How to do a kids' party really cheaply?

(42 Posts)
eisbaer Mon 10-Sep-12 08:26:35

Well, just that really- have promised 4yr old a b'day party, but in interim have done a budget and realised we have NO spare cash. Invites already do I do party bags, prizes etc cheaply? Don't think any point is too obvious. I'm a novice budgeter in spite of fact should have been scrimping a long time ago, sigh...

MissMogwi Mon 10-Sep-12 09:51:42

Party bags can just be a piece of cake and a balloon. Parents will thank you for the lack of plastic tat!

When mine were little I bought some plain paper sandwich bags and let them colour their own in. It kept them quiet for the last fifteen minutes!

At four, they love the classic party games like musical statues and pass the parcel. The poundshop has packs of crayons etc which would do for prizes.

Food doesn't have to be fancy, just sandwiches and crisps.

MissMogwi Mon 10-Sep-12 09:53:18

Honestly don't worry about it. I've done little parties for next to nothing and the kids have had a good time.

You might need a bottle of wine for afterwards thoughgrin

eisbaer Mon 10-Sep-12 09:55:08

Thanks, haven't actually been to that many but some of the party bags etc have been elaborate! That sounds much more manageable, wondered if pound shops were worth a look.

MissMogwi Mon 10-Sep-12 09:57:53

Poundshops are brilliant for parties. Also try Wilkinsons, I've found some bargains in there in the past.

goingtoofast Mon 10-Sep-12 09:58:30

these bags are good filled with sweets - my son had one from a party recently and loved it.

Agree with tradtional party games - kids do love them, stickers for prizes or get some bigger prizes from poundland. Fairy cake decorating with some coloured glace icing and sprinkles/smarties.

BadRoly Mon 10-Sep-12 09:58:52

My friend used to get sets if books from The Book People and give them out instead of party bags. I used to put a toothbrush (8 for £1 in Poundland) and novelty soap in blush.

Or just put a bit of cake and some chocolate/sweets in and don't bother with all the plastic shite.

Dd2's 5th birthday we did craft and what they made (badge, cake, windmill) was their party bag.

Agree with previous poster that musical bumps etc are ideal. We just have a tub if sweets and they pick a sweet for the 'prize'.

We found hot food easier than a cold spread - fish fingers and smiley faces wink

At 4, keep it simple and don't get caught up in the competitive party bag/prize thing.

BoysBoysBoysAndMe Mon 10-Sep-12 10:05:37

Basic supermarket cake

Juice, sandwiches, crisps, jellies in disposable plastic cups-quarter fill let set then top up with a second colour. chocolate rice Krispy cakes, mini sausage rolls (buy frozen and cook much cheaper)

Games-pass the parcel with cheap toys from home bargain/pound shops. Wrap in newspaper. Musical statues. Hide and seek

Have loads of balloons for then to play with.

Party bags-piece of cake, little bubbles, balloon, and a pound shop wonder like a rubber or a pencil etc

Music-to dance too!!

SavoyCabbage Mon 10-Sep-12 10:07:10

Definitely do an 'old style' party with games. They will love it!

Instead of party bags, get a box, skewer holes in it and put a lollipop in each hole. You can decorate them with that curly whirly ribbon if you want.

You can use stickers as prizes for the games and a couple of bigger prizes like play-doh or a mr man book for pass the parcel.

BikeRunSki Mon 10-Sep-12 10:10:27

I have just done a v cheap 4 yo party.
Went to park.
Took stiff for pass the parcel, three legged race, potato and spoon race, running race, picnic rugs, little portable cd player for musical statues etc. Bag of prizes from £1 shop. Picnic bags - got some white paper bags and everyone got a satsuma, sausage roll, carton of juice, packet a iced gems and bag of hula hoops. Party bags were also stuff from £1 shop - plastic dinosaur (big tub for £3 from ELC ), glo stick, screamer. balloon. Flasks of water and tea bags for grown ups. Totally lucked out on weather but had my eye on forecast and would have booked village hall (£7/hour) if it had looked bad. Food was paid by Nectar points! Made the cake. Cost about £20 after food. Ice lollies from shop in cool bag.

