Ten Budget-Friendly Happy Birthday Party Ideas

The Met Gala. Woodstock. Sharlene from down the street’s annual Christmas party. All highly-celebrated parties that attendees talk about for years after—but they pale in comparison to your child’s next birthday party.

Birthdays are big moments in a child’s life, and a birthday party lets them celebrate and practice social skills with friends and family. When your kiddo’s party expectations are high, the pressure on you to throw a great party is even higher. Parties get expensive, though. When you’re tasked with keeping partygoers fed and entertained, it can be difficult to celebrate without breaking the bank. 

Well, we’re here to help you turn that pressure nozzle down a few notches. Your budget may not allow for a big Gatsby-esque blowout, but that doesn’t mean you can’t throw an unforgettable birthday party. With Troomi’s ten budget-friendly happy birthday party ideas, you can stop worrying about the party and start focusing on the reason you’re celebrating in the first place: your kiddo.

1. Hold a Movie Night

If you’re on the hunt for a lowkey, low-budget birthday party idea, look no further than the classic movie night. Kids of all ages will love getting together to watch a movie, and a few hours of low-effort entertainment on your part is a pretty big bonus, too. 

Let the birthday kid choose the movie you watch—just make sure it’s appropriate for the audience. Then, give your kids the full movie night fantasy by popping some popcorn and providing delicious snacks. If your child is curious about the kitchen, they may want to help you bake some homemade treats. Click here for tips on how to get your kids cooking.

2. Host a Book Exchange

We here at Troomi are reading enthusiasts. Picking up a book takes you to other worlds and has a ton of surprising health benefits for kids and adults alike. So I ask: what better way to celebrate someone’s big day than by hosting a book exchange? 

In the party invites, ask each invitee to bring a wrapped copy of their favorite book. Then, at the party, put all the books in the middle and play a little White Elephant (click here for the rules). Once each child has a book, break out some snacks and blankets and encourage the kiddos to get reading. Party attendants will get a kick out of sharing their favorite books with friends. Who knows, they may even learn something in the process!

3. Get Creative with a Craft Party

Last year for one of my friend’s birthdays, we attended a little pottery class at a local art school. We spent two hours playing ceramicist, molding the wet clay and laughing every time a bowl or cup fell apart in our hands. A few days later we were able to pick up our freshly fired creations and take them home. It’s a birthday party that I won’t forget—and it wasn’t even mine!

You may not want to take a bundle of kids to a local pottery class (and I wouldn’t blame you), but craft nights are one of the best ways to celebrate a birthday. Here are a few fun, crafty ideas:

  • Cover your table with a sheet of white paper and set kids loose with crayons
  • Host a homemade pottery night with moldable clay that dries in the sun
  • Get some watercolors and have a painting competition
  • Make animals out of paper with origami

4. Turn Your Home Into a Science Lab

Craft day isn’t going to be for everyone—some kids prefer something a little more scientific. If this sounds like your child, strap on the lab goggles and get ready to experiment. If the party is for younger kids, you may have to be the scientist-in-residence because the experiments can get a bit complex. For older kids, try splitting the party into smaller groups and have stations with different experiments that they can perform on their own.

There are a ton of cool science experiments that use household materials, so no need to stress about breaking the bank.

5. Host a Dress-Up Tea Party

For your little princes and princesses, a dress-up tea party is a cheap and fun way to celebrate a birthday. Tell guests to come dressed in their finest courtly attire to match the fancy atmosphere. Play some tea party tunes from your child’s Troomi smartphone, and preserve memories by documenting the event with a Troomi device’s state-of-the-art camera

When it comes to the food, you don’t need to get too wild—fruit juice and cookies will do. If you’re feeling ambitious and want to bake a little something extra, though, go ahead! There’s no better tea party fare than home-baked goodies.

6. Devise a Scavenger Hunt

Kids love a good adventure, so help them tap into their inner explorer with a homemade scavenger hunt. These quests get kids outside and encourage them to use their minds in creative ways while having bundles of fun.

First, find a small prize to hide at the end of the hunt. Then, come up with some clues for your kiddos to solve that will lead them from spot to spot. If you’re feeling extra creative, make the clues into a riddle or poem to really zest up the adventurous energy. You could even theme the scavenger hunt and encourage attendees to dress up accordingly. For example, if the theme is “pirate,” tell everyone to wear their best striped socks and eye patches as you turn the scavenger hunt into a quest for buried treasure. 

7. Cook S’mores Over a Campfire

There are few things better than spending time in the great outdoors—especially when you have a bunch of high-energy kids to take care of. There are so many ways to get outside for your next birthday party, and cooking s’mores around a campfire is one of the best! Fire can be dangerous, so make sure to set some ground rules from the beginning. If they follow the safety rules, kids will get a riot out of campfire activities like:

  • Cooking hot dogs and tin foil dinners
  • Roasting marshmallows
  • Singing campfire songs
  • Telling scary (or funny) stories

8. Picnic in the Park

If your area doesn’t have many spots for campfires, you can still enjoy the outdoors and celebrate your little one’s big day by holding a picnic in the park. Bust out your outdoor blankets, pack a lunch and some snacks, and get picnicking. Lunch doesn’t have to be anything fancy—peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with some veggies and a glass of fresh lemonade is more than enough to feed hungry kids. 

9. Welcome the Birthday with Water Games

When I was a kid, one of my favorite events was after my sixth-grade graduation. We had a water party. Everyone wore their swimsuits and tossed water balloons, slid down the slip-n-slide, and ran through sprinklers shooting into the sky. For a small eleven-year-old boy, the water party was heaven.

Water parties are a great way to beat the summer heat and have fun celebrating a birthday all at once. All you need is a sprinkler and some water balloons to get your kids laughing up a storm. Any type of sprinkler will work, and your local party store should have packs of water balloons for a fairly cheap price. At the end of the party, recruit the kids to help clean up any stray balloon remnants that are scattered around the lawn.

10. Play Outdoor Games

If water games aren’t your speed, there’s nothing wrong with good ol’ outdoor games like cornhole and horseshoes. If your kid is into the sports scene, you could organize a low-stakes soccer game or put together an impromptu kickball team. You could keep it even simpler (and cheaper) by playing classic playground games like tag or hide and seek. The outdoors are endless, and so are the possibilities for a fun happy birthday party.

Low Budget, Low Stress

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the financial stress of planning your child’s birthday party. Make that stress disappear with these ten low-budget birthday ideas. After all, birthdays are about more than just the party; at their heart, they’re a reason to celebrate your child and their amazing accomplishments.