HOW TO PLAN AND HOST A KIDS’ BIRTHDAY PARTY ON A BUDGET

HOW TO PLAN AND HOST A KIDS’ BIRTHDAY PARTY ON A BUDGET

The current economic climate is putting a squeeze on so many of us at the moment. So let me share some ideas with you on how to throw a kids’ birthday party on a budget that will be brilliantly fun for the kids without it costing you a small fortune.

AFFORDABLE BUT MEMORABLE (FOR THE RIGHT REASONS!) 

Luckily, it is totally possible to throw a fantastic party for your child without blowing a huge budget. I know because I have been there and done it. The key is to be creative and resourceful when planning birthday celebrations. It is also important to remember that the cost of a party does not define its success.

A frugal party that is thoughtfully planned can be just as enjoyable as an expensive one. Yes, that’s right, you can create a wonderful party that your child will remember for years to come without going over your budget.

So let’s take a look at some cost-saving alternatives and budget-friendly ideas to make your child’s birthday party both fun and affordable. These ideas cover everything from decorations and activities to food and party favours. 

Kids at a birthday party with a big pile of dollar bills, how to plan a kids birthday party on a budget.
Brilliantly useful tips for planning a kids’ birthday party on a budget

HOW TO PLAN A BIRTHDAY PARTY ON A BUDGET

I have plenty of ideas on how to keep costs down when throwing a birthday party for your child. Take a look through the list to make sure you keep a tight party budget when you start your party planning

1. BIRTHDAY BUDGET: HOW MUCH CAN YOU AFFORD TO SPEND?

Before you start planning a birthday party for your child, you need to determine your budget. Take a look at your family finances and make a decision about how much money you can afford to spend.

The main things you need to budget for include:

  1. Number of guests
  2. Invitations
  3. Venue
  4. Food
  5. Entertainment
  6. Decorations
  7. Party favours

Once you’ve taken all of these things into account, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect the party cost to be. 

2. DECIDE ON THE NUMBER OF GUESTS

The more party guests you invite, the more expensive the party is likely to be. So if you want to stick to having a party on a tight budget, limit the number of guests. 

I realise this can be a sensitive issue, so here are some thoughts on ways that you can limit the number of guests you invite without offending anyone or upsetting the birthday child. 

  1. Rule of Age: One widely accepted rule is to invite as many children as your child’s age plus one. For example, if your child is turning five, you invite six friends. This can be a reasonable limit that also helps your child to understand. Clearly, this doesn’t work so well when your child hits double-digits!!
  2. Close Friends Only: Instead of inviting the entire class or school year, consider limiting the guest list to your child’s closest friends. This can create a more intimate and manageable gathering. Then make it known that you are only having a small party this year. Honestly, a lot of parents will be relieved, not least because it gives them a licence to follow suit!
  3. Family Party: Another option is to have a family-only party. This limits the number of guests without offending anyone at your child’s nursery or school! 
  4. Co-Host a Party: If your child’s birthday is near a friend’s, consider co-hosting a party. This way, they can share guests, making the event more economical and manageable. Agree on a total budget and agree on all the major costs before spending anything to avoid falling out over money. 

3. FORGET ABOUT FANCY PAPER INVITATIONS

Want Access To My Free Printables Vault?

Yes! Let me in!

Given most of us are so used to sending text and WhatsApp, there seems little point in sending out fancy paper invitations if you are trying to save money. 

Simply send out a Save The Date message and then follow up with an electronic invitation with all the details once you have them. 

If you do want to go a little fancier, there are some lovely digital invitations you can buy really cheaply on Etsy, both to print out or to send via text or WhatsApp. 

The less you spend on superfluous things like invitations, the more budget you’ll free up to create the perfect birthday party. 

4. DECIDE ON THE VENUE

Where you host the party can have a big impact on your overall budget. Clearly, having the party at home is the cheapest option, but it doesn’t have to be the only option to keep your budget on track. 

Here are a few ideas on how to keep costs down when it comes to where you host the party. 

