Want to create fun memories of that very special time in your young ’un’s life? We show you how — cheap!


Get creative if you aim to keep costs low, the fun factor high and still look like a hero in your child’s eyes. You don’t need to shell out big bucks for the party — just plan carefully and put in lots of “elbow grease”, aka do-everything-yourself!

“Decide what the must-haves and the nice-to-haves are,” says Grace Goh, director of Dreams and Confetti — a party-needs shop — and Little House of Dreams bakery. “Find out what the birthday child’s top-three must-haves are.”

To minimise cost, pick a location that’s free, like a playground, or a place that charges a nominal rate, such as your void deck (check with your town council). The plentiful activities at the Tiong Bahru Adventure and Watten Estate playgrounds will also keep junior busy. Or put together a picnic at the Botanic Gardens or East Coast Park beach. For more organised events at a park, be sure to get the National Parks Board’s approval, advises The Party Elves’ Aarathi Arumugam. For indoor parties, a condo function room is a popular choice. You can also rent a room in a neighbourhood community club for about $50 to $100 per hour, depending on location, Aarathi says. But book two to three months ahead to avoid disappointment, she advises.

Get the birthday child to write or decorate thank-you notes. For a goodie bag under $2, think out-of-the-box: Kids love paper masks, bubble blowers, temporary tattoos or mini tubs of Play-Doh that you can find at party-supply stores or Daiso. Which little girl wouldn’t love a shiny bangle (from Little India), or how about old-school games like capteh and kuti-kuti for the boys? Why not fill up those goodie bags with buys from any ValuDollar or ABC store, or pick up pre-packed confetti bags ($5 each, at Dreams and Confetti)? The only problem will be sweeping up the mess the kids have happily generated…

“Kids don’t need fancy food — just whip up something easy and tasty.” — Grace Goh, director of Dreams and Confetti and Little House of Dreams.

Use WhatsApp or Smilebox to send a free e-invite. But if you want to involve junior in the planning process, get her to write a note and attach it to a paper mask ($1 each) that her guest must wear to the party. Or find nifty printable designs for under $5 at Etsy.

You can customise most games, such as Pass the Parcel, Pin the Tail on the Donkey or Musical Statues to suit your party theme. For the older kids, organise a scavenger hunt in the park, a mini-football tournament or three-legged races.

You needn’t be a craft expert to make pretty decorations. Tanya Quinn of Fizazzle kid’s party planner suggests buying paper from Art Friend as a pre-birthday activity to create paper fans or flowers. Go to YouTube and Pinterest, and learn to make streamers, pompons, doilies and buntings. Visit here and learn how to make a yarn lantern.

Home-cooked nosh may be the cheapest but not necessarily the easiest option. Host a teatime party and keep your costs low. Stick to two or three items, such as nuggets, sandwiches, fruits or fried bee hoon. Arumugam suggests putting out jars of jam, cheese, ham slices, tomatoes, slices of bread or wraps, and getting the children to make their own munchies. If you have cash to spare, add side dishes like pizzas, mashed potatoes or dessert.

Save money by baking the birthday cake yourself. Or buy one from a neighbourhood bakery from $40 (depending on the size). Decorate it with your child’s favourite toys or a printout of his favourite superhero characters. You could buy a cake from a home baker (from $50 per kg) but be prepared to fork out more for your choice of flavour and decorations.

How readers marked their mini-me’s birthdays:

“Our second child’s first birthday bash was held at an Aranda Country Club executive suite. I made the paper flower pompons, buntings, as well as tutu skirts for my daughters! The kids enjoyed the indoor treasure hunt and piñata games, and everyone received party bags with stationery items. There was also a dessert buffet just for the kids.”

— Charmaine Koh, 36, higher admin executive, mum to Violet, 1, and Scarlett, 4.

“We hosted our baby’s first birthday party in a café. I dressed up the place with pink and white paper pompons, polka-dot balloons, a giant Hello Kitty balloon and a canvas board for guests to write their wishes. I gave little pink gift boxes packed with sugar gems because I wanted everyone to go home with a little sweetness!

— Cheryl Teo, 31, marketing professional, mum to Caela, 20 months.

“We had a buffet party in a condo function room where 50 guests turned up with their little ones. The theme was Minnie Mouse. Instead of goodie bags, we gave out baby wipes!”

— Ng Mingyi, 33, assistant business support manager, mum to Clarisse, 2.

Photo: iStock

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