It really is possible to throw a memorable and totally fun birthday party without breaking the bank. But how? That’s a question millions of mothers across the world always wonder, especially when it’s their child’s birthday party. But worry not! We are here to your rescue. Here are 15 tips for keeping the kids (and parents) entertained on a budget.
15 Crafty Goody Bags
It’s tempting to ditch the goody bags when trying to cut down on the price of your party, and you should! Did you know there are a few simple ways to make the best goody bags in the neighborhood? With just a few supplies from a craft store, you can give out homemade candy, lip gloss, stickers and more. Some of these items can even be made during the party as another activity.
14 Curate the Perfect Playlist
Anyone can just lazily pop in a Wiggles CD and call it a day but your parent friends will be thanking you if you put some time into the music. It’s not too hard to find kid-friendly music that also makes for enjoyable listening.
Spotify and Pandora have already done the work for you if you know what to search. We recommend the group Rockabye Baby! which has pleasant, gentle xylophone versions of popular rock and pop songs. For the adults, here's an excellent choice of songs.
13 Scavenger Hunts or Pirate Adventures
This idea takes pre-planning but that just means you can relax as the party gets into full swing. Make a treasure map that guides the kids around the yard or throughout the house, or write out riddles to guide them to the next clue for the scavenger hunt. Head on over to Pinterest for thousands of ideas.
12 Make Silly Putty at Home
With some cornstarch, glue, and water, you can have the kids create make-your-own silly putty. Gather everyone around to finger paint on a giant canvas (or some old, white bed sheets). The options are endless! A guided craft is a great way to keep the kids entertained and engaged for hours, and can be cheap or even free!
11 Slip N’ Slide Pool Party
Even if you don’t have access to a pool, you can still have a “pool” party! Set up the sprinkler out back and lay out the slip n’ slide for a fun day that’s better than the water park. Insider tip: adding soap to the slip and slide makes it extra slippery! Looking for something more adventurous? Check out these DIY kiddie pools.
10 Lawn Games
Our favorite lawn game is giant ping pong. Grab some tennis rackets and blow up your old beach ball from last year’s vacation and you have the makings for one of the most fun lawn games around. The kids will have a blast hitting the beach ball back and forth, and you can play doubles making sure everyone has a turn. Here are 27 more fun games you can play.
9 Make a Video
As long as you have a camera (or a phone with enough memory for video) then this activity is totally free and totally fun! You can have the kids work together to make a video for the birthday boy or girl. Have each kid say something nice about their friend or cut together them singing the birthday song. If you want a more intensive activity, you can get the kids to come up with a story and then pull together a 5-10 minute homemade movie that they direct themselves.
8 Make It a Potluck
This works best if it’s a joint birthday party or a neighborhood celebration. Have everyone sign up to bring a side dish or snack, and then all you’ll have to worry about is the main course. Of course, potlucks are a hit-or-miss situation, so you can write up a list of suggested dishes if you’re worried about your friends’ cooking skills.
7 Bring out the Console (Or Borrow One)
Why spend a fortune at an arcade like Dave and Busters when you can get the kids playing games at home? Set up a gaming station with some kid-friendly games, or give it an arcade theme with classics like Pacman and Galaga. Maybe you can dust off that old Atari sitting in your parents’ basement back home.
6 Air Band Concert/Karaoke Competition
Kids love to perform, so setting out a costume box and some musical props will send them into a tizzy. Most stores will have toy microphones. Or you can make your own with a stick and some Styrofoam ball, Then just turn up the music and get the kids dancing!
5 Cake and Cookie Decorating
This activity can save you time in the set-up phase but it may make for a messy clean-up afterward. Bake a batch of plain sugar cookies and set out some tubes of colorful icing and have the kids decorate their own party treats. It’s the same fun as decorating pottery at a way cheaper price. You can even have the kids decorate the cake, which makes it a lot more fun when it’s time to blow out the candles.
4 Make an Obstacle Course
This idea can be a bit more physically challenging, so make sure all your party guests are fit (and dressed) for the activities. Set up different challenges throughout the house or yard, like hula hooping, three-legged-racing, jump ropes and more, and have the kids race through them.
3 Use Christmas Lights and Holiday Decor
You’ve probably already spent considerable amounts on decorating for earlier parties and holiday events, so it’s great to make use of those decorations more than once a year. Christmas string lights are great for lighting up the yard for an evening party or make the house feel cozy and mystical. Some handfuls of tinsel will go a long way and those red and pink streamers from your Valentine’s party will add a touch of color. Now all you need is the HAPPY BIRTHDAY sign, which is easy to make yourself!
2 Make Your Own Pizza
No need to have this party catered or spend hours in the kitchen beforehand because with a make-your-own pizza station, you have a fun activity AND dinner covered all in one. You can buy dough at any grocery store but English muffins or flatbread will work just as well. Pop them into the oven on broil for a few minutes and voila--pizza on the cheap.
1 Make Giant Bubble Wands
Kids LOVE bubbles and can spend literally hours playing with them without getting bored. With some wire, soap, and corn syrup, you can have a cheap and easy bubble activity to make the biggest bubbles your kids have ever seen. We’ve all seen bubbles entertain kids for hours and that’s just the little ones. Find a recipe for bubble solution that works with what you’ve got around the house and make a couple giant bubble wands out of wire so everyone can have a turn.