Have you ever totted up how much you spent on your child’s birthday party? If you hired a venue and/or had an entertainer and paid a professional to make a cake, then you could easily have spent in the region of £150-£200.
This post is really about parties for babies, toddlers and pre-school children. I imagine that as your child gets older it becomes harder to find something exciting to entertain a group of children for a couple of hours, and at that point it is harder to avoid the expense. So while your children are young enough that they are unlikely to remember the party, it’s a good time to bring the cost down where you can.
Venue/Entertainer – Hiring a venue and/or an entertainer is by far the easier option as you don’t have to worry about fitting children in your house, clearing up or keeping a group of small children occupied for a few hours. I have nothing against hiring venues or entertainers for a child’s party so long as you can afford it. When we looked into hiring an entertainer for my daughter’s birthday last year, many of the quotes came in at around £150 which is half of my monthly food budget! Personally I would rather have a simple party at home and spend the money on something else. If you’re worried your house isn’t big enough, it might be worth checking out local village halls and scout huts as alternative venue options as they can often be hired quite cheaply for a couple of hours.
Cake – I am constantly surprised by the number of requests I see on my local facebook page for professionals to make birthday cakes for their young children. I have to admit that the cakes they make look absolutely amazing, but does your toddler really appreciate the professional look? (or the hefty price tag that goes with it!) I like making cakes, but I am in no way artistic and generally don’t worry too much about the appearance of my creations. But by shamelessly copying someone else’s designs on pinterest I have produced some pretty good cakes over the last few years (even if I do say so myself!) and at a fraction of the cost of paying a professional.
As a child I remember my Mum always frantically working away the night before my birthday trying to complete the cake that I’d chosen from her cake book, and when I look back now at pictures of my childhood birthday parties I love the fact that she put that effort in for me (and produced some pretty good results!) Again, if you can afford it then great, but if paying for an expensive cake means you have to make lifestyle cuts elsewhere, then why not look at other options. Most supermarkets now sell some pretty good birthday cakes too!
Paper plates – Using Paw Patrol as an example (as I will likely be doing a Paw Patrol party for my son’s 3rd birthday later in the year!), to buy Paw Patrol plates, cups and napkins for my family party of 17 people would cost £10.50 even at the cheapest I could find in Wilko. Alternatively, Asda sell paper plates and cups in almost every colour imaginable at really good value so why not use plain coloured plates and cups and just the Paw Patrol napkins. This would come in at only £5 for my party of 17. Better still use normal washable plates!
Pass the parcel – The fun of the game is in the unwrapping and the sweets inside each layer. No need to buy an expensive prize for the middle (the Range do great cheap toys ideal for pass the parcel). Also, don’t use your posh thick wrapping paper (why are you buying that anyway?!) instead why not pick up a couple of cheap rolls of wrapping paper from the £1 shop.
Party bags – There is a huge business in shops selling what can only be described as “tat” designed to fill kids party bags! In my family the excitement over party bag toys generally dies down within about 24 hours and then the toys are gradually binned. I’ve been to parties where they’ve given out books instead of party bags which I think is a great idea. You can get books in the £1 shops or cheap from places like the works or the book people. At least with a book your know your money won’t be thrown in the bin after a day or two!
If you’re reading this then you are likely to be watching the pennies, so why not think a bit harder about how much you spend on your small child’s next big day. If you have two children and spend £150 per party then that’s £300 that you could be putting towards a family holiday instead.