6 tips for planning a kids birthday party on a budget

Meet Jenny from Eckles Invites! She is a business owner and mum from Noosa who is ready to create the perfect personalised birthday invitations for your little one’s special day! We love Jenny’s style and were so excited to get to know the mum behind this beautiful business. From being involved with many mums who are planning parties, she has seen it all but knows you can definitely plan a kid’s party on a budget – and still make it amazing!

Sometime between when I was a little girl and when my children were born, kids birthday parties have evolved massively! I was content with a small group of friends, our cabbage patch dolls and a birthday cake that mum let me choose from the Australian Women’s Weekly Cake Book! I certainly don’t remember going to any parties that were styled, themed, structured & meticulously planned out. But, cut to now and wow! The potential to spend your monthly mortgage payment on one child’s birthday is so very real –and no, I’m not joking!

So I am here, as someone who is involved with kids’ birthday parties quite a lot, to tell you that you don’t need to save up for 3 months ahead of the party or ditch your daily coffee to save the coins. You can plan and host an amazing birthday party that you, your child and their guests will remember and love for a long time! Let me give you some tips!

Money saving tip #1:

My biggest money saving tip is all about buying in advance. The actual date of the birthday is not a surprise! We know it’s coming around each year – it doesn’t try to sneak up on us – so 6 months before the birthday month, start thinking. Throw one or two things in your shopping trolley each week. Even if you don’t get it from the supermarket, grab some straws & plastic plates from the discount store, buy a bag of balloons and streamers from the small department store, chuck in a roll of wrapping paper…whatever you think you’ll need, start buying bits and pieces ahead of time. 

I promise you that this will definitely save you money in the long run. Tell me you haven’t been in my shoes where you’ve left everything to the last minute, have next to nothing ready for the party, you dash to the shop and basically fill a trolley with bunting, streamers, table cloths, plates, bowls, cutlery, serving platters, fancy silver plastic tongs, 500 red plastic cups when really you wanted green …. and then get to the checkout and nearly fall into the trolley when you hear the total price. Yep, let’s try not to do that again! Buying in advance also means you’ve given yourself enough time to check prices online as well which can be an extra saving!

When it comes to colours, decorating and themes, one of my money saving tips is to buy mostly white and then accent with your colours or theme. So, buy white plates, white cutlery, clear plastic cups and then add a coloured table cloth, bright balloons and some special decorations that co-ordinate perfectly. This means that at the end of the party you can put any left over ‘neutral’ party accessories in a bag all ready for the next party that you are throwing – probably only in a few months time!!

6 tips for a budget friendly kids birthday party

Money saving tip #2:

Where you can, try to avoid having your party at meal times! Before lunch at 10 o’clock is a great time, or even after lunch at 2.00 o’clock. By planning your party at these times, you are not expected to provide a whole meal for your guests, your guests’ siblings and your guests’ parents. This can really cut costs dramatically. One table of snack foods, plus the birthday cake is then all you need…and if you keep the children busy with party games, they won’t even have enough time to eat, so a total win win there!

If you do happen to have your party around lunch time a good ‘ol sausage sizzle is a great way to feed a bunch of people. I’d probably keep in mind though, if you do provide lunch, it is also ‘expected’ to still have your snack table and cake – so if you can, perhaps try to avoid lunchtime.

Also when it comes to planning what you are going to provide your guests to eat accept those offers of help. I can’t think of one party that I have had for my 2 boys where at least 1 person hasn’t offered to bring a plate of food. This year I said yes to my neighbour who bought a plate to both parties! People don’t usually offer if they’re not willing to help so a simple, ‘yes that would be lovely’ is all you need to say.

6 tips for a budget friendly birthday party

Money saving tip #3:

If you’re really serious about saving money or planning this party on a budget, then consider hosting the party at your house. It truly saves money in more ways than one. Firstly, you are not paying for venue hire of anywhere. Secondly, you probably already have ‘entertainment’ in the form of a trampoline, sandpit or even Duplo for the little ones. Having your party at home also means you don’t have to think about access to water & toilets and this can be a good thing if you do decide to bring in someone like a face painter who needs taps.

You may also find that many party venues that you enquire at also have a fixed party price that includes food and drinks for the children. However, with a bit of planning (yep sorry, that word again), you would probably be able to provide more food that is actually what you want them to eat for a much cheaper price – and having it at home means you can keep the leftovers if there are any and keep partying for days!

6 tips for a budget friendly kids birthday party!

Money saving tip #4:

I don’t actually remember the price of stamps going up to $1.00 but I was so shocked recently to see that they had! By either giving out invitations personally (school, day care, kindy etc) you can potentially save yourself up to $20 (depending on guest numbers). Digital invitations are also a very budget savvy technique and a lot of my customers as using this digital file as is – not actually printing it out. All it requires you to do is purchase the digital invitation file (which can still be personalised and suit your theme) and email it to your guests. It can then be up to them if they print it out and put it on the fridge.

I’ve mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, that we have even been invited to a kid’s party through a social media event. This is totally doable and totally cheap! Use that digital invitation we just talked about, post it as a photo on your event page, include a profile picture of your little birthday person and voila! All done! There are not many mums who are not on Facebook these days, so this is a great alternative.


Money saving tip #5:

Do you remember those brown paper lunch bags that you may have ordered your school lunch in? They work out to be .26c each and are a perfect bag for your party favours! Party bags or lolly bags can work out to be such a big expense for your party – the cost just sneaks up on you as you think you are doing it cheaply by buying little things that are under $1.00 each, but once you add 2 or 3 items, some lollies, a fancy bag and times that by the number of guests you have invited (sometimes plus siblings!), it can get soooo costly.

I love having my boys decorate the bags a little bit. A large sheet of stickers (which could match your theme or colours), a few texta squiggles on it and a thank you tag that matches your invitations tied to it make it look gorgeous and personalised.
The other alternative with filling party bags to the brim with lollies and toys is to have a little craft activity as an activity at your party and that, with a piece of cake is what your guests take home. You can get around this very inexpensively by choosing activities such as threading pasta on a string to make a necklace, having a small painting/colouring in table (source your pics on line for free) or even giving out homemade playdoh – which was a hit this year for our 5 year old party. Obviously these activities need to be age appropriate, but jump on Google and see what you can find.

Money saving tip #6:

My best friend is a cake decorator and because of her I have a completely newfound, enormous amount of respect for what these talented people do! I’ll admit, I have totally taken for granted the work that is required to decorate a cake in a given theme. The fondant, the figurines, the lettering…let alone actually baking a delicious cake! So my point here is that they are expensive for a reason!
If you can follow the direction on a packet mix, double it and go for it! Let Google Images be your friend and find one that you love or do what I ‘ve done for the past 3 or 4 years. Head to eBay, find some little figurines that match your theme, bake and ice the cake and stick them on top! So easy, so effective and so cheap!
If you do want to go to that extra little bit of effort, then did you know you can actually hire cake tins? They get posted to you, you use it for your cake and then post it back! This is a great way to save money with the cake as well. Oh, and the BEST way to save money on the cake? Ask Grandma to make it 😉

 Make your own cake      

My main message that I hope you take away is that you don’t actually need to spend an exorbitant amount of money to plan and pull off a fantastic birthday party that your little person will love! Try not to feel the pressure and just stick to the basics – invitation, cake, a few balloons and a couple of party games. Plan what you think your little one will love and stick to that!

I can just about guarantee you, that with all of your efforts, your planning and your budget savvy ways, your birthday girl or boy will have a huge smile on their face throughout the whole party – and now you have extra money to spend on a bottle of wine to recover from it all!

Jen x

Eckles Invites


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All images supplied by Jenny. 

What tips do you have for a budget friendly kids birthday party?

One thought on “6 tips for planning a kids birthday party on a budget”

  1. Thanks for the great tips on planning a birthday party. I want my son’s 10th birthday to be great, but we don’t have a ton of extra money for it. I like how you said to have the party at a time other than meal time! That makes perfect sense.

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