I'm sure you could reduce that food bill and the party bag price could come down too (loook at the BookPeople for some great packs of books that work out about 70p each, a mini bag of haribos/choc bar and a balloon).
book a 'playroom' soft play, ball pools, room to run around(sports centres usually)
paid around £45 pounds for dd's last year and although it was her 1st birthday, lots of 3,4 and 5yr old going and accomadated all with different levels of activity...then made up plates of food myself which was cheaper than boxes etc.
maybe do a pass the parcel with cheaper little toys rather than a goody bag, i didnt have one and just cos its the norm, doesnt mean you have to do it..also scrap the entertainer..kids will love running around and being mad!!
Dd went to 5 yr old's party today. All the kids were asked to "dress up"... boys seemed to like the pirate look while girls favoured H&M's tiaras, wands, fairy wings and ballet tights. The was a birthday cake and fizzy drinks as well as a clown who made balloon thingies. It was v. simple & lots of fun.
DD has had several invitations to parties given by two children who are classmates at nursery, but unrelated. For example "Anna and Elizabeth invite you to their 4th birthday party at xxx". Presumably it's a good way to halve costs, and also means that there's not quite so many parties to go to. Would it be an option to team up with another parent for a dual party to share expenses?
One thing is for sure... I will not rent the reception area of a smart hotel with clown, waiters, champagne for parents, etc. like a friend of mine did for her dd's 5th. Cringe-o! Even if I could afford it.
We did our son's 5th birthday at the local cinema. It cost £4.50 per child, plus food and party bags. The room hire for after the film was £40 (at the cinema) and it came with a host who was fantastic with the kids and did lots of nice games.
OMG, Sansouci, what will those parents do for a wedding if they splash out that much for a birthday party? I suppose though that if they have the money and like to spend it that way, it's their money...
Don't worry about entertaining them, Play some music and they will jump about for ages. Play some traditional party games. Keep them simple and they will all know what to do.
Try and rope in a more confident freind or family member to play games and DJ. My BIL was great and had more fun than the kids. I did the games along with a freind to help referee.
You could hire a small castle form £40-50 which will help take the presure off. We hired a hall at sports centre for £40 which included a castle. Great value.
Keep the food basic sandwiches, crisps, juice and ice cream. Anything more is a waste and just ends up on the floor. I added sweets, sauce and sprinkles for the kids to help themselves to for an Ice cream factory type thing which made the eating part of the party last longer. Less entertaining .
Once a slice of cake is in the bag you don't need much else try to aim for a £1 and that will save you £30.