I'm absolutely delighted that one of my favourite bloggers, Cass from The Diary of a Frugal Family, has written a Guest Post on Birthday Parties for me. My 4yo will turn 5 on Satiurday, aside from the shock that my youngest child is going to be 5yo, I needed some inspiration and ideas for the party
that are really cheap to keep costs down.
Over to Cass from The Diary of a Frugal Family:
One of the happiest memories from my childhood is of my sixth birthday party - trust me, I have the video to prove it as my dad spent the whole day following everyone around with a giant camcorder with my brother following closely behind him with some sort of lighting attachment. I think that this may be the reason why I love celebrating the children’s birthdays with them so much. Every year since they started school, they’ve both had a party - sometimes big parties for the whole class and sometimes smaller parties with just a few friends. Either way we always have lots of ideas to make sure we have as much fun as possible for as little money as possible:
*As popular as parties at the local bowling alley or go kart track are, I’ve found that children love the good old fashioned parties with the same games that we enjoyed when we were younger.
* Our local church hall costs 30 pounds to hire for a two hour party and holds up to 35 children which means that the whole class can come. We took a CD player and filled the room with about 100 balloons (husband wasn’t happy when he got that job) and let them get rid of lots of energy running round and popping them all before playing pass the parcel, musical statues, musical chairs and pin the tail on the donkey.
* We’ve had a pamper party where my daughter invited six friends round and my friend came and curled all the girls’ hair and did their nails while we had the Wii on in the other room. For about six months after this, every party my daughter was invited to was a pamper party!
* We’ve hired a party fire engine for my little boy and six of his friends and got a good deal as we asked for a shorter ride than the hour that they usually taken them out for. Trust me, half an hour is more than enough for six little boys in an enclosed space with no toilet.
* Last year we had a pink tea party where everyone had to come in pink (it’s OK - they’re all girly girls) and all the food was pink.
* We’ve hired a bouncy castle for the garden at a cost of about 40 pounds which kept everyone occupied for the whole two hours.
* When I was working full time, we also had a few parties at the Wacky Warehouse which works out to about 120 pounds for 20 children including an hours play in the ball pool, a hot meal and a party bag - not very frugal but it still represents good value for money and is always a popular party idea.
Food wise we never go overboard as I find that the kids don’t tend to eat too much while there’s a party going on. I make some ham, egg and tuna sandwiches (I hate sweaty cheese sandwiches), some sausage rolls and mini pizzas, hot dogs on cocktail sticks, crisps and lots of fairy cakes. We usually have strawberries and grapes too although that does tend to use up a lot of the budget so I guess if you’re being frugal you could easily do without them.
I don’t tend to bother making the cake myself now after the last cake I made ended up costing about three times what a cake would have cost to buy - it was fantastic though and sealed my reputation as the school’s premier party throwing parent (not really lol).
My pet hate is party bags filled with sugary things and plastic tat so I always stock up on things just after the kids go back to school and then again after Christmas when you can usually get stacks of things reduced to ridiculously low prices. This year my 9 y/o’s party bags consisted of a light up Hello Kitty pen, a Hello Kitty key ring, a notebook, some bubbles and two packets of sweets - all for under one pound fifty a bag. Oh, and try not to forget to put the cake in the bag like I did ;-)
Whatever you decide to do, take lots of pictures. I always take one of everyone at the party for the kids to keep and if it’s a smallish party I get a copy of it printed out for everyone.
And don’t stress out, the guests won’t care if you forget something or if something doesn’t go according to plan.
Do check out the fab The Diary of a Frugal Family blog for loads of great ideas, recipes and adventures.