Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Celebrating Birthdays: College Budget Edition

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mich chapter.

Birthdays have always been the best and worst of times in my opinion. The pressure of planning a birthday event can be overwhelming. What kind of present do I give? Should I plan a party even if I think they don’t want one? How do I make the day special? Do I post an Instagram story or make a full post for their birthday? How much should I spend on them? Lucky for you, if you’re on the planning end, I’ve got you covered. I’m here to help you make someone else’s day great without breaking the bank in four easy ways:

1. Insomnia Cookie Cake or Baked by Melissa, anyone?

Shoutout to my mom for always buying those massive cakes to bring into class for my birthday, because dang, cake is way more expensive than I thought. I took those delicious cookie/ice cream/cake cakes for granted. Recently, my friends had to wiggle their way out of the (10 person!!) cake order they placed at a local bakery when they learned it was $70 rather than $30. Big oof. Rather than going through the hassle of ubering, researching a million bakery sites, and making phone calls, place an order and delivery online for an $11.99 mini birthday cake on the Insomnia Cookies website and you’ll have it 30 minutes. If cookies just aren’t the birthday girl or boy’s thing, hit up Baked by Melissa. Although it is a bit more expensive than Insomnia, those amazing cupcake bites are more than worth it. For $28, you can get a package of 25 cupcakes with 12 different flavors. So delicious! Whoever Melissa is, look out, because I’m sending good vibes and thanks your way!

2. All about decor… we always need more 

Big or small, doing little things to show you care about your friends means the world. Decorating your friend’s dorm on their birthday is a great way to make them feel special. While you may love your friend and want to express that, you may not love spending a boatload of cash for this gesture. Meet Amazon Birthday Kits. Rather than go to CVS or Walgreens and shell out $30 on balloons, party hats, a birthday sign, streamers, etc, you can save half of that by ordering one of these kits off amazon. With two day prime delivery and retail prices between $12 and $15, what’s not to love about this birthday box showing up straight to your door? Quick tip: I would recommend getting a kit with the happy birthday poster sign because you can reuse it as many times as you want!

3. Birthday freebies babyyy

Shout out to my sweet waitress who let me in on this public but relatively unknown birthday hack: the local birthday freebie list. Yes, you heard that right. I’ve been missing out for the past nineteen years of my life! A ton of local restaurants and shops offer deals, discounts, free snacks, and stuff on your birthday as long as you show them your ID. Most cities and towns have these birthday lists. Even my small, unknown hometown has multiple! Who knew? All you have to do is go to Google, type in your town or city and follow it with “birthday freebie list”. And BAM, a bunch of websites will show up.  It’s the perfect birthday activity and present wrapped up in one. You’re very welcome.

Check out the Ann Arbor one here!

4. Get the Girl (& Boy) Gang Together

What birthday doesn’t involve food, food and more food? Make a reservation at the birthday girl or guy’s favorite restaurant, get the squad together, and, now, you’ve got a perfect birthday party to make sure your friend feels the birthday love. A simple 20-minute get-together to sing happy birthday and blow out the candles will also do the trick. Another cute idea I had but didn’t follow through with (because it was rainy) was getting a crew together for a birthday picnic. Instead of shelling out some serious cash for a charcuterie board create your own courtesy of the dining hall. Use your backpack to sneak in reusable plastic containers and fill them up with cold cuts, grapes, sliced cheese, hummus, veggies, jelly, and crackers. Stick those containers full of goodies back in your backpack and walk out undetected. Don’t forget to bring your reusable water bottles to fill up with dining hall juices galore. The cranberry and orange juices are calling your name! I hope these ideas help you plan your next birthday celebration on a budget. Have a great time, and wish your friend a happy birthday from me!

Elizabeth is a sophomore at the University of Michigan, hoping to major in marketing and minor in business. This is her second year writing for HerCampus and her first as an editor. Along with HerCampus, she is an account director for Michigan Advertising and Marketing, a productions staffer for WOLVTV, a fundraiser/dancer for Dance Marathon, and a marketing and partnerships intern for the UMich Athletic Program. She is passionate about writing/editing, travel, entertainment, food, sports, the outdoors, music, and fitness.
I'm Melanie Stamelman, a junior at the University of Michigan. I am the Campus Correspondent of UMich's chapter of Her Campus and am incredibly passionate about lifestyle journalism.  I follow the news and lifestyle trends, and am a self-proclaimed Whole Foods, spin obsessed wacko.  Thanks for reading xoxo.