flyoverthegoldenhill Mon 10-Sep-12 10:28:52

that sounded great
so ..............what happened to my invite
AND how clever NO cleaning up

BikeRunSki Mon 10-Sep-12 13:23:02

It was brilliant. I made them all gold medals out of old christmas decs and ribbon, with their names on too

eisbaer Mon 10-Sep-12 14:28:51

Thanks for all the above, some great suggestions for prizes etc. I'm expecting at most 16 kids, probably going to cost me 40 quid, u think I could do it for less? Making own cake and sandwiches, frozen sausage rolls, crisps and marshmallOw top hats. What do adults get who come to a house party? Tea/coffee and cake sufficient?

NoComparison Mon 10-Sep-12 14:45:05

When DS1 had a Pixar Cars (losely) themed party, I printed colouring sheets off the internet and put those in party bags, tied up with a bit of gift wrap ribbon.

tea/coffee and cake (if there is enough) is more than enough for adults.

If you can find a big roll of stickers cheaply then use those as prizes for games/in pass the parcel layers. 4yo's love stickers, IME, and parents will bless you for lack of plastic tat and sweets.

Do you have something in stock (unwanted present?) you could use in the middle of pass the parcel?

If you are prepared to put energy into it (IME 4yos don't know many "proper" party games and have to be taught) then you needn't bother about prizes for games (other than pass the parcel) at all IME - they don't take much notice when they are "out" so no-one really knows or cares who won anyway, and if they do then a round of applause will do fine.

A couple of printed colouring sheets with some poundshop crayons would be a great party bag. If you are so inclined and happen to have some fabric already, then making little fabric bags is pretty quick and easy?

Badvoc Tue 11-Sep-12 11:54:50

Musical statues
Blind mans buff
Hide and seek
Treasure hunt
Party bag to consist of cake and prize?
Make cake

pancakeboobies Tue 11-Sep-12 21:13:00

Another cheap food idea is to just do hotdogs then ice cream in cones for afterwards. Cheap as chips.
I also bought white bags from ebay for hardly anything and the kids decorated them for the first part of the party - works well as keeps those who arrive first busy.
Also agree with getting them to do some crafts during the course of the party and then putting what they have made in the party bag.

forevergreek Sat 15-Sep-12 19:42:26

I'd say you can do for cheaper than £40

I'd do pizza and jelly/ ice cream party.

You can make a batch of pizza dough and roll into enough mini pizzas for one each ( these you can make before and freeze individually with greaseproof paper in between- on day just whip out on table and they can decorate own pizza - this will also use up time!), pop in oven whilst they play

Make your own jelly and set into basic disposable cups

Pin the tail on the donkey ( draw it yourself on to large sheet)

Pass the parcel ( something from poundshop- make two as 16 is a lot and will take ages!)

Party bags just a bag with cake in and balloon tied on

bacon Sun 16-Sep-12 16:16:22

Do a box meal - the boxes are cheap, one sub roll, sauseage roll, cake, fruit kebab and fruit juice instead of platters of crappy uneat food. No waste either. No spilt drinks. Much healthier too I obmitted crisps from mine and no one complained and near enough every child eat all the food. Make most of it yourself no need to buy cake, make a chocolate cake and cover in smarties and buttons - very simple.

numbertaker Sun 16-Sep-12 16:22:32

Only give them on the years the age is divisable by 5, then when they reach ten bribe them with this 'that console that you want is the same price as a party' Ha, job done.

