8 Ways to do VBS on a Small Budget


It’s that time of year again. With VBS just around the corner for many of us, it’s an ALL HANDS ON DECK kind of deal. As the parents of our VBS kids are counting down the days to free summer daycare, some of us are gradually slipping into a state of “complete freak out” as there is still so much to do. 

Whether your theme for this year is dinosaurs, the Wild West, or Mars… we all have one thing in common: 

VBS isn’t cheap! 

Those pool noodles, colorful stage props, teaching curriculum, little Debbies, and craft supplies all cost money. Unless you have a couple money trees hanging out in your back yard, we’re running on some tight budgets here fam! To help you avoid breaking the bank, we’ve pulled together some of our children’s ministry knowledge to help you put on an amazing a VBS on a small budget. Here’s our spectacular and amazing list of 8 ways to do VBS on a small budget.

1. Partner with another church that’s having VBS before you- By partnering with another church, you can reuse their props and materials. Since VBS is only a few days, these props and materials go a long way and can ultimately be passed along to another church after you too!

2. Ask grocery store managers for donations-  Grocery stores are more willing than you think to offer up free food and even gift cards to church organizations. The earlier you ask, the more likely they are to help you. Since donations are a tax write off for them, it makes them that much more likely to give.

3. Food from bakeries- A few years back, we got in touch with the manager from a local Panera. As it turns out, they give away their baked goods on almost a daily basis. We ended up having multiple loaves of bread and dozens of bagels given away to us for free. Restaurants that are bakeries may just be one of the best places to check because of the limited shelf life. 

4. Go with an older theme- You don’t have to do this years latest VBS theme. Since there are multiple themes every year, there’s a good chance you can find a theme that’s a year or two old from another church that your children haven’t done. This will save you $$ on the curriculum. 

5. Go with no theme- Themes are great, but they’re not absolutely necessary. If you have the creativity and the talent already in your wheelhouse, you can save the money you would spend on curriculum and props. This is especially true for churches doing an evening VBS with a limited amount of time each day.

6. Partner with a business- If you don’t already have a good relationship with the businesses near your church/ministry, do it ASAP. Make sure local businesses know about your ministry and what you’re about. Show the value of your VBS to the community and let the business know that you are still accepting sponsorship opportunities too. Even if they don’t want to sponsor it, they may let you leave some flyers out. It’s a win-win. 

7. Shorten the length of VBS- You don’t necessarily have to have a week-long VBS. In fact, a week in many cases can put a great deal of strain on your volunteers who may have full-time jobs as well. Limiting the number of days of your VBS limits the number of resources needed. Kind of a “duh” moment here but we still feel it needed to be said 😂.

8. Pinterest Pinterest Pinterest- We can’t over stress how great Pinterest is for getting amazing DIY ideas that will save you lots of TIME & MONEY. If you can think it, there’s a good chance someone has pinned it. Use Pinterest for craft ideas, teaching, food, props, and basically everything else in-between.  

Bonus Idea: Swag 4 Sponsors

Get some cool mugs or t-shirts made with your church logo and sell them. Your people get to represent your church with some sweet swag while you put the profit towards VBS. People are less likely to give cash gifts…but you give them a mug they’ll willingly pay $15 knowing it’s going to a good cause.


Regardless of the size of our VBS budget, we’re blessed with the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of the children and parents that take part. From all of us at the ChurchTrac family, we are praying that God moves in mighty ways at your VBS to let the Gospel shine throughout.

Have other great ideas that we didn’t mention? Reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter so we can share them! 😎

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