Celebrate Birthdays When You Have No Money

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Having a Memorable Birthday When You’re Broke

Do you need practical ways to celebrate a birthday when you have no money?

Whether you’re plain frugal, trying to meet a savings goal or between jobs, birthdays are important and should be marked with a celebration.

Let’s just put it out there. A LOT of Birthdays have been missed these past 14 months. Milestone birthdays, celebrations of loved ones. If we’ve learned anything from all this past year has thrust upon us is that life is precious, relationships are priceless and deserve to be celbrated in even the smallest ways.

But don’t lose hope if money is tight. I’ve done the heavy lifting to find the best budget beating ideas to commemorate upcoming birthdays. In fact, it’s very likely that you will treasure this birthday party more than the ones you had when money was not an issue.  Often the best memories come from when we celebrate a birthday when you have no money. Trust me, I’ve had many of these.

A quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest. ~ Albert Einstein

Budget friendly birthday party tips 

First, decide on what your budget is. It’s totally ok to have a zero budget and use only what you have at home. That would be a sure fire way not to go wild with your credit card and regret the rest of the year. 

Next,  decide on the venue. The cheapest venue is your home. All you have to do is dress it up so you have the right celebratory atmosphere.

Then, draw up your guest list. Since you are trying to cut costs, you really shouldn’t go with the attitude of ‘the more the merrier’. One way to avoid offending people you would normally invite is to just say you’re scaling down the celebrations this year. Most will understand. They’ll be relieved someone is doing what they’ve wanted to also.

“If” you insist on having a celebration that fills the yard. Yes, I said ‘yard’ . I’m going to say this ONCE, be safe, be smart. Plan space accordingly for socially appropriate distance.

Now we’re on our way to celebrate a birthday when you have no money. I promise, it’ll be more fun than if you stressed over the budget before or worse after (paying credit card debt)!

Being broke doesn't mean no birthday celebrations in your life.  You can pull off a ultra frugal, zero spend birthday with a little out of the box ideas and 'cake mixes'   image is for pinterest a chocolae cupcake with white frosting, colorful sprinkles and a lit candle.  Text in briht pink on black background reads "Best Birthday Ideas When You're Broke"

Everyone needs to pitch in if you go with the ‘More The Merrier’ scenario.

Bring Your Own:

  • Chairs
  • Pot Luck, Everyone brings One Main Dish ‘and’ One Side Dish (or) Appetizer.
  • Everyone Brings their own Drinks ‘or’ you designate a few to make a two or three kinds of ‘punch bowls

1. Decorations

Glitzy fancy birthday party decor can be quite costly. Make the decor a gift from the heart by making a happy Birthday sign from leaves and flowers picked from the garden.  A mom is likely to shed tears of joy to know that the whole family pitched in to craft the sign. 

First off. Don’t go crazy decorating the whole house. Try to keep it to the room you’ll do most of the celebration. This is typically the kitchen or dining room table.

Use a fancy table cloth or even throw a decorative sheet on the table.

Centerpieces arent necessary but easy enough by tossing some pinecones or decorative neutral colored ornaments in a vase. Add a string or two of white lights from your Christmas stash and a table fit for royalty!

Use your own dishes and if you’re short on wine glasses, tea cups, etc.. borrow from a friend or someone who will be coming to party. This last one is best. They can bring with them and at end of party bring home all in one visit.

Check Pinterest for some easy ways to fold paper or cloth (if you’ve got them) napkins. This is always a fancy touch and absolutely free.

Have some tissue paper leftover from wrapping? Look up Tissue Paper Flowers on Pinterest. These can make a huge visual statement and all for free if you’re using paper you already have. Hang them at varied heights for a bigger impact. Keep them in one room if you’re limited to only a few.

paper flowers can make a big impace with zero cost to any party or celebration. trying to celebrate a birthday when you're broke? this is a great tip.  picture is of large tissue paper flowers in shades of blue

2. Birthday cake

What’s a birthday without cake, right? But I warn you that you may have to invest some money for ingredients here.

