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6 Ways To Save Money On Your Child’s Birthday Party

written by Shelley Marsh 05/09/2013
Kid's Birthday Party Save Money

If you choose to use the KISS principle anywhere in your life, you should absolutely use it when you are hosting a kids birthday party.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the KISS principle it stands for “Keep it simple, stupid!”  We applied this principle big time when it came to our daughter’s first and second birthdays.  We just grabbed a picnic blanket, a couple of roast chooks from up the road and headed down to our local park with a couple of friends.  Simple, low stress and oh so cheap.

This year, with Miss Money turning 3, she really wanted a proper birthday party.  So, with much trepidation we decided to give it a go.  Kids birthday parties are a bit like weddings, it is easy to get carried away and they can easily become black holes for cash.  So here are 6 ways we saved money whilst still giving our daughter a fun birthday bash.

  1. Use Electronic Invites

We live in 2013.  Even my mother has a Facebook account.  People don’t need a little bit of paper to know you are having a party.  In fact if you give me one, I will put it on the fridge,  little hands will take it down and it will be most likely lost.  Send me an electronic invite and I can check dates, times, locations as required and I will still be able to find it when I need it.  Easy and free!

  1. Share The Party With A Friend
The Birthday Girls

The Birthday Girls

This was undoubtedly the best decision we made when it came to having a kids party, we shared it with one of the wonderful women from my mother’s group and her gorgeous daughter.  It meant that not only did we share costs and the workload, it turned the preparation time into fun too!  We did a joint trip to Costco with our kids to pick up the supplies and at the party it was like having a magic fairy there with me, things just happened and I did not feel responsible for making every single decision.  At the party everything was shared, we just had two birthday cakes and everyone sang one song.  The girls loved it.

Fiona was a dream to work with.  I think that both of us would describe ourselves as relaxed, so that really helped.  We all had so much fun that we will probably do it all again next year!

  1. Ditch The Theme Or Choose A Simple One
Not much of a theme but everyone had a great time

Not much of a theme but everyone had a great time

I have to tell you up front I am not a huge fan of the theme.  I know some people love it but all I see is more hard work and cost!  It makes me laugh when you talk about having a kid’s party the first thing people ask you is “What is your theme?” Theme?  “Errrrr, my daughter is having a birthday theme”, is always my response.

If you really want to go down the theme route, then make sure you choose a simple one and don’t go overboard on it because it really does add to costs.  So what? Your plates and cups don’t match your theme?  The kids don’t care and they only end up in the bin anyway.  In the end we did go a theme for this party, it was pink as it is easy and the favourite colour of both girls.  We got pink table cloths, pink balloons and dressed them in pink.  That was pretty much the full extent of it!  Easy and cheap!

  1. Keep The Food Simple


Nothing like the old style party favourites

There was no high tea or dessert bar at our party.  It was all about sausage rolls and party pies (on sale $6 for 30 from Woolies), home made chocolate crackles and honey joys.  We went the token fruit platter but that is about as fancy as it got, and the strawberries were on sale for $1 per punnet!!!  Fiona made some awesome “spiders” out of chocolate, Nutella and Chang’s noodles!!!  They were delicious.  We were worried about not having enough food, but as it turned out we had tonnes.  The truth is that no one really eats much at these things as the kids are busy running around and the parents talking, so try not to over cater, it can be a money waster.  Mind you we did an epic fail on this part 🙂 and we were eating chocolate crackles and chips for many days afterwards!

  1. Keep The Activities Simple
A couple of simple activities kept everyone entertained

A couple of simple activities kept everyone entertained

In our local area we have a council run service called the Magic Yellow Bus.  They roll up to a local park and plonk out a range of activities for the kids and then everyone just plays.  We decided to model our party on this, just with cake!  So we just put out a table of homemade play dough with the play dough stuff we already owned, I threw half my kitchen utensils in the sand pit with a few buckets and we had a craft table with some cheap bits and pieces I had brought from Riot.  Luckily, Fiona owned a small jumping castle so that got a work out too!

