Planning a kid’s birthday party on a budget


General Finance

Children’s parties have been topical recently, with Myleene Klass highlighting the pressure parents are under to give an extravagant gift. But it’s not just the presents that parents are under pressure to get right, it’s the party itself too. So, to help you conquer the sometimes dangerous territory that is children’s birthday parties, we’ve got some top tips for you to follow!


Before you decide on the party itself, bear in mind that you don’t necessarily have to throw your child a huge party. They may enjoy having a handful of their friends over to play just as much. If you opt for a smaller party, you can be really creative with your ideas. You could set up a movie evening for them in your living room, complete with popcorn and a red carpet, or if they’re a little older, let them have a pamper-themed sleepover with nail art and delicious snacks!

If a larger party is what you decide to go with, then it’s important that you draw up a budget of how much you can afford to spend. Factor in such things as the venue, number of guests, food, decorations and goodie bags. If you can, try to plan your party a good few months in advance, so that you can start to save up and alter your budget as you go along – not to mention getting the invites out to give parents plenty of warning.

Back to basics

Most kids will be happy with a room full of their friends and a few party games, so try not to sweat the small stuff when it comes to throwing your child a party. To help give you some inspiration, we’ve got some budget-friendly tips:

1. Venue – a great way to save money on the venue is to host the party at home. However, if you find the thought of having a group of little ones running around your house enough to fill you with dread, then why not hire out your local village hall instead? Most halls are relatively affordable to hire out for a couple of hours. Or, depending on the time of year, you could hold the party in your local park. As long as the party is small and you’re not causing an obstruction, then you shouldn’t have to run this by the local council. If you decide to do this, make sure that you check the weather forecast beforehand and have a backup plan in place, in case the weather takes a turn for the worst!

2. Guest list – the best way to keep the cost of a party down is to limit the amount of kids that attend, so think carefully about how many you decide to invite! If your child attends school, and you don’t want to invite the whole class, just invite their core group of friends.

3. Invitations – for little ones, there’s no need to go overboard with invitations. You could buy some cheap and cheerful ones from the high street or get creative and make your own. Make sure to include all of the relevant information on your invitation, such as the time, date and location of the party.

4. Decorations – all you need to get your venue looking party-ready is some balloons, a few streamers and some bunting to hang up around the place. These items are pretty easy to get your hands on and you should be able to find them in most discount stores. If you’re feeling creative, you could make your own decorations and personalise them with images of your child.

5. Food – children are often more interested in playing with their friends than sitting down and eating at a party, so don’t go over-the-top. Try to stick to finger food, like sandwiches, pizza slices and mini sausage rolls. If you host the party between 2pm and 4pm, you won’t necessarily have to provide a meal either, just a snack.

To make sure that you don’t overspend on food, you could buy individual cardboard meal boxes and fill them up with food for each child. This will help you to distribute the food easily and evenly, plus you’ll know what each child has eaten. This should also come in handy when monitoring children with allergies.

When it comes to the cake, a great way to cut down costs is to make it yourself. A simple sponge cake is easy to make, or alternatively you could try your hand at making individual cakes like muffins or fairy cakes.

6. Entertainment – children aren’t aware of cost, so you shouldn’t feel under pressure to hire the entertainment when you can keep kids entertained with traditional party games, like musical statues or pass the parcel. These games should work a treat if you get everyone involved and divide the prizes out equally.

7. Goodie bags – to make sure that you spend as little as possible on goodie bags, your best bet is to get creative and make them yourself. One of the simplest ways to do this is to fill clear cellophane bags with sweets or pocket-money toys. You could always buy an item in bulk, like this Mister Men and Little Miss series and put a book into each bag.

8. Share the day – if your child shares a similar birthday to a friend, then you could join forces with their parents and throw a joint birthday bash. Your little one will probably love to share the day with a friend, and you’ll save money by splitting the cost of the party with another set of parents.

When embarking on a joint party, it’s wise to only do this with parents that you’re already quite familiar with, so that there’s no disagreement over cost later on down the line. Another way to avoid this, is to split the cost of the party right from the start.

See our Budgeting section for more ideas and tips on how to save money.

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