In my relatively short time as a parent, I’ve gleaned some great party tips from our and others’ kids’ birthday parties. As MoneySavingExpert.com’s about sharing MoneySaving ideas to help as many people as possible, I thought I’d tell you mine.
So here are my top tips for cutting costs, but to still have a great time:
1. Share parties
My three-year-old is having her first birthday party in December, and it’s a joint one with another friend. Getting together with other kids’ parents if their children were born around the same time as yours is an obvious way to save costs.
Why pay out for a hall or another venue for just one child when several can share it and the parents can split the cost? My daughter once went to a joint party for seven children! They shared a massive cake and entertainment, and it was great fun for all. It meant the children with birthdays were able to have a party their parents may not otherwise have been able to afford.
2. Have a party in your home or garden
This is likely to be the cheapest option if you’re only inviting a few kids. Although on the flipside, beware – it could turn out pretty expensive if your TV gets broken or blackcurrant squash is spilled on your cream carpet!
3. Use a community or school hall
As well as having a three-year-old, I’ve also got a six-year-old and so we’ve been to a lot of parties in community or village halls. If you’re happy to do all the running around, providing food and cleaning up afterwards, halls with kitchens are great.
We hear a lot about communities dying out because their facilities aren’t being used, so I think this is the perfect way to keep them alive and village facilities funded.
Some ingenious parents I know hired our school’s hall on a weekday afternoon straight after school. The kids simply went from school to the party. As well as being cheap to hire (Â£30-ish), it saved other parents from having to make supper on a school night, and of course it helped raise funds for the school.
4. Book the party before their birthday
This may sound obvious, but strategic booking can help cut costs, even if it’s just a few pounds. My daughter’s party, for example, is at a soft play centre a few days before her actual fourth birthday. This is because the centre allows one adult in free for each child of three or under, which means I can get in for free rather than paying Â£2.50 if she was four.
Planning in advance also means you can properly budget for the day.
5. Use Costco for cakes
If you’re a member of wholesaler Costco and are planning a big party, you may save buying a huge cake from there, rather than heading to your local supermarket to buy a couple of cakes.
The party for seven children I’ve already mentioned had a cake from Costco. If you haven’t seen one of these before, these aren’t your ordinary-sized cakes you see in supermarkets. They’re massive, enough to feed about 30 children (depending on how hungry and big they are, of course!)
6. Want to book an entertainer? Word of mouth goes a long way
If you’re getting an entertainer, you don’t want to spend your hard-earned cash on someone you’ve not seen before or may not be any good. So ask other parents who they rated and then try and get the best deal you can.
We’ve seen one magician/ventriloquist so many times now I know his routine off by heart. But the kids think he’s great.
7. Party bags â€“ just a few little bits will go a long way
The pressure of providing great party bags can be high. But there’s no need to spend a fortune. If it’s a young kids’ party, you won’t need much, just a few small goodies like bubble mixture, little notepads, boxes of raisins or small sweets in a small plastic party bag â€“ pound shops and supermarket value ranges are great for these.
It’s also worth buying the party bags before you decide what to put in them, so you know how much you can fit in – otherwise you may end up buying more than you need â€“ plus remember you’ll need room for a piece of birthday cake.
More top tips
For more top tips on cutting costs on anything from birthday parties, to Christmas and anniversaries, see our Special Occasions forum board (it’s currently renamed the Christmas board).
If you’re a parent with party tips to share, you can do so in our Great Cheap Kids’ Party Hunt forum thread. I particularly like the idea of asking to visit your local fire station. The kids have fun and get an important lesson on fire safety.
There are also lots of tricks to pare down costs and ideas for free days out in our 50+ Family MoneySaving and Baby Checklist guides, as well as in our Days Out Deals and Free Museums and Galleries guides.
Do you have an ideas for cutting the cost of children’s parties? Please share your thoughts in the discussion below, or in the forum.