How I Used Birthday Express to Plan a Party for Less Than $125

I received free products from Birthday Express to facilitate this post. Affiliate links are included.

The little one just turned 2, and because she is obsessed with mermaids, I wanted to throw her a mermaid themed birthday pool party. We don’t have a lot of extra spending money right now, but I was able to set aside a $125 budget for the party and food.

I also knew a majority of the kids attending would be boys. I didn’t want them to feel left out, but I didn’t want to compromise the “girl theme” just to include them either.

I was able to put together a party for 23 guests for less than $125, and I didn’t compromise the theme at all.

Want to know how I did it?

Birthday Express is home to the Complete Party In A Box. Each box contains all the birthday party supplies you need to put together a party. There are even options to include filled party favor boxes for each guest so you don’t have to create your own!


After picking a theme you have the option to choose from three kit levels: basic, deluxe, or ultimate. Choose the number of guests, and kit level, and Birthday Express will build list of items for your party along with a price and how much you save versus buying each item separately. Want to customize your box? Not a problem! Remove items you don’t need or want, add extra quantities, or substitute other suggested items that go with the theme!

I started by choosing the Ultimate Mermaids Party In A Box for $172.31 then removed everything I already had on hand or didn’t want. The final cost of my box was $29.44. The box included dinner plates, dessert plates, and a piñata, all specific to the theme, as well as 3 crepe papers in the theme colors.

I never buy all the tableware in the theme I choose. The theme versions are always much more expensive and come in smaller quantity per package than solid print alternatives. For example, to provide enough mermaids themed cups for all guests I would have to spend $8.97 on 3 8ct packs, but the solid lime green 24ct is $3.59. I saved $5.38 just by choosing the solid print. I also added napkins and more dinner plates in a solid print. Adding some solid colored tableware also incorporated the boys by giving them something other than a mermaid plate to eat from.

My total cost for decorations and tableware came to $41.01.


Then I moved on to party favors. The truth is I’m not a fan of party favors. Most party favors are a novelty that I feel will end up in the trash shortly after the party ends. I like to give each guest something that can be incorporated into the actual party and then carried home with them if they would like.

I thought we could turn the boys into sharks, and Birthday Express carries the most adorable felt shark hat I’ve ever seen. I was also surprised to see how well made these hats are! For the older girls I found Monster High Laguna Blue Makeup Kits with the perfect colors for mermaid makeup! Then I added inflatable sharks for the boys and adorable Inflatable Flip Flop feet for the girls. I admit the flip flops weren’t exactly with the mermaid theme, but they were super cute.

Not only did each kid have something to take home with them, but the inflatables were used as decorations until it was time to play with them! Finally I added a theme matching mermaids t-shirt for the birthday girl because I couldn’t pass up the .99 clearance price!


The total cost of my party before food? $80.81 plus free shipping! I priced out similar items at my local party supply store for over $150, so I feel like the Birthday Express price is a really good deal!

The only thing I didn’t purchase from Birthday Express were tablecloths because I stumbled upon a clearance deal at a local store for .30 per tablecloth. I kept the rest of the decorations simple and incorporated items I already had on hand. By simply looking around your house for items you already own that work with your theme, you can save yourself from buying costly decorations. You can also save decorations from other parties to be reused, and yes, I even reuse plastic tablecloths that aren’t damaged.

I reused 2 rainbow colored honeycomb balls I saved from another party and added streamers for the jellyfish look. I hung a blue tablecloth on the wall by the pool and added a net with some of my daughter’s toys from a fishing game. Then I covered tables with blue tablecloths, added a lighter color tablecloth down the center as a runner, and placed seashells from our last beach trip on the table. I finished it off by adding my daughter’s fish stuffed animals to the center of each table.


I kept the party food simple for an afternoon party, and incorporated the mermaid theme by making food labels with cute names for each food. I made everything myself including the drinks and cupcakes. I shopped at a local discount grocery store and combined the items I bought with pantry items for a total food cost of $44.17 making my entire party cost $124.98! You can see a list of the foods I made in the caption under the photo.


Driftwood Pretzels, Seashell Pasta Salad, (gold)Fish & Chips, Sea Cucumbers, Crab Leg Carrots, Broccoli and Cauliflower Coral with Seaweed Spinach Dip and SeaFoam Ranch Dip, Under The Sea Fruit, PB&J Sushi, Ham & Cheese Sushi, Mermaid Punch, Under The Sea Tea, and of course, cupcakes with fish sprinkles.

Was our party on a budget fun?

Just ask the kids. It sure looks like they all had a great time to me! The inflatables and shark hats were such a big hit with everyone, and my only regret is that I didn’t buy hats for the girls, too! One little boy was quick to tell me he loved them so much he never wanted another favor box again!


You can find this totally adorable mermaids theme and the other great items I used at Birthday Express. Right now you’ll get free shipping when you spend $75 or more plus an added bonus of 25% Off Select Kids Favorites Party Themes thru 6/30 with the coupon code “kidsfavs“.

Are you planning any parties this Summer? Feel free to share your tips for creating a party on a budget in the comments below.

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Jenn is from Upstate, SC, and loves that she gets to work from home to be with her two little girls. Jenn has been happily married to her very own Superman, Ben, for over a decade, and spends her time reading, writing short stories, doing freelance work and blogging, crafting, riding motorcycles, watching Clemson football, and enjoying life with her family.

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  1. Well Done. Nice plan. Thanks For Sharing.

  2. This sounds like a reasonable and great idea. Thanks for the great information.

  3. I’m going to have to tell my sister about this, my niece’s birthday is coming up and this would be perfect for planning her birthday. Also, it would be a great way to stay on budget.