Organising The Perfect Child’s Birthday Party On A Budget

A young girl is shown sitting at the dinner table at a birthday party

We all want our children to enjoy their birthday to the full, but what can you do if you’re short of cash? This article is crammed full of ideas for children’s budget birthday parties, and we cover information about:

  • The importance of planning
  • Where to hold the party
  • Inexpensive party decorations
  • Catering for children and the birthday cake
  • Cutting the costs of goodie bags

Children’s birthday parties can be expensive. Recent research by Vouchercloud found that UK parents spend an average of £320.50 on a child’s birthday party[] while 2 out of 3 of kids aged 4-10 have a party every year. More worrying was separate research by Nationwide which found 15% of parents used a credit card and another 5% their overdraft facility to pay for the party. You really don’t have to be one of the 1 in 5 parents who go into debt to fund your child’s party as there are plenty of ways to cut costs and still ensure your kid has a great time. In this article, we look at every aspect of your expenditure for your child’s party from the venue to the goodie bags.

The importance of planning

Although it might seem excessive, planning for your child’s birthday party should start at least 3 months beforehand. In this way, you can spread the expenses over a few months and are less likely to make last-minute impulse buys which you’ll later regret. It will also give you plenty of time especially if you’re opting for the DIY-style party and doing many of the preparations yourself. With advance warning, you can also investigate the possibility of arranging your child’s party with a relative’s child or one of their classmates and split the costs.

Making your own goodie bags is much cheaper than buying them ready-made

Before taking this step, make sure that it’s with a parent who you get on well with, and who you know will pull their weight. One of the first things you should do in the planning stages is to draw up a budget and stick to it. You should factor in the expenditure for every aspect of the party from the venue to the food and cake.

Where to hold the party

Despite the upheaval and the clearing-up, the cheapest place to hold your child’s birthday party is in your home. If it’s held in summer, you could also use the garden space or even venture to a local park or playground for part of the party. You should, however, have a back-up plan in case the weather lets you down. Village halls can also be reasonably-priced if you only need them for a few hours. However, you should avoid weekends, half-term and bank holidays as they tend to be booked up quite far in advance.

Guest list and invitations

Do you really need to invite all of your child’s class? This can add to your expenses per head so ask your child to draw up a list of their closest friends. Although you can find cheap invitations in pound stores, you might choose to make your own and get your children involved. Alternatively, you might decide that paper invitations are an unnecessary expense and contact parents through social media or send e-invites.

A young girl is standing surprised in front of her birthday cake

Apart from including the time/date/location of the party on the invite, it might be a good idea to make it clear that siblings aren’t invited. There’s nothing worse than planning a party for 10 and suddenly being presented with 20 guests and insufficient food.

Inexpensive party decor

You really don’t need to go overboard with decorations for your child’s party. Some balloons, streamers and bunting are all you need. If you’re creative, you might want to customise the bunting to reflect your child’s interests.

Catering for children and the birthday cake

If you arrange the party for the afternoon (2-5pm), then you won’t need to worry about providing a main meal. Children are often more concerned about playing at a party rather than the food so simple finger food like pizza, crisps, sandwiches and mini-sausage rolls are really all you need.

Despite the upheaval and the clearing-up, the cheapest place to hold your child’s birthday party is in your home.

If you don’t feel confident about making your child’s birthday cake, you could get an inexpensive shop-bought cake like a Victoria sponge and then decorate it yourself.

Fun party activities

You don’t need to hire a party entertainer like a clown or magician to ensure that kids have a good time at the party. It is important, however, that the activities or games the children play at the party are age-appropriate. Younger children might like the idea of being given crayons to decorate plain paper tablecloths while older kids might prefer something more challenging like decorating a plain white mug. This would also double up as part of their goodie bag and save you more money.

A girl is playing and jumping on a bouncy castle

Outdoor activities in gardens or parks could include sports day events like egg and spoon or three-legged races while scavenger or treasure hunts (complete with maps) are also very popular as long as they’re adapted to the children’s age. Traditional party games like pass the parcel or musical statues are also easy to prepare, inexpensive and keep kids amused for hours. If you’re planning on any games, always make sure you provide consolation prizes for kids who don’t win anything.

Cutting the cost of goodie bags

It’s much cheaper to make up your own goodie bags rather than purchasing them ready-made. Pound stores can be a great source of bargain toys, stationery or other small gifts. Buy large bags of sweets and distribute them among their goodie bags. Another good idea is to buy a set of books and split them up so each child receives one.

Conclusion – Budget birthday parties

Using the ideas we have drawn up will cut the costs of your child’s birthday party. Don’t feel pressurised by your children’s ‘pester power’ or by the expectations of other parents so that you go into debt just to celebrate a birthday. All children really need is some fun with friends and something to eat and drink. If you’ve provided that, then they will enjoy the party and most importantly, so will your child.