We avoided organised activities like pass the parcel as we had heard this can be very political now days and there can be fights over who gets what.  Apparently every kid also has to get a prize!  It certainly wasn’t like that in the 70s!

We did do a piñata which was probably not very PC but it was heaps of fun.  However, if you choose to do this for your party here is a hot tip – don’t choose one with a character on it!  Apparently some kids get very distressed when they see Dora, Octonauts or Hi-5 been taken to with a stick!!  We went the very safe 3 shaped piñata!

  1. When Someone Says They Want To Help – Say “YES!”

People love to be involved in your party, it gives them what is known in the business world as “buy in”.  They wouldn’t offer if they weren’t genuine about helping you and as they say many hands make light work.  It helps to cut costs and reduce stress.  We had people bring in plates of food, fairy bread, dips, mini pizzas and even pick up food for us that we had pre-ordered.  As we had the party at a local family day care centre we had an army of volunteers help to set up and even more volunteers to clean up.  To them we own a huge “thank you” as without them we would probably still be there cleaning now 🙂

Overall the party was heaps of fun.  We kept it as simple as possible, which saved us money and lot’s of stress over things that in the end don’t really matter.  I was scared to host my first kids party but I really enjoyed it and maybe I might even be brave enough to do it again next year (with Fiona of course!) 🙂

If you liked this post you might also like to read:

 10 Easy Ways To Save Money

5 Financial Tips You Need To Know Now You’re A Parent

How To Make Your Savings Work Harder

# The photos were all taken by the wonderfully talented Lisa Marie Craye of Ginger Snaps Photography.  Pop over and “like” her facebook page at Ginger Snaps Photography

* The Peppa Pig Cake was by the Jedi Master cake maker Patricia Kavvalos from Bake It Beautiful.  Pop over and “like” her facebook page at Bake It Beautiful

I am so lucky to be surrounded by such talented and generous friends 🙂

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Lila 06/09/2013 at 7:35 am

Totally agree with you on the e-invites. I love creating something in photoshop to send out to guests,it’s just as pretty as printed invites and much more practical.
I did find choosing a theme helped me keep the money under control, but I can definitely see that if you’re rigid with a theme it could become very expensive.
Great tips.

Shelley Marsh 07/09/2013 at 6:26 am

Hi Lila! Thanks for stopping by. I wish I could use photoshop!! Luckily Fiona is a graphic artist so she did ours. Otherwise will my skill level it would have been very plain and boring! Money Mummy

Lydia C. Lee 06/09/2013 at 7:39 am

We got about 24 plastic plates and cups from ikea, and 12 years later, still use them (and they’re still as colourful as ever). So big expense first time round but you never have to by paper plates/plastic cups again…

Shelley Marsh 07/09/2013 at 6:23 am

Hi Lydia! What a great idea! I love Ikea! I will definitely think about this for the next one! Money Mummy

Julie 06/09/2013 at 8:43 am

Great tips. I love a good birthday party, but they do get expensive. I really need to listen to #6. I tend to be a bit of a control freak and like to do things myself. But having help definitely makes things easier. Visiting from weekend rewind x

Shelley Marsh 07/09/2013 at 6:29 am

Hi Julie, yes asking for help made it so much easier for us. I love it when people ask me to help. I am making fairy bread for a party I am going to today and I next week I will be cracking out the honey joys for another do. People love to be involved. Money Mummy

Leanne Winter 06/09/2013 at 10:08 am

Love the tips! I’m not a fan of the theme party either and enjoy the backyard or park parties much more than the bowling, movie, play centre parties (although I have done the play centre). I also despise pass the parcel, it takes forever to put play, the kids argue over it – you get very few smiles or laughs. And now you’ve made me hungry for honey joys – haven’t had one in years!

