7 Alternate & Budget-friendly Party Ideas for Kids
Extravagant children’s birthday parties have become all the rage in recent times. It’s not unusual to attend a party that features elaborate décor, a lavish sweet table, and many other awesome extras! Aside from costing lots of money, these somewhat opulent events can also be expensive both in the time (planning and coordinating) and stress!
While many parents do like to celebrate age milestones, if throwing a big party doesn't appeal to you, here are some alternatives that are both fun-filled and perhaps more budget friendly!
DIY Tea Party
Here’s your chance to get really creative and also, show me a child who doesn't love sandwiches and sweet treats! If you don't already own a teapot set or cake stands, these can be purchased on Amazon or Ebay. There’ll be something, I’m sure, to suit your taste as well as non-breakable options for younger children too. Simply supply an array of sandwiches, cakes, and scones (these can most certainly be shop-bought!), arrange them beautifully on a table and voila, the food is sorted!
When it comes to decor, it can be as simple as some pretty bunting and flowers in a vase. You can add extra flair to your party and ask all the guests to come in pretty tea dresses/shirts and/or hats!
The theme can be incorporated into the games too—take a look at the games below for some inspo!
Sugar Cube Stacking Contest: Have players sit around a table. Give them each a box of sugar cubes. Set a timer for two minutes. See who can stack their sugar cubes the highest.
Pass the Sweet Pot: Fill a teapot with sweets. Have players sit on the floor in a circle. Play some music and have them pass the pot around. Whenever the music stops, the player holding it is out, but before leaving the circle, she gets to take a sweet from the pot. Keep playing until everyone has earned a sweet.
This is so versatile and really doesn’t require much planning at all. Simply pack picnic friendly food and drinks and then arrange to meet your guests at the park. You can inform guests beforehand to bring a picnic blanket so that everyone is comfortable. Be sure to check the weather forecast beforehand as nobody wants to picnic in the rain or in very windy weather.
If the park you choose is near a children’s playground you don’t even need to think about games as the guests can occupy themselves there. And if you’re not close to a playground, bring a ball and have a kick around!
A Home Movie Party
This theme works for just about any group—just tailor the film choice accordingly. A few movie-themed props such as a faux red carpet backdrop and VIP passes will also set the theme off! In terms of catering, popcorn is obviously a must and if you know the names of everyone coming, you can add special touches such as personalised popcorn boxes.
You can also set up a confectionery or “pick ’n’ mix” table so that children can fix themselves a bag of treats—not the healthiest of all things, but it is a party after all! In addition, you can simply order a few pizzas or make easy cinema style hotdogs and easy nachos.
The best part is, the kids actually watch a film, meaning minimal mess and minimal noise—happy days! Be sure to turn off the lights and pull the blinds down for maximum effect!
An Arty- Party
Most kids enjoy being creative and this party idea certainly caters to that! There are so many options for an “arty party” as it’s basically a party in which children attending can simply get creative. Here are a few of my favourites;
Paint a canvas: You’ll need to provide a canvas like this for each child along with a selection of paints. Oil pastels and crayons also work really well if you don’t fancy using paint. You can have a theme for the little guests to paint about or leave them to freestyle. Smaller children would enjoy finger-printing—with mummy or daddy’s help, of course.
Decorate photo frames: You can purchase cheap photo frames from the Pound Shop (if you live in the UK). Then get some stick-on jewels, ribbons, glitter glue, etc. for children to decorate the frames. If you have a Polaroid camera, even better! You can take pictures and give them instantly to the guests to take home!
To add a creative twist to some of the party food on offer, the children can decorate plain cupcakes or cookies or try making colourful fruit skewers. For fruit skewers, simply prepare the fruit by washing, pat drying, and slicing if necessary and put into different bowls. The little guests can then thread the fruit onto the skewers as they wish—fun and healthy!
I’d personally keep the numbers down with this part to avoid it getting too hectic. The wonderful thing is about this party idea is that you don’t need to think about party bags as guests simply go home with their creations!
So far, the parties mentioned involve being at home and/or an element of planning on your part. This next few ideas involves neither! I’ve also experienced all of the next party ideas!
Pizza Making Party
I recently opted for this one to celebrate my son turning five because I really didn’t want to plan a thing!
These parties involve kids learning to make their own pizza before being let loose on the ingredients they select for their mini pizzas. I did think the guests would have had a chance to play and stretch with their pizza dough which would have been a nice added touch, but this wasn’t the case. The two most popular UK pizza restaurants, Pizza Hut and Pizza Express offer party packages ranging from £9.99-£12.99 per child.
At Pizza Hut, as part of the package, party guests dined on various sides, ice cream, and drinks in addition to their pizza creations. To cater for the adult guests, I just ordered sharing pizzas and sides for them. When we were done, we simply left—no tidying up required!
A typical kids’ party will last between 1.5-2 hours, depending on how many kids there are and their ages. Just get in touch with your restaurant of choice to find out when you can book!
Soft Play Party
I’ve recently seen more and more parents choosing this as an option and honestly I can fully understand why. They are just so straightforward and simple. I used this when my son turned three and we celebrated in a restaurant called Blu Cabana (We lived in Abuja at the time!).
All we had to do was pay a fee per child and each child was admitted to a soft play area and then went on to feast on a great selection of party food. I only supplied a birthday cake and party bags! I’ve had friends in the UK do this too. Each venue has unique packages, with some allowing you to bring your own food whilst others charge more and cater for the guests completely. So do your research on your local places if this party style appeals to you!
I’ve got to say this is probably the party that ranks number one with my young son!
These parties are pretty self-explanatory; it’s a party in a pool! Similar to the soft play parties, each swimming pool/leisure centre will have its own package deals and these will range in costs.
From my investigations I’ve seen prices range from £75-£145 for an hour/90 mins of pool fun for 20 to 25 children. I remember that the venue provided various floats and toys to be played with too. On this particular occasion, food was not included—the host paid separately for kids meals in a separate function room. Obviously, being around water can be dangerous so you’ll need several adult volunteers to accompany the children in the pool. I personally would recommend a younger age limit of four years just because of the greater independence. But like I said, my son loved this party and still talks about it till date!
So there you have all of my suggestions! With the home ideas, don’t forget that websites like Pinterest, Etsy, Amazon, and Ebay are your friends! And remember, you don’t have to spend a lot of time or money to make your children’s birthday celebrations days to remember.
Cynthia is a mum of two active children who keep her on her toes! She lives in London and enjoys baking, visiting new restaurants and traveling. Her other passion includes reading and writing about children’s books. You can check out her recommendations on Instagram @welovecolourful_books