photo: Jason Leung on Unsplash 


  • Dress up your cake mix. That store-bought birthday cake mix doesn’t have to taste store-bought. Replacing water with milk, or adding butter or eggs will guarantee your friends won’t be able to taste the difference between mix and homemade.

  • Mix up the venue. Instead of worrying about making your dorm or apartment look presentable, try hosting the party at a park, a spot on campus, or a place that offers student discounts! And speaking of student discounts...

  • Get some use out of your student ID. Lots of businesses around your college will offer student discounts- grocery stores, restaurants, maybe even dollar stores or craft stores. If you’re not a student, grab a friend who is and save on those party supplies.

  • Clip coupons. This is a good idea for saving money in general, not just for parties. You can use online coupon hunting websites like RetailMeNot and Groupon, or search the local newspaper for great deals.

  • Drive together. Carpooling to the party spot or while buying supplies will help gas costs, especially if everyone can pitch in. Plus, it’s more fun to drive to the party together than alone!

  • Stretch out your planning. Buy supplies for your party months in advance. That way you can take advantage of sales as they happen, scour bargain bins, and not worry about time constraints on your savvy shopping.

  • Avoid party stores. Party City and other chains offer cute favors and costumes, but they also overcharge. Instead, check your local dollar store for cheaper supplies.

  • We’re all in this together. Instead of putting the burden of food prep all on one person’s shoulders, why not set up a potluck? Everyone can pitch in for dishes and drinks or providing plates and cutlery, and the costs will be significantly reduced for everyone involved.

  • Give some memorable party favors. Instead of splurging on disposable items, opt for a photo booth! Grab a camera and tripod or have people take selfies with their phones, and provide props and fun hats for your guests to dress up in. Perfect for Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter- and totally free!


By shopping smart, planning ahead and being okay with asking your friends for some help, it’s definitely possible to pull together a terrific birthday party and not break the bank. All you’ll have to think about is having fun with your friends and enjoying the moment!


Lilia Taylor is 21 years old, studying English and Marketing at New Mexico State University. She hopes to have a job involving books someday, loves the smell of coffee (not so much the taste) and tries to get outside whenever she can.


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