1. Keep the guest list small — your little birthday girl will still have a whale of a time! Plus, you won’t need to pony up for a venue if you hold the celebration at home. Also, consider your condo’s clubhouse, or your void deck (especially if your block is near the play area with climbing frames and all).
2. You can download free invitation-card templates from online sites like printbirthdayinvites.com, invitationland.com/free-invitations.html and www.dltk-cards.com. Customise the cards — you can even get your child to help decorate them with painted handprints (squishy fun) or crayon scrawls. Or send an e-card and save on invite materials and postage (your friends and mummy-group pals are online, right?)! Try www.evite.com or www.smilebox.com.
3. Blowing bubbles is a cheap and fun activity for young ’uns and makes any party festive. Just make sure you have cloths to mop up slippery floors and prevent falls.
4. Skip store-bought goodie bags and make your own — get creative with old fabric and boxes. Splurge on creativity and ideas, not on throw-away items.
5. Ask family or friends if they can all pool together to buy larger, expensive gifts such as a tricycle for your little, rather than each buying soft toys. Seriously, your tot is likely to hang on to her favourite Boo Bear than anything else.
6. Ditch the entertainer, let dad or mum be the party maestro!
7. Go retro. Adapt fun, free traditional games like Simon Says and Pass the Parcel to your theme.
8. Don’t stress yourself over throwing the most lavish or expensive party. Score points by giving kids a unique and fun party experience instead.
9. Save on decorations by going for house brands. Kids will not care if your balloons are cheap or expensive! Just “colourful” and “bouncy” are all that’s needed.
10. Cupcakes are easy to make and cheaper than paying for a store-bought cake. But if you’re sorely missing the baker’s gene, ask one of your friends to make and decorate the birthday cake for you.
11. Use what you have. Get all your toys, playmats and musical instruments out and borrow more from friends, if needed. Hold a music-and-play party with a singalong CD for cost-effective fun, or get the children to bring their teddies or dolls and hold a Teddy Bears’ Picnic.
12. Get busy. For older toddlers, activity parties are an easy sell. Try an arts-and-crafts (make your own princess crown, cat- and rabbit-ear headband or pirate hat) or throw a cookie-decorating shindig. It won’t just keep little hands busy, they’ll each get something to take home!
13. Taking home a self-decorated cookie, balloon-with-a-face and their own work of art will make most tots happy.
14. For your little one’s birthday present, ask family and friends for a membership to an indoor soft-play centre or the zoo. These are attractions you can visit over-and-over again, and much better than a toy they’ll tired of quickly.