Frugal & Fun Kid's Birthdays: 100 Celebration Ideas

by Beth Montgomery on March 13, 2010 · 6 comments

in Holidays, Tips & Basics

This is post 7 of 7 in the series Frugal & Fun Kid’s Birthdays.

It’s party day! And the end of our series.

While we’re partying down princess-style, here are 100 silly ideas for your next frugal and fun kids party.   Feel free to use them as is, but I also hope they will inspire you to come up with some of your own your children will love.

Family Fun

  1. Head to a place that offers freebies   on your birthday like Toys ‘r Us, Dave & Busters, or many other entertainment spots or restaurants.
  2. Curl up for a movie night.   For fun, get a movie that was made or released on your child’s birthday.   Or has an actor(ess) with the same birthday.
  3. Challenge each other to a game night.   Play charades, cards, board games, or whatever your family loves.
  4. Hike through the woods.
  5. Canoe or kayak.
  6. Go on a bike ride.
  7. Have a family scavenger hunt around town looking for inventive ideas like “Dad hanging on the monkey bars” or “The birthday boy/girl at a famous landmark.” Take pictures to track your progress and remember the day.
  8. Try your hand at fishing at a local lake or pond.   Make sure you have a license where required!
  9. Hit the park and play.
  10. Have a picnic.
  11. Build the largest snowman.
  12. Sled.
  13. Make a weekend of it and go camping.   You can get a site for as low as $10 in some areas.   It’s even a great (and cheap) way to visit a new city or state.
  14. Take advantage of your family memberships and hit the local zoo, children’s museum, art museum, or golf course.
  15. Make pottery at a local do-it-yourself shop.

    Food & Eats

  16. Did you know you can take a picture from a coloring book and place wax paper over it, then use the gel or premade icing to trace the design.   Then, by placing the wax paper upside down in your iced cake, you’ll have the perfect outline for your design?   Just fill it in!   Easy homemade cake.
  17. Instead of drawing with icing, use candy, sprinkles, and other items to make your cake design at home.
  18. Instead of making a cake, make cupcakes.   Let each child decorate their own with icing, candy toppings, and sprinkles.
  19. Skip cake entirely and let the kids go all-out making their own sundaes with whip topping, fruit, gooey syrups, and those candy toppings and sprinkles mentioned above.
  20. Concoct a punch to match your theme or look up recipes online.   You can mix different things to make different colors and they’ll still taste great!
  21. Get fun straws at The Dollar Store to punch up beverages.
  22. Spaghetti, macaroni & cheese, or chicken nuggets are always affordable and kiddie favorites.
  23. Side meals with your kids simple favorites – grapes, carrot sticks, string cheese, and cheese crackers.
  24. If you live in an area where it’s allowed, have a bonfire, so everyone can cook their own foods – hot dogs and toasted marshmallows.
  25. Make good use of food coloring! For example, tint ranch dressing for veggie dip purple for a Barney birthday or green for a Monster birthday.
  26. It’s all about perception.   If you call hamburgers Krabby patties at your Spongebob party, then they will be.
  27. You don’t have to go crazy or make something creative.   Enjoy plain peas from Princess and the Pea at a princess party.
  28. Cut sandwiches into festive shapes with cookie cutters.
  29. Roll grapes in Kool-Aid powder for a fun and festive look.
  30. Skip gifts and have your guests bring food instead for a pitch-in.
  31. Skip food. Just serve cake and drinks!
  32. Plan the menu around food that’s in season.

    Party Sites & Decor

  33. String Christmas lights to add to the ambiance.
  34. Use toys to enhance the theme, like toy cars driving on the cake or on the appetizer dishes.
  35. If you’re house is too small, head to Grandmas! We did for Ady and Izy’s first birthdays.
  36. Or hit up that relative with the fun house.   You know the one with the pool and dart board?   Remember to clean up and be respectful, so you’ll be invited back!
  37. Party at the local sprayground or spray park.   It’s usually FREE or cheap to take advantage of the shelters and comes with FREE entertainment.
  38. Think like the character. Head to the library for a Belle birthday or the nature preserve for a Tarzan or Curious George birthday.
  39. Give back. Organize a park cleaning before an outdoor party.
  40. The community center or other volunteer locations will be more likely to let you use a room if you give an hour or two to them first.   It doesn’t have to be all the party guest.   Just you and your husband/wife or the party kid could volunteer the weekend before the party.
  41. Keep it simple.   Teddy bears and blankets are among the few items you’d need for a teddy bear picnic party theme.
  42. Anything can be pretty. Tie bows on plums, roll green grapes in red koolaid, stick a pretty toothpick in a wrap.
  43. Go overboard.   Tie bows and streamers and other fun things you have on hand to serving utensil and drape lampshades with scarfs for a Fancy Nancy Party.
  44. Light the candles you never light, because you are “saving them for a special day”.
  45. Turn on and turn up the music!
  46. Invite your guests to add to the theme by dressing as their favorite Disney character for a Mickey Mouse birthday or have them bring their favorite doll or stuffed animal for a tea party.
  47. Get into it yourself! Moms, your kids will think you are too cool if you wear a tool belt and ball cap to the Handy Manny birthday.
  48. Cut flowers from your garden to spruce things up.
  49. Loop pictures of your child on the television or your computer screen.
  50. Encourage the older guests teach the children some of their favorite “vintage” party games like Pin The Tail on the Donkey, Duck-Duck Goose, or Freeze Tag.