  1. At Home: Whether indoors or in the garden, put a little imagination into creating a party atmosphere, and you have the cheapest option literally on your doorstep. 
  2. Friends and Family: Do you have any friends or family with a great garden – maybe they have a pool for a pool party, access to a cool venue, or membership for a club that they could let you use. 
  3. Local Parks: Many local parks allow free or inexpensive rental of various areas. Parks are great because they have plenty of space for games and general running around and often have playgrounds or skateboarding areas that can be put to good use. 
  4. Community Centres: Local community centres or municipal play centres rent out space at a reasonable cost. Some may even provide tables, chairs, and access to a kitchen.
  5. Church Halls: Church Halls often rent out space for parties at much cheaper rates than other venues. You will have to work with pretty basic surroundings, but with a little creativity, you can really bring the party to life. 
  6. Public Pools or Beaches: If weather and location permit, a public beach or a public pool can be a fun and affordable venue.
  7. Off-Peak Times: If your child has a favourite play place, consider having the party on a weekday or earlier in the day (great for preschoolers) when rates might be cheaper.
  8. Look for Package Deals: Some venues offer package deals where entertainment, food, and cake are included in the venue cost. Compare these costs to piecemeal planning; it might turn out to be a better deal.
  9. Local Farms or City Farms: Some local or city farms offer affordable party packages, and children will enjoy the outdoor, rustic environment and possibly get to interact with some of the farm animals.

5. PARTY FOOD ON A BUDGET

If you aren’t careful, you can end up spending a small fortune on party food. I know from experience that it is very easy to get carried away. There is so much fancy and fabulous ready-made party food out there. 

But if you want to stick to a budget, you need to swerve all or most of the fancy ready-made stuff and think more creatively. 

Here are some easy ways to make sure that the party food is sensational whilst also not blowing your budget. 

  1. Time of day tactics: My favourite money and time-saving tactic is to time kids’ parties between mealtimes. This way, kids will just need some snacks and a slice of birthday cake rather than a full meal.
  2. Party food boxes: Individual party food boxes are a great way to manage costs and reduce waste. Fill colourful boxes with kid-friendly sandwiches, fruit, and a homemade cookie. It’s a simple, affordable, and, most importantly, mess-free solution!
  3. Buy food in bulk: Know someone with a Costco membership or something similar? Get plenty of snacks in bulk to save your cash. Just remember, variety is key, so a mix of healthy options and fun treats will keep everyone content.
  4. Budget-friendly BBQ: If the weather permits, why not throw a good old BBQ? Hot dogs, burgers, and veggie skewers are typically more affordable than other options and are a big hit with kids of all ages.
  5. DIY Drinks Station: Forget expensive individual soft drinks; create a DIY drinks station with big jugs of homemade lemonade, iced tea, or fruit-infused water. It’s refreshing, unique, and a great money-saver.
  6. Pizza party food rules: Homecooked pizza is a great way to provide mini-party guests with a little something tasty. Basic supermarket-brand margarita pizza is really affordable. Just cut it into fingers or slices and serve it on a big platter for the kids to grab. It’s all in the presentation. 
  7. Potluck promise: The potluck approach isn’t just for grown-up gatherings. So, if you’re hosting a small party for friends and family, you could ask each guest to bring a dish, so you’ve got a table full of food without all the expense. 
  8. Discount stockpiling: Keep an eye out for discounts at your local supermarket. Often, you can find great deals on snacks and drinks that will keep for several months ahead of the party. 
  9. Mini food magic: Mini sandwiches, mini muffins, mini pizzas – basically, anything mini! They’re perfect for small hands, and you tend to get more servings out of your ingredients.
Great value
20 x Kids Birthday Party Boxes
£9.49 £8.99

These candy-striped kids' party boxes are great for creating individual party feasts for kids. They're cheaper than more theme-specific party boxes and look just as good.

Buy from Amazon
03/03/2024 05:20 pm GMT

And lastly, birthday cake. Yep, birthday cakes come in all shapes and sizes and, of course, an array of prices. 

