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24 Budget-Friendly Ideas for Your Kid’s Next Birthday Party

written by KATHY SISSON
Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

As parents, we want to make our kids feel special on their birthdays. And a few searches during a social media scroll session will turn up plenty of kids’ birthday party ideas and inspiration. You’ll find creative birthday party themes, gorgeous treats, and elaborate activities. Balloon arches, giant bounce houses, or professional face painters, no doubt, make a children’s birthday party feel extra special. However, there are also plenty of budget-friendly kids’ birthday ideas that can still create a memorable experience for little partygoers. Especially because, let’s face it, the kids are mostly just excited to play with their buddies outside of school—and eat some cake.

Here, we’re sharing over 20 budget-friendly kids’ birthday party ideas so you won’t go into debt for the festivities.

Budget-Friendly Kids’ Birthday Party Ideas

budget-friendly kids birthday ideas
Source: Canva

Use Digital Invitations

Digital invites like Evite, Paperless Post, or simply creating a text invite make it easy to send and keep track of RSVPs—all while being free or very low-cost.

Schedule Outside of Mealtimes

A mid-morning or afternoon kids’ birthday party means you can serve snacks and treats, and party guests don’t expect a meal.

Reuse Birthday Decor

Neighborhood Facebook groups can be great for finding gently used birthday decor other parents want to pass on. Otherwise, don’t feel pressured to go overboard with decor. Inexpensive birthday party decor, like a few balloons, handmade garlands, and streamers, can go a long way in making the space feel festive.

Make Your Own Cake or Cupcakes

While professional bakers make impressive creations, making your own boxed cake or a few dozen cupcakes is a much more budget-friendly option than purchasing a custom birthday cake.

Do a Craft in Lieu of Party Favors

A Google search of your child’s birthday party theme will turn up easy crafts that can be fun kids’ birthday activities that double as party favors.

Repurpose Your Toys as Kids’ Party Activities

One of the highlights of any playdate for kids is playing with another kid’s toys. Set up stations with toys your kids have already—like making a racetrack or car wash for toy cars, using the playhouse or backyard play structure, or setting up the play kitchen for pretend play options.

budget friendly birthday party
Source: Shutterstock

Make a Birthday Party Decor Investment to Save Money in the Future

If you have multiple kids, consider purchasing a big-ticket item like a tent, giant parachute, or bounce house as an investment you can use year after year. This can save money in the long run versus renting one for each child’s birthday party.

Try Easy (and Cheap) Kids’ Party Games

Activities that require little to no extra cost for you can be oh so much fun for kids. Here are a few throwback games and kid favorites on our list of budget-friendly kids’ birthday ideas:

Musical Chairs

All you need is a smartphone to play music and a number of chairs. Kids march around the chairs while the music is playing and have to sit when the music stops. Remove a chair each round until there’s one kid left standing—well, sitting.

Keepy Uppy

Forget the balloon arches, rather channel Bluey, and blow up a few red balloons for kids to keep off the ground in a game of Keepy Uppy (If your little one loves Bluey, check out even more Bluey kids’ birthday party game ideas here!)


Printable BINGO sheets can be found all over the internet that could coordinate with the theme of your party. Or go old-school and grab a retro BINGO set.

Pin the Tail on the Donkey

All you need is a blindfold and a poster board to create your Pin the Tail on the Donkey-style game. Go as simple or personalized as you want—like pin the candle on the birthday cake or pin the birthday hat on a blown-up photo of the birthday kid.

Scavenger Hunt

Back in the ‘90s, neighborhood scavenger hunts were a huge hit at tween and teen birthday parties. You’d go house to house asking neighbors for items like a penny from the 1970s or a silver safety pin. Today, you might not want to be responsible for kids running amok in the neighborhood. Instead, create a list of easy-to-spot items in your immediate house and yard—or hide items for them to find.

Freeze Tag

Most playground games can become a simple and free birthday party activity. Set up a game of freeze tag, hide-and-seek, or capture the flag.

