As a kid, is there anything better than a birthday party? Cake, bouncy castles, games and enough sugary drinks to melt the teeth off a thousand alligators.
As an adult, though? Birthday parties = pressure!
You want your little one to have the best party ever, which is pressure enough. But then you also have to pay paying for everything.
There are so many things to consider: should you have it at home? Do you need to do party bags? What about the food?
Well, fear not.
Great tips for an amazing kids’ party that won’t cost the earth
All but the most spontaneous parties begin with the invitations. This is your first opportunity to save money.
Paper invitations are becoming a thing of the past, replaced by emails and text messages – which happen to be free!
You can send a standard Time & Place blanket text message or download customisable template from websites like greetingsisland. These templates can be shared on social media and messaging apps, or you can print and send them.
Rope in some helpers
Your little one’s birthday party is a legitimate time to can ask family members for help — and not feel guilty about it. Grandparents, aunts and uncles often want to be part of the day, so get them involved at the planning stage.
Get Grandma to make cupcakes for the party, ask Granddad to bring balloons and party poppers, and challenge Auntie and Uncle to make a couple of ‘pass the parcels.’
Far from feeling put out that you’re asking them for help, you might find they’re happy to be involved!
Cut corners with the theme
Themes are cute and aesthetically pleasing, but can bump up the cost of the party.
If you have a younger child, odds are the theme has more to do with your preferences than theirs. So instead of a theme, choose a colour.
It’s all about compromise. Your child has had their heart set on a Paw Patrol or a Frozen party, but branded products will add up to a small fortune.
But if you buy branded plates or cups and then just colour-coordinate everything else, it is still really effective (and kids won’t even question it).
Set your timer
When you’re a kid, you feel like you can party forever. But, without being too much of a misery-guts, after a few hours, they’ll be ready to drop. And so will you.
Do yourself a favour, don’t just put a start time on the invites, follow it with end time! To keep it extra pocket-friendly have the party around 2pm-5pm. Your guests won’t expect a big meal then.
Get your bake on
If you’re having a lot of guests, it can be easier on the pocket to make your kids birthday cake from scratch rather than buy one. Sounds a bit scary, but you can do it!
It can be as lavish or as simple as you like. You can still brag that it’s homemade — and win Instagram points!
For inspiration, have a look at BBC’s Good Food’s massive list of kids’ birthday cakes.
Or if you want to claim ‘homemade’ but take a shortcut, check out tricks on instant cake mixes that go an extra mile.
Fun with food
Ah, party food. As parents, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to deliver a tasty experience. But often the simplest ideas are the most delicious.
If you want to impress on a budget here are a few ideas:
Hot snack boxes – pick up boxes like these, or go for brown paper bags for an ultra low-cost alternative. Fill them with classic, affordable (easy-to-cook!) party food: chicken nuggets, mini pizzas, hot dogs, sausages, cheese toasties and chips. Throw some dips in the middle of the table and let the kids loose. Popular, tasty food. Minimal waste, and next-to-no washing up.
Sandwiches – the easiest party food, and they don’t have to be boring. Check out these examples for some unique ideas. Throw in some crisps and fruit and you have your party food.
Dessert party – encourage your guests to eat lunch before they come by theming the big event as a ‘dessert party.’ For example, you could create a Chocolate Fondue. Don’t worry, you don’t need to rent or buy a fancy machine; you can do it yourself. Here’s a step by step shortcut:
- Get a muffin tray ( metal ones work better than thesilicone) either a six pan tray for single servings or a twelve pan tray between two. (Ask family and friends and you may even be able to borrow a muffin tray, should you not have your own.)
- Get some skewers and chop the sharp ends off for safety.
- Fill one of the sections of the tray with melted chocolate.
- And then fill the rest of the other sections with things to dip, e.g.fruit, marshmallows, fudge, cubes of cake etc.
- Watch them kids have a blast!
It can get a bit messy, but it’s cute, fun, and pretty cheap!
Activities can make or break the party. Keep it simple, have a nice variety and you will be onto a winner. Here are some great cheap party activities:
Hook a duck with a paddling pool: Kids love this one. It’s all the fun of the fairground, but in their back garden.
If don’t already have an inflatable paddling pool, get them cheap from discount shops or your local retail park.
Pick up a couple of packs of rubber ducks whilst you’re there. Then, just attach hooks or magnets, and you have your very own fairground attraction at home.
Read through the DIY guide here
Crafts: Crafty activities are a great filler activity for parties, especially when you’re trying to calm the kids down before meal time.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just set up a table, get a plain roll of wallpaper or construction paper and tape it down to your table. It’s a blank canvas for the kids to go crazy on.
If that doesn’t last very long, download some free colouring sheets here. These are great all year round.
Cupcake decorating: Combine dessert and an activity and get the kids to decorate cupcakes.
Either buy plain frosted cupcakes or make your own. Then lay out some toppings and drizzles (you can use the muffin tray trick again if you like) and let the kids loose. Make it a little competition to get them even more motivated.
Schedule balloons: If you’re a sucker for organisation and timing, this is a great idea.
Write down four or five activities, pop them in some balloons and blow them up (or inflate with helium) and write times in sharpie on the front of the balloon.
At the chosen time, one of the children can pop the balloon and reveal the activity inside.
It really keeps the party on track — kids are keen to see what’s next.
Piñata party: These can be a party centrepiece. Make the piñatas yourself.
It’s easier than you think, and you don’t have to stick to the traditional donkey shape. Go for whatever you like. Unicorns are popular right now, take a look at some tutorials.
Decorate like a boss
Decorating the party venue is your time to shine, impressing both kids and parents from the moment they walk in.
It’s not as hard as it seems — if you keep it simple. That’s the trick. The minute you start preparing every intricate detail it’s going to cost a fortune.
There are loads of free resources to take advantage of online. For free printable garlands and DIY banners- check out bespoke-bride.com. (It’s not all wedding related, their coloured banners can be used anywhere.)
It’s trendy to have hired photo booths at parties these day, but you don’t have to break the bank to get the same effect.
Create a photo wall. Use a variety of items such as plastic tablecloths, flowers, or balloons. In fact, here are 64 options for you.
Of course, nothing says ‘kids party’ like balloons. Which brings us onto a hack that will blow your mind. You can create your own helium balloons with just baking soda, vinegar and a bottle. Read the instructions here.
Your little one’s birthday party is a special thing. Have fun, but remember: this day will be special regardless of how much you spend.
Your kid is going to love being the centre of attention and spending time with friends and family.
So don’t let the stress take over. Enjoy yourself, make memories, and share them on Lifecake!
If you are looking for some other money saving tips, take a look at our blog 10 essential money tips for first-time parents.
Discover the easiest, safest way to share your special moments with the loved ones using Lifecake. Find out more about how our baby milestone app can help you securely save your most precious memories.