Children’s party ideas without breaking the bank

Children’s parties may seem like a luxury in tough economic times, but it is possible to hold a great kids’ party without breaking the bank. The trick, according to party organisers Les Enfants (www.lesenfants.co.uk), is to plan ahead and get creative.

“No matter how tough things are financially, no parent wants to deny their child a birthday party. It’s possible to hold great parties for very little money if you use your imagination and put in a little effort. Remember, simple is often best!” explains Katie Burnett of Les Enfants.

Here are Les Enfants’ credit crunch party tips:

• Invitations: Make your own for free. Get your child to do a drawing, use a photo or download a free image from the internet to create a themed invitation using your PC. If you don’t have a PC or scanner, use paints and let your child make handprints on pieces of card for a personal touch. It’s a great way to get your child involved in the party organisation too.

• Activities for toddlers and babies: Limit numbers as young children can feel overwhelmed by too many people – and it cuts costs. Get out all of your toys and playmats, borrowing items from friends if needed, use a sing-along CD and musical instruments to create a fun music and play party. Or invite all the guests to bring a teddy and hold a teddy bear’s picnic. Parties don’t need to be longer than an hour to ninety minutes and can easily be held at home.

• Activities for older children: Activity parties are great fun and can be done cost effectively. Try arts and crafts, like make your own princess tiara or pirate hat or painting cheap plain white mugs. Raid the pound shops for supplies. The children’s artwork doubles up as their take home present, so no need for expensive party bags. Cookie decorating or pizza making are also good options as they keep the kids busy and can serve as the party food or a snack. Traditional party games like pin the tail on the donkey, musical statues and What’s the Time Mr Wolf cost nothing other than a small token prize for the winner.

• Activities for tweens: For boys, create a Games party using your (or a friend’s) Wii or PlayStation. Plan a mini olympics using sports games or a formula 1 with driving games with the winner getting a prize. For girls, sleepovers are brilliant. Let them get stuck into your old make up and hair accessories with a make over party or have a movie party with lots of popcorn and a selection of DVDs.

• Entertainers: If you want an entertainer then ask if they do one hour rates instead of two. Alternatively a birthday party on a school afternoon will be less expensive than a weekend slot.

• Venues: Having your party at home is the cheapest, but if your house can’t accommodate many children, consider using a local village hall or community centre. They will be less expensive than softplay areas or private function rooms. If the weather is good, head outdoors to the nearest park or beach.

• Cake: Home baking is a lot easier than it seems and costs far less than a bought cake. Cupcakes are the latest trend and are even easier. Simply arrange them on a stand and the children can take one home with them.

• Food: Kids always eat less than you think at parties, so cut down on costs and wastage by providing less. Making your own is the cheapest option or choose a time when a meal isn’t necessary and simply provide drinks and snacks.

• Party bags: Party bags are optional and don’t have to be elaborate. A cupcake, balloon and the craft which they’ve made themselves at the party will make most children happy. Or look at pound shops for sets of books or toys and give each child one. It’s more environmentally friendly than a bag full of plastic rubbish that will get put in the bin within minutes.

If you’re looking for more advice on how to hold a cost effective party, find venues or entertainers, contact Les Enfants for more information: www.lesenfants.co.uk, email info@lesenfants.co.uk or call 020 8502 9988.