I am always of two minds about the whole kid's party thing. Personally, I don't recall having a lot of parties when I was a kid (I may well have, but I don't remember them) but I don't feel hard done by. I don't think you need to celebrate each and every birthday. It is a special day whether you have a party or not. But then, my generation of Mums seem to feel the need to host a party for their kids every year. They are often bigger than Ben Hur (e.g a jumping castle for a one-year old's party). If I don't have parties for my kids every year, will they be social lepers? If we just do something simple, will they be outcasts? Surely a Mum of four (still can't believe I will have four kids soon) gets let off the hook a bit?
Anyway, with all of that in mind, and Doo Dah's second birthday around the corner, the reader's of money may have just saved the day... ideas on how to make kids parties memorable (and cheap):
- Make your own party invitations. You can get your kids to help and the invites will be personal, unique and fun.
- Plan ahead - Try to avoid buying pre-made and processed foods; it's much cheaper to make your own treats and you can monitor the sugar and salt content. Cook earlier in the week and freeze suitable foods (like sausage rolls and quiches). Make and decorate the sponge cake the day before.
- Instead of soft drink, buy a bottle of cordial. It is cheaper and the kids won't miss the softie.
- Use plastic plates and cups (e.g. the ones from Ikea) rather than disposable. They can be reused year in, year out.
- Borrow a cake recipe book from the library (rather than buying it) and bake and decorate the cake yourself. You can buy red, yellow and blue food dyes (and mix any colour you need) - this will save you up to $30.
- Instead of lolly bags, buy cheap brown paper bags - kids can decorate them and take a piece of cake. Give the guests a book (you can buy sets of 10 for $10 at Australia Post). If you must have lolly bags, fill them with lollies and bubble-blowers from the $2 shops.
- Stock up on bargain prizes from the Reject shop for pass the parcel and other party games, or stock up on happy meal toys from McDonald's over the year.
- Use old newspapers instead of wrapping paper for pass-the-parcel.
- If your kids' friends have birthdays around the same time of year, combine parties and split the cost.
- Keep the numbers down. Don't feel compelled to invite the whole school.
- Fancy dress is expensive but most people have 'dress-ups'.
- Rather than using an entertainment venue, have the party at your home. You could have a little sports day in your back garden. If you have an apartment, go to the local park. The venue is free and the kids can run wild.
- Instead of hiring someone, have a teenage relative dress up and entertain the kids.
- Get creative! make your own games or think back to the activities your parents organised at your parties e.g. hang donuts from the clothes line, tie the kid's hands behind their backs and see who can hoover a donut the fastest without using their hands.
- If your budget is really tight, ask your guests to bring along a plate of food each.