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  • Writer's pictureTumble Tots Party Hire

Planning a party within your budget

I love planning parties, and I don't think I am alone when I admit I have been (very) guilty of overdoing it when it comes to throwing a birthday bash.

While having a glass of wine last night, I thought about all the amazing party setups I saw this weekend. One thing struck me; parties have certainly evolved. I have seen this first hand in the years of providing soft play and ball pit equipment to clients. While I still see the good ol' backyard BBQ, there is certainly a rise in styled, themed and meticulously planned out parties that are fit to grace the cover of a glossy magazine.

This got me thinking, can you still throw an awesome party... on a budget? Or would I have to save for months by ditching my daily hot chocolate to save coin?

I get that my budget may be different to yours but I thought, okay, let's start with a guest list of 30; ten kids and 20 adults. My reasoning for choosing these numbers this is the majority of my clients have parties for kids under 4 years old which are not drop the kids and have a couple hours "me time" kind of party. They are invite the whole family kind of party.

What would I realistically be comfortable spending for this number of guests? Five hundred dollars? I put a question mark on this because I am honestly not sure if that is reasonable or not. But I'm setting my budget and I will {try} keep to it!


We all have our own ideals as to what makes a perfect party; what are must have's that you will be willing to spend a little more on. It may be decorations for some, or the cake for others. Personally I find that entertainment for the kids is a MUST HAVE. You may be thinking yeah right! You're just saying that because you own a party hire business. Seriously, having something to keep the kids entertained can be a lifesaver on party days. Not only will it give you the opportunity to relax and enjoy your hard work (and money spent) but it will allow you to do general hosting duties without having to worry about keeping the kids occupied.

So I'll start my budget there and earmark $220 for one of our most popular packages; number 3. I'll also include a average delivery cost of $30. (There is also a $100 refundable bond payable, but I'll allocate that out of my weekly allowance as that'll be coming back to me).

So $250 for entertainment. Eeek! That is already 50% of my budget GONE! Let's see how I go with the rest of it.

Will I get away with buying 30 Triple Cheeseburger Stunner Meals from HJ's? I mean this is a well balanced meal; meat, veg a drink AND dessert for $238.50! Just kidding! But may be an option😉


Next up is food. I ALWAYS over cater! So how can I keep my food budget down?

- I could have the party before or after lunch. Say at 10am or 2pm. This way I won't have to provide a whole meal. Just a fruit platter, some ham and cheese and egg mayo sandwiches, party pies, fairy bread and popcorn. Thanks to the Woolies online shopping function I calculated I would spend $93.66. I included 3l of orange juice and 2l lemonade to offer St Clements to the adults and 12 apple juice pop tops for the kiddos. I also threw in a pack of cheap serviettes and paper plates to save washing up.

- If I do have it over lunch; a sausage sizzle will be a great way to feed a bunch of people. Will there still be the expectation to provide a snack table though? Probably yes. So perhaps a fruit platter, chips and dip fairy bread and popcorn would work well. This totaled up to $105.97. Again this included the drinks I noted above and the plates and serviettes.

I already have tea, coffee, milk and tomato sauce at home and will replace these out my grocery shopping kitty.

For the sake of rounding up I'll say that this will cost me $110 all up for food. Of course you may be able to shave some costs off if you already have serviettes and paper plates, or if you have coloured plastic cups and plates at home use those to add to the party vibe. You could also save by shopping at a green grocer for your fruit. You can even opt for cordial for kids instead of pop tops.


Let's eat cake! One of my very dear friends is a baker and because of her I have an enormous amount of respect for what these talented people do! I’ll be the first to admit, that I take for granted the work that is required to decorate a cake in a given theme. The icing and the decorations …let alone actually baking a delicious cake! So my point here is that they are expensive for a reason! For this exercise I'll opt for making the cake myself... I mean following the direction on a packet mix can't be that hard can it? If you want something a little more fancy you can always hire a cake tin for under $10. If you give yourself enough time you can shop around for decorations. My sister in law doubled some of my nephews birthday presents as cake decorations. He is a Paw Patrol fanatic so she used these figurines to top his cake! He was delighted. Total spend $45

Of course, if you can't bake ask granny or your mum or anyone else you know can do a better job that you will.


What makes a party feel like a party? Decorations of course! I love dolling up a space to make it festive. Balloons, garlands and paper lanterns, fans and puffballs can easily transform a patio, dining room or garden into a party paradise. Shopping online I managed to keep this to $55 and included a festive tablecloth and party hats.


Invitations. Take it digital! Digital invitations are very budget savvy. A lot of my customers send email invites to avoid actually printing and posting one out. I have also been invited to everything from a baby shower to a wedding (yes you read right) through a Facebook event. This is totally doable and oh so cheap! Include a profile picture of your little birthday person and voila! All done! There are not many people who are not on Facebook these days, so this is a great alternative.


Party favours. A money muncher but a tradition that is still very much alive! There are so may options here from the traditional lolly bag, personalised cookies or a bottle of bubbles with a thank you tag for example. If I opt for a lolly bag I can get away with spending $2.50 for brown paper sandwich bags (I'll have heaps left over as they come in packs of 100 but I am sure I'll find a use for the others) plus $5 for stickers to match my theme and $15 for a mix of lollies. If I go for lolly bags I'll spend $22.50. I like the idea of something a little more personalised though. So I'm going to opt for cookies. I can purchase a Fondant Cake Alphabet Biscuit Stamp set for $4.75 and it will cost $5.46 in ingredients to make a simple but yummy butter biscuit for each guest. (I have calculated cost per serve using this handy baking calculator tool). These can be packaged in a plastic snack bag tied with some curling ribbon. All up for personalised cookies $15.26. Bonus for having the stamp set for future parties!


I surprised myself that I was able to keep within my budget of $500. I proved to myself that by setting a budget and keeping to it I can pull off a birthday party without dipping into my savings! Honestly I think it was easier doing it online that actually going into the store to make my purchases. I know I shop with my eyes and not my wallet! Maybe that is my final tip, if you give yourself enough time, you can make savvy purchase from your keyboard 😋

I think my takeaway note on this is to just stick to the basics; invitation, simple but yummy food, well thought out decorations and entertainment and you'll have an awesome birthday party that your little person will love... and you'll have a little left over to spend on a bottle of wine to recover from it all!

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