How to Throw a Fall Themed First Birthday Party on a Budget
Hi friends and welcome back to another blog post. Today I’m sharing how to throw baby’s first birthday party on a budget. There are many tips and tricks to keep things affordable without skimping on the beauty and fun of the day. By the end of this post, you’ll be able to throw your little one a fun first birthday bash that won’t break the bank.
Rather watch instead of read? Here ya go!
The Theme: “Our Little Pumpkin is Turning One”
I have to be honest with you. A pumpkin theme is not what first came to mind when dreaming up ideas for my baby’s first birthday. I don’t love orange and I don’t love fall as much as some. However, I wanted to keep this party budget-friendly. I knew if I went with a theme that has decor items readily available in affordable stores like The Dollar Tree and Walmart, I’d already be ahead of the game.
So, I chose the theme “Our Little Pumpkin is Turning One” and was able to snag tons of cheap items for this theme. Fall and pumpkin theme decor items were available everywhere I went. I hit up super budget-friendly stores like The Dollar Tree and Walmart.
This is my first and possibly most helpful tip when throwing baby’s first birthday party on a budget – pick a theme that you can pull off without spending hundreds of dollars! Do a little research for the decor you’d use for the theme you’re leaning towards and see if you can easily DIY items or find them for cheap at stores.
How to Save Money on Decorations for Baby’s First Birthday
Your first step for decorating your baby’s first birthday party on a budget is picking a theme and color scheme. For our color scheme, I chose orange, navy blue, baby blue, gold, silver, and white. I chose these colors based on what I thought were good “fall harvest party colors”. They also were the colors used in the balloon garland I created for the party.
Once I had the color scheme, I kept my decor within those colors to keep everything flowing nicely. It doesn’t matter how cheap or DIYd the decor is, if it’s displayed thoughtfully and stays within the color scheme, it will look beautiful! Below, I’ll share the decor I used in our home to decorate for baby’s first birthday party. I’ll also share the price of each item to give you an idea of the cost of decor.
Poor Quality Photos – High Quality Post
Unfortunately, because I was so caught up in the party on the day of, I didn’t take many photos. I just have a few random photos from my phone. However, I did film footage for a YouTube video I created on how to throw a baby’s first birthday party on a budget, so check out that video here if you’d like to see everything I talk about in this post.
(horrible quality photo taken at night on my phone, sorry! didn’t plan on sharing these in a blog post)
What I Used to Decorate My Baby’s First Birthday Party:
-pumpkins lining railing on the deck (purchased at Trader Joe’s for $1.99 each – will use for fall/Thanksgiving decor as well)
-pumpkins on our front porch (purchased at a local pumpkin patch – will use for fall/Thanksgiving decor as well)
-DIY tassel banner in color theme on baby’s high chair (purchased tissue paper for under $1.00 per pack, the “1” balloon at the dollar store for $1.00, and the string for $1.00 from the dollar store)
-DIY balloon garland in color theme (purchased the balloons and garland tape at Walmart for $0.99 per pack of balloons and $2.99 for the balloon garland tape. No air pump – I blew up the balloons by mouth and it truly wasn’t too bad!)
-silver happy birthday banner on wall behind dinner table (already had it from past birthdays)
-jute twine banner with pumpkin clips holding his month growth progress pictures that say “1 month, 2 months, 3 months”, etc(pumpkin clips and string from the dollar tree, already had the paint in my art box)
-vase of fall florals (purchased at my local grocery store from the clearance flowers section for $3.99 – they lasted well over a week before drooping!)
-pumpkin and leave themed centerpiece on the dinner table (purchased the pumpkin and leaves from the dollar store, purchased the candy corn at the grocery store and put it into measuring dishes I already owned)
-chalkboard signs to label food and activities (purchased these at the dollar store for $1.00 each)
-“ONE” wooden letters I painted in the color scheme (purchased for $1.00 each at Walmart and painted with paint I already had)
-orange streamers (such an easy way to add pops of color and party fun without spending hardly anything! I spent 25 cents at the thrift store for a roll of orange streamers!)
What We Used For a Fun Party Atmosphere for Babe’s First Birthday
I wanted to have a few things for the party that gave our home that fun “party atmosphere” that you love to walk into when arriving at a party. Since this was a first birthday party bash and not a sweet 16, we kept it pretty simple but these things still delivered a fun party atmosphere for the guests.
-A Bubble Machine
Little man is obsessed with bubbles right now so we bought this bubble machine at Walmart for $2.99 and used it at his party. The best part is we use it all the time in his playroom now so it was a purchase well-used!
-Pop Country Music Playing in the Background
Background music at any party is an easy and free way to keep the party atmosphere upbeat. We found a free country pop playlist on YouTube and had it playing as background music.
-1 Second Everyday (1SE) Video Playing on the TV
I decided to create a “1 second everyday” video for babe when he was still a newborn. Every single day for the first year of his life I filmed a 1 second video and saved it in the 1SE app on my phone. On his first birthday, I downloaded the entire video from the day he was born until the day of his first birthday to compile a 365 second video showcasing each day of his life of his entire first year. Talk about a special memory keepsake to look back on over the years! I figured the guests might also enjoy watching the video and watching baby grow up over the course of his first year, so I had the video playing on the tv at his party.
Fall Themed First Birthday Party Activities
In addition to the decor, food, and music, you’ll want to have fun activities for your guests to enjoy at your baby’s first birthday party. These can be super simple or you can put a little more effort in each of the activities, but no matter how you do it it’s totally possible to keep activities budget-friendly at your party. Here’s what we did and how much we spent for each activity:
It wasn’t raining on the fall day that we hosted our babe’s first birthday party, so we had corn hole outside in our yard for the guests to enjoy. It was a hit! I highly suggest having yard games at your party if the weather permits for 2 reasons. One, it gives your guests something to do. And two, it opens up more space for the guests to move about.
