Summer birthdays can be a blast for kids, but oftentimes the cost of pool parties or amusement park trips can be a bit too much. However, you can still throw your kids a party they’ll love on a budget. Save money and enjoy some family time with these cost-saving summer birthday party ideas.
- Backyard Barbecue
Hot dogs sizzling on the grill and children laughing in the background — does anything sound more like summer? You don’t need to spend much to keep kids entertained. Set up a few outdoor games, like ladder ball or cornhole, and leave them to it. Save money and don’t buy any new games. Use what you have or see if you can borrow from family or friends.
Food is the most essential part of a backyard barbecue party. Grilled hot dogs and hamburgers are a budget-friendly option that’s sure to please everyone. Pair your meat with a buffet of sides. Potato and macaroni salads, baked beans, chips and soda are all delicious choices for any cookout.
- Camp Out
An overnight campout is ideal for older kids who’ve had sleepovers before without issue. Pitch a spacious tent in your yard to make the experience less intimidating while still enjoying the great outdoors. You can also leave an outside light on if it will help everyone feel more comfortable. At least one adult should sleep downstairs where you can see and be readily available or sleep outside in your own tent.
You could serve a simple supper, or for an even more budget-friendly option, you could have kids eat before they come. Instead, set up a sundae bar with your child’s favorite toppings. Have some fun nighttime activities planned like scary stories and flashlight tag. If you live in the country and have the room, you could let older kids play capture the flag or have an adult-supervised campfire.
- Day at the Playground
What kid wouldn’t love to spend a whole day or afternoon at the playground? Better yet, having a party there costs nothing — unlike other outdoor places that charge rental fees per guest. Playgrounds also have much more equipment than you would in your backyard. However, it would be good to have other adults with you to keep an eye on everyone.
Keep food choices minimal and make sandwiches so you don’t have to worry about cooking while you’re there. Just check with parents to see if any kids have allergies. Lay out a spread of chips, pretzels and juice boxes and you’re ready for a day of memorable fun.
- Splash Party
Summer and water just go together, but renting time at a pool can get very expensive. Have your cake and eat it too by creating a splash party at home. Have everyone bring over their favorite water toys — as long as they’re easily portable.
Provide buckets of water balloons and let their imaginations do the rest. Plan some party activities centered around water for younger kids who need more structure. Also, before you begin preparations, check for drought conditions and water restrictions in your area.
- Picnic at the Park
The park has plenty of space for your whole family and your kid’s friends to come together in one place. Most parks even have charcoal grills where you could cook a meal and picnic tables for serving and eating. Plan traditional picnic foods for the kids, but pack some special food just for the grownups as an extra treat. You could also ask family members to bring a dish to share, which would help with food expenses.
You should prepare some large-scale outdoor games. Red rover, sharks and minnows, freeze tag, tug-of-war and dodgeball are popular choices for kids of all ages. Most outdoor games require very little to no extra equipment, so this is a very budget-friendly option.
- Outdoor Movie Night
An outdoor movie may seem expensive, but you can deliver a sensational evening on a tight budget. Rather than renting or purchasing a blow-up screen, hang a large white sheet on a clothesline or the side of your house. Projectors are relatively inexpensive, and you could even ask to borrow one from a friend or family member.
Movies typically come with lots of junk food, so you can ask parents to feed their kids before dropping them off. Then you can provide popcorn and candy. Place bowls of movie-theater favorites on a table and have kids go through the line to create their own grab bag of delicious treats. You can buy candy at the dollar store or in bulk. As a bonus, their candy bags totally count as a party favor.
- Teddy Bear Picnic
This is a perfect party option for younger kids who still have a favorite stuffed animal. Invite your child’s friends to bring along a beloved cuddly toy for the festivities. A teddy bear picnic can be as simple or complex as you care to make it. Spread picnic blankets or tablecloths in the backyard for everyone to sit on.
You can carry the theme into your party food by choosing teddy-related products. Bear-shaped graham crackers and sugar cookies or sandwiches shaped like animals would be delicious and fun additions to your party menu. You can even tailor the party games to accommodate their stuffed animals — like pin the tail on the teddy bear.
Have a Backup Plan
The main perk of a summer birthday is the warm weather and the ability to have everyone outside in the fresh air and not making messes in your house. However, nature doesn’t always get the memo.
Make sure you have ideas for moving all the birthday fun inside. You may need to change your plans just a bit to accommodate for being indoors, but you can still pull off a stunning and fun summer birthday on a budget if the weather rains on your parade.