1. Stay close to home
Have a party in your own home or garden. It makes it much easier to organise activities and you won’t have to haul food and supplies around. If your living space is simply too small to accommodate friends and family, consider asking a relative if you can borrow their house for a few hours.
Making it clear that you’ll do all the setting up and cleaning up afterwards could swing it. Or, if weather permits, use a local park. It’s much less expensive to drape some streamers around a picnic table than it is to use just about any venue you can rent.
2. Be strict about guests
When planning a party, it’s natural to feel that you have to invite all your friends, family and everyone who’s invited you to a party recently.
However the bigger the gathering, the more hectic and expensive it will be. Instead, limit yourself to a set number of guests, and stop yourself from inviting more at the last minute. If you’re throwing a children’s party, invite only those people you know will enjoy a few hours in a house full of children.
3. Stick to simple foods
Food is often the centrepiece of a good party, but that doesn’t mean you have to serve a full meal. Cake, juice, and some snack foods will keep toddlers happy.
4. Go for classic games
Young children are just as happy with a game as they are watching an award-winning magic show. Classics like musical chairs, Simon says, and pin the tail on the donkey never go out of style. Or you can create a carnival atmosphere with skittles and a sack race.
Treasure hunts are always a big hit, too, but keep it simple. Decorate a shoebox with some shiny gift wrap and construction paper, and you have a treasure chest. Fill the chest with party favourites, hide it in a sandbox or under a blanket, and then give the children a treasure map to follow. They can be pirates hunting for buried gold!
5. Hire undiscovered talent
If you shy away from the limelight but you want an entertainer to brighten up your child’s big day, then network. Do you know anyone who juggles or has a steady hand with face paint? Many an uncle or dad has put on a clown suit and been the life and soul of the party.
Another option is to post a notice at your local college. Drama students often make a few pounds on the side donning a fairy princess outfit or doing magic tricks.
6. Create no-fuss invitations
Unless you want to spend hours channelling your inner crafter by making handmade invitations, let technology take the strain. Just invite people via email or social media – it’s easier for your guests to save the date then, too.
7. Be creative about plates
Chances are, you’re going to be having parties for a long time to come, so why not buy in bulk? Instead of those expensive themed supplies, buy paper plates, napkins, cups and plastic cutlery in mix-and-match colours at your local supermarket.
When it comes to kids’ stuff, don’t pick anything too age- or gender-specific and you should be able to use them for years!
8. Consider different party bag fillers
One of the biggest party money-wasters is plastic toys for party bags that get lost or thrown away in no time, so try something different.
Stock up on large packages of art supplies such as glitter pens, stickers and stamps. Then break up the sets and give each child one of each.
9. Go for non-peak time
If you’re a working parent, you may find it hard to find the time to organise a party at your house. That doesn’t mean you have to give up on having one, though, even when you’re on a budget.
Search for local venues that will cater inexpensively. For example, some restaurants will cater for your party at a lower cost if you hold your party outside of their busiest hours, such as during the afternoon.
10. Share a party
Get together with one or two other friends whose children’s birthdays are near your child’s and host a group party. This works especially well for children under the age of four because they won’t care that the party isn’t just for them.
You’ll save a lot of money by splitting the expenses between a few families. Sing the birthday song for each of them and just have fairy cakes instead of one big cake.