1) Send email invitations
Not only is this cheaper, but it means you're not relying on your children to bring back the replies – and keeping track of who's coming should be easier too.
Website evite.com helps you create invitations that will tie in with the theme of the event.
Alternatively, if you have any leftover paper at home, you can always ask your child to make their own invites for that personal touch.
2) Make your own birthday cake
Personalised cakes can be extremely pricey and supermarket ones, although much cheaper, don't always stretch so far. A £5 birthday cake from Tesco, for example, only serves 10.
Making your own should cost less and you can personalise the cake too. For inspiration try kidsbirthdaycakes.co.uk or cakebaker.co.uk, where you'll find anything from animal and character themes to a fairytale castle made using a swiss roll and ice cream cones for the towers and turrets.
3) Be the entertainer
Not everyone would have the nerve to put on a puppet show or dress up as a clown to entertain their little ones, but even the less extrovert can run some party games. Partygameideas.com has loads of different ideas.
List what you are going to play to make sure the time is suitably filled. Hire large versions of games like Jenga and Connect Four to keep older kids entertained.
Partytimeleisure.co.uk has these, plus table footballs and giant buzzers, on hire for £50 each. Facepainting is another great way to keep children amused. For step-by-step instructions use facepaintingdesigns.co.uk.
4) Set a limit on kid's party bags
Instead of a bagful of tat, which can mount up in price surprisingly quickly, keep things simple: a slice of birthday cake, some sweets wrapped in cellophane – they will look more like a gift and take up more space – and one gift like a Ladybird book for £3.99.
You could even get the children to make something as an activity during the party to take home.
Models to paint cost £2.50 each from kidzcraft.co.uk, or a pencil pot costs £1.75. As well as filling up the party bag, you will have sorted out entertainment for half the party.
5) Minimise the mess
Weather permitting, hold activities outside to ensure no carpet or expensive furniture is ruined. Hide breakables away, spread old sheets or picnic rugs on the floor for children to sit on when eating and to avoid too much mess. For easy finger food recipes go to netmums.com.