10 Cheap Kids Birthday Celebration Ideas (Without the Big Party)

10 Cheap Kids Birthday Celebration Ideas (Without the Big Party)

With our first child, we had a birthday party every year. We held birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese, Trampoline Parks, and at our home with all of my daughter’s friends. Every year was different and special. Then my second child came along, and twice a year, we were having birthdays at Chuck E. Cheese, Trampoline Parks, and at our home with friends. It started getting pretty expensive (between $300 and $500 per party) and after the arrival of my third baby, I realized that 3 birthday parties a year wasn’t something that we could do… every single year.

We definitely want to celebrate our children’s birthdays and have each one be different and special, but we don’t want to go broke doing it. Rules at school, like having to invite either ALL of the children or ALL of one gender (so between 10-25 kids per party) and social faux pas like having enough food for all of your guests (because a few of them brought extra people) make it hard to have a cost efficient kids birthday.

Since we knew that annual birthday parties for all three wasn’t going to be possible, we sat our children down and told them that going forward, they would only have big birthday parties with friends sometimes. We’re shooting for milestone ages like 5, 10, 13, & 16- but for the ones in between, we’ll be having having cake at home with immediate family and smaller birthday celebrations.

So what are smaller birthday celebrations? Well, they are cheaper ways to celebrate birthdays that are still different and special. Check it out below.

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Here are some budget-friendly kids birthday ideas for when you want to skip the party, but still celebrate and have fun! Check it out.

10 Cheap Kids Birthday Celebration Ideas

  1. Dinner at their favorite restaurant.
  2. Theme Park or Carnival Day with immediate family.
  3. Day Trip (to a close location of their choice) with immediate family.
  4. A sleepover with 3 friends at home including pizza, cake and ice cream.
  5. Movie and ice cream outing with 2 friends.
  6. Rollerskating and ice cream with 2 friends.
  7. Bowling and pizza with 2 friends.
  8. Trampoline Park and ice cream with 2 friends.
  9. Paint place with 2 friends.
  10. A live event- musical, show, concert, or sports game with 1 friend (or 2- depending on ticket prices).

Kids Birthday Budget

The objective is to stay below $60 per celebration with friends and $100 for trips and/or celebrations with family. It’s amazing how quickly birthday parties can add up between decor, goodie bags, gifts, and food. Even when you are having a party at the movie theater or Chuck E. Cheese, the cheaper packages leave you having to supply the cake, food, or decor- and next thing you know, your bill is between $300-$500. (It adds up for house parties, too!)

More Ways to Save on Kids Birthday Celebrations

There are plenty of ways to keep costs down on the outings with friends, too.


Groupon is filled with deep discounts for group activities. You only need a handful of people to enjoy an outing!

Credit Card Rewards

Depending on the type of credit card you have, it’s also worth looking into the discounts you can get on entertainment (to include concerts and theatrical performances).

Birthday Rewards

Tons of places offer free birthday rewards on the day of your birthday. If you are planning an ice cream outing, be sure to ask about the birthday benefit (and save some cash!).

Why You Don’t Need to Party Every Year

In the end, expensive birthday parties don’t work for our family of 5 and I would rather my kids really enjoy their birthday with their closest friends and family, rather than spend hundreds on kids we won’t see or know in a year.

Also, it turns out that my daughter doesn’t remember every single birthday party she had and would have been just as happy going out somewhere different with close friends or family. If you’re having a grand party to impress others, you’re wasting your time, money, and causing yourself more stress than anything else.

Here are 10 Cheap #Kids Birthday Ideas that are still #fun!! Click To Tweet

If you enjoyed this post, don’t forgetto check out my posts How to Save Money on Kids Clothes and Why Kids and Parents Love Junie B Jones (& a Junie B Jones The Musical ticket giveaway!!)

What do you do to celebrate your child’s birthday? What kind of cheap party celebrations have you had?

Pamela is a Freelance Writer, Blogger, WAHM of 3, and Veteran Military Wife living in Southwest Texas. Raised in the Northeast and having lived a few years in the Pacific Northwest, she likes to write about mom life, parenting, frugal living, experiences, and WINE. (Lots of wine!) When she’s not busy chasing toddlers around, you can find her on the blog or on social media. Check her out on Instagram: instagram.com/wineandlavender

51 thoughts on “10 Cheap Kids Birthday Celebration Ideas (Without the Big Party)”

  • These are great ideas (that are more memorable, too)! Thankfully our school doesn’t have the “must invite everyone” rules. It’s ridiculous what people spend on birthday parties!

    • Hey Brenda! I agree! We haven’t even really done “extravagant” parties for our kids- just the normal, 10-kid Chuck E Cheese type deal, and that cost us a few hundred. I can’t imagine what some people spend. Thanks for stopping by!

  • I love cheap birthday parties. We did a decently big one for our daughter this year, but I made the decor and ended up not spending much. We did Disney one year, and will probably do that again next year.

