With more mums taking a year off work when their baby comes along, the first year can be a time when finances are severely stretched. Some reports say we spend around £10,000 in the first year – this means that you may find the expense of a first birthday party a bit much.
Don’t leave everything till the last minute, as you won’t have time to shop around, which can mean higher prices and limited options. Here’s my party planning checklist:
Send these out at least a couple of weeks before and even earlier if the party’s on a Saturday or Sunday.
Make your own invites
Download fun designs online - just type ‘party invitations’ into your search engine for easy-to-use sites.
High street photo outlets and in-store photo counters offer this service at around £1 a card – and it’s cheaper the more you buy. ‘First Birthday’ packages often include themed banners and decorations and are much cheaper than hunting round and buying all the items individually.
At this age, having the party at home is best – you could think about hiring a bouncy castle to keep older siblings entertained.
You could hire an indoor or outdoor ‘ball pool’ for around £30 depending on the size of the party and the location. Look online for a local company. If you decide to hire a hall or have an entertainer come to your home, remember to check they have public liability insurance.
If you’re not going to make your own, most supermarkets sell specially themed birthday cakes for around £5-£10. To save time, check out the supermarket options online before deciding which one to buy in-store.
The birthday tea
If you don’t want to spend all afternoon in the kitchen, you could order in some ready-made platters. Several supermarkets offer a free delivery service from around £10 and they can work out more economical than buying all the ingredients yourself.
Avoid duplicate or unwanted presents by setting up a gift list. Several department stores offer this service, so you can choose suitable gifts for your child. It’s free to set up, though guests may be charged £3-£4 for delivery, unless they’re able to collect the presents themselves. Asking for money is often a tricky subject, but if relatives are unsure what to buy and you’ve already got a savings account up and running for your baby, suggesting they pay in some money for your child’s future is another option. And don’t be tempted to go overboard yourself buying presents; toys are unlikely to be kept for years to come. If you want to buy something as a special memory of that first year, look for an item of jewellery or a special photo album that you can keep for later.
Keep it simple
Don’t invite too many guests and don’t be tempted to make the party last more than a couple of hours, as you’ll be worn out. And make sure you accept any offers of help, especially with the clearing up!