    Slumber Party

  51. Make dresses and accessories out of toilet paper or aluminum foil for a fun game.
  52. Find constellations or count stars.
  53. Place black paper on the walls or windows for slumber party graffiti.   Let the kids doodle on them with glow in the dark pens or gel pens.
  54. Make snazzy socks!
  55. Let them sing! Turn your DVD player into a Karaoke machine for only $29.99!
  56. Hook up your camcorder to the television, so the kids can be stars.
  57. You know all those samples you’ve collected?   Pass them out as goodies and favors.
  58. Pull out the board games.   If you have them, pull out your oldies. Remember Mall Madness?
  59. This is the perfect time to hand over a few of those toothbrushes and toothpaste you’ve stockpiled as favors.
  60. Don’t just pass out toiletries!   Also dish out your sample cereals or granola.
  61. Let the girls make hot chocolate mix to enjoy and some to take home for later.
  62. Give flashlights as favors.   Let the kids decorate them!   They’re often found in the Target Dollar Spot.
  63. Let the girls sign and decorate the birthday girl’s sheets or pillow case for memories sake.
  64. Tie dye or decorate pillow cases. You can get some cheap at Goodwill, yard sales, or a consignment store.
  65. Pull out your old movies like Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink for a marathon or Annie and Mary Poppins for a younger crowd.
  66. Let them make you over!
  67. Even better – let them make over your husband!   Trust me, it’s fun for everyone (except him). Get pictures.
  68. Fold plain paper to make Fortune-Tellers or Footballs.
  69. Tell scary stories.
  70. Share secrets.


  71. Let your children create their own invitations with paints, bows, crayons, construction paper, and confetti.
  72. Cut out pictures of the invitees.   Use the cut outs to make a card of your friends at your party.   Put party hats on their head, a birthday cake on the table, and have fun with it.   They’ll get a kick out of it.
  73. Tuck pictures of the evening and your guests into their thank you cards to add a special touch.   Remember all those free photo prints?
  74. Hand deliver invitations or thank yous at school or whenever to save money on stamps.
  75. E-vite is always free and can be sent via Facebook.
  76. Not artsy, make cards on the computer and print them.
  77. Press flowers to add flare to homemade invitations.
  78. Sparkle homemade invitations up with glitter.

    Favors, Crafts & Activities

  79. Make kites, then head outside to try them out.
  80. Make daisy chains to wear or teach the kids how to whistle with blades of grass.
  81. Find a stay-at-home mom or dad who moonlights as a clown or has fun balloon skills and would be interested in entertaining for cheap.
  82. Cut up those old magazines you have lying around for free craft accessories.
  83. Better yet, dress your husband up as a clown, if he’s game! The kids (and adults) will LOVE watching daddy be silly.
  84. Face paint. You don’t need to be an artist and the kids will love it.
  85. Use items on sale at party stores to come up with or add to your theme.   Seasonal items are wonderful and always cheap near or after the holiday.   Think outside of the box, like using leis or luau decor as center pieces or favors at a Tinkerbell Party.
  86. Hearts and Valentine’s Day decorations and be used to for little girl parties.   Or do a Valentine’s theme and instead of pinning the tale on the donkey, get Cupid’s bow on his arror.
  87. Decorate eggs and have an Easter egg hunt for birthdays around Easter. My daughter ate this up one year and so did her guests!
  88. Let off fireworks and go red, white, and blue for Independence Day.
  89. Halloween is the best! Let the kids get an opportunity to get an additional wear out of those costumes.   Hang ghost made from tissues, serve pumpkin seeds, and carve pumpkins.
  90. Become Indians in November for a Pocahontas or Indian theme party.   Make head dresses or rain sticks.
  91. Make Christmas ornaments and hang Christmas decorations for December birthdays.
  92. Water balloons, squirt guns, and other water toys can be great entertainment.
  93. Get out what you have on hand – sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, balls, hula hoops, wagons.   The kids will make use of it.
  94. Bubbles are cheap and kids love them.   Plus, they are beautiful.   Automatic bubble blowers will fill your backyard quickly with thousands and are very affordable.

    Just For Fun

  95. Blow up balloons and toss them all over the floor of your child’s room after they fall asleep, so they wake up to a sea of balloons.   Have teenager? Fill up their car while they’re at school or work!
  96. Wrap presents in newspaper or paper you decorate.
  97. Let your kid pick everything (with in reason) no matter how silly.   Izy wore jeans, a plastic Barbie tiara, a HUGE black and pink polka dot tutu, a pink cotton top accented with silver sparkles, and her dressiest purple shoes all day for her birthday.   Yep, we took her out like that and loved it!
  98. Take pictures and e-mail them to the parents of your guests.
  99. Donate toys from your playroom before the big date to make room for new stuff and help others.
  100. Skip gifts and have everyone bring a toy to donate or something else for a cause, so you don’t add to an already crowded play room or area.

Your turn! How do you celebrate in frugal & fun style?

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