Birthday parties are a big business these days, and kids parties are no different.
With detailed themes, extravagant cakes and unique activities, costs can rise pretty quick on your child’s special day. However, it is absolutely possible for parents to get their kids parties off successfully without blowing their budget.
We’ve got 15 tips for kids’ birthday parties on a budget to help you get it right.
1. Time It Right
Timing really is everything, and kids’ birthday parties are no different. The cheapest birthday parties for parents are the ones held between 2pm and 5pm. At this point to can ensure that kids have eaten their lunch, but it’s too early to have dinner, which takes the pressure off of you to provide a full ‘meal’. Make this even clearer by noting on your invitation that “some small snacks will be provided”.
Then all you need to provide at the party is some simple party snacks or fruit and yogurt dips.
2. Extend Your Lead Time
Failed birthday party budgets go hand-in-hand with impulse buying. If you want to avoid spending big when you’re stressed and in a hurry, increase the lead time on your birthday party prep by as much as you can. Get an idea of what you’ll need months in advance, then you have more opportunities to pick things up on special and when they’ve heavily discounted.
3. Scrap The Paper
Paper invites are cute, and God knows there are more to choose from than ever before. But, that doesn’t mean you need them. There are lots of websites that offer really lovely e-vites that can be easily emailed out to your guest list. Alternatively you could throw something together and send it out as a picture message on your phone. At the end of the day, it makes more sense to spend money on the big day than on the lead-up.
4. Keep Your Guest List Small
One of the easiest ways to save a little bit of money when you throw your next birthday party is to keep your guest list small. Sure, it’s lovely to invite your child’s entire class, but that doesn’t need to happen every year, or even at all. Unless your child is a social butterfly, they’re more likely to have just a small number of close friends anyway. Invite just these people, and then you can make the party more special and keep the cost down!
5. Save When They’re Small
It is so cute to see people going all out for their child’s first birthday, but at the end of the day the child isn’t going to remember or be impressed by that effort. It makes much more sense to save on spending when your children are little, so you have more freedom to throw a party they really enjoy when they’re a little older. A family picnic or a day out to the park is going to be just as much fun for a one-year-old as a party with all the trimmings.
6. Pair Up with Another Child
In your child’s network of friends there’s likely another child whose birthday falls pretty close to your own. If your kids are friends, it might be worth considering throwing a joint birthday party. That way the cost of entertainment, decorating and food can be split between two families, making things much more affordable. Just make sure one child isn’t eclipsing the other, and get two cakes!
7. Keep the Food Simple
To keep things as cheap as possible at your child’s birthday party, it makes sense to make as much of your own food and snacks as possible, and keep it simple. Foods like fairy bread and even sausage rolls are super cheap to make yourself, but perfect for kids appetites. Also look at getting some cheap fruit and cutting it up yourself for snacks. To make it more appealing, serve it on skewers with marshmallows in between!
8. Avoid ‘Party’ Stores
Speciality party shops might be the shopping location of your dreams, particularly if you love planning parties. They can also be super expensive, and lead you to unnecessary impulse purchases. Instead try to shop online as much as possible, so you can easily compare prices at different locations. Also see if you can get plain decorations to jazz up into birthday specific decorations yourself, instead of spending big on themed items.
9. Buy Small Items In Sets
Party favours have become all the rage at birthday parties these days, particularly in circles where the good ol’ lolly bag is no longer the way to go. The best way to serve up decent party favours on a budget is to look early, with a specific focus on anything that comes in a set. We’re talking about classroom packs, things from the dollar store, cheap multi-sets of kids books and so on. These all make great party favours.
10. Do Your Own Party Favours
If you want to get in on the party favour trend, but you aren’t keen on spending anything on the favours, you can always build ‘favour making’ into the actual party. Get some simple craft supplies and have kids make something at the party in line with your theme, if any. For example kids at a princess party could make their own tiaras out of paper and various glue-able items. If your party isn’t themed, but something like plain tote bags in bulk and let kids paint them as a party activity, then they can take them home as a favour.
Another idea is that you can make some take home items. Think about making small balls of home made playdough that will be a much appreciated party favour and is cheap to make!
11. Cheap Entertainment Ideas
Having entertainment is something that has grown more important to some parents in recent years, and that’s okay. But just because you want entertainment, doesn’t mean you need to spend big on it. Put your feelers out in your network for people you can utilise, like an older niece who loves face painting (you supply the paint), or someone who owes you a favour and is willing to show up in costume.
Other ideas include:
- Have a family or friend dress up as a princess or prince
- Have the party at a place like the local public pool or a playground where the activity is the entertainment
12. Make A Party Playtime
There are a literal plethora of party games out there that are easy to plan and reasonably simple to manage (depending on the kids involved). These games are generally free to play, or have small ‘prizes’ built in that you can easily purchase from dollar stores. Think about games like keep-up-the-balloon, hot potato, charades, musical chairs, red rover, freeze dance, egg racing, duck-duck-goose, simon says and the three-legged race. Lots of fun for a very small budget!
13. Get Imagination Working For You
If you don’t want to do too many organised games and you aren’t interested in entertainment, there are other options. Our favourite one is to use our kids’ imagination to our benefit. Kids are super imaginative, so create a game they can play themselves that uses their own creative minds. We’ve seen parents create treasure hunts using marbles or stones spray painted with gold and silver paint that has entertained kids for hours!
14. Get Fun For Nothing (hire from toy library)
For parents trying to entertain a large group of kids it can be tempting to buy something new in order to keep the occupied. The money smart way of getting over this problem is to check out your local toy library for toys that you can borrow for the party. Many toy libraries have outside toys like soft ramps, slides and even mini trampolines available for borrowing.
15. Almost Homemade Cake
With the birthday cakes we’re seeing on instagram, it’s no surprise that parents are feeling performance pressure when it comes to the centre of the party. Alleviate your stress, and the strain on your wallet, by doing the cake yourself using a box mix or even a pre-purchased sponge cake. That way you can focus on the decorating, using simple icing or even just some cute, print-at-home cake toppers attached to skewers and sunk into the cake. Simple!