10 cheap alternative things to do for a birthday

10 cheap alternative things to do for a birthday

Here are 10 cool ideas – in order of expense!

Of course there are other things to do for a birthday instead of, or as well as, having a party.

These may seem terrifying to some, but reduce the number of invites and you can still have a special or a memorable birthday treat. These ideas are not intended for the whole class unless organised by professionals which, of course, will change the price, and won’t necessarily heighten the enjoyment.

1. A straightforward home party

Parents are understandably weary of holding a party at home, but with some advanced planning these can be the greatest of fun. Children love to see where their friends live and a home environment can be a wonderful for children of a shy nature. Pre-plan and make sure numbers aren’t too large. There are lots of hints and tips on this blog – take a look at our party ideas and tips.

2. Picnic in the park, play park or beach

Difficult to plan in the UK perhaps as we don’t always have the best weather. But we still have more good weather days, than bad; and taking a manageable group out for a picnic lunch or tea, can be a really magical and memorable event. All you’ll need is a picnic which you can make to look special – see https://www.eatsamazing.co.uk/ for some great ideas.

Take a large picnic blanket, a ball and a bat, or a frisbee to set out some fun games to play. Rounders or cricket is fun, as is a simple game of tag or ‘it’. If you venture into a wood why not make a den to have your picnic in? Or take a couple of old sheets and pegs to turn into a tent.

A rope can be used as a swing or for a tug of war. String up ring doughnuts onto a nearby tree for a well-loved game. If you can juggle, try teaching kids how to juggle – it’s an amazingly useful skill to have!

You can take treats to hide for an outdoor treasure hunt, or organise a scavenger hunt.  Give them specific things to find i.e. a leaf, a seed, a stone, a twig, a bug…. or something straight, smooth, round, pretty, brown, red, blue, green etc

Weather alternatives:

If the weather is hot buy some cheap water guns, or water balloons, and have some fun! If the weather has been bad, go the whole hog and have a mud party. Although you may need to hire a specialist van for the clean up afterwards!

A lot of us live within an hour of the coast, wouldn’t it make a fabulous birthday trip out? With the benefit of being able to build sandcastles or other sculptures (decide on a theme) – take plenty of buckets and spades! There’s kite flying, various outdoor games, playing on the amusements and of course, getting fish and chips and eating ice cream!

3. Sleep over – ages 6+

Kids love getting together for a sleepover. There’s little to organise apart from where to put them all! However, you could decide to use your living room if there isn’t enough space in their bedroom.

Ask parents and friends if they have any roll up mats or blow up mattresses you can borrow. Make it clear that they will need to bring their own duvets, or sleeping bags… and tooth brushes. We can all live in hope! Find a suitable dvd, or for later, an audio story.

With younger children, if you are clever, you can change clocks and make them believe they are actually having a midnight feast. It’s not cheating. It’s making it magical for them 😉 !

4. Cycling, roller skating or skate boarding 7+

An organised trip with a few friends can be great fun. For safety’s sake ask parents to provide helmets, elbow and knee pads and go to a park or area where you know there are no cars about. With a little bit of digging, you may even find a disused airfield or car park to play in.

Take along a ball if children become tired of one type of game, a different focus can regain their strength. Provide lots of drink and nibbles. There are also many cycle hire places around – phone in advance if deciding on this option.

5. Art and craft party

Ok, so you may not think this is for you, but organised well and they don’t have to be a chaotic, or as expensive as you may first assume. And you don’t need to be creative yourself. However, as a word of warning, kids can get easily distracted and bored with doing the same activity for a long time, so make sure you have a variety of crafts standing by for them to try.

Keep the number of children down to absolutely no more than eight if you are on your own. Remember aprons – or old shirts – and kitchen roll and wipes are a must.

Here’s a few ideas:

Play dough – here’s two good recipes:

A cup plain flour
½ cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar (helps with elasticity)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup water with food colouring added, divide ingredients equally to make different colours

Cook ingredients gently together in a pan until it forms a ball. Once cool knead well.

For a no cook playdough without cream of tartar

4 cups of flour
1 cup of warm water with colouring added, divide ingredients equally to make different colours
1½ cups of salt
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

Put all ingredients into a bowl and knead well.

Store in plastic bags, will keep for a month in a fridge. Note: If the children drop on the floor please make sure your dog or cat doesn’t eat it – it has a high salt content.

Paper Maché

Simply mix flour and water together to make a thin paste. Tear strips of tissue or newspaper. Did you know newspaper has a ‘grain’? It will tear straight one way and not the other, try it. Brush the strips of paper onto a mould using the paste sparingly. Use old brushes as they will clog. Balloons are the cheapest and easiest to use as a mould. If you cover just one end of the balloon they can make great bowls, smaller balloons make great bowls and are easier to handle. As you build in layers you will need somewhere to hang them as they dry.
Once thoroughly dried out, pop the balloon, then paint.

Milk carton bird feeders.

Look on Google or Pinterest for inspiration:

Wooden items to paint

Find at any good craft shop, buy paint, glitter and jewels to decorate.


Make your own cookies, cupcakes or brownies or pizza.

Of course the nice thing about having a craft party is they will have something individual to take home.

There are many other ideas here at Red Ted Art

6. Murder Mystery Style Party

Ok, so you may wonder why we are adding this in here but they are a good fun alternative, and good value. Make sure all the children’s reading ability is good, some may struggle.

Here are some created especially for children’s mystery parties.

Make a special meal for just the family or a special meal out

Invite those that mean the most to your child. Simple.

Simpler still… of course we have to add Acting the Party here, at roughly £3 per child, all organised. It’s a great value kids party!  Sorry, can someone hear trumpets being blown?

7. Museum trip

Sounds dull? Then you just haven’t found the right museum! Think dinosaurs, planets and toys and you may have found a nice little alternative. Again a scavenger hunt may be fun – for older children who have camera phones get them to take pictures of the things they must find.

8. Swimming

Although there are now plenty of parties that can be arranged at a pool. These will be expensive if you decide on inviting the whole class. However, you can just take your child plus 3 or 4 of their friends (depending on age) for a regular swim. Take a ball or invent a couple of games, and have a splashing good time. More and you will need to ask other parents for assistance. Pre-planning will make all the difference.

9. Ice Skating 7+

Be prepared to go on the ice too. But this can be a fab birthday treat.

10. Zoo or Theme Park

Probably the most expensive thing on this list but some zoos and theme parks do some good deals, worth phoning and asking. There are also farm parks with smaller animals. Remember, you can keep the numbers to a minimum, (as far as we know there is no law about that yet) and they do make for very special treats.

Know any other venue ideas or cheap party alternatives? Please leave below: