Creative and Inexpensive Birthday Party Ideas

Celebrating your children’s birthdays is a wonderful experience, but many parents dread the kid-filled parties. If the thought of planning and executing your children’s birthday parties fills you with panic, it’s time to stop fearing the party! Most parents feel they need to plan a big, expensive party somewhere like an inflatables spot or worry what they’ll do to entertain the party goers in their own home. You can throw a simple, affordable, and fun party for your kids with a little bit of creativity and DIY. With seven kids of my own and many parties under my belt, I’m here to tell you it can be done relatively easy.  Here are a few of my kids’ favorites:

1. Carnival Party—You can throw together a Carnival themed party with items you probably have in your garage or can be purchased inexpensively. This party is perfect for a backyard, basement or park. Create different stations with games and activities so kids can rotate through the party and keep busy. A few fun games include a ping pong ball toss into buckets (about six children’s sand pails work best) and a ring toss using glow stick bracelets and two liter soda bottles. If the children are a bit older, you can have a balloon and dart game where the kids try to break the inflated balloons. Other stations can include “guess my weight” where an adult tries to guess each child’s weight (all you need is a bathroom scale), a tattoo station (for fake, rub-on tattoos), face painting and shooting small rubber ducks with a squirt gun in a filled baby pool. Hand out small prizes that can be purchased at the Dollar Spot at Target or The Dollar Tree (you can typically get six items in a pack for $1).

2. Picasso Party—Round up your art supplies and let the mini-Picassos create a masterpiece! Get creative with the invitations by putting the invite on the front of a box of crayons or water color paints. Next, organize a few different art projects to fill the length of the party (visit Pinterest for some inspiration). If you’re handy, small table top art easels can be made easily with dowels purchased at the hardware store inexpensively or easels can be purchased online for about $3-4 each. Then supply each child with a piece of cardstock or poster board to paint on. Purchase canvas aprons from Discount School where you can get them for $2/each. Let the kids decorate their own art smocks to take home as their party favors using fabric paint or fabric markers. For a great photo op, hang up an old white sheet on the wall and let the kids paint on it abstract, graffiti-style. Then have them stand in front of it like a photo booth. For fun you can give them masks, fake moustaches, etc. to dress up in. Kids absolutely love this!

3. Cupcake Decorating Party—If you don’t want to lay out $30-50 on a cake, make cupcakes at home with a box mix and supply the kids with tubs of frosting and some sprinkles and let them decorate their own cupcakes as an activity. This will cost you around $5-10 and kids love it! Check out Dollar Tree for $1 helium balloons, goodie bag items and party decorations. An easy way to keep costs down is to limit the party guests. The less kids, the less chaos for the parents, too.

4. Old Fashioned Birthday Party—Remember when you were a kid and birthday parties consisted of egg and spoon races, Pin-the-Tail on the Donkey, musical chairs and dropping clothes pins into glasses from the back of a chair? Kids today have never really experienced the party games of our past, so this is a perfect opportunity to expose them to simple, fun games that cost little or nothing to pull together. If you need more ideas or can’t remember how the games work, just do a Google search. If you’re looking for an activity outside of games, have the kids make their own Play-Doh the old fashioned way by using flour, vegetable oil, salt and a 10 cent packet of Kool Aid (for color and scent). Just add water and stir. Stick in a baggie and each child can then take their Play Doh home as their party favor. Another fun activity, which also serves as part of their snack, is making soft serve ice cream in zip lock baggies. All you need is ice, sugar and cream. A few shakes of the bag and voila—ice cream in a baggie (they can eat it right out of the bag, as well). For Play-Doh and Ice Cream recipes, check Pinterest.

Have fun & happy parenting,

Daddy Nickell


Daddy Nickell, father of 7, founder of Daddy & Co. and the Daily Daddy Blog.

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