I love throwing a good kids’ birthday party. It’s really fun to make my kids feel special, and I love to get creative with the decorations.
For me, the most important part of a good kids’ birthday party is that it’s cheap and low-stress. There are plenty of ways to make things feel special without going over the top or stressing yourself out! I feel like this is something I’ve gotten really good at over the years. So today, I’m sharing my top cheap birthday party ideas and tips to help you throw an epic (and cheap) birthday party.
Cheap Birthday Party Ideas for Kids
- Take Invitations Digital. Gone are the days when you needed to worry about finding cute, on-theme invitations and put them in the mail. Save some money by whipping up something digital (I like to use Canva!) and texting or it to the parents. Done and done!
- Keep the Guest List Small. Parties add up quickly when you add on more kids! Most venues have a limit of 10-12 kids before they start charging extra, so keep that in mind if you want to save some money!
- Choose the right venue. Birthday party costs vary wildly depending on where you have it. Some venues can cost $500+ while others are free! We tend to stick mostly to at-home parties because it’s the most affordable and low-stress option of them all! Other affordable ideas for where to have your party include the zoo, bowling alleys, arcades, or a local pizza place!
- Ask your kid what they want. You might be surprised at how simple it is! I make a habit of asking my kids what the most important elements of a party are to them, and using that to guide me. My oldest doesn’t care about anything other than having a decorated house, having some friends over, and playing with them. I never plan games or elaborate activities, because he’d rather just have a big playdate!
- Build a balloon arch. A few balloons can go a LONG WAY, and a balloon arch is a great way to make a huge impact without spending much money! Click here for my tutorial on how to build your own balloon garland.
- Look for decor kits on Amazon. In the last few years, I’ve had really great luck buying decor kits for my kids’ birthday celebrations on Amazon! They usually cost about $30 or $40 and they’re perfectly on-theme and adorable!
- Stick to the basics. I like to really dive into a theme with our decorations, but you don’t have to! Simple simple balloons, streamers, and a cute plastic tablecloth are all you need. Find what’s on sale, or just pick a color and run with it.
- Make your own decor. Of course, a great way to save a ton of money on your kid’s birthday party decor is to create your own! For Jackson’s second birthday, we did a Sesame Street theme, and other than a few streamers and balloons I made all of the decor myself!
- Plan a few crafts. I like to grab a few pre-made craft kids to set out for the kids. Just search for your theme + crafts on Amazon and you’ll find dozens of ideas! At my son’s space party, we had space-themed rainbow scratch off cards and the kids loved it!
- Play some simple, fun party games. It might feel too easy, but kids still love the classic birthday party games! Gather the group for a game of Simon Says, Hot Potato, or Musical Chairs. They’ll all be giggling like maniacs before you know it. You can even make them match your theme – instead of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, pin it on a Paw Patrol character or whatever else your theme might be!
- Plan a big scavenger hunt. Growing up, I had a friend whose mom did this every year. She’d give us clues that took us all around their home and property for a big treasure hunt. It was always my favorite birthday party to attend! I couldn’t even tell you what the treasure actually was, I just remember the fun of the hunt!
- Get creative with party favors. I have a friend who is the master at this – plan a party favor that is also an activity. You can have kids paint a pot to plant something in, tie-dye a t-shirt, or paint a canvas! Let the kids take it home as a little thank you gift for coming to the party. You can get creative and try to make it match the theme of your birthday party, and it’s sure to be a hit.
- Make your own birthday cake. Cakes can get incredibly expensive, so you’ll save a ton just by making your own! You can use a box cake mix, or mix it up from scratch. Serve some ice cream on the side and you’re good to go. If you don’t want to bake, just grab a plain cake or cupcakes from the store and add some small toys to decorate! Bonus points if you ask your kid if they’d prefer cookies or donuts to a cake!
- Fruit + Veggie Trays. Never throw a child’s birthday party without tossing out a big ol’ bowl of fruit and a veggie tray. Everyone will snack on it, the parents will be grateful for some nutritious options, and it’ll keep the kids happy while they wait for the main event.
- Mix themed plates + napkins with plain. I always recommend paper plates, napkins, and cups for parties just to keep cleanup easier. But, you don’t have to get all themed party supplies! Grab a pack or two that’s on theme, then mix it in with some simpler options that are in the same color family.
- Keep it super simple. We usually just order a bunch of pizzas for the kids and call it a day! Cutesy themed food is always a fun idea, but the kids never appreciate it as much as you hope they will, and all they really want is pizza. Order a bunch of cheese and pepperoni pizzas and cross that item off your list!
Need some theme ideas to help inspire you? Here are a few favorites.
- Carnival theme: Set up some carnival games in the backyard, rent (or buy) a cotton candy machine, and serve popcorn in paper containers. Lunch can be hot dogs!
- Movie night: This one is great for older kids. Set up a projector in the backyard, or just pile ’em all in the living room. Serve movie snacks, let them watch a new release or an old classic, and enjoy the quiet!
- Sleepover party: A sleepover is a really great way to get a lot of bang for your buck. It feels extra special but doesn’t cost you must! Not ready for a sleepover?Host an evening party and have everyone come in their pajamas. You can serve late night snacks, let them giggle and stay up a little late, and then send them all home!
- Whatever they love most. It sounds overly simple, but you can make anything into a party theme! We’ve had a dinosaur party, a “fish” party, a space party, and a Sesame Street party. Just ask what theme they want and run with it.
And there you have it! Twenty inexpensive birthday party ideas to help you create a celebration for your kids that’s affordable, simple, and FUN.