Party Planning: Save or Splurge?

Whether you are planning for your precious’ first-month celebration or his birthday, things can get pricey pretty fast. Here are some tips on what you can save on and what’s worth splurging on to give your little one a party you’ll be proud of.

WORDS RACHEL KWEK

While it is tempting to leave all the party works to a party planner, think of all the money you will save if you don’t! And what better party can you gift your child than one that you put your heart into organising?

Venue
Splurge: Hire a space  
Many places, from community clubs to hotels provide a variety of options for function rooms and other events spaces to suit your party. Venue hire, unfortunately, does not come cheap and can easily cost you anything from $150 to $1,000 for a three-hour period. As this amount only gives you nothing else but a space, why not save the money and spend it on other party essentials?

Save: Use readily available space
Hosting your child’s party at home or at his school will mean you need to spend nothing on venue hire. If you want to take it outdoors, open spaces at local parks and Marina Barrage are excellent locations for a get-together too. The bonus: You decide how long to stay without having to evacuate the space within the period of your booking or worrying about incurring extra charges.

Food
Splurge: Book a caterer
Getting someone to prepare and send party chow to your doorstep is not likely going to be cheap. Whether you choose to serve your guests more substantial dishes or just desserts, be prepared to spend hundreds to over a thousand dollars on catering for a group of 20. Most of the time, packages for children’s parties do not include food for your adult guests as well, so you will have to fork out extra cash to feed them. It doesn’t help that the food choices are pretty limited in children’s party packages.

Save: Get hands-on
Cooking your own party food not only reduces costs but also gives you total control over what you want to serve your guests. Besides the type of dishes, you can also ensure that what you serve is fresh and healthy for the kids. Rope in your child to help you in the kitchen and it doubles up as a chance for parent-child bonding! You can find plenty of recipes online for inspiration. Preparing your tot his favourite dish or baking him a birthday cake will surely make his celebration extra special and memorable.
Need some help? Why not suggest a potluck and ask your guests to chip in? If cooking is not up your street, buying food is an option too. Look out for package deals and special offers such as credit card promotions; nowadays, online shopping sites make it possible to get all kinds of food at huge discounts too.

Invitations
Splurge: Have a party planner make customised invitation cards
Service costs and you should be aware that the cost to produce them is often factored into the package prices quoted by party planners.

Save: Use paperless communication
Surely a personalised invite is nice but it is costly and time-consuming to produce. Achieve the purpose of informing your guests about the details of your party with WhatsApp, text messages, emails or good old phone calls. Not only do they cost you next to nothing, you can get quick responses and do your part to save the environment by going paperless.

Decorations
Splurge: Leave the works to a party planner
Themed parties are widely available and you can either choose from standard themes or request to design any you have in mind. Party planners offer options to customise anything from the backdrop to table set-up to how you want each individual dessert to look like. Remember: customisation always costs more when you don’t do it yourself.  

Save: Do the legwork
The truth is you need to put in a little effort to have more money in your pocket. No one said you can sit back and relax and still save money. Doing some research and comparing prices for the decorations you need ensures you get the most bang for your buck. For instance, fresh flowers that cost $50 from a florist in a shopping mall may cost only $20 from your nearby wet market. You may also want to rent props like cake stands instead of buying them if you don’t need them after the event. Alternatively, minimising the decorations and using what you already have will also reduce the amount spent on making the venue look good. Nelly, who provides dessert tables and party services at Acuppaluv, shares that choosing a theme will also help you focus on the kind of decorations you need for your celebration and avoid overspending on unnecessary items.

Party Favours
Splurge: Order customised favours
These are sometimes included in party packages and you can also contract a service provider to design and produce them for you.

Save: Again, get hands-on
It’s really the thought that counts when it comes to party favours. They don’t have to be expensive and you can either source for something suitable or make your own. Baked treats make simple and practical gifts. Assembling goodie bags for your little guests also gives you a fair bit of room to customise them for each of them.

Entertainment
Splurge: Hire entertainers
While some children’s party packages include a host who will conduct games, this and other entertainment services are often add-ons that are charged separately. Services like face painting and having a balloon artist on-site will easily cost $100 or more an hour while hiring a photographer would set you back by at least $300 for a two to three-hour party.

Save: Provide your own entertainment
Nelly says preparing your own games and activities can help to cut costs significantly. She suggests making your own piñata (a decorated animal figure containing toys and sweets hung from a height that blindfolded children would break open) and simple games like musical chairs or treasure hunt. Rather than spending on a photographer or a photo booth, why not take your own photos? Getting an instant camera is also a cheaper alternative if you want to give away photographs at the party. Nelly adds that asking for the right people for help saves you money too. Have a friend or family member who has a knack for planning? Why not enlist his help in party planning? Someone good with children can help to conduct party games too.

Thanks for sharing!