Lots of kids have birthday parties in the summer. I love this list of cheap birthday party ideas for kids. There are so many ideas for games and birthday party food in this article!

Cheap Birthday Party Ideas- Part 1

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Birthday parties for kids can be expensive.  Being a mom of 2 little boys, I know how things can get out of hand and be very costly for parties.  If you have parties coming up for the summer, you might just need some cheap birthday party ideas that are fun and exciting for the kids yet easy on your pocket book.  I get it.  Logan’s birthday is in August so we are facing the same challenge-a fun and cheap birthday party.  He will turn 2 this year.  My little man is growing up.  Sigh.

Trust me, I know spending money on birthday parties for kids is so easy.  When we had Logan’s first birthday last year, we kind of went all out.  There were over 50 people at the party.  I have a big family and Greg has a lot of really great friends so that mix made the party pretty big.  It was an absolute blast though.  I have already been trying to think of some birthday party ideas for both my kids for their birthdays even though they are months away.

This year, I would like to tame it down a bit though.  I would like to create a birthday budget and stay within that budget.  We love spoiling our kids for their birthdays but I also don’t want to be broke after a birthday party, ya know.

The most expensive thing we did for Logan’s party last year was rent a bounce house with a slide.  Last minute Lucy here waited until the day before to order it so I am sure that didn’t help matters any.

Besides that, the party theme was a carnival.  We had a variety of carnival games for people to play and  honestly those were not expensive at all. We had 3 games for kids to play.  Bob for toy ducks in the kiddie pool, a piñata and shoot down the plastic glasses with nerf guns.  We had nerf guns and I bought dollar store plastic cups so that was cheap.  We have bath toys and we had a kiddie pool so we just filled up the pool with water and put the ducks in.  I bought 2 grabber thingys from the dollar store which were cheap.   The piñata cost about $30.  Not bad in my opinion.  The candy we bought for it was about $30 to fill the thing.

Lots of kids have birthday parties in the summer. I love this list of cheap birthday party ideas for kids. There are so many ideas for games and birthday party food in this article!

I kept the food budget around $100 so all in all that wasn’t bad either.  What killed us was the bounce house.  It was a little over $350.  I still kick myself for spending that much but the kids had a blast and the party is behind us so not much to do about it now.

So to prepare for our boys’ upcoming parties, I wanted to put together a list of cheap birthday party ideas that won’t break the bank but would still be a blast for all involved.


Cheap Birthday Party Ideas:

  • Carnival theme–  All in all this was pretty cheap if the bounce house wasn’t involved.  Think of your favorite carnival games and emulate that using some stuff you have lying around the house.  FOOD: We had hot dogs and hamburgers, pasta salad, fruit salad, pretzel rods dipped in chocolate (dairy free chocolate of course) and nachos and cheese.  You can totally be more creative with the menu than I was I am sure.  This tent would be a great addition to the party for decorations and the kids could use it for play after the party.



  • Hawaiian Luau– Cheap Hawaiian lei’s are always fun for kids and you can go nuts with fun Hawaiian food.  You could totally do a hula contest or use hula hoops and see who can keep them up the longest.  For girls, you could make seashell necklaces or do face painting.  There are tons of fun options for this.   FOOD:  When I think of Hawaii, I think of pineapple, ham, and coconut.  You could do a couple pineapples or do a fruit tray with a baked ham if the kiddos like ham.  If not, don’t stress and just go to the food your kiddo loves.  These Lei’s  would be a great inexpensive addition to the party.

  • Color party–  Think finger paint on a large canvas or poster.  You can also get string from a can and have the kids spray each other with it.  You could have different colored water balloons as part of the party and have a water balloon fight.  Each kid could finger paint on a large poster board.  The possibilities are endless  FOOD:  I think of anything colorful.  You can do pretzels dipped in different colored chocolate to give the party lots of color or if you want to keep it simple, buy colored candy-jelly beans, skittles, M and M’s.  For healthy main food ideas, you could totally get away with a veggie tray, fruit tray (lots of color) and any type of protein you wanted.  You could do a meat and cheese tray or pizza with veggies (or pepperoni if that’s what the kiddos like).  We have done parties with homemade pizza before and people loved it.  You could also do Twister
    for a game.  This set of finger paint is inexpensive and there is free shipping through Amazon.  This is a good deal.  We bought finger paint for Joey for Christmas and we paid the same amount for 4 colors.


