I know what you’re going to say and it starts with: ‘In my day…’.
With the average cost of a birthday party being a whopping £135*, it’s little wonder parents are rejecting the private yacht charter daydream in favour of the simpler solution – jelly, ice cream and musical chairs. Unbelievably, however, ‘simple’ can still break the bank.
Parties at home are the cheapest option if you’re confident with going it alone with supplying food, party games and decoration. I’m pretty sure our home contents insurance policy doesn’t cover the removal of purple jelly stains from the sofa, so check the small print before inviting 20 excitable partygoers to rampage wildly through your lounge.
If you decide you can’t face the thankless task of clearing up afterwards or you’re keen to ring the changes, here are some ways to reduce the inevitable spending snowball effect.
- Booking midweek is a great way to pay less for the same activity. Popular venues get booked up quickly at weekends, leaving the weekdays discounted and available. The saving might make up for any inconvenience, so always check the week day price.
- Avoid the ‘per child’ trap. Church or community halls charge a reasonable hire fee, and often come readily equipped with tables, chairs, kitchen and music system. This one-off payment allows you to invite the birthday girl or boy’s whole class.
- Download invitations for your child to colour in, scour the net for free e-invite templates or set up an ‘event’ on Facebook instead of printing and posting.
- Opt for birthday packages at your chosen attraction instead of paying the standard admission. With entry, party food and activities all included, you make a significant saving. Using Legoland Windsor as an extravagant example, the party packages start at £34.95 per child (min 10 children) and adults go free. Individually, the discounted online admission is £37, before food and extras. Chessington World of Adventures offers Really Wild Birthday packages starting at £15 (off peak season) with a free adult ticket for every five children, whereas standard admission is £27.50.
- My son loved his seventh birthday party at Pizza Express, making pizza with 10 friends. The children came away with a certificate, their chef’s hat and a full tummy. Because they make what they eat, you don’t pay extra for catering and at £11.95 per person it’s good value.
- We’ve had mixed results with outdoor parties at public parks but, when the weather co-operates, this is unbeatable for saving money. Who doesn’t love a picnic?
- Avoid the cost and potential for wastage by choosing cupcakes instead of a large birthday cake. Make them yourself or have them professionally made at a fraction of the price of a decorated cake. Children can even decorate them as part of the fun.
On average, parents spend £135 on their child’s party, with one-in-six parents admitting to splashing out over £300, according to parenting website Netmums.