BoffinMum Sat 22-Sep-12 20:10:48
suebfg Tue 02-Oct-12 20:43:17

At DS's posh school, party bags can often just be a cellophane bag filled with dolly mixtures and tied with nice ribbon. The kids love them far more than cheap toys.

crackcrackcrak Tue 02-Oct-12 20:52:52

I did a Halloween party last year v cheaply. I made green and orange play dough (I has everything already) and told the kids they had to make pumpkins and the adults had to help - they all thought it was hysterical. Then I printed out Halloween pictures off the net and they had a colouring contest. You could adapt those two ideas for any occasion grin
A friend did the paper sandwich bag party bags and I recall one of the goodies was some tissue paper filed up with sunflower seeds and a handwritten guide to growing them. I remember dd bring utterly fascinated by this mystery item grin
Go to aldi and get some party food - dint carer for adults beyond a cup of tea. As others have said musical stairs etc is free.
I go to dozens of kids parties (damn dd social butterfly!) and the kids seem to enjoy the running around together and games most of all grin
Lastly if you have things like writing icing lying around - decorating gingerbread men/or shortbread or whatever with some icing/smarties - whatever sweets are on offer is a good activity too.
The only item dd considers compulsory at a party is a balloon grin

crackcrackcrak Tue 02-Oct-12 20:56:48

Bike -that sound totally brilliant -just the own special bag of food each would win over dd and her pals (she's 3).
What a brilliant thread!

WingDefence Mon 22-Oct-12 22:25:01

I've only just found this thread but there are some great ideas on here.

OP, how did your party go?

crackcrackcrak Tue 23-Oct-12 09:04:26

I did 30 party bags for dd party the other week with a roll of cellophane from Ryman, roll of curling ribbon from cheap card shop and a ton of jelly babies. They looked fab were v easy and all the kids seemed impressed grin. I think it was £2.50 for the cellophane, less than a quid for the ribbon and maybe 6£ for the sweets but you could go cheaper in the £ shop I reckon grin

crackcrackcrak Tue 23-Oct-12 09:04:52

There's loads of cellophane left too I think it was 7m!

midseasonsale Wed 24-Oct-12 06:21:49

Instead of a party bag, buy a multi pack of mini sweets and hand them out as kids exit. This is standard in our area as parents got sick of all the tat. Alternatively wrap one single thing from Wilkinsons cheap rubber/pen section or split a multi pack of books from the works. One item per child.

Home made jelly and cake. Carrots and cucumber. Cheese cut up. cheap value crisps and mini sausage rolls.

Treasure hunt?

SavoyCabbage Wed 24-Oct-12 06:33:18

Always do less food than you think you need to.

Garlic bread is a good alternative to sandwiches as they never seem to eat sandwiches. Popcorn is cheap and popular. I make 'magic wands' witch are those hollow wafer cylinder biscuits dipped with hundreds and thousands. I put them in jam jars and they look great.

You could make play-doh instead of party bags.

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Wed 24-Oct-12 06:43:53

Love these ideas. At the moment our house is tiny though and the hall costs 50 to hire so we're being lured at the dreaded soft play as, though expensive, works out cheaper than hiring a hall seems to. Also I fear that once you hire a hall people seem to expect a different level of party than just what I'd have done at home. It all seems so overwhelming!

SavoyCabbage Wed 24-Oct-12 06:49:06

I did my dd's 4th party in our living room. We did traditional party games and the patents didn't stay. I wrote a list of games and moved from one to the next with no gaps then 20 minutes at the end for the food.

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Wed 24-Oct-12 07:04:46

We're only just starting our round of 4 year parties and parents are staying so far. Did you ask them not to? Hopefully we can do a 5 at home then! Our tiny place could manage a few girls but not parents as well. Not summer born either .i'd love to do outdoor picnics!

SavoyCabbage Wed 24-Oct-12 08:52:40

I just said 'don't feel like you have to stay' and I had a list for phone numbers. I think people do want to stay if it's a play centre or swimming etc. as their child need to be looked after more. They are safer in a house.

2beornot Wed 24-Oct-12 09:03:05

Sorry if this had already been said but doing a plate of food (sandwiches, sausage rolls nothing too fancy) for each child means you'll only do what you need rather than a help yourself buffet. Also I'm planning on making gingerbread men/women and icing each child's name on for their party bag.

