Business

PERSONAL FINANCE: How to save cash when throwing a children's party

PARTY TIME: New research from Go.Compare, among parents with children aged five to 12, indicates that the average cost of hosting a kids' birthday party is £298
PARTY TIME: New research from Go.Compare, among parents with children aged five to 12, indicates that the average cost of hosting a kids' birthday party is £298 PARTY TIME: New research from Go.Compare, among parents with children aged five to 12, indicates that the average cost of hosting a kids' birthday party is £298

NOW that the kids are back at school, many will be coming home with party invites stuffed into their bags - which can mean some added pressure and costs for parents.

New research from Go.Compare, among parents with children aged five to 12, indicates that parents won't get much change out of £300 when hosting a kids' party, with the average cost coming to £298.

Seven in 10 (70 per cent) parents surveyed organise birthday parties for their children - and a quarter (25 per cent) admit to spending more than they would like.

A similar proportion (23 per cent) feel under pressure to organise a party.

But, on the flipside, a quarter (24 per cent) confess to loving organising a party for their child and say they spend as much as they need to.

Just over a third (36 per cent) say that they'll be using savings to pay for their child's birthday party - and a further 26 per cent will put it on the credit card.

Nearly two-fifths (37 per cent) say they try to limit the guest list to save money.

The research among parents was carried out in June for Go.Compare by data management experts at Maru/Blue.

Matt Sanders, a money expert at Go.Compare - and a father of two children - says: "As parents, we put more and more pressure on ourselves to throw lavish and expensive birthday parties for our children, but in all honesty all the kids want to do is have fun with their friends and eat lots of sweets and cake."

He adds that throwing a kids' party "doesn't have to break the bank, as our party saving tips demonstrate".

Sanders says that party bags are his "personal bugbear", adding: "They are bad for the environment with plastic toys normally in plastic bags and the children play with them for just a few short minutes before they are forgotten about - so what's the point?

"For our daughter's party, we roped her into helping us make them by buying some small brown envelopes and some flower seeds and made seed kits for the guests to plant and see grow. Add to that a few sweets and a piece of cake and they all went home happy."

To help cash-strapped parents save a bit of money, here are some tips from Go.Compare:

:: Be creative about how you source balloons

Balloon arches are all the rage at kids' parties - and you can buy balloon arch kits online, which can work out significantly less expensive than buying ready-made versions.

There are also Facebook groups where balloons can be passed on to others living locally, rather than just being bought for an event and then thrown away, which could help save on costs, as well as on waste.

:: Consider 'buddying up'

Share your child's birthday party with a school friend who has a birthday in the same week or fortnight. That way you can have a small family party on the day of their actual birthday and share costs and organisation stress with the birthday buddy's family.

:: Get baking

Take inspiration from the much-anticipated return of The Great British Bake Off to TV screens and try baking a birthday cake rather than buying one in.

If you're really not that handy in the kitchen, you can buy a ready-made cake mix in a supermarket. You could also get the kids to help make a few snacks for a bit of pre-party fun.

:: Consider the time you want the party to start

If you host a party between 2pm and 5pm, for example, it's unlikely that guests will expect a full lunch or dinner. Instead, you can provide a few snacks to keep the party going.

:: Pick a low-budget location

If you're worried about paying for an expensive play centre or exclusive venue, try to consider alternatives, such as a back garden, local park or even the beach. If your child was born in the in the winter months, try the village hall, community centre, or even local library.

:: Embrace your inner DJ

If you're looking to save money on entertainment, try using a speaker and your phone. You can create a variety of fun games such as musical chairs, musical statues, pass the parcel, stuck in the mud, and more. Look out for kid-friendly playlists online, so you don't even have to select your own.

:: Go digital with invites

There's no need to pay for fancy paper invites or spend too much time on writing notes to parents. You could use free tools online to get templates and fill them out with the details.