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Birthday Party Ideas For Kids: Fun, Low Cost, at Home

Updated on July 7, 2012

Your child comes home with an invitation for a friend's birthday party all excited. "Mom, this is the best ever. Sam's parents throw him the best parties. Can I do something awesome for my birthday?" What do you do? Do you try to spend an exorbitant amount of money to "keep up with the Joneses", do you give up feeling it's just not possible, or do you try to get creative? For me, it's so much fun to do parties at home and see how creative I can get without spending too much for the entertainment. So you think you're not creative? Find a theme and go from there. The following are some birthday party themes and ideas I have done in the past with my children.

Construction party
Construction party
Little green army men--topping for military cake.
Little green army men--topping for military cake.
Decorating T-shirts
Decorating T-shirts

Boy Party Themes


When my son was about four, he was very into construction vehicles. HIs grandmother gave him a sandbox for his birthday, so I put some wooden stakes up around the sandbox far enough apart that kids could walk around the sandbox. I took construction tape (Caution tape) and wrapped it around the stakes so that the sandbox was inside a "construction zone". I filled the sandbox with sand and buried coins in the sand, then took some toy dump trucks and other sand toys from the dollar store and put them in the sand box. We invited three or four of his friends, gave each a ziplock bag, and let them dig for the coins (you can also use small toys, wrapped candy, or anything small that can be hidden). As for the cake, I made a yellow cake and frosted it with chocolate icing (for the dirt/mud). I made trees for the cake using cone shaped ice cream cones turned upside down, frosted them with white icing tinted green, and using a knife to pull out the frosting to look like the branches of the trees. I took some vanilla wafers, crushed them, and used this to look like sand in a construction area. Then I found toy construction vehicles at the dollar store to finish the cake. The kids loved using the trucks and other vehicles to hunt for their treasures and my son loved his construction day.

Military Party

This party was so much fun for all involved, mom and dad included. Everything had a military flavor to it. We had about 5 or 6 boys plus my son spend the night at our house. On the first night, we gave each boy a dog tag to wear for the duration of the party. We created a schedule based on military time. The first night dinner was "chow in the mess hall", opening gifts was "mail call", then free time was "R and R". My husband woke the boys up to a CD of the bugle call, Reveille. The boys then were taken outside for "PT" while I was cooking pancakes for breakfast. When breakfast was ready, they came in for "mess hall" again. After breakfast, they had various outside competitions including an obstacle course created using a bicycle, the swing set, and various other yard items, an archery competition, and a riflery competition with a dollar store pistol. The winners received ribbons. The cake was a forest scene with trees made from upside down ice cream cones and green icing, a road created with crushed vanilla wafers, green army men hiding in various places, and a green military vehicle on the road. The cake toppers were found at the dollar store. This was for my son's 9th or 10th birthday, and now, 5 years later, the boys are still talking about it.

Girl Party Ideas

Craft Party

I have done this party with both of my girls and my son. I set up two tables and bought white T-shirts for each child (craft stores like Michaels, Hobby Lobby, etc put these on sale at times at 2 for $5). I purchased some fabric paint, paint brushes and a few stencils for the children to use, then let them get creative with their shirts. This was then their "treat" to take home with them from the party. Cake or cupcakes can be used decorated anyway you like, get creative. We just did this for my youngest daughter in February when she turned 6 and it's fun to see the children wear their shirts since the party.

Littlest Pet Shop or Baby Animal Party

This party can be done so many ways. My youngest daughter loves animals, so we have done a couple of animal parties for her in the last few years. One year I found beanie babies at consignment stores for about $1 apiece, took pictures of each one, then hid the animals around the house (this was when my daughter turned 3 or 4). I then gave each child a picture of the animal they were to find and let them move around the living room, dining room, and kitchen to find the animals. We also played some animal games. One game called for blown up balloons and a broom. Set up a "corral" area and have each child one at a time attempt to get the balloons (or cows) into the corral. This is not as easy as it sounds. (Hint: we tried at first to make a corral outside using some pinestraw bales as hay, but the balloons kept popping, so we moved the operation inside and had the children try to get the "cows" through a hallway door. I found small plastic barnyard animals and created a farm scene on the cake.

Gymnastics Party

When my oldest child was turning 3, she took gymnastics and really enjoyed it, so that year I created a gym in my living room. I cleared out the tables and left an open space in the room. I found a small, jogging trampoline at a garage sale for $5, a wood beam (2x4 type wood from home store that can be found lying around much of the time), and a floor mat. The girls rotated through the three activities. The cake was a white frosted cake with a gymnast figure on it. The colors for the party were red, white and blue.

Hosting a party for your birthday boy or girl can be a lot of fun, even when staying at home. Creativity is the key, but with the internet today, so many ideas are possible. Choose a theme, research, get creative locating items, don't rule out thrift stores, garage sales, and free items, and have fun.


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    • TripleAMom profile image

      TripleAMom 5 years ago from Florida

      Thanks LauraGT. I love doing paries at home too. I think the kids will remember them more. The gym party was really a lot of fun. All the girls came dressed in a leotard and were precious.

    • LauraGT profile image

      LauraGT 5 years ago from MA

      Nice hub. I love throwing parties at home. It's so much more.... homey than renting out a place, not to mention cheaper! I love the gym party at home idea.

    • profile image

      Monica 5 years ago

      Wow, you are so creative! You make this all sound so easy; I will be consulting your blog when the next birthday comes around. I usually hold the parties at my place and have the kiddos watch a party-themed movie. Since I have Blockbuster @Home, from my employer, Dish, it doesn’t cost anything more than my usual monthly rate and it gives everyone a much needed break. Thanks for sharing!