  • Baseball party– For boys or girls if your girl loves baseball or softball.  Chances are you will have some baseball or softball stuff lying around if they are into that kind of thing.  You could also do a general sports themed party and have stations with different sport activities.  You could totally have cupcakes decorated as a baseball or you could make a 2 tiered round cake and decorate it as a baseball with the stitching.  FOOD:  Traditional hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, nachos juice boxes would be great for this type of party.  Or make a big pitcher of lemonade.  This is a really cute Sports Cupcake Stand
    if you decide to do cupcakes.


    • Movie partyDoes your kiddo love movies?  How fun would a movie party be?  Your decorations would be mostly red and white.  You can find popcorn bags for reasonable prices at party stores or the dollar store.  Movie reel decorations and tickets aren’t too expensive and the entertainment could be watching a favorite movie!  How fun!  Or if you had a small party, you could do a drive in movie with your kiddos best friends.  FOOD: Lots of popcorn, candy (if you want), nachos, hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches.  These popcorn boxes  would be decorative and perfect for the party.

  • Campfire theme– Talk about easy.  Most people I know have a fire pit and have fires during the summer and kids love this stuff!  Why not make a themed party out of it.  If you want to get a little fancy, get some hay bails and place a sheet over them for seating or how about some large pieces of wood logs.  Rustic.  Think rustic and look at nature around you for decoration inspiration.  FOOD:  hot dogs over the fire, s’mores (you can make a s’more bar easily), mountain pies
    with different combinations,fruit.  This would be a fun party!

  • Scavenger hunt party– My friend Gina did this recently for her son’s birthday party and they had an ice cream station after the scavenger hunt!  How fun would that be for kids!  FOOD:  I think of outdoorsy kind of food.  You could easily pair this with a campfire.  You could make a dirt dessert with the gummy worms inside.  Get creative and put “bugs” inside the food.  If you make mountain pies, you can uses green olives for eyes or cut small pieces of black olives for little “bugs.”  You could also do ham and cheese sliders with a veggie tray.  These cute little cupcakes are a great idea and don’t look that hard to make.  You could use this scavenger hunt kit as the main game of the party.


  • Olympic games–  Set up some fun summer Olympic games in the back yard and have the kids compete against each other.  It doesn’t even have to be the true Olympic games.  You can totally create your own like who can throw a ball the farthest, 100 meter dash, long jump, arm wrestling, ring tossFOOD:  You could totally do Gatorade or lemonade for drinks.  For food, you could do carbs like mac and cheese or pasta bar something to give the kids energy for the long haul of the Olympic Games!  You could hand out winner gold medals for all the finishers of the games.


Ways to Save Money on Birthday Parties:

  • Plan ahead.  This goes without saying, but the more you plan, the more time you have to check stores for pricing or get ideas of where to find decorations or DIY your decorations for the party.  It also gives you time to come up with a menu.  By planning ahead, you can also buy a little at a time or check deals on food items.  Come up with a list of birthday party ideas that you like and ask your child which one they would prefer.


  • Ask others to bring a dish or help with the party.  We do this in my family for our kids’ parties.  We are lucky to live very close to my sisters and one of Greg’s sisters and niece who help us out a lot.  They offer to help with birthday parties for the kids and it is not uncommon for them to help with food or decorations.


  • Create a budget for the party.  We blew past our budget for Logan’s first birthday party, but we did much better for Joey’s party.  They were both a lot of fun and involved lots of families and kids which is always a great time.


  • Make it all about your kiddo.  Give them their day to enjoy.  It doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun and memorable.  They will create memories no matter what.  Just include things they like and they are sure to have a blast.

There are tons of cheap birthday party ideas.  I thought I would split it into a couple of segments so this article isn’t too overwhelming.  Most of these are great summer ideas.  There will be other ideas for the fall and winter to follow.  Summer is a great time to host a birthday party.  No matter what you choose to do, it will be fun because you are making memories.


Do you need some unique birthday party ideas for your kids' birthday? There are tons of great birthday party ideas in this post with birthday party food ideas too!

What have been some of the best birthday parties you have thrown for your kids?

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