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5 Cheap, Easy and Fun Birthday Party Ideas

You can’t get around birthdays - they come each year for all of us! And most children want to celebrate with a party every year. Parents want to create a special day for their child, but often become overwhelmed at the expense and work involved in throwing their child a birthday party.

Here are some cheap and easy ideas for a fun birthday party:

1. Don’t have the party at home. You will have to decorate, purchase supplies and be stuck with cleanup. Host it at a public place instead. Consider the zoo, a bowling alley or a public pool. You will likely be surprised at the value. My daughter’s birthday party at a skating rink was only $99 for two hours of skating, arcade tokens, soda, popcorn and pizza for 10 kids. They provided the decorations and paper products. We only had to bring the cake! I loved the price, and I didn’t have to worry about kids destroying my house. 

2. For an even cheaper option, have the party at a park with a cool playground. The kids will keep themselves entertained without organized games, which also eliminates the need for prizes. Grab a pavilion with a picnic table under it and tape some streamers around it. Serve cupcakes and juice boxes. That’s all you need!

3. Do a double party! Do a little investigating to see if any of your child’s friends, neighbors or cousins has birthdays close together. Then combine your efforts with the other family. Have one party and share the costs. This works especially well when the majority of the guest list would be the same for either child anyway.

4. Use items you already have on hand instead of buying new stuff. Dig in your child’s toy box for decorations and party activities. If your daughter loves Hello Kitty or your son is obsessed with Thomas the Tank, their friends probably feel the same way. Don’t waste your money in the party supply lane. Put out the toys you already have scattered all over your house.

5. Have a sleepover. Though this goes against my first tip, sleepovers are generally low cost and require little preparation. Allow your child to invite a few friends over in the evening. Serve pizza for dinner and popcorn while they watch a movie. Arrange for the parents to pick up children soon after they wake up. Put out some cereal for breakfast for early risers. Low-key parties allow you to enjoy your child being in the spotlight without stressing about the cost or work involved. You may be surprised to find that the simple parties are the ones your child talks about into adulthood.

My favorite birthday party...

My favorite birthday party was held on my grandmother’s patio when I was eight. She set up a treasure hunt around her neighborhood. We followed the clues to a ‘treasure box’ (a cardboard box she had painted gold). Inside the chest were stuffed Pound Puppies she had picked up at garage sales and Pound Puppy Stickers. We then ate hot dogs, homemade cake (from a mix) and ice cream. I thought it was perfect and my guests agreed.

Rachael is a mother, freelance writer, educator and family activist. She loves birthdays - and not just for the cake! Find her at

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