Does your family have a chocolate cake recipe that almost bakes itself? Well, bake it  and make that tried and tested chocolate cake a thing of beauty by decorating it with frosting, chocolate shards, sprinkles and whatever takes your fancy. No store bought birthday cake will be able to beat the love poured into that super special birthday cake. 

3. Food and drink

This is often the costliest item on the birthday budget, One simple way to cut costs is to restrict the guests to immediate family. 

You could also serve a simple main course of veggie dishes like:

Dessert would obviously be a slice of the decadent birthday cake with coffee. Serve soft drinks only but you could allow guests to BYO. Here are some budget friendly drink and desert ideas.

cake made in a pan is so easy, quick and can be a great way to save on freshness.  picture is of a funfetti cake made in pan stacked to look like pancakes.

4.  Birthday gift ideas for birthdays when you’re broke

To Celebrate a birthday party when you have no money requires a little creative thinking to come up with meaningful gifts. Pinterest and Etsy are great places to seek inspiration for sentimental gifts that will bring on tears of joy. Here are some ideas as well as a few freebie ideas:

4.1  A custom voucher book

Use a simple design program like Canva.com to create 4 vouchers of things you can gift your loved one to keep the birthday feeling last all month long. 

4.2 Framed photo collage

Simply upload your photos to a a collage template in a free Graphics program or a free google doc, print and frame it. Makes a memorable sentimental gift. 

4.3  Create a personalized playlist

What could be better than a curation of the birthday person’s most loved songs from childhood to adulthood? Even better, share ‘your’ favorites. This is like sharing a piece of your soul with that special someone.

I’ve been gifted this one once or twice and still listen to them 15 years later!

4.4  Create a quote poster

Use Canva.com to create a colorful poster. Find catchy, positive power words and phrases. These will act as mood boosters when times are tough.  If you have time and are crafty you can do this with some colored pens, markers and stickers or your hand drawn art work. Even a personalized photo included. Here are some great ideas for inspiration:

  • Today is the oldest you have been, and the youngest you will ever be. Make the most of it! – Nicky Gumbele
  • You were born an original. Don’t die a copy. — John Mason
  • Life is too short to be small. — Benjamin Disraeli
  • Celebrate your journey of life. — Lailah Gifty Akita
  • Youth has no age. — Pablo Picasso
  • Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years. — Ausonius
  • Live long and prosper. — Mr. Spock
  • Let your joy be in your journey, not in some distant goal. – Tim Cook
  •  If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do is to save every day. —Jim Croce

4.5  Write a letter

Do this the old fashioned way in long hand. Write a loving letter to your loved one telling them how and why they are important to you.

4.6 Make a video

Create a video celebrating the achievements of the birthday person. Include his favourite music and personal messages from guests. A gift  to treasure forever. 

Think Tik Tok style too! How much fun would that be!

Make a Jib Jab Birthday Video! even send an e-card with Jib Jab.

4.7  A custom journal

Buy a simple notebook and use inspiring quotations as headers and footers to create a unique journal that invites the birthday person to cultivate a journaling habit. This is a great way to relieve stress. 

4.8 Phone wallpaper

Design a stunning phone wallpaper using a Graphics program. You could use a powerful quotation, a line from a poem or a photo. 

I just grabbed this one below from the Canva templates of phone wallpaper. It took 1 minute. Save money AND save time!

"be brave, be you, you are enough"   image is phone wallpaper black background with purple text


There you have it. Simple and practical ways to celebrate a birthday when you have no money and are flat out broke.  

Hannah R

Hi, my name is Hannah and I'm the founder of Barefoot Budgeting. This site is dedicated to one thing... helping you! Whether it is making a budget, saving money using DIY projects, or even saving by helping you with my favorite recipes I will cover it all! If it helps you save money in your life I want to help!

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