Birthdays are a big deal in my family. However, having a large family means party planning and gifts can get expensive. Over the years, we have found some fun and budget friendly birthday party ideas that could save you a ton of money. Even when money is tight, you don’t have to sacrifice fun to celebrate the big moments.
10 Budget Friendly Birthday Party Ideas
1. Family Game Night
My family never needs an excuse for family game night. But, we have used it as the basis for some epic birthday parties. Choose the birthday boy’s or birthday girl’s favorite game, and plan the entire event around it. While board games like Monopoly and Sorry! are classics, there are endless parlor games and TV game shows you can use as inspiration. We have turned our home into a crime scene as we solved murder mysteries and taken turns hosting as teams battled it out in Family Feud. This budget friendly birthday idea is fun for kids of all ages.
2. Outdoor Movie
Our neighborhood has sponsored outdoor movie nights for years at our local park. Unfortunately, many of these events have been canceled after the pandemic began. Since we missed these outings, we began holding our own private movie nights in the backyard. We were lucky enough to find a cheap projector through one of our local online marketplaces, so we didn’t spend much on the equipment. Personally, I prefer our private viewings over public gatherings. Not only does it give you more privacy, but also control over movie choices. All you need is some popcorn and blankets for a night everyone can enjoy.
3. Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are great activities since they can be tailored to fit your group. When you make your list of items, adjust the difficulty and types of items based on your group’s age and interests. Another consideration is whether you want to limit the area to your home and neighborhood or extend it citywide for more of a challenge. As for prizes, kids loved the toys and small items from the dollar store. However, the adults usually prefer making the losers perform some kind of task or wear embarrassing outfits in public. With so much flexibility, you can decide how much effort you want to put into creating your scavenger hunt. If you don’t feel like making your own list and clues, you can always find scavenger hunt ideas online.
4. Extreme Makeovers
If you are planning a party for young girls, extreme makeovers are an essential activity for any sleepover. You don’t need to spend a ton of money on new cosmetics and beauty products either. In the past, we usually asked the girls’ parents to contribute by bringing eyeshadows, brushes, sponges, nail polish, spray-in hair color, and other fun products to share. You can also find some great YouTube tutorials if you want to try new techniques and looks to practice on each other. Be sure to take lots of photos as well. At the end, vote and give awards for the best, craziest, and most colorful transformations.
5. Pool Party
As a summer baby, I had pool parties every year. They were always a crowd-pleaser and one of my favorite budget friendly birthday parties. My friends and I loved spending the day at the pool, splashing and playing until well after dark. My parents loved that there was minimal cleanup and cost for the event. Most public pools only charge a small entrance fee, and some even offer group discounts. However, you can always create your own pool party at home with a kiddie pool or set up the sprinkler for the little ones to run through. Either way, pool parties are sure to provide fun for the whole family.
6. Decorate Your Own Dessert
Coming from a family full of bakers, the birthday cake is always a point of pride. However, it can quickly get out of hand when you make decadent desserts or use exotic ingredients. Instead, why not let everyone decorate their own dessert? It’s a fun and easy way to let people explore their creative side. You can prebake cupcakes or cookies, or prepare single servings of ice cream so the desserts are ready when everyone arrives. Then, lay out a buffet of candy, fruits, frosting, and any other toppings. To keep this activity under budget, see what ingredients you already have and buy in bulk. But, don’t get carried away by providing too many options, or you might end up spending way more than you planned.
7. Karaoke Night
Thanks to the advances in technology, you don’t need a karaoke machine for this budget friendly birthday idea. Simply look up your favorite karaoke classics on YouTube and cast them to a compatible device. If you have a smart TV, you can display the lyrics on a larger screen for everyone to follow along. The thing I love most about this idea is that you can recycle it by choosing different themes like a specific decade or genre, holiday classics, or Disney sing-alongs. Even the shyest members of the group find it hard to resist joining in when their song comes on.
8. Family Campout
Some of my best childhood memories were our family camping trips. Although there are some fantastic campgrounds to explore, you can have a family campout right in your backyard. Depending on the space, you can keep it small and intimate, or invite all your friends and family. You get all the fun of roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories with the added convenience of indoor plumbing. Just make sure you check the forecast so you don’t get rained out.
9. Picnic in the Park
Another excellent and budget friendly place to host your next family birthday is at a local park. Not only do they provide facilities to cook and eat, but also free entertainment options. Many local parks feature playgrounds, sports fields, and water features for the kids to enjoy. Plus, clean-up is a piece of cake since they typically have garbage and recycling bins posted around the park. Having your next party at a park can save you serious time and money.
10. Themed Costume Party
This last suggestion can be applied to any event. But, my family hosted a themed costume party for my birthday this year. While they easily could have ordered costumes online, everyone was limited to a strict budget to recreate their favorite Alice in Wonderland characters. Forced to rely on clothes from thrift stores and the art supplies in the house, we had a blast getting into the spirit of things.
With a little planning and creativity, you can host a party that everyone will be talking about for years to come. And, the best part is that you don’t have to break the bank to create a memorable experience.
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