Shelley Marsh 07/09/2013 at 6:32 am

Hi Leanne! Yes I love honey joys too! I only know how to do 3 types of party food – honey joys, chocolate crackles and fairy bread. Two of them are recipes off the cereal packet 🙂 But they are all big hits every time. Money Mummy

Amanda @ Cooker and a Looker 07/09/2013 at 7:40 am

There’s some great ideas here. Last year the girls had a combined birthday party (they’re only a week apart, so I think there’ll be plenty more in their futures!). Think I’d scrimp on other areas to save for paper invites though – there’s something special about receiving party invitations when you’re a kid. 🙂

Shelley Marsh 07/09/2013 at 3:47 pm

Thanks Amanda! A combined birthday party is such a good idea! It will give your girls lots of lovely memories! Money Mummy.

Grace 07/09/2013 at 8:35 pm

It’s so true…why don’t we make it simple? I went crazy over the boys’ 1st birthday…and I’m sure I almost had a nervous breakdown afterwards. The following 2 years I kept it low-key, strictly family only affairs and we had a great time! And you’re right. You only need 1 or 2 big activities to keep 3 – 4 year olds happy.

Shelley Marsh 08/09/2013 at 7:58 pm

Hi Grace, yes often we forget how simple it is to keep kids happy. Especially when they are young they do not need grand gestures. Money Mummy

Lani 08/09/2013 at 6:56 pm

Lots of great ideas there. We had our three year old’s party at the park so the kids ran round there and entertained themselves, it was great. I LOVE homemade parties almost as much as the kids do – they are always remembered as the some of the highlights of one’s life 🙂

Shelley Marsh 08/09/2013 at 7:57 pm

Hi Lani! Yes I totally agree. There is so much pressure to have this so called “perfect party” but the home made ones are the best! Money Mummy

Janine 08/09/2013 at 10:15 pm

Great tips – I think the kids are happy even if it is simple.

Shelley Marsh 10/09/2013 at 11:30 am

Hi Janine, you are right, I think the kids don’t care if things are simple. And my daughter didn’t even care that she was sharing her party with someone else! She had a ball and so did Fiona’s daughter, it was lovely. Money Mummy

Vanessa 09/09/2013 at 4:26 pm

Great post, looks like a fun party. Love the KISS principle, although I need to use it more often. Awesome cake and fairy-bread stars are very cute. xx

Shelley Marsh 10/09/2013 at 11:26 am

Hi Vanessa, I didn’t make the cake. My good friend Patricia did it for me, she runs her own business from home. She also did the fairy bread. She is really good at all that stuff. Me, not so much! 🙂 Money Mummy

Cybele @ BlahBlah 09/09/2013 at 8:12 pm

Hello fellow Blog Chic, this is a great post. I am definitely going to hunt down someone to share the party with next time!

Shelley Marsh 10/09/2013 at 11:24 am

Oh yes Cybele! It is such a great idea! It made things so much easier! I highly recommend it! Money Mummy

Mel B 10/09/2013 at 11:34 am

We did much the same for my son’s second birthday earlier this year – lots of different play ‘stations’ for the kids and the loved it! We had bubbles and playdough and goopy stuff and it all boiled down to simple and low cost, but looked awesome. Though I must say, I love a theme myself!!
I used electronic invites for most of our parties, but my daughter has started school this year and I’ll do paper this year because the kids are so excited to find a paper invite in their bag 🙂

LOVE birthday cake by the way – too cute!
Found you via Blog Chicks 🙂

Shelley Marsh 11/09/2013 at 6:40 am

Hi Mel, thanks for popping by from Blog Chicks! Yes I agree maybe when they get to school the paper invite might have to be the go as you probably won’t know the parents. Glad you liked the cake my friend Patricia made it. She runs her own business from home called Bake It Beautiful. You can find her on Facebook. She is super talented. Money Mummy

Kelly 27/09/2013 at 9:10 pm

Nice tips. I like the #6 number tips because I think when you want to make a cheap and better kids birthday party, then this tip could have helpful. I would recommend these post to my friends.

Shelley Marsh 29/09/2013 at 5:42 pm

Hi Kelly, yes asking for help is so important and people love to be asked! It took me a long time to figure this out! Money Mummy

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