Hawkins bazaar (online) do lots of cheap stuff for party bags.

Have fun!!

pookamoo Wed 24-Oct-12 09:05:33

We limit the number of guests to the age of the child. DD1 is about to be 4 so will invite 4 friends. With DD1 and DD2 that makes 6 for the party which is plenty!

Have decided to do parties like this for ages 3, 4, 5 and 6. From 7 up, they can choose one friend to come with us on a family outing somewhere fun.

colditz Wed 24-Oct-12 09:08:05

Get the children to make their own take home party thing, and if you're skilful, this could take up to an hour.

You need a packet of rich tea biscuits, some icing sugar, and some small sweets, including marshmallows, and some foil.

Then make the sugar up into icing sugar, and make a little 'tray' for each child with foil.

Sit them down and demonstrate, like mr maker, how to decorate a biscuit for mummy.

Finally, send each child home with their creation on its foil tray.


There is always one child who will attempt to Hoover the sweets. Don't resent this, s/he probably is a little sugar deprived at home. Control this child until five minutes before home time then let them go nuts with the sugar plastered leftovers.

KernowBysVycken Wed 24-Oct-12 21:31:06

DS is a December b'day (rubbish planning) and we are going to have to do a party for him this year (4 yo) just out of politeness for all the many parties he has been to this year. I will make all the food and cake and we are going to get my parents and MiL to split the cost of an entertainer as his present (£100) as this will cut down on the tide of stuff that he will get.

Our village hall costs £10 for a morning, can't believe all these places that charge £50! That's shock

Really like the idea of decorating their own biscuits, v smart!

WingDefence Wed 24-Oct-12 23:30:36

Kernow my DS is 4 on the 30th Dec and we are going to be away on his actual birthday, but he's been to so many over the past few weeks that at least once a day he starts a conversation "at my birthday party, I would like <insert type of game to play or friend to come>" so there is no way out of it really!

I think we're going to go with a make-your-own-pizza party. Gulp grin

eisbaer Fri 26-Oct-12 03:06:10

B and M stores for prizes, just one prize for each game and a "consolation jelly baby" when kids went out. Garlic bread, frozen sausage rolls, crisps, cherry tomatoes, party ring biscuits,, marshmallow top hats and homemade cake. Some parents stayed, they got tea/coffee, sausage rolls and cake. Party bags- balloon, large crayon, roll of paper with colouring in(octonauts or similar) printed off cbeebies website, sweets, cake. Was great! And no plastic tat to get rid of!

DottyDot Fri 26-Oct-12 03:13:02

For games, I've kept them entertained for ages playing musical bumps and musical statues. They love it, it can last quite a while and the prize dished out at the end is usually something like a mini packet of Haribo! They really dont care what it is as long as they get something. grin

Make sandwiches and buy a big multi bag of crisps. Make a couple of jellies and make up a jug of squash. Sorted!

At that age they don't want or need much more - just the opportunity to make loads of noise and mess.

(If you can afford it, make some vodka jelly for after the little darlings have gone).

Whatasecret Fri 02-Nov-12 07:56:42

This is a suggestion for older children but I just did Saturday morning cinema for my 10 year olds party. the tickets were £1.10 each, I did each child a packed lunch to eat during the film and gave them a £1 pack of cards to take home. The total cost was £27 for 10 people.

lisalisa Tue 06-Nov-12 22:35:00

I just did a very cheap one. Played party games like pass the parcel and musical chairs. Bought big bag of sweets and each child who was " out" got a sweet so didn't feel left out. Winning child got a present from Poundland so only £1 per prize. Each game took about 15 mins ( class of about 18 kids). Kids got very hot and sweaty so plenty of water provided - bought one stack of disposable cups which we didn't get through - was well worth it for £1.

Going away pressies were knitting kist again from poundland - bought 18 of them - this was biggest expense.

Accompanied by piece of home made cake - cost about £2.

Served tea party food so home made cupcakes/brownies and pink lemonade. Approx cost £30.

total party cost was about £55.

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