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Birthday Party Hacks – How to Throw a Fun Party on the Cheap

I know it’s tempting to book two hours inside at the trampoline park or Chucky Cheese and do hotdogs and cake there – no messy house to clean up after. But why not do a party at home or nearby?

The trend is to do smaller, low-cost parties and with a little imagination and a few shortcuts, you can throw a memorable birthday party for your child without putting a huge dent in your wallet.

Here are some birthday party hacks to make planning and executing easier!

Take the Party Outside

If your child celebrates a late spring, summer or early fall birthday, then having it at a local park makes a lot of sense. You already have the playground equipment there and most parks have picnic tables where you can set up a sandwich tray, veggies and dip and a bowl of chips and you’re good to go.  

We were lucky enough to live up the street from a high school with a track. One year we did an “Olympic birthday” where we set up relay races, long jump and even brought a couple of soccer balls for impromptu games.

Give the kids the equipment and they take care of the fun! If your child celebrates a winter birthday, how about snow golf?

Homemade Cake

Birthday cakes are ridiculously expensive these days and most of it goes into the trash. Homemade cakes and cupcakes are a good idea, but if you’re not gifted in the decorating department, there’s an easy way out.

Frost the cake like you normally would and then sprinkle a mixture of assorted candy over it (or let the kids do it at some point during the party). Who doesn’t like a candy-covered cake?

Bin candy from the grocery store is inexpensive and you don’t need a lot. If it doesn’t get eaten, who cares?

Ice cream 

Birthday cake and ice cream go together but it’s highly unlikely you’ll have time to scoop it out while the kids are running around screaming.

The night before the party, dish ice cream out into muffin tins and put back into the freezer. While the party’s going on, all you have to do is pop out the pre-scooped ice cream and everyone gets theirs quickly and easily.

Crafts for Keeps

If your party includes crafting, make the end result, something the kids can use. One year I bought inexpensive fabric bags, some fabric paint, glitter glue and foam stamps and let the kids decorate their own bags.

At the end of the party, they were all dry and they left with a fun self-designed bag they could take to school or to the library.

Help for You, Experience for Them 

Pay a neighbourhood teen or young relative to help corral the kids. An extra pair of hands is always a bonus when you’re supervising children.

Whether you pay by the hour or in the form of a gift card, employing a young gives them experience for future babysitting jobs. They may even turn it into a business!

Thank You’s 

It never hurts to send an extra thank you out and what a great lesson for your kiddo! Handwritten cards are old-fashioned, so why not modernize the good manners while sharing a memory?

Have the gift giver sit with your child while he is opening the present. Once it’s opened, take a picture on your phone.

After all the kids have gone home, you and your kiddo can text the parents with the picture and a lovely, heartfelt thank you.  

Who knows you might even be able to print and use that picture as a gift in the future!

When you get to see your kiddos interact with their buddies through laughter, creativity and fun, it makes for a truly special day.

Happy birthday planning! 


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