School birthday parties can be big, costly affairs for parents, particularly for primary school children when a birthday often means a whole class invitation.
Now in 2016, it’s estimated that the average cost of a child’s birthday party is £320.50; all for a few hours of sugar-fuelled excitement, and that doesn’t even include presents!
According to Netmums, the items to put the biggest dents in your budget are entertainment, followed by food and drink, decorations, party bags and venue hire.
We know that kids parties are special and memorable, and not just a case of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, so how to throw a fantastic party at minimal cost? Read on to find out!
If you’ve got quite a sizeable guest list, why not download and print your own invitations instead of buying them? Or if you don’t have a printer, head to the supermarket or Wilkinsons where you can pick up invitations starting from £1 for 8. Encourage your guests to RSVP by a certain date so you’re prepared for the right numbers and don’t over buy.
An easy way to save money on a venue is by hosting at home. As long as you’ve got fun activities planned, good music and a bunch of friends, that more than takes care of most kids’ birthday party checklist.
If you don’t have the space, why not ask a friend or family member if they’d be able - or willing - to help, or check out the cost of hiring local village halls. Netmums has a handy tool which enables you to quickly search nearby options based on your location.
Softplay centres can also be a cost-effective alternative. You can either pay the regular entrance fees - but be aware that you’ll be sharing the space with other kids outside of the party group - or look into a party package. While it may look costly upfront, packages often include decorations, refreshments and cake, so it can work out cheaper than doing it all separately. And you don’t need to worry about the clean-up effort! Check out Groupon or Vouchercloud for any current deals and discounts for play gyms near you.
Repeat after me: Pinterest is my friend. If you’ve got a bit of time to get creative and are not disinclined to a bit of cutting, gluing and folding, there’s no reason to spend money on costly decorations.
Paperchains are an inexpensive way of bringing festivities to a room. You can pick up ready-to-stick ones, buy a pack of colourful paper and make your own, or even recycle your old magazines for a totally free option!
You can also make your own bunting cheaply. All you need is some ribbon or string, and some fun paper to cut triangles from; you could even use up old scraps of wrapping paper! Watch the video below to find out how.
Why not turn cake-making into one of the party activities! Before the kids arrive, make a batch of frosting and some piping bags, and then it’s over to them! Simply provide the cupcakes and set up a ‘decorating station’ with bun cases filled with sprinkles, Smarties and other tasty treats. When they’re finished, gather them together to sing happy birthday to the birthday boy or girl!
Here’s how to make your own piping bags at home, using baking parchment.
Photobooths are a hit with kids young and old. Pick a plain backdrop or jazz it up by hanging streamers or paper chains from the curtain rail! Ask everyone attending to bring a prop - this could be anything from a big hat to a Halloween costume to a stuffed toy - or even buy some, like these pirate and princess props. And then all you have to do is play photographer! Upload the photos to Dropbox, Google Drive or even Facebook and share the link so everyone can get a copy!
Scavenger hunts can be a lot of fun and, with a little preparation, keep the kids busy for little to no cost. All you need to do is compile a list of things for the kids to find and make sure there are enough copies for each team. This can be anything from finding physical objects to finding things out about each other, eating a specific food or even completing a fun task like singing a song! You can find a host of ideas online such as this nature scavenger hunt you can do in a garden or park, or this colour scavenger hunt.
Rather than taking a group of kids to the cinema to watch a movie, which can be very expensive, why not host a movie day at home instead? Just stock up on popcorn, sweet nibbles and drinks, and let the movie do the entertaining for you!
To kids, cake is to be eaten; they’ll be too excited to blow out the candles to notice whether the cake was a simple sponge or one fit for a wedding! You can jazz up a sponge with well-placed sprinkles, using food colourings, adding sweets or chocolate to the icing, cake toppers and sparklers, or even switch out one cake for cupcakes so everyone gets their own personal cake!
Frozen food is the saviour of the birthday buffet! In the frozen section, you can pick up a range of food for even the pickiest eaters, so you don’t have to worry about cooking for the masses. Mini pizzas, sausage rolls, cheese straws, hot dogs, and goujons will win you a lot of pintsize fans, all of which exist purely for a party purpose. Be sure to check for any dietary requirements pre-party.
Party bags can sometimes be an expensive novelty; something kids grab on their way out, have a rummage through and ultimately never use most of what’s in there. If you don’t want to do away with them altogether, why not flip the timings so the kids get their party bags at the start of the party, fill the bags with things the guests can use throughout the day and play with along with their friends. Temporary tattoos, punch balloons, glow sticks, pencils, finger lights, noise makers and bracelets all add to the party spirit and can be bought in bulk and split into individual party bags.