Planning a birthday party for your child can be quite a process. There are so many birthday party ideas for kids to choose from and tons of work to do to pull it all together.
From choosing a location and theme to organizing the activities, sending out invitations, praying people show up and trying to make sure your child has an amazing time. Most parents find themselves exhausted after the 2 to 4-hour ordeal has ended.
Nowadays, birthday parties can cost hundreds of dollars so if you have more than one child, this could seriously take a negative toll on your finances. I’m personally over party packages at expensive family entertainment centers. While the events are fun, I can take my son to outings on my own when it’s not his birthday to avoid those ridiculous rates.
While there are plenty of free ways to celebrate your child’s birthday, most kids will want or expect a party for a few years and let’s face it, parties are a fun way of celebrating a birthday (as long as you’re not throwing it).
I’ve thrown some type of party for my son for the past five years. This year, we kept it low key and just had a celebration with family at our home. If you have a budget for your child’s next birthday party, here are a few frugal birthday party ideas for kids.
Host At Your House
To keep kids entertained, you can come up with a theme that represents your child. Choose their favorite activity or character at the time and play games based on that theme.
Go To The Local Park
If your child’s birthday is in the summer, you are quite lucky since you can host it outside. You may need to pay a small fee to reserve an outdoor area for a few hours, but you won’t have to spend much on entertainment.
You can organize the party like a field day and have the kids play sports like soccer, basketball, and dodgeball for prizes. For food and entertainment, you can grill out and rent a bounce hours or pick up a piñata for everyone to take a stab at.
For six kids to bowl unlimited games for two hours, it was $60 which included pizza, and all the paperware. All we had to do was bring cake and relax for a change then go home to a clean house.
To save money on a bowling party, try to avoid well-known and busy places like Brunswick Zone that have an arcade on the side along with many other expensive rides, etc. because it will cost you more instead of just focusing on the bowling at a smaller location.
Check Out Free or Discounted Areas
Does your area have any free zoos? I know Chicago does and even my hometown has a free petting zoo. While the zoo may actually host parties there and charge a fee, nothing stops you from exploring the zoo with a few of your child’s friends, bringing a cake, and purchasing ice cream on-site.
Another great option would be your local community center, where kids would be able to swim or play around. While some community centers charge for a room, if you’re only going for the pool or to the basketball court, you will most likely only pay for the visit passes. Bring some snacks and call it a success!
One of my favorite ideas is going to a shopping center with a fun interactive place for the kids to go and play. Most of them are free or inexpensive, and with a food court nearby, the kids won’t go hungry. You could also have a cake or cookie for the birthday child purchased right on the spot, so you don’t have to worry about decorations, the cake and candles, or anything else. The kids will have fun, you won’t be stressed out, and the savings can be significant.
Choose A More Affordable Theme
Some parties get expensive because of the theme. Throwing a spa party is most likely going to cost you more than throwing a fun luau type party in your backyard. Here are some of my favorite theme ideas!
Pirates were the theme for my son’s 6th birthday. He loves the television show Jake and the Neverland Pirates so I picked up a delicious cake for $20 and organized a treasure hunt for him and my brother to embark on throughout our house.
I found examples for clues on a website and it was super fun watching them go after each clue.
We drank Pirates Punch (which was Kool-Aid, sherbet, and lemon-lime soda), ate pizza, and had a great time.
Minions are soooo cute! Who doesn’t love them? I recently went to a minion-themed birthday party and I loved the setup. My friend who hosted the party rented a community room at her apartment complex for free. This is another great option if you are looking for a cheap place to host a birthday party! She played the movie Despicable Me for kids while they got to assemble and decorate a minion goodie bag.
Arts and Crafts
If the kids are older, consider hosting a craft party where they can make something to take home. Stores like Painted Penguin and Build-A-Bear Workshop make a killing hosting hands-on parties for kids. You can do the same thing at your home for much cheaper.
Scour the clearance section at Michael’s Craft Store to pick up paints or materials to make bags, pottery, picture frames, etc. Turn on a movie, pop some popcorn or bake some sweets, and let the fun begin.
Moana is a Disney movie that was released in 2016, but it’s still so popular. I’ve seen some awesome Moana-themed birthday parties that included water activities, island decorations, and more.
During the summer, parties that include water activities are always fun. You can pick up a wading pool, turn the sprinkler on, inflate a slip n slide, or just fill up water balloons.
Don’t Follow Traditions
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to give out favors for your child’s birthday party. While they are nice to give and receive, they aren’t mandatory. This is true especially if your child’s party has a ton of guests. Even at just $5 a favor, that can easily turn into $100 for just 20 guests! Talk about expensive.
You also don’t need a giant cake, a ton of activities to keep the kids occupied, or a buffet of food choices. Most of that food will most likely go to waste. Kids have bigger imaginations than we think. Some kids don’t even like cake! When you’re trying to think of frugal birthday party ideas for kids, don’t forget that you don’t have to follow the traditional birthday rules.
Extra Tips For Your Frugal Birthday Party Ideas For Kids
Even with choosing an inexpensive place to throw a party, having a more affordable theme, and cutting out expensive traditions, there are still many other ways to cut costs. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Stock up on decorations at the dollar store. We reuse a few decorations each year. But for the most part, we toss them out so you shouldn’t spend too much money on decorating.
- Borrow instead of rent. Sometimes you may luck out and find a friend who has some cool equipment or items you can borrow for your party. All you need to do is ask.
- Send digital invitations. You can save money on invites by sending them over the computer either as an e-vite or a Facebook private event.
- Keep the menu simple. Food is another costly area of birthday parties. To keep food costs low, you can either have a party in between lunch and dinner to cut costs. Or, you can prepare a lot of the food yourself. Most places that forbid you from bringing food in for birthday parties will at least let you bring the cake or dessert on your own. If this is the case, make sure the venue is including food for the children in the price of the party package.
- Employ your family. Can someone play DJ? Do you really need to hire a clown? By employing your family for the day of festivities, you can cut out a lot of costs that you would otherwise pay professionals for.
- Use you have around the house. You’d be surprised at the games kids can come up with when they have certain toys and resources. Simply putting some tape on your floors can turn them into an obstacle course. A balloon can be turned into a ball for a fun take on volleyball (especially because it can’t hurt anyone if it hits them). A trampoline has plenty of uses for different games. By using what you have around the house, and creating activities around those items, you can save yourself some money, and your child can still have fun!
Do you have any other frugal birthday party ideas for kids? Have you thrown any frugal birthday parties before? What helped you save money on the celebration?
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