How to Host Great Birthday Parties on a Shoestring Budget!

Call me old fashioned but I remember when birthday parties were party pies, fairy bread and a few kids playing pass the parcel in the backyard.

Sometimes with all of the perfect mums posting beautifully coordinated parties on social media it can feel like the pressure is on, but you don’t need to hire a party planner or break the bank to have a great birthday party!

To Theme, or Not to Theme?

My kids love a good theme, and to be honest it does help to tie the whole party together, make it fun and memorable.

If you’ve negotiated a theme with your child, start planning early. eBay, Gumtree and various Facebook buy, swap and sell sites have decorations, party packs, cake toppers, balloons and a myriad of other bits and pieces.

Location, Location

Backyard parties are the cheapest option if you have a good sized or an undercover area. A friend of mine held a disco themed party in her garage and it looked amazing with a disco ball and coloured lights.

Given that my eldest was born smack bang in the middle of winter, I’ve had to come up with some pretty creative options to avoid always having a party at my house. Play centres, laser tag, bowling and the cinema have all been on the list. Play centres can be expensive, but they do mean no mess and no fuss. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with the venue to better cater to your budget.

backyard kids partyLimit the Numbers

There’s no need to invite the whole class, next door neighbours, mother’s group, cousins, soccer team and anybody else you feel guilty about leaving out. Who are the besties? Depending on the venue you’ve chosen 5-10 kids is enough. As a rule of thumb its polite to invite any child whose birthday party your child has been invited to this year, but if you’ve limited your numbers it is okay to not invite them if they’re not one of your child’s closest buddies.

Get Creative

We’ve all seen the Pinterest fails… but I believe in you! Check out Pinterest, or Google some ideas and pick the simplest and cheapest ones you think you can handle. Get the kids involved to make invitations, decorations, games and even the cake yourself.
Buy a packet mix or pre-made cake from the supermarket. Ice, add lollies, an edible cake topper from eBay or a local cake shop or grab some little figurines from Target or K-mart and whack them on the top. Voila!

My twins had a Minions themed party. We bought huge sheets of yellow card, drew Stuart and Dave onto them, then traced and cut out a bunch of goggles. Pin the goggles on the minion game and decorations in one! Yellow balloons with minions faces drawn on and yellow iced cupcakes with faces drawn using gel icing were also simple ways to set the scene.

For my daughter’s Frozen themed birthday, I researched how to make snowflakes. We spent a fun couple of hours drawing and cutting out snowflakes together and hung them from the ceiling for a beautiful winter wonderland effect.

The Food

No need to go overboard. Kids aren’t looking for gourmet and half the food will be dropped on the floor as they run off to play anyway. Try these key staples:

  • Something healthy a simple fruit platter or fruit kebabs.
  • Something warm store bought pizzas cut into bite sizes. Party pies/sausage rolls are still a big hit!
  • Something nibbly chips, crackers, cheese, sandwiches and my favourite fairy bread!

The Games

No need to hire that balloon artist or face painter. Keep it simple. Old favourites like Pass the Parcel, Musical Statues and Musical Chairs still work. Extend your theme and create your own version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, or design a treasure hunt.

Last, but not least…

The all-important loot bag. Nobody wants their kid to come home from a party high on sugar and loaded up with more sugar and a damn whistle!

Bubble wands, oversized lollipops, hair accessories, footy cards, a colouring book with pencils or a small picture book are all great alternatives.

Avatar of Heidi Lewis

Heidi is a teacher and single mum of four who goes to gym in order to indulge her love of cheesecake. Raising kids with ADHD and Aspergers is fast, chaotic and often hilarious, but she wouldn't change a thing. Heidi recovers with good chick lit, writing and Netflix after bedtime.

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