Our home isn’t huge, but opening up our back deck and backyard for guests to mingle sitting in our deck chairs, roast s’mores around the portable fire pit, and play yard games gave twice the amount of space for guests to move about at the party and have fun. We borrowed the corn hole game from a close friend who gladly lent it to us, so the cost was free! To keep the yard games budget friendly, ask friends/family first if anyone has yard games you could borrow. If not, check secondhand websites like Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp.
Bulletin Board and Instamax Polaroid Camera
I’ve had an instamax camera since college and love taking pictures with it, but I never use it enough! After storing 3 packages of instamax polaroid film in a drawers for years, I decided it was time to use it! And what better opportunity than babe’s first birthday party?! I set up a little photo station and hung a bulletin board for guests to hang their polaroid for guests to take their picture with baby and hang in on the bulletin board once it developed. This was such a fun activity and it added to the decor of the party.
Also, I now have sweet little pictures hanging in babe’s playroom to commemorate his first birthday party and the people who love him! If you don’t have a polaroid camera, no worries! Just set up an easy photo booth using a sheet or plain wall as a background and print some free Photo Booth props for people to hold. Then, just snap pictures with an iPhone and print them after the party and/or send the photos to guests on their phone as a keepsake or party favor from the party. The cost for this fun DIY photo booth is FREE! –
Roasting S’mores at the Fire Pit
We were gifted a propane portable fire pit as a house warming gift from my parents when we bought our first home. We love it and use it often, so of course we fired it up for the party and had it under the covered area of our deck with a tray of graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows for guests to enjoy some heat from the fire and a delicious treat while mingling with one another. Because we already had the fire pit, all we paid for was the s’more ingredients.
Every first birthday party has some sort of fun celebration where the baby digs into their dessert, most likely tasting a rich dessert for the first time. Cake smashes are very popular, but for our babe we did a cupcake! He picked the whole thing up and snarfed it down in minutes. It was a hoot 🙂 The cake smash or cupcake smash is a fun time to light a candle, sing happy birthday to the birthday babe, and watch them dig in to their dessert. Then serve cupcakes, cake, or whatever dessert your serving to the rest of your guests to enjoy!
Fall Themed Food for First Birthday Party
I wanted the food served at babe’s first birthday party to have a fun “fall harvest-party” feel to it. What I mean by that is, picture yourself on a cool, crisp fall day at a pumpkin patch or harvest party – what would you want to eat? For me, I’d love to dig into some warm chili, snack on a caramel apple or two, sip on some cider, and indulge in a maple bar. Our food spread was fall harvest party inspired and was enjoyed by all! I also made sure to keep everything on the menu budget-friendly.
-Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
These delicious cupcakes were homemade and so easy to make! First, I used yellow cake mix and added pumpkin pure, pumpkin spice, and other ingredients to make them pumpkin spiced flavor. Then, I piped cream cheese frosting on top and roasted some pecans in caramelized sugar to sprinkle on top. Finally, I topped each cupcake off with sprinkles and added little candy corn pumpkins to half of the cupcakes, realizing that not everyone likes candy corn so they could pick if they’d like one with a pumpkin or not.
Who doesn’t like donuts? Not many people! I purchased delicious Top Pot donuts from my local Fred Meyer. To serve, I cut them into halves and fourths and to display on a serving tray with tongs for people to try different kinds of donuts and choose what they wanted.
I purchased granny smith apples, which are the cheapest kind of apple. Minutes before the party, my husband sliced them up minutes so they wouldn’t turn brown before the guests arrived. You can also add some lemon juice to keep them from browning. I then melted caramel in a fondue pot for some fun dipping. Unfortunately, our fondue pot didn’t have heat settings and it burnt the caramel. Avoid my mistake and either use a fondue pot that you can adjust the heat on or purchase pre-made soft dipping caramel. They usually keep it in the produce section of the grocery store during the fall months.
S’mores are pretty self-explainable right? All ya need are graham crackers, chocolate squares, and marshmallow. Add a fire-pit and some skewers and your guests will know what to do!
This is the recipe I used to make chili in a crockpot for my guests, and I got tons of compliments! It really was delicious and so easy to make. I will definitely be using this recipe in my fall/winter dinner rotation! Bonus: chili is a cheap meal to make that is hearty and serves lots of people easily!
-Spiced Cider on the Stove
I made a simple, delicious spiced apple cider and kept it warm on the stove in a big pot. Next to the pot, I had to-go cups with sleeves and lids. That way, people could serve the cider and take it out on the deck to keep them warm while they played corn hole, mingled, or roasted s’mores by the fire.
-Hard Cider and Amber Ale
Warning: hard cider and beer were by far the biggest expense for the party! So feel free to skip alcohol at your party if it doesn’t fit in your budget. Cider, soda (or pop as we Washingtonians call it), water, and sparkling flavored water or juice would’ve been great without the alcohol.
-Chips and Dip
You can’t have a party without some good chips and dip. Pick 2 kinds of chips and 2 kinds of dip and you’re good to go!
-Flat Pretzels and Hummus
And for my healthier friends and myself, I also served flat dipping pretzels and hummus. Delicious, and a bit healthier for those who desire it.
What first birthday party festivities will you have?!
There you have it friends. That’s everything we did for baby’s first birthday party to keep it fun, beautiful, AND budget-friendly. Everyone had a great time (at least they looked like they did!) and I had a blast putting the party together. What first birthday party themes do you like? What will you absolutely have at your baby’s first birthday party? Let me know in the comments below! Happy party planning!
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