Costume parties are great fun for all ages, instantly setting a mood of revelry and excitement. Yet adding costumes on top of other decorations, food, drink and games can really add up. Whether you’re thinking of throwing a themed birthday party or a Halloween bash, use our tips to save money on your next costume party.

1. Get the timing right.

No matter what type of party you’re throwing, if children are involved you should set the time during the magic hour between 2 and 5 in the afternoon. Why is this the magic time? It falls in between meals so that you don’t have to worry about full catering. Your guests will already be full from lunch, so a few snacks will suffice. However, if your guests are still young enough to take afternoon naps, you should shift this to the morning and provide coffee and treats instead.

2. Start planning early.

If possible, plan your party as early as you can. Shop around for supplies so that you have time to compare prices, rather than dashing out the night beforehand and panic-buying overpriced plastic plates. Ideally, your party supplies should include a mix of pre-used decorations and supplies you buy when they’re on sale. Keep this in mind now if you’re planning any holiday parties, as well!

3. Dip into your kid’s dress-up box.

Children love to play dress-up, so you can create a whole activity out of this for your next party. Set up a photo booth area in one corner of the home. This doesn’t have to cost very much money at all – all you need is an area with good natural lighting or a lamp, a simple sheet as a backdrop, and a handful of props and costumes. This is where the dress-up box comes in. From a power rangers costume to old princess tutus, all of these bits and pieces can be used by guests to create something silly and new. Snap digital photos and send them to the guests afterwards as a souvenir!

4. Turn decorating into an activity.

Invest in a few arts and crafts supplies for your costume party and you’ll be able to get DIY Decorations as well as a time-killing activity. For example, if you’re planning to throw a Halloween party, you could set up an area for your guests to decorate their own pumpkins when they come in the door. Put these on display and you’ll add to your ambience, no further decorations needed.

5. Go paperless.

Paper invitations look nice, but let’s face, how many of us end up chucking them in the bin as soon as we’ve RSVP’d? Don’t bother spending money on paper invitations and thank you notes. Instead, keep it digital and you’ll save money as well as a few trees in the process.

Make sure that your guests have a great time without going broke in the process by following these top tips, and you’ll throw a party to remember!