Kids’ birthday parties and budget don’t always go hand in hand. I don’t know about you, but I have certainly found that if there is one thing my little humans are good at it is being a drain on my finances!
Now don’t get me wrong, I adore my children as much as the next mum and love nothing more than throwing them lovely parties. However, I like to do so on a budget wherever possible.
With countless parties under my belt, here are my top tips for hosting kids’ birthday parties on a budget:
So many of condos/housing complexes come with pools, this is an easy way of hosting parties without the entrance costs of outside venues. And lets face it, what kids don’t love a trip to the pool? Especially good for those looking to host a large party on a budget.
Some of my best childhood parties were in our own home, whether it was a movie night with a sleepover, good old-fashioned party games in the living room or something creative like pizza making and crafts. It is amazing how much can be saved by simply not spending out on a venue.
If you have a child set on a specific venue but you’re on a budget, be sure to check out the full range of packages available. In my experience, even doing your own catering can knock as much as a third off the price. On the other hand, some party venues offer very reasonable rates if you use their services for the entire package – which can include food, cake, decorations and often party packs too. Although I’m all for doing things myself to cut costs, if it is cheaper to allow someone else to do it, then why not!
Also think out of the box: it may be cheaper to buy 20 cinema tickets than booking the whole hall, whereas many karaoke places only charge for adults.
The best way to save on invites is to do them electronically. In this digital day and age it makes perfect sense. You can design a fancy invitation quickly using one of the collage apps. Then, start a Whatsapp group or simply ping an email with a Google event. Quick and easy ways to say what you need to without people having more paper stuck on the fridge.
Catering for party food
With burgers or hotdogs, a fruit platter and some veggie sticks you can give the children an inexpensive meal that always goes down a treat. It is easy to cater for different diets as you can have chicken/beef/veggie burger and/or sausage options without making or buying completely separate meals.
Find a food court
Ok, so this sounds counter-intuitive, but funnily there are some dishes that are cheaper to buy than to make yourself. Its amazing how sophisticated a spread you can put on purely by grabbing food from the nearest food court – put them on some pretty platters and hey presto – you have a buffet! Think fried rice, noodles, chicken satay, roti canai, chicken wings, dimsum… With Roti as cheap as 2 RM each – buy 10, cut them in half and place nicely with a bowl of dhal and you have enough for 20 as part of a buffet, all for 20 RM. You can feed everyone for as little as 10 RM a head and without the stress or time of cooking – I really think its a worthwhile trip!
Rope in friends and family
As parents we are often met with the questions “What can I do to help?” or “What can I bring?” Yet all too often we reply with “Nothing”. But why do we do that? When I lived at home in Scotland I would regularly draft in the catering services of the grannies. Between my mother and mother-in-law they’d have the catering virtually covered and I’m sure they secretly loved helping too (or perhaps I tell myself that to ease the guilt!). Nonetheless the potluck style of everyone pitching in is always nice and as long as you’re willing to return the favour, it works fabulously!
And to serve it on…
I am known for begging, borrowing and stealing plates and cups from other families. Partly because my inner ecowarrior feels like I’ve saved the ocean from some more unnecessary plastic floating around from disposables, but also because I may not have 24 reusable plastic plates and cups but almost everyone I know has at least a set of four of the famous IKEA cups and plates!
You can always make bunting from leftover material or paper lying around the house, or make a homemade tissue garland – these are always pretty and great backdrops for photos!
Pinterest has long been my go-to for all things craft. The party ideas on there are as impressive, with a whole load of free printable resources. You can print name cards, banners, party pack labels and so much more. You can have entirely personalised party packs, drinks and décor with the right search.
If homemade isn’t your thing or you simply don’t have the time to dedicate to it then at least get online to save a few pennies. Amazon, Lazada and ebay offer entire party decoration packs in various themes at a fraction of the costs that you find them in the stores.
Balloons are the oldest trick in the book when it comes to budget friendly party décor. If you have a helium tank or can find ready blown up balloons cheaply then why not tie a balloon to each chair at the table? At the end let the children each take their balloon from their chair on the way home. Alternatively, when the food is finished remove and tie the balloons to the party packs and there you have it – both décor and an addition to the party pack.
Even regular balloons are a welcome addition at any party, whether left on the dance floor to play with, tied to trees and bushes round the pool or pinned to the walls around your venue.
If you want to stay away from balloons for eco-reasons – or for the pain of filling them up – you can get paper lanterns cheaply. We have spotted these regularly at the Basket Shop in Chinatown and Mr. DIY – the latter has some cheap party deco too.
If you’ve booked a venue like an indoor playground or adventure park then this isn’t a concern. However, if you’ve gone pool party or one at home, club room or something similar then it is inevitable that little ones will need to be entertained.
A disco is always popular! No need to budget for a DJ. Grab yourself a decent playlist, purchase a whole load of glow sticks, order a cheap disco ball online and fill a dance floor with balloons. For older kids you can do an evening disco and get glow in the dark body paints. For the little ones play musical bumps, pass the parcel or musical statues!
By the pool
Grab a few novelty floats – ok, floats aren’t free but head online for great prices. You’d be amazed at how long a couple of floating crocodiles or unicorns can keep children entertained. Floats can also be purchased as birthday presents and give entertainment long after the party is over.
Games lucky dip
This works well in either at home or by the pool. Wash out an old jar and write a load of party game ideas onto popsicle sticks. Put them name down in the jar then let either guests or the birthday boy/girl take a lucky dip to choose a game. As each game finishes simply choose the next one!
Arts and crafts always go down well,and they don’t have to be expensive. So have the kids do some rock painting by the pool, bracelet making, pizza decorating or cupcake making. Kids love these types of activities and they are very budget friendly. Pizza decorating? That’s an activity and party food covered. Rock painting? Once the children are done painting have them each hide their rock and send them on a rock hunt. Bracelets and cupcakes? Not only keeps children entertained but also a lovely keepsake for them to take home.
What is it about hitting a cardboard box with a stick? Works like a charm. Make your own piñata and get rid of the leftover Halloween/CNY/Christmas sweets. If you are a beginner stick to easy shapes and start early for the layers to dry.
Whether round the pool or in the house, scavenger hunts always prove popular. Hide mini boxes of Lego all around the pool, or any item related to your theme. Once the kids find a goodie box they got to take the box home. If you guests are not yet in a sharing age, you can tell them collect the treasures in one pile before dishing them out.