Frugal Tips for Kids Birthday Parties

by Frugal Brian


Remember your childhood birthdays and the fun parties you folks put together for you and all your friends? Today those parties can get really expensive! And the amount of planning and work that goes into a successful party is amazing! Kids of all ages appreciate a fun filled party though and it’s well worth all that fuss and to-do just to see the smiles on all their bright little faces…. right? So lets see how we can not only economize with our money but our valuable time as well with some handy tips and ideas to help make your next children’s birthday party super fun and memorable for all concerned. First off set a budget for your party and try to stick with it! Don’t forget to figure in napkins, paper plates, beverages, snacks, and of course the Birthday Cake! And your plans will vary depending on the time of year, whether indoors or outside activities, age of the children, and whether it will be both boys and girls or just one sex attending.

Keep it simple but don’t spare the prizes!

Kids love to win prizes! The competitions can be simple or complex depending on the age of the participants. Youngsters (5-10)

  • Play musical chairs (if you don’t have enough chairs to spare use throw rugs, chair cushions, or make some “spots” from left over material. They just need to be large enough for a child to stand or sit on when the music stops.
  • Make Piñatas by filling balloons with water and a small prize inside, then let them whack away until they break (kids will get a little wet with this one!).
  • Fill 8 or 10 bottles (from 2 liter down to 20 ouncers) with water and let them “ring” the bottles with plastic rings which you can purchase cheaply at that party store or online at places like or at
  • Toss bean bags into pots, bowls, or whatever you have handy.
  • Set up an obstacle course in your yard using boxes, roped off trees, sticks to use for limbo dancing under, any discarded objects that are safe and can become a competition to maneuver around, under, or through.

It’s all about giving out prizes so that at some point everybody wins something so make it easy, especially for the little ones.

Pre-teens and teenagers can have more challenging games such as

  • Pin the tail on the donkey (substitute photos of favorite teachers, actors, or even presidents)
  • Throwing darts at the same photos as above game
  • What’s that smell? Add various scents to cotton balls and let them figure out what they are smelling. You can add cinnamon, vanilla extract, oregano, cheeseburger (a dab of grease from a skillet or grill), coffee, chocolate, or whatever you have on hand.
  • Card games like concentration, war, or Uno

How to decorate your home/yard on the cheap!

If you are lucky enough to live in or near a town that has a party store you have the battle half won! They provide tons of party favor ideas, lots of great useful tips regarding how to amuse and entertain them, “dress up” your den or family room or back yard, then what to feed them.

Balloons always work! Kids and adults love balloons for decorations. Let them blow ‘em up themselves and hang around the yard, on trees and bushes. If your party store has a helium tank to lend you, air them up using that and don’t forget to tie them securely you you’ll wind up with a game called see how long you can still see them as they soar away! And even that’s amusing and entertaining. Paper chains create a project the kids can do and keep them amused for a time. Cut out lettering that spells out names and Happy Birthday (or whatever) using colored construction paper which is very cheap.

Feed them but keep it simple (and cheap)

You are going to be expected to entertain a pack of kids for at least several hours so you will probably need to feed them snacks and then birthday cake. Do not attempt to feed them an entire meal because they’re there to play not be stuffed! And they won’t be all that hungry if you have plenty of activities for them. Try some small snacks that are quick and easy to throw together. Your own kids can help assemble them, teaching them some responsibility and how to budget money for a successful occasion. Snack ideas might include:

  • Cheese and crackers (canned cheese sprayed onto round or square crackers
  • Mini hot dogs. Vienna sausages wrapped in crescent rolls (refrigerated crescent rolls, cut in half and wrapped around sausages then baked 12-15 minutes.
  • Chips and dip. This can be mild salsa or perhaps cream cheese mixed with salsa and dipped with corn chips.

Prizes and party favors can be purchased cheaply when you buy in bulk so you may wish to keep in mind that you might want to do this again next year or for another child and make a larger purchase now, then you won’t need to make that same purchase next time. It’s all about the kids having fun so keep it simple. You won’t stress out so much if you plan ahead and let the kids help you.

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