The options for birthday parties nowadays are enormous, but so are the price tags. When you’re watching the family spending or saving up for a new home or holiday, throwing a fabulous birthday party can feel like a real strain on the budget. However, it is possible to throw a fun birthday party that your kids and their friends will love without breaking the bank. Jo and Carl Violeta share their tips.
With our eldest child being 16 and our youngest being 3, we’ve had our fair share of experience in throwing parties. We’ve held both extravagant parties and more frugal affairs and what we’ve learned is that with some creativity and know-how you can enjoy an awesome celebration without maxing out your credit card.
Borrow, hire & re-use what you can
Check out your local toy library. As well as toys many toy libraries also hire out larger equipment for parties such as jumping castles, which often end up being much cheaper than a commercial hire company.
Consider spending a bit more initially for good quality decorations. For example, fabric bunting looks festive and can be re-used, especially if it’s in a neutral colour. Ask your friends if they have games or decorations that you can borrow.
For the cake, decorations and even entertainment, look at what you can DIY (if you have the time and inclination).
Simple homemade snacks such as fruit on a stick, fairy bread, vegemite sandwiches and popcorn are always a winner. A couple of big jugs of water and diluted fruit juice with ice blocks in them, is far cheaper than buying individual drinks.
Depending on their age, get your birthday child to make decorations and invitations.
Look around your home and see what you can creatively upcycle. One local mum we chatted to got super creative and upcycled a Melways (Melbourne street directory) to be used as decoration and party bags!
Another mum we spoke with always creates her own entertainment. The most popular one so far was a messy party. She filled one shell pool with slime and plastic bugs and another with mud and trucks. There was also a messy cupcake decorating station and a very messy slimy foam pit which kids slid into! How much fun is that!
Some of our favourite birthday parties we’ve attended have been held at the local park. Super simple and fun with a sausage sizzle and traditional games like musical statues and pass the parcel. There are some great adventure playgrounds around these days and most kids don’t need much more amusement than what is already on offer.
Obviously, outdoor parties are weather dependent, so living in Melbourne, as we do, can make it tricky if you have autumn or winter babies. But you can always give it a go and have a Plan B if the weather goes bad!
If you’re super organised, planning ahead can save you heaps on birthday parties. Keep an eye out online and in-store for bargains and buy a bit at a time.
One of our daughter’s friend’s mums was renowned for the fabulous parties she threw every year for her daughter. She is super proud that she managed to do it all on a tight budget, by planning ahead. She would choose a theme for the party well in advance and then keep an eye out for appropriate bargains.
Planning ahead also means you aren’t hit with all the expenses in one month. Just be mindful you don’t overspend because you’ve forgotten what you already bought!
Timing is everything
Depending on the family, if your kids’ birthdays are close together they may be amenable to a joint party which can slash the cost.
The time of day you throw the party can make a big difference to costs as well. One mum we spoke with suggested to time the party for morning or afternoon tea, rather than having to cater for lunch or dinner.
Another option is to consider throwing a party every second year and perhaps buying a present that is a little bit more special on alternate years.
We love celebrations, they are an important part of family life. But birthday parties shouldn’t put you under financial stress or delay you from reaching your savings goals. By making a few smart adjustments, you can still have your cake and eat it too so to speak.
About Jo and Carl
Jo and Carl Violeta are self-confessed numbers nerds, parents of an energetic toddler and a super switched-on teenager, and co-founders of the award-winning business, Violeta Finance. They are a husband and wife team who are passionate about empowering their community with financial education, love the odd glass of wine, and get a kick out of helping families achieve their homeownership and financial dreams.