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.