Birthday parties are the perfect excuse to have friends over for a night of celebrating and dancing. Whether it’s for yourself or a guest of honour, it can be hard to know where to get started and how to stay organised when you’re in the planning process. From the cake to the decorations, there’s plenty to get stuck into, much of which you can do completely from scratch. However, we all have a budget to stick to and a maximum amount we should be spending when organising such events.

Make your party one to remember by following our tip tops to planning the ultimate birthday party, with a budget in mind.

Set your budget

First things first, set your budget and do it as soon as possible – we’re talking at least a few months in advance. Why? You’re less likely to stray from it if you have time to build up a bigger budget, plus you’ll know exactly what you can afford. Factor in everything from the price of straws to the entertainment to get an accurate total and get busy with setting your plans in stone.

If your money is going to be tied up paying suppliers for your birthday party, it’s a good idea to have a buffer in place, in case of an emergency. Many suppliers will charge you a cancellation fee if you pull out at the last minute, so you might find that doing this to try and pay for an emergency instead doesn’t actually work out.

Your emergency buffer, ideally, would be in the form of savings set aside for such a situation, that you don’t touch, or a 0% interest credit card. If it’s a real emergency and you have no other way of getting the cash you need, look into an emergency lender such as Sunny or use a comparison site to find a way to borrow the money you need. Having these backup plans in place in case of a financial emergency means you won’t be left short if you need to pay deposits or cancellation fees.

Choose a theme

Themed parties work great; it gives guests direction when it comes to their outfit and can help guide your thinking on everything from venue to food to decorations.ensures you don’t go off track too much when planning. Whether you want an event full of glitz and glamour or are a Harry Potter fan and want everyone to get involved, choose your theme and the rest will fall into place easily. If you want your guests to stick to a dress code, make everyone well aware of it before that special date so they have time to do it justice.

Choose your venue

An intimate bash in your living room? A wilder affair in the back garden? Or perhaps a proper ‘hire a hall out and get a DJ in’ do? Where you have your party makes a difference to how many people you can invite and how much work needs to go into planning. Consider where you want your birthday bash to take place – and what it’ll cost – before planning any of the details.

Plan the cake

Let’s face it: the best part of any birthday party is usually the cake. Don’t disappoint your guests with a typical shop-bought, victoria sponge. These days you can buy – or bake – all sorts of cakes with unique designs and tasty fillings for a real wow factor.

First, you’ll need to decide if you’re buying or baking. Many cake suppliers and bakers will have lead times and maybe even waiting lists, so if this is the route you want to go down, you’ll need to plan this in to make sure it arrives on time for your party, and factor it into your budget. If you’re a dab hand with a whisk or trying to keep costs down, though, you might choose to bake the cake yourself instead.

This gives you ultimate flexibility on the flavours and design and whether you fancy a boozy mojito cake or an exotic passionfruit layer cake, you can find a recipe to guide your taste buds online. Olive Magazine has some great suggestions. You’ll still need to plan it in advance, though – give yourself time to have a few trials runs before you present your masterpiece to the party!

Whatever you decide, choose something that encapsulates your or the guest of honour’s personality; try incorporating their hobbies or achievements into the design.

Organise a photobooth

Once you’ve tucked into the cake, you’ll want to mark the occasion with some snaps. Photobooths have been all the rage over the last couple of years but they can be more expensive than hiring a professional photographer for the day – not ideal if you have a strict budget to stick to. The solution? Get creative and create your own DIY photobooth. It may sound complicated, but The Knot has some clever ideas you can use. You can spend some of the money you’ve saved for decorations, plus you’ll have plenty of photos to look back on in the future.

Choose your playlist

The music sets the mood, so select some tunes that match the type of party you’re going for. Whether you create an epic Spotify playlist to go on throughout the night, give guests access to the player or hire a band or DJ to keep everyone entertained, it’s completely up to you.

Focus on the decor

Speaking of decorations, you’ll want to set the tone of the party with them. What will work with your theme?

If you’re on a tight budget, that doesn’t mean you have to forego nice decorations. Think outside the box and rather than chucking a few half-inflated balloons around the room, pin up funky garlands, embellish your party hats and create confetti glasses for a more glamorous touch.

You can find tutorials for these decorations and more on so you can get creative, even if you only have a small budget for decorations, helping to add a more personal touch to the party. Think about the theme; what atmosphere do you want to give off? Glitz and glam, or something more understated? Whatever you decide, stick with it and incorporate it throughout the room.  

Planning the ultimate birthday party is all about budgeting, creating elements that suit your personality and theme and most importantly, having a great time on the day!