    • Hey Jessica!! Disney sounds awesome and the best part is that it’s fun for the whole family and an experience that they’re sure to rememeber!!

  • I’ve done the semi big birthday party’s never spending as much as you mentioned but I did them every year up until my kids were about 10 years old. Then after that we just do small family only parties and maybe a friend or two can be invited .

    • Hi Janel! When I got the bill back after our first Chuck E Cheese party, my eyes nearly popped out. It’s crazy what they charge for. Then I tried home parties with all the friends and between the decor, goody bage, cake, food and not to mention the stress before and cleanup after- I had enough. I can’t go through that 3 times a year. LOL

  • These are all great ideas. When I was raising my daughter, I was by myself most of the time, so I had to be creative to do a fun birthday party and not have her be upset with me.

  • Because both of my girls were born in the summer, they’ve never had large parties. One was always at the end of the school year, and when we tried to have parties, everyone was leaving for vacation. My other daughter is at the begining of the school year, where parties aren’t happening because every one is tapped out with back to school books/supplies/clothes/etc. We’ve always done small celebrations, at home with close family, or at their favorite resturant. We always make it special, but neither of them have ever complained.

    • Hi Joanna! Thanks for sharing. We have a simialr situation with my kiddos, and quite honestly- I think smaller celebrations with friends and family are better than with a bunch of kids that they aren’t necessarily close to, anyway. 🙂

  • I love this idea! Kids parties can certainly add up quickly in cost and lets face it – they can have just as much fun with any of these!

    • Hi Cassie! You are so right- kids will have fun no matter what (and they won’t always rememeber the parties, anyway!!), so a simple celebration is perfectly fine.

  • I ditched big birthday parties last year except for the major milestones…it’s the best decision EVER! These are some great ideas for how to celebrate without going crazy! I think we are just going to swim and BBQ for my youngests 2nd birthday next week 😉

  • Great Post. I know where your coming from, its gets expensive when you have more kids. I have 4 children, so your list is great as party have gone out of the window!!

    • Hey Rachel! Thanks for stopping by. Yes- it is super expensive for kid’s parties nowadays, and you know what? I think having an experience instead of a party is better!

  • My kids are always requesting/wishing to have awesome parties but as I think of the amount of money that should be spent, I try to explain them everything. Good thing, these ideas will still make them feel special!

  • Love this! We don’t do big parties for our kids. We get a cake, presents and let them choose a lunch/dinner and enjoy as a family!

  • It’s funny, when I was a kid you always had birthday parties at home, with a few exceptions. Now it seems everyone has parties at party places. I get the appeal. It’s easier and you don’t have to worry about cleaning up, but sometimes have a party at home or doing a smaller celebration can be just as fun as save you money. Sleepovers were always my favorites.

    • Hi Cindy! I completely agree- Even home parties get a little pricey with food, decor and goody bags. I also prefer taking them out for an experience to celebrate.

  • A trampoline park and ice cream sounds like an amazing party. All of these are good ideas especially when you are on a budget.

    • Hi Nicole!! Thanks so much for your kind words. If I didn’t set a budget, it would get out of control. LOL

  • Paint a place with all of his/her friends!! Haha. I think, this is a great idea! The kids will enjoy and they’ll be doing a good job. I remember before, I joined an Art club, and the painting activity is vivid in my memory, I guess, I enjoyed it a lot!

    • Hi Donah!! The experience is what you remember, right? Much better than a paid party that will be forgotten…

  • We have scaled way back for birthdays. We have three, and mainly go with the big numbers for a bigger celebration. This year my oldest turned 9 and we ended up bringing cupcakes to our small group, which happened to be the same day as her birthday, so all of her friends were there playing, and it was only the cost of the cupcakes 🙂 It was a really fun time, and she loved it.

  • Great ideas! In my daughter’s school unfortunately there’s a rule to invite the entire class so the two friend rule wouldn’t really work out for us. We have always had big parties but it’s been a lot of fun getting creative and exploring!

    • Hey Heather! The invite rule is the same at our school. We just invited her closest friends outside of school (I contacted them via phone). I understand why they have that rule- they don’t want anyone to feel left out, but it becomes a financial burden.

  • These are such great ideas for an affordable kid’s birthday party. The bowling party sounds something to consider for my son.

    • Hey Glenda! We JUST did the rollerskating with 2 friends for my daughter and we had a blast!! I think it was nicer to have just her 2 closest friends instead of a larger group.

  • Now that my kids are getting older they’re starting to prefer Little celebrations. This year they want to go play laser tag!

    • Hi Rachel! I hope their birthdays aren’t also near holiday season! That would all be a lot to handle at once.

  • These are some great Ideas will definitely be saving this post for when I have kids and will also share some of these ideas with my sisters.

    Thanks for sharing these 🙂

    LH xoxo

  • Hey Pamela, it’s a great article and you shared very wise advice here. I was planning for a group outing this christmas for my little baby and looking for some suggestions. Disney is always a good option, isn’t it?

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