Budget birthdays for kids

Children’s birthday parties can get pricey, but there’s no need to panic. We’ve put together a list of tips and tricks to ensure your child has a magical day, without blowing your budget.

Homemade invitations
Get your child to draw his own invitation, scan it onto your computer, add some copy in Paint and your invitations are done. Instead of printing and enveloping each invitation (expensive and labour intensive), email the invitations out: it’s cheaper,  eco-friendly and easier to keep track of.

Make your own decorations
Or turn the decorating into family fun. Stationery and party paraphernalia is usually very cheap at local Chinese stores. If you’re in Johannesburg, try China Town at Bruma Lake, and for those living in Cape Town, your best bet is the China Town in Ottery or Sable Square. You can pick up balloons, wigs, hats, face paints, bubbles and all kinds of crazy party gadgets for a fraction of what you’d usually pay.
If you’re not keen to make the mission, try some online shopping at Parties 4 Africa.

Find a budget venue
Going out on day trips is expensive, as is renting a venue or eating out at a restaurant. Instead, invite the children round to your home and entertain them with games. Pick the ones you like on Partygameideas.com. Alternatively, try local parks, the beach or school playgrounds in your area.
For a list of party venues in Cape Town, visit Kids Party Venues, and if you’re in Johannesburg, go here for a comprehensive list of venues across the city.
If you’d like to take the kids out for the day, visit our Kid’s Entertainment Deals here.

Keep the snacks simple
A simple way to make sure the kids have enough food without overspending is to give each child their own party plate. Create portions which include a variety of snacks, and lay the plates out with names on them. Some inexpensive party foods include popcorn, marshmallow and fruit kebabs, jelly and homemade cupcakes.
Another great way to save on food is to theme the party. Have a pizza party, and ask each kid to bring their favourite pizza topping, or a teddy bear’s picnic where each child brings their favourite picnic snack.

Create low cost prizes
Instead of buying prizes for each child, make certificates. Alternatively, buy bulk packets of hair bands, sweets, beads or pencils from China Town or Pick n Pay. Wrap them up with ribbon and cellophane in different combinations. You could also burn party songs onto a CD as a prize, or make fudge and cookie parcels.

Make something
An activity to keep the children entertained, and something special for them to take home. Dip-a-candle etc Parties in Johannesburg do candle making, mug painting and various other activities. They’ll provide all the materials and are happy to work with kids from one year upwards. Call Rina Matthews and Sharon Eloff on +27 82 925 9563 for inquiries.
In Cape Town, try Artee Parteez. They offer a variety of themed ideas, from Lego parties through to fabric painting. Contact Kirsty on +27 84 207 0180 or email kirsty@arteeparteez.co.za.

Be inventive
Party packs are expensive so make your own. Buy some coloured cellophane and ribbon and fill the bag with Sparkles, mini chocolate and marbles or bouncing balls. Personalise each bag with the child’s name on a pretty label. Kids will love them, and each bag will cost a fraction of what you’d pay for custom-made party packs.

Before you start planning your child’s party, take a careful look at your budget. Yes, it’s important to have a special day, but it’s also important not to overspend on items which, with a little ingenuity, you could in fact save on. It’s not about skimping, it’s about being money-wise.

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