If one of your children has a birthday in the weeks leading up to Christmas, well, you didn't really plan that terribly well now did you? But timing aside, it can become a fiendishly difficult task, juggling the finances so that you can both save up for a fabulous Christmas and do your child proud when it comes to their birthday and their birthday party.
But children's birthday parties don't have to break the bank, and with a little careful thought and a smidgen of effort you can shave quite a substantial sum off the cost of a birthday party without sacrificing fun or spoiling the children's enjoyment. So here are a couple of quick ideas as an example of how to cut the cost of your child's unfortunately seasonal birthday party.
One of the biggest expenses at a children's party is often the food. Even with relatively limited numbers of children attending you'll want to have enough variety to make sure there's both plenty of food, and plenty of choice so everyone will have enough. The trouble is though that offering six different types of sandwiches, eight different types of savoury snacks, four types of crisp flavour and a dozen different cakes and nibbles all adds up. Then there's the birthday cake on top of that.
But it is perfectly possible to save money here, and there are a couple of different ways you can do it. First of all there's the outright cheat which is to time the party between mealtimes so you don't need to provide any food, or at least only a snack. If you plan to have a child's party between 11 and 1 then clearly you're going to have to offer them a lunch, and if the party is between 4 and 6 then again, a dinner or its equivalent is going to be necessary. But if you plan a party to be between 10 and 12, or between 2 and 4 then you're less likely to be expected to offer a substantial amount of food. Having snacks available is usually enough. But of course you may feel a little awkward doing this, and you may want to offer a table of children's party food but without the cost.
So why not pop to a supermarket and pick up a half dozen of those extraordinarily cheap pizzas? In most supermarkets you can buy three pizzas for £3, and if you want to you can always just buy the basic cheese and tomato pizzas, throwing on your own ingredients on top if you wish. You can easily feed a dozen children for £6, offering them half a pizza each. You'll obviously want to offer a few other bits and pieces, but rather than opening bags and bags of crisps why not bung in a few trays of chips into the oven and offer these with the pizza? Often this will be a fraction of the cost. Then there are the cakes.
Seriously, how hard is it to make a few fairy cakes? You can pay a fortune for them at the supermarket, but with a simple recipe you can turn out a few dozen for a matter of pence. You could even involve your child the day before in decorating the cakes. The chances are they'll love doing this, and as well as saving you time it will save you a fortune. When it comes to the main birthday cake, you can again pay a lot for a professionally made one, but if money is tight who says you can't make your own? By whipping up a simple chocolate sponge cake you can decorate it with icing however you like. Write your child's name and age in piped icing, pop in some candles and there you go.
Feeding a dozen or so children doesn't have to cost a fortune, and by using the cheap pizzas and chips, cooking your own cakes and baking your own birthday cake you can often bring the price of the food down from something like £50-£80 to around £10-£15.
A children's entertainer, such as a magician, can often charge anywhere from £150 upwards, especially if in addition to doing a magic show they also help keep the children occupied with games and other activities. This is a lot of money, and it's quite possible to reduce this down to next to nothing.
The solution is simply to do the entertainment yourself, but don't worry, you don't have to start pulling rabbits out of unexpected places, juggling burning chain saws or making elephants disappear. Party games are always popular, and they help the children burn off all that excess energy. There are plenty of party games described on the web, including many, many ideas on this blog. We've also covered how to theme party games if your child is having a themed birthday party, such as pirates, animals, superheroes or princesses.
By using things as simple as balloons and newspapers you can create a whole range of activities. Plan and prepare in advance, and you'll find the children have a great time, even though it's cost very little.
The only things you'll probably need to pay for are the prizes, but a large bag of lollies doesn't cost much, and it's amazing just how much effort children will invest in a game all for the sake of a lollipop!
So if you're worrying about the cost of your children's birthday party during this festive season, perhaps these two points will help to reduce the budget enough for you to consider eating once or twice between now and Christmas!