Nfld. & Labrador

$20 Lady: Blinged-out birthday parties for less than $20 per child

My kids don’t get birthday parties every year. With three kids, and each inviting 20 to 30 friends, the price would be too much.

My kids don’t get birthday parties every year. With three kids, and each inviting 20 to 30 friends, the price would be too much.

When I have thrown parties, I’ve always done at-home parties. But the new house isn’t really laid out to accommodate even a small number of kids.

Plus, apparently my daughter is popular and the whole class will want to attend her party. All her classmates plus cousins and family friends will be about 30 children.

Companies like Party City sell merchandise that can add some sparkle to a child's birthday party. (CBC)

If we were to have her party at a popular party spot like Axtion, the party and food alone would be $450 plus HST. Add in the cake and loot bags, and you’re looking at about $650 for a 30-child party … or about $22 per child.

Frontline is popular too. The lowest price is $21 per child and also doesn’t include loot bags or cake (add about $5 per child for those!)

Swimming parties can seem affordable – with a pool party costing anywhere from $130-$210 for 30 kids depending on location. But that doesn’t include food or loot bags.

Pretty much, a birthday party costs more than $20 per child.

Or does it?

An option not up her alley

The most affordable option is bowling. For $8.50 to $9.75 per child, depending upon the package, add another $5 per child for loot bags and cake and you’re looking at max of $15 per child or $450.

Except my daughter doesn’t want a bowling party.

She wants the Party Bus.

The Party Bus has an “economy package” with two hours on the bus plus pizza and pop for $349 plus HST. Add in the loot bags and cake and you’re looking at $550 for a 30-kid party.

I asked her why she wanted the Party Bus and she recalled being on it at a party and having fun dancing. We’ll not mention the part about how they were swinging around the stripper pole! I have some issues with the party bus that go beyond cost…

A couple of Christmases ago, the kids got a cool speaker with karaoke mic and disco light. A dance party is definitely doable. I just need a location and all the party fixings.

The best prices in town for a location are the community centres. Buckmaster’s Circle is $20 per hour. I called Wedgewood Park to check on availability and for $95 with HST, I could rent the gym plus the multi-purpose room for 2 hours. I haven’t decided yet which to go with but will need to book soon for the end of May.

Can you dig it? 

On the Party City website they have a “disco theme” that fits perfectly. For $136, taxes and shipping in using a discount code, I was able to order décor, loot bag items, and tableware for 30-plus kids. The bonus too is that I didn’t need to go all over town hunting things down.

Even at Wedgewood Park, I’m now running $231 total – or $7/child. All I need is the food!

The trick to saving on food is to not have the party at a mealtime. That way you can get away with serving snack foods like popcorn, fruit, and cheese.

Popcorn is cheap to make and easy to serve. Fruit is a little more expensive, but the last time I bought fruit and cheese and prepped it for a party my cost was $40.

Add in some juice for another $6 (I just buy frozen concentrate and mix it), a box of cake mix for $2 and the food is done for a total of $50 to $60.

In the end, the price comes out to about $9 per child – even better than the bowling party and exactly what my daughter wants!


Dara Squires is a single mother of three, working, living, and scraping by in St. John’s.