Every young child loves a birthday party – the chance to celebrate their special day of the year. For parents however, the arrival of the big day and the lead up to it can be something of a nightmare. Pressure to invite all their friends and plan something that makes the day unique contributes to budgeting stress, and fear of letting your child down. Often the significance of the day can be lost in the hype that surrounds it.

With the typical kid’s birthday party costing an average of $600 in Australia, the pressure is on to provide a wow event that doesn’t result in credit card nightmares. It can difficult to avoid the pitfalls of competitiveness among peer groups, particularly when your best friend decides to hire a theme park for their one-year old’s birthday! The biggest costs can be around food, venues, and entertainment, not to mention lolly/ party bags.

It needn’t become such a big deal. Focusing on how to make your money stretch in the most important areas can bring things under control. Here’s a few suggestions to help with budgeting while making sure the day is memorable for all concerned.

Pick mid-afternoon: with food being one of the biggest expenses avoiding meal times can help with controlling the cost. Avoid lunches or dinners and set your party for the 2 – 4pm timeframe where stomachs won’t be on full empty and afternoon tea saves on expense.

Share with a friend: if your child has a friend with a birthday at the same time consider teaming up with their parents and holding one bash. Expenses like venues, food and party bags are halved (provided you’re inviting most of the same people). You child also won’t feel pressure to have lots of people at their party.

Make your party bags: you can buy pre-made party bags but you’ll be paying a premium. DIY instead! Buy items in bulk and create your own bags. Alternatively make one of the party activities a treasure hunt and what kids find goes into their bag.

Make your cake: cake costs can be a killer yet there are loads of recipes for cheap and easy cakes that can be prepared with minimal fuss. Consider getting a standard sponge cake and decorating it yourself. It will be demolished the same way no matter how much you spend on it!

Make the games affordable: there are loads of free games that can played by kids including old favourites we all grew up with. You don’t need to hire out Laser Strike or your local bowling alley just to have a blast.

Tap the discount stores: specialty stores will always cost more. There are loads of discount and dollar shops that are ideal for finding what you need to make the party fun and affordable.

Collect during the year: planning ahead can be a big help. Buying in bulk always helps with budgeting, especially non perishable items like lollies and decorations. If you have the room, look at freezing party treats that come on special during the year. This can be a real plus if your child’s birthday falls around expensive times like Christmas or Easter.

Go where its free: Australia is blessed with fantastic parks and beaches, often including free cooking facilities. Moving out of the house will reduce your stress and save many of the hassles of cleaning up both before and after the party.

Limit invites: a parent we know invites as many kids to the party as the birthday girl/boy is turning (i.e. 6 friends for turning 6). This strategy is good because it’s an easy way to minimise offence, and minimise expense.

Stagger events: multiple children = multiple party expenses = multiple stress. A way to address this is to stagger parties so your child has a birthday party every second year. If you have multiple children, you can stagger parties on alternate years – that way there’s a birthday party each year but you’re managing expectations (and budgeting).

The important thing to remember is that it’s about the kids having fun, and spending a lot of money to impress people you don’t care for shouldn’t be a priority. Relax, be organised, and take lots of photos on the day. Will spending a lot of money really going to contribute to a better event? In many cases it will be money you don’t need to waste.

If you’re trying to identify how to manage household cash flow or savings, you don’t need to do it alone. A financial adviser (or planner) spends their days identifying and presenting opportunities to their clients. Our simple, quick, free service will connect you to the best independent financial advisers, based on your needs. Click here to get started.

The information in this article is general in nature and does not take into consideration your personal situation or circumstances. You should consider whether the information contained in this article is suitable to your needs and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser or other finance professional.

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