DIY Cupcake Decorating Birthday Party – On the Cheap!

I love throwing birthday parties for our kids! The excitement, the bright colors, fun decorations and of course… the food. What I don’t love about throwing birthday parties is the cost…and the planning… and the cost. Now, with Pinterest the need to have an extravagant birthday party is huge. You can’t just grill out with a couple of box-baked cupcakes. You have to have homemade cupcakes… and artwork for food… and crafts! The amount of time and money put into a Pinterest worthy party is ridiculous.

This year Audrey had the idea for a Cupcake Wars birthday party. She wanted to decorate cupcakes with friends and have a very girly and cute party. When I started researching and pinning ideas for her party I seriously became ill with how much money we would be dumping on this party. Instead of being discouraged, I decided to start finding ways to save.

After picking up the phone and calling around, I was able to take what could easily have been a $500 birthday party down to a $150 party. I saved a boatload of money, and now I’m going to share with you my Pinterest worthy, cupcake decorating birthday party… on the cheap.

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I kept costs low by ordering a small centerpiece cake and unfrosted cupcakes

The first thing I needed to think about for a cupcake decorating party was the cupcakes. We have a local baker that has been making our kids’ birthday cakes, my birthday cakes, and our Christmas cookies for years. She does a fantastic job and we’ve ordered so much we now get the “Friends and Family” discount. I called Susan and asked how much for a cupcake centerpiece cake (small, only feeds 4-6 people) and the cost for 24 unfrosted/undecorated cupcakes. Yes, she laughed at me. However, I am happy to say I only paid $40 for a small cake and the cupcakes. Score!

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The girls’ decorated their cupcakes with clearance bin frosting and candies… no one knew it was clearance finds, and no one cared!

Since the party was right after Easter I went to every store in our area and picked up clearance decorating kits. I was able to find frosting, sprinkles and a ton of candies for the top of the cupcakes, all on clearance. I filled cupcake holders with the candies and sprinkles, and used Popsicle sticks for spreading on the icing.

Next, we needed to plan the favors and goodie bags. Audrey found a picture on Pinterest for personalized aprons and chef hats, and of course fell in love. So, now I had to enlist some help on creating beautiful aprons when I don’t even know how to start a sewing machine (does it even have an on/off switch?). Again, I picked up the phone and started calling embroiderers in our area. I actually got someone on the phone that was just starting up a business, and was willing to embroider the aprons for FREE. All I had to do was provide the material and put her business card into the goodie bags. She did get business from one of the moms at the party who is a Girl Scout troop leader and wanted names sewn on their vests.

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I found a new business owner who embroidered the aprons for free!

My mom and I glued ribbon on the chef hats, keeping down costs. I found a 3-pack of chef aprons and hats for $19.99 on Amazon. These were by far our biggest expense. I found cupcake ribbon at Michael’s on clearance as well.

I put together take home goodie bags with pastel colored bags on clearance from Easter. I filled the bags with the personalized apron, chef hat, individual take home cupcake boxes, and a clearance paintable cupcake magnet from Michael’s.

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Each girl’s station was set up with their chef clothes, frosting, and candies – ready for cupcake decorating!

Lastly, we needed food. Everyone says boys eat a lot, but apparently they’ve never seen 10 girls eat pizza. I found on Groupon a special for Papa John’s Pizza. If you bought a $25 gift card you received 2 free large pizzas. The best part is you could redeem the gift card and free pizzas at the same time. I was able to get 4 free pizzas, and an order of chicken wings on the $25 gift card. All I paid for was the $25 gift card and a tip.

Believe me, this was an excellent party and it looked like I spent a ton of money on it. When in fact, I only spent around $150. We hosted a total of 6 girls, including Audrey. Each girl had a fantastic time, and I totally impressed the other moms. Thank goodness they don’t know how little I spent!

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