birthday on a budget

Birthday on a budget – Mr Man themed ideas

birthday on a budget

If you missed part 1 of my “Birthday on a budget” series then read it here.  It contains all the principles that you need to plan a cheap but amazing party.  In this post I am going to be talking about the ideas I have put together for my eldest sons Mr Man themed party.

party bags

So every kids loves a party bag, and I love to give unique things to people too.  So instead of traditional party bags with rubbishy plastic toys in them that noone plays with, I have ordered every child a Mr Man book.  Now this sounds expensive doesn’t it?!  But by going via ebay I managed to get a job lot of 10 Mr Man books for only £4.  I am going to use some Mr Man party bags which cost about £2 for 8 via ebay.  Add a few maoam and a slice of cake and its sorted!


As we already have most of the Mr Man library collection, I thought I might use them to decorate the room rather than having to buy new costly decoration that will just get thrown out.  I am going to hang string from the corners and then put the Mr Man books over the string (much like people do with christmas cards in December).

birthday cake

I love to make my own, but sometimes buying everything to decorate it can cost just as much as buying one!  I am going simple again and make a Mr Bump cake.  It can be round (I already have round cake tins so thats easy!) and I only need two icing colours – blue and white.  Then I can use a black icing pen for the details.

party games

I am going to stick with some of the classics and just add a Mr Man theme to them.  For pass the parcel I bought some Mr Man stickers in the sale after christmas so those will be the prizes in the middle (not sure I will put sweets in all the layers because I’m stingy!!).  I am going to make my own “pin the nose on Mr Nosey” game with some old wall paper I have stashed away.  Who can resist the very cheap games of musical statues and musical chairs?  All you need for those is a bag of lollies or sweets for the winner to pick from.  Finally, I spotted this great Mr Man themed take on the bean game where you call out Mr Man characters and the kids have to walk round in a circle doing the related action.

Party food

I have already stocked up on pizzas (£1 each) and chips.  I am staying simple!  Kids love pizza and its easy to cook.  Pudding will most likely be birthday cake, although I may splash out and make something else the night before.


birthday on a budget

Birthday on a Budget

birthday on a budget

We all know that birthday parties can cost an arm and leg, especially for little ones.  Well, I for one am loathed to spend over the odds on 2 hours of fun for too many screaming kids that won’t even remember it!  I am a mum on a mission to organise the best party possible for my almost four year old son, but not break the bank doing it.  If that’s you too, then here are my basic principles that I am adopting as I start this process (you’ll have to come back to see how well I do!)

principle 1 – pick a cheap venue

I would advise against the play centre or “popular” party location, as these tend to be very expensive.  Instead, pick a smaller and cheaper venue for your party.  I am going to host Sam’s party in our own home, which is free!  But if you would rather not have lots of kids on your own turf, then why not look into hiring a church hall or small community venue close to you.  They are often quite affordable to hire out for a couple of hours.  I am hoping that the weather will smile on us and the party can go into the garden.

Principle 2 – limit the number of guests

Yes you may want to invite every child your kid has ever had contact with, but then the costs start to mount up.  Why not limit the total number of kids at the party to 8.  Why 8?  Well this is the standard number that party related things come in packs of (party bags, cups, plates etc) so will mean you can save money further on down the line.  Ask you child who they definitely want to be there, and then work from that.  Don’t succumb to the guilt of “they invited me to their party so I have to invite them to mine” – no you don’t.  It is totally your decision who is invited to your child’s party (or if you even have one for them!).

Principle 3 – text out the invites

It is lovely to have a posted/printed invitation, but its just as easy to text all the mums involved or print a quick black and white invite on your own printer to those kids whose parents you don’t know.  Alternatively, look in shops during the sales for reduced invitations and party decorations.

Principle 4 – choose a simple theme

If you go over the top on a theme then decorations and invites are going to cost a lot.  Instead, choose one simple thing that your child likes at the moment and go with it.  I am choosing Mr Men for Sam, as he loves the story books.  But I am not going to go out and buy ridiculous amounts of Mr Men decorations.  He won’t remember that!  Spend money on the things that matter – the birthday cake, the food and few party games in the theme.

Principle 5 – choose a simple menu

Small children will never eat loads at a party, and if they don’t eat much its not the end of the world.  I personally hate cold party buffets, so I am going for the simple menu of pizza and chips.  Unhealthy – yes!  But as a one off party meal that’s OK.  This menu will be simple to cook, tasty and more filling that a cold buffet.  I will do some Mr Men themed biscuits for pudding perhaps, and then the birthday cake (which can go into party bags at the end).   Simple and cheap!

Principle 6 – make your own entertainment

Why pay someone else to entertain your kids, when most of the time they can entertain themselves?!  I am going to do a couple of pass the parcels, a couple of  prizes for musical statues and chairs and maybe I will even stretch to do flap the fish or balloon volleyball. I might even do a Mr Man themed pin the tail on the donkey style activity! Add a bit of kids music and they are happy for a good hour.  You don’t need to spend money on outside entertainment for a good kids party.  If you kids are creative then you could plan a craft, or if they are sporty plan a game of football.  Whatever your kids are into, plan some themed entertainment around that.

principle 7 – make you own party bags

I am willing to accept that you will probably need to buy the party bags themselves, but why not do a bit of bargain hunting to find some quality themed items to go inside them.  You can then set the budget, and you can avoid the really cheap rubbish that just gets thrown into the bin the second it is taken out of the party bag.  Or instead choose a nicer item that goes with the theme for everyone to take home.  I am contemplating whether to give everyone a Mr Man book in their party bag for Sam’s party.

running a birthday party on a budget

january clean up

January Clean Up Ideas

january clean up

I love putting up my Christmas decorations at the start of December. But I also love taking them down. It gives me the chance to clean and tidy ready for the New Year. Along with gathering up the decorations there are also a few other jobs I do to help when it gets to Christmas next year and to start the year off well:

  • make present tags from old Christmas cards. Not only is this great recycling but it cuts my costs for next Christmascutting up christmas cards
  • clear off sides and make new displays .  Its easy for clutter to take over, so I take the chance to clear everything off and create some new displays with any new ornaments I get for Christmas and mixing up with older ones.
  • take a trip to the charity shop. In January I am ruthless – anything not used or played with in the last year goes
  • buy Christmas cards and wrapping paper. Reduced to next to nothing, now is the time to stock up ready for next yearfairy lights mirror
  • re-purpose fairy lights .  I found some old Christmas lights that I don’t use anymore so decided that rather than pack them away for another year, I would use them to make a feature mirror in our hallway.
  • change around you pictures and hang up new ones.  This year I was treated to lots of new pictures for Christmas, so I spent a few hours deciding where to put them and changing round where old ones are hung.  It is simple but changes your decor really quickly making your house feel fresh.
  • spend a night with the diary. I am always amazed how much better I feel after spending a night planning in holidays/treats/when babysitters will be needed.  I like to know how the year looks and make sure I plan in important places to go and people to see.
  • decide on big projects and purchases for the year ahead.  Make sure any spare income isn’t wasted but can be put towards things the family/house really need.
  • share your wifi.  We all know how addicted to our phones we are.  So why not repurpose an unloved picture frame by displaying your wifi code.  This stops the awkwardness of guests having to ask and will make them feel right at home.
Need more inspiration?

There are lots of hints and tips out there for tidying up in January (please do post your favourites below).  If you want to make an even bigger clean up, then why not hop over to my friend Naomi’s blog and join in her organised life challenge this year – she is starting off in the kitchen!