I have run the whole gamut of birthday cake supplying for my daughter’s birthday parties, from asking my amazingly talented mum to create the birthday cake, to making it myself (with my significantly less amount of talent), to going with cupcakes instead of one big birthday cake, to buying a ready-made shop-bought cake and also buying a bespoke birthday cake from a local cake maker. 

Here is a quick list of ways that you can cut costs and still come up with a cake that has the birthday boy or girl smiling from ear to ear as they blow out their candles. 

  1. Bake your own: A homemade cake made with love is allegedly the most wonderful type of birthday cake. I vote that it depends on what level of awful your baking and cake-decorating skills are. But you get the idea… 
  2. Cupcake cop-out: Phased by the idea of making a whole big birthday cake? Well, how about making cupcakes? They are easier to bake without messing them up and also easier to make look pretty. Plus, each child gets their own mini cake, which always goes down well. 
  3. Cake Mixologist: Grabbing a box of cake mix can be a great time and money saver over baking a cake from scratch. Cake mix is less prone to baking mishaps and can be spruced up with homemade icing and decorations. I’ve got a post with a whole bunch of ideas for using cake mix to cheat at baking
  4. Creative with a supermarket cake: How about this as a great cheat… Grab a simple, inexpensive supermarket cake and give it a glow-up. Sprinkle it with edible glitter, and litter it with cute decorations to give it a more personal touch. 
  5. Doughnut Delight: Why not sidestep the traditional birthday cake concept altogether? A stack of colourful doughnuts looks super cool. It is an affordable alternative that kids will love, especially if you avoid crazily overpriced branded doughnuts and ice a bunch of supermarket ring doughnuts. 
  6. Simple ingredients: Keep the ingredients simple and the cost down. Expensive ingredients don’t necessarily mean a better cake. Sometimes, a classic vanilla or chocolate sponge is the real crowd-pleaser.
  7. Sheet cake slays: Bake a sheet cake instead of a fancy-tiered cake. They’re easier to bake, decorate, and cut, and they often serve more people than a layered cake. 
  8. Get someone else to bake it: As I mentioned above, my talented mum has made a couple of birthday cakes for my daughter. If you don’t have a close relative who can bake a cake for you, maybe ask a family member or friend to do the cake instead of a gift. 

 5. PARTY ENTERTAINMENT THAT DOESN’T BLOW THE BUDGET

Here are some creative yet affordable ways to keep the kids entertained without splashing the cash.

  1. Classic party games: Classic party games endure for a reason. Not only are they great fun, but they are also super low cost. Great for kids. Great for parents. Take a look at my list of classic birthday party games, which I’ve broken down my age group
  2. Crafty crafting: Set up a craft station with materials for the kids to create their own works of wonder. It keeps them entertained, doubles as a party favour, and doesn’t have to cost the earth. I’ve got a post on the best craft kits that double as party favours
  3. Movie matinee: Transform your living room into a cinema with a favourite children’s movie. Add popcorn for a real cinema feel, and voila! Entertainment sorted. Load up a snack board using inspiration from this roundup of mouthwateringly appealing snack board ideas, and you’re all set. 
  4. Talent show: Some kids love to show off their talents. Whether it’s singing, dancing, magic tricks, or joke-telling, a mini-talent show is a great way to give kids the chance to have lots of fun under their own steam without them even realising that it’s a money-saving flex by you. 
  5. Scavenger hunt: Scavenger hunts are hugely popular at the moment, and the brilliant thing is that they don’t have to cost a penny to put together. You can make one indoors, in your garden, or around your local area, depending on the age of the kids. All it takes is a little preparation.
  6. Baker’s Delight: If the birthday girl or boy loves baking, why not include a cookie or cupcake decorating session as the entertainment part of the party? That way, you’ve covered entertainment and some of the food all in one. 
  7. Tea party: A classic tea party is a lovely way to celebrate a child’s birthday, and it means the main focus is on gathering around a table to eat. No need for entertainment beyond a playlist of kids’ favourites and maybe a couple of party games for younger kids. Older kids will be happy to eat and then go and hang out. It’s that simple. Look at my guide to creating a wonderful afternoon tea party for kids and also my roundup of delicious tea party food ideas
  8. Slumber party: Slumber parties or sleepover parties are great for slightly older kids and early teens. The main thing they want to be is TOGETHER, so you can get away with supplying some simple party food and maybe sticking on a movie. If you want to get a little more creative, I’ve compiled a list of sleepover party ideas you can choose from. 

6. CHEAP BUT CHIC PARTY DECORATIONS

Party decorations really set the party vibe and bring a party space to life. But what if you simply don’t have the budget to splurge on fancy decorations? Here’s a list of clever and creative ways you can save money on kids’ party decorations without spending a fortune on party supplies. 

  1. Homemade Bunting: Cut triangles out of colourful cards or leftover fabric and string them together to make bespoke bunting worthy of selling on Etsy!
  2. Thrift Store style: Thrift stores and charity shops can be a goldmine for unique and cost-effective decor. From retro tablecloths to quirky vases, you never know what you might find until you go thrifting. 
  3. Balloon art: Balloons offer high impact at a low cost. They can be used in many ways – as a balloon arch, garlands, or a fun game! Just make sure to use eco-friendly balloons where possible.
  4. Reuse and recycle: Instead of buying new decorations based on birthday party themes, stick to buying more generic party decorations that you can keep and use year after year. Much like Christmas, you can add a couple to the collection each year. 
  5. DIY centrepiece: Make your own centrepiece for a party table with items you already have. Children’s toys, books, or painted rocks can make surprisingly creative table decorations.
  6. Printable party: The internet is full of free, printable party decorations. From banners to cupcake toppers, all you need is a printer, some cardstock, and a pair of scissors.
  7. Crafty creations: Use your (or your kids’) artistic skills. Paint banners, or make paper flowers (See video below), or those on-trend honeycomb tissue paper ball decorations that everyone loves.
  8. Party lights: A strand or two of fairy lights can bring a magical feel to any party and can be reused for any celebration, from birthday parties to Christmas via Halloween. 
  9. Outdoor elements: Hosting a party outdoors? Use nature as your decor! Flowers, stones, leaves, or even a pile of apples can look really striking. 
YouTube video
How to make simple paper flowers for party decorations

7. POCKET-FRIENDLY PARTY FAVOURS 

I’m just going to come out and say it… the best way to save money on party favours is not to buy any. But it can take a brave parent! 

So, here are some ways to cut down the cost of party favours or filling party bags. 

  1. Bake it up: Homemade cookies or cupcakes, individually wrapped, make for sweet and personal take-home treats.
  2. Arty party bags: Crayons, pencils, and a small colouring book can be bundled together for a cost-effective and entertaining favour.
  3. Crafty keepsakes: Turn a party activity into a favour. Perhaps the kids paint a ceramic pot, make a bead bracelet, or decorate a picture frame. It’s entertainment and a gift all in one! I love the craft as party favour concept so much that I have a whole post dedicated to it. 
  4. Seedling surprise: Packets of flower seeds, herb seeds, or even a small potted plant are inexpensive and are a really lovely eco-friendly favour. They’re also a lovely way to teach children about growing things. 
  5. Book box set bonanza: One of my favourite party bag filler or favour tricks is to buy books in bulk and then divide them up. Here’s my roundup of some of the best kids’ book box sets for party favours
  6. Free favour printables: If you scout around online, you can find some lovely free printable party favours, like these, over on Mr Print. These could be colouring pages, puzzles, or origami instructions. Just print and roll up for a practically cost-free gift!
  7. Photo favours: Take a group photo at the party with an instant camera, and send it home with each child as a lovely keepsake, along with a slice of birthday cake.

I have become somewhat obsessed with thinking up creative ways to deal with party favours and party bags over the years, so do check out the Party Favours section on Mums Make Lists for plenty of creative ideas. 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *