We all want to throw our kids a birthday party that they will never forget, but we don’t all have a Kardashian budget for these things. I’ve been throwing kids parties for nearly 21 years now so I have some great tips on how to make it look amazing, without blowing the budget!
10 tips to creating amazing kids parties on a budget
Tip 1 – Plan early
I start planning six months out. I’m not kidding! I start a Pinterest board and start researching ideas. Planning early gives you plenty of time to find the best bargains. For example, if you are planning a Harry Potter party or a spooky party, the best and cheapest time to get everything is right after Halloween when all the stock gets discounted. If you aren’t planning that far in advance you’ll miss out. When my son turned 10 he had a spooky party and we decorated the garage with spider webs, skeletons, skills and all sorts of creepy things. His birthday is in March so I bought everything the previous year after Halloween. I probably spend about $50 and got so much stuff. I also did this for Tully’s Harry Potter party in April last year. For a farm party you want to collect decorations at Easter when you can get the little fluffy chicks, hollow eggs and so forth. You’ll save so much money doing it this way.
For Tully’s farm party when she turned two I used Easter eggs, fluffy chicks and the little Lindt bugs for theming.
Tip 2 – Make a lot of lists
Making lists means you don’t miss anything. It definitely reduces the stress. I make a themed food list and then I start a list on Woolworths online shopping that I can keep adding to as I go. Then, when it’s time to buy the food I cross check my online shopping list with my lists then place the order and click and collect. I do my best never to go in because I always forget something, overspend or get distracted.
I also have a list of decorations and accessories I’m looking for so I can tick them all off as I go, do this on notes in my phone.
Tip 3 – Shop around
If you give yourself enough time then shopping around will get you a lot of bargains. Start with Facebook Marketplace if you are having a popular theme such as Harry Potter or Frozen. Chances are someone close to you will be selling off decorations that are perfectly useable.
I also like places like eBay, Kmart, Amazon, my local $2 shop and even Wish, for little guest gifts. If you’re doing a theme like Pokemon they have bags of mini Pokemon for around $20. They also have Pokeballs you can fill and all sorts. Just make sure to read the product reviews before you buy!
You can also buy themed printables from Etsy, which only cost around $10-15 and you can just print them at home.
For Tully’s Unicorn party I found plush unicorns on Amazon – six for $15. All the kids got one with just a few lollies, instead of a lolly bag. They loved it!
For Tully’s Coco party I decorated using fake flower garlands I bought on eBay, a Coco poster and framed family photos, to really go with the Day of the Dead theme that Coco is all about. The flowers cost me about $20 and they really made the party table stand out. I decorated the deck with Mexican flags from a discount party shop.
Tip 4 – Make your own food
Catering is where you are going to incur a lot of expense. Making your own food is part of the fun and it’s so easy to theme the food. Remember that kids love simple food, nothing fancy. There’s a reason that 80’s kids party food is still popular now! Really easy things I like to do are themed cupcakes (using a $2 cake mix), making colourful lamingtons by cutting up an unfilled sponge and dipping them in coloured icing and coconut, fairy bread cut in to shapes with cookie cutters and so on. Presentation isn’t expensive, it just takes a little practise.
These lamingtons for my niece’s Bluey party only took a little while and the kids loved them!
Using three Woolworths chocolate mud cakes is a great birthday cake option. My tip is to cut off the icing then freeze them before decorating them. It makes it easier to ice and it stops them collapsing, which they can do if they are too soft.
Tip 5 – Bake early where you can but don’t be afraid to cheat
To take the stress off yourself, bake things early if you can. Freeze the cake and cupcakes, make icing and freeze it, you can make cookie dough and freeze it. If you are pressed for time there are some really easy cheats – buy pre-made supermarket cupcakes, scape the icing off and re-ice with your theme colours (or just stick a cupcake topper on them if they match you theme!); decorate already made biscuits, using chocolates and lollies.
For Tully’s Harry Potter party we used Ferrero Rocher as golden snitches. These were so easy to make and a huge hit.
Tip 6 – Don’t be afraid to craft!
Crafting is a great way to save money. Make your invitations, lollie bags or guest gifts. For Tully’s first birthday we did a Dora theme, and while it wasn’t very fancy, the Backpack lolly bags were a massive hit. When I first started this blog and Dora was so popular I would get hundreds of emails a week asking for the template. He was so cute!
For the Harry Potter party I made the wands using chopsticks, hot glue and paint!
Tip 6 – creating a beautiful party table requires height, but not a lot of money
To get that instagram style party table it’s all about creating some height and giving the food a chance to shine. I’m a big fan of symmetry on the table, I think it gives it a professional look. To create a beautiful table you need:
A trestle table
A fabric, full length table cloth to hide the legs
Risers (like boxes or stands)
So a fabric table cloth is a must. You can get them at a Kmart, but ideally you want a full length one that are harder to find. You can hire them from a party supplier though. Never, ever use plastic on your main table. It looks cheap. Save the plastic for the extra food table that will be holding all the other food that isn’t part of your look.
You can buy pretty much everything you need these days at Kmart for a display. plastic trays, wooden boards and cake stands. Your local variety store and Reject Shop will have a lot as well. Also check your local Facebook Marketplace or even ask in your local facebook mother’s group if someone has any you can borrow. Seven years ago I posted in my local group to see if anyone had any lolly jars for a lolly buffet and a local woman offered to lend me some. Seven years later we are still great friends and I’m lucky to have her as she lends me basically all my party supplies!
Themed printables really tie the table together and gives it a consistent look and feel. You can see below with the unicorn party that the backdrop, printables and colours all match – right down to the rainbow cake!
Hopefully these tips will help you throw amazing kids parties on a budget – make sure you let me know if you have any other questions!