Last Updated on September 22, 2023 by Melissa S.
Planning a budget-friendly birthday party for kids under 12 can be a daunting task, especially when trying to keep costs low. However, with some creativity and careful planning, it is possible to throw a fun and memorable party without breaking the bank.
In this article, we’ll look at cheap birthday party ideas for kids under 12 that are sure to impress both children and parents alike.
Budgeting for the Party
Throwing a birthday party for a child can be an expensive affair, so setting a budget is key to saving money.
Determine the Budget
Before starting any party planning, it’s important to determine a budget. The budget will help to guide decisions on the guest list, food, decorations, and entertainment. Consider how much money is available to spend and what expenses need to be covered.
We love this party planner from Gin & Gemini on Etsy, which can keep track of all the party organisation, including the budget.
Keep the Guest List Small
One of the easiest ways to save money on a birthday party is to keep the guest list small. Invite only close friends and family members to the celebration to reduce the number of people to feed and entertain.
Decorations can be a significant expense, but they don’t have to be. Consider making DIY decorations using materials found around the home or at a local craft store. Balloons, streamers, and homemade banners can add a festive touch to the party without breaking the bank.
Plan the Menu Carefully
Food and drinks can be a significant expense at a birthday party. Plan the menu carefully and consider making the food yourself. Simple finger foods like sandwiches, fruit skewers, and vegetable platters are easy to make and can be a hit with kids.
Choosing a Venue
When it comes to throwing a birthday party for kids under 12, choosing the right venue can make or break the celebration. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a venue:
Outdoor venues can be a great option for summer birthdays or for kids who love to play outside. Here are some ideas for cheap birthday party outdoor venues:
Many parks have pavilions or picnic areas that can be reserved for birthday parties. Some parks also have playgrounds, sports fields, and other amenities that can keep kids entertained.
If you live near a beach, consider having a beach party. Kids can play in the sand, swim in the water, and enjoy a day in the sun.
If you have a large backyard, you can host the party at home. Set up games, a bouncy castle, or a slip and slide to keep the kids entertained.
Indoor venues can be a good option for winter birthdays or for kids who prefer to stay indoors. Here are some ideas for indoor venues:
Many community centres have rooms that can be rented for birthday parties. Some community centres also have swimming pools, gyms, and other amenities that can be used for the party.
Bowling alleys are a classic birthday party venue. Many bowling alleys offer party packages that include bowling, food, and drinks.
Some movie theatres offer private screenings for birthday parties. Kids can enjoy a movie and some popcorn in a private theatre.
When it comes to planning a budget-friendly birthday party for kids under 12, choosing the right theme can make all the difference. Not only does it set the tone for the party, but it can also make it easier to plan decorations, activities, and even the menu.
Here are some popular party themes for kids under 12:
Superhero themes are always a hit with kids, especially those who are fans of comic books and superhero movies. This theme can be adapted to suit different age groups and interests, from classic superheroes like Superman and Batman to newer characters like Miss Marvel.
To create a superhero-themed party, consider the following:
Use superhero-themed decorations like balloons, banners, and tablecloths. You can also create a superhero photo