Breaking the Piñata

Kids love a piñata moment at a birthday party. Whether trying to break the piñata itself or feeling the excitement and expectation of candy raining down, they’re always a hit. In our family, we start from youngest to oldest to make it as fair as possible. It also helps to have some candy set aside for the shier kids who might not want to run into the mob once the piñata breaks.

budget-friendly kids birthday party ideas
Source: Canva

Hire Talented High Schoolers Instead of Professionals

Look to your community to hire cheap(er) birthday entertainment. Plenty of middle or high schoolers would love to show off their creative or coaching talents for a few hours while making a little extra money. They could be face painters, nail polish techs, birthday game referees, or other helpers for your child’s birthday party.

Consider Easy and Inexpensive Kids’ Birthday Party Themes

Pancakes and Pajamas

Consider a morning birthday kids’ party where everyone can come in their pajamas! Cook up a ton of pancakes with a toppings bar including berries, syrup, sprinkles, and whipped cream. Add a giant fruit platter (and maybe a Bloody Mary and mimosa bar if the grown-ups are invited).

The extra benefit of this birthday party theme: Everyone is out of your house by noon!

Backyard Barbecue

A backyard barbecue means budget-friendly party supplies like red and white checkered tablecloths, hot dogs, burgers, and fruit salad.

Are babies and toddlers attending? Borrow a friend’s water table (or set up your own) for the littlest guests. If the kids attending are older, fill a kiddie pool to make a “pond” with nets and floatable ducks and fish that also double as party favors. Just be sure to watch all the kiddos around any water.

Picnic in a Public Park

Public parks with play structures and picnic tables have everything you need for entertainment. You just need to haul in your food and supplies. Make budget-friendly party food extra easy and have pizza or subs delivered. Or pick up a pre-made platter from the store. Bring drinks in a cooler.

Some parks require permits, but for others, you can just show up. If the kid attendees are babies and toddlers, bring some bubbles, balls, and blankets. If the kids are older, you can do field day-type activities that need limited supplies, like a hula hoop contest, obstacle course, or egg and spoon race.

Ice Cream Social

One of our favorite budget-friendly kids’ birthday party ideas for summer is an ice cream social. Snacks and drinks are perfect for an afternoon shindig, which can save you money and the hassle of planning a meal for dozens of kids.

Set up an ice cream bar so kids can make their own custom-made sundae with sprinkles, gummy bears, and other toppings. You could complement it with mini-cupcakes or other snackable treats. Just be sure to have plenty of napkins and wet wipes on hand. Plus, some play space for the sugar rush to release itself.

Movie Night

Hosting a movie night is another one of our easiest budget-friendly kids’ birthday party ideas. A pizza dinner followed by popcorn and a movie watch party means you don’t need to plan any other activities to entertain the kids.

Do Budget-Friendly Goody Bags—Or Skip Them All Together

Another budget-friendly kids’ birthday party idea? Skip the goody bags and add zero dollars to your party budget. There is truly no need to go all out on party favors (unless, of course, it brings you joy!) Most goody bag party favors come home with kids and go straight to the garbage. So save yourself the time and money, and consider memories of the party—or the piñata bag of candy—as their treat to take home.

Host a Big Birthday Party Every Other Year

Do kids really need a big birthday bash every year? As one of four kids, my parents had a rule that we only had a party every other year growing up. And I never felt I was missing out. If you want to start this birthday tradition, you can still keep their birthday feeling special on the “off” years. Consider smaller ways to celebrate like a special one-on-one friend playdate or a family-only gathering.

Consider a Dual-Party

Does your child have a buddy with a nearby birthday? Consider sharing the party duties and costs! The party guests’ parents will also appreciate one less party to cart their kiddos to and from.

Do the Math Before You Plan Your Kid’s Party

Trampoline parks, mini-golf, gyms, movie theaters, art studios, etc., offer birthday party opportunities kids will love and come with plenty of benefits for parents. The party packages make it easy to budget, and you won’t have to worry about having enough food, drinks, snacks, or entertainment. Plus, you won’t have to clean up your house afterward. The catch is these tend to come at a higher price point, but it’s worth budgeting what you’d spend on a party at home versus what two hours might cost at Chuck E. Cheese—because it could end up being pretty close.

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