How to throw a party on a budget


Has anyone else noticed how life suddenly got expensive? But life still goes on, kids still have birthdays and they love to celebrate by having parties. 

But who can afford the designer cakes and elaborate party packs? Not to mention catering and hiring entertainment… and you're easily out a couple of thousand rands.

Here are some tips on how to throw your kid a fun party without having to sell a kidney.

1. Make your own cake

While designer cakes are so beautiful and can make a party really come together, I don't think kids truly appreciate the work and money that go into it. And to be frank, as long as the cake tastes good, they're happy.

But you don't have to make it from scratch. Let's not get crazy. The supermarket baking aisle is the secret to success here. Easy mix cake boxes are available in so many flavours and they tend to be flop proof. A good old butter icing is always a winner and if even that gives you heart palpitations, then they sell premixes for that too.

As for decoration, plop a few of your kid’s toys on top. For my son's fire engine party we stuck a few of his fire engine toys on top and he was chuffed.

Another great idea is to find pictures of the party theme online and print them. Then stick them on to cardboard, cut them out and put it on a stick so that you can place it on the cake.

2. Timing is everything

Feel pressured to include lunch? 

A great time to have the party is the 2-5pm slot. Most kids would've had at least one nap by this time of the day. A tired, grumpy kid is not one who wants to be overwhelmed with people, noise and sugar.

It's also after lunch and before supper so no-one is expecting a full meal, which means snacks should suffice for the adults as well.

3. Limit the party guests

If you can, limit the number of friends that are invited. Maybe just a few close friends from school or cousins who are the same age. Kids parties where the whole family and all the neighbours are invited just aren't financially viable anymore.

4. Go digital

Use an online design tool, like Canva (link to canva), to design a party invitation and send it off via WhatsApp or email. These are generally easy to use and offer many readymade templates that are easily editable by amateurs. Parents will be thankful to not have another thing to clutter the house or throw away. This way you also keep your carbon footprint really low.

5. China Town is your friend

For party supplies like paper plates, cups, popcorn boxes and serviettes in the chosen theme, China Town is where it's at. You don't need those Paw Patrol or Peppa Pig-themed paper plates. No-one is going to care. Choose red and blue paper plates and serviettes and you’re done!

6. DIY the decor

This might take up more of your time but it will save you money. Depending on your theme you can find printables for almost anything the kids are into these days. 

Nickelodeon Parents is a great resource for any TV show that is on the network with plenty of free printables to throw your very own Paw Patrol, Blaze, Bubble Guppies, Dora or Shimmer and Shine party.

Also try the CBeebies and Disney Junior websites for more party printables and ideas.

7. Party packs vs party favours

Party packs: parents either love them or hate them. Your kid has just spent a sugar-filled afternoon bouncing around like a maniac. Then as you leave, you're handed a bag with even more sweets. Often we take it home and hide it in the sweet tin and then either “forget” about it or eat it ourselves.

Another idea is a small party favour that can be related to the theme. Plastic fire helmets for a fire engine party. A bubble wand or tiara for a princess party. Anything that can be played with afterwards is a big bonus and not a waste of money.

8. Entertainment

A jumping castle seems to be the easiest thing to do but depending on your theme you can play some games. Pass the parcel is a fun one, as is the classic game of musical chairs. 

Print a few colouring pages that match the theme and set out some crayons to keep the kids busy. Keep it simple – kids tend to make their own entertainment. 

What are your tips for hosting a fun-filled birthday party without breaking the bank? Send your ideas to and we may publish them.

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