7 tips for cheap and easy party decorations

Pinterest sets unreasonable expectations for party decorations. If you are the sort of person who plans to carve radishes in the shape of your child’s favorite cartoon character and sew custom chair covers to match your theme this post is not for you. If you just want some tips for cheap and easy party decorations that mere mortals can set up even with minimal free time and artistic ability keep reading.

Most party decorations seem deceptively cheap, but even though each piece of themed party decor may only cost a few dollars the cost of those “cheap” items can really start to add up, particularly if you don’t have a plan.

Here are 7 tips for finding cheap and easy party decorations.

1. Plan ahead

No, you don’t need to start planning your kid’s birthday party months in advance, but if you wait to think about decorations until a day or two before the party you’ll be stuck with whatever happens to be at the party supply or big box store that day. Starting to think about party decorations a few weeks ahead of time gives you more time to think about what you really need, compare prices, and allow time for shipping if you see something you want online.

2. Think beyond the party supply section

Depending on your theme you may be able to find party decorations that are cheaper and more interesting outside the usual party supply aisle or party megastore. Some ideas:

  • Teacher’s supplies. I did an entire Dr. Seuss party using Cat in the Hat decorations meant for use in a classroom.
  • Posters. Particularly for movie themed parties you may be able to find large posters that are nicer and larger than those designated as party decorations for the same movie.
  • Large coloring books. For young kids’ parties coloring pages can make great place mats. The over-sized ones can even be wall decorations. Put out some crayons and they double as a party activity too.
  • Wrapping paper. Wrapping paper can be a quick way to cover a table or wall in a festive way.
  • Craft stores. Even if you aren’t looking to DIY your party decorations it can still be worth a walk through a craft store. Your may find things like patterned scrapbook paper or stickers that can be used as decorations even if you aren’t up for a big project. There may even be simple kids’ crafts that meet your theme.
  • Dollar stores. If you luck out you may find things that match your party theme at the dollar store. It’s still good to compare prices though. Paying a dollar or two for something you need multiple of may not be as a good a deal as buying a larger, more expensive package somewhere else.
  • Ebay. Between stores selling their stock online and people selling extra party supplies they no longer need you can often get a better deal there than other places. Refer back to tip number one though, since eBay doesn’t work well for last minute purchases.

3. Focus on items with high visual impact.

Sure those toothpicks that match your theme are cute, but they won’t do much to visually establish your theme when someone steps in the room. Prioritize your spending on things that will have the greatest impact: large banners, table coverings, centerpieces, etc. This is particularly important if you are throwing a party somewhere that you will have limited time to set up.

4. Fill the room with color coordinated decorations.

ladybug party decorations
This ladybug party featured black and red balloons.

Party decorations in solid colors are much cheaper than decorations with printed themes. Once you’ve picked enough high visual impact decorations to convey your theme, fill the rest of your party decor with items in colors that coordinate with your themed items.

5. Balloons make a party.

Balloons are definitely cheap and easy party decorations. You can buy a small helium tank, although that adds to the expense. Otherwise, enlist some helpers to blow up a bunch of balloons and let them be on the floor. They add color to the room and are fun to kick and throw.

6. Avoid streamers.

This may be a personal preference thing, but I consider streamers to be a bad idea. They seem like a good option because they are inexpensive and colorful, but I find that getting them to hang and twist in a way that looks good takes a lot of time and effort. I have a rainbow of half used streamer rolls from getting too sick of them to use all I had.

7. Consider investing in some reusable items.

If you expect to throw parties a few time a year (such as birthday parties for multiple kids) it may be more cost effective to invest in some reusable items. Cupcake stands, serving trays, and even banners declaring “Happy Birthday!” can be used many times if you are willing to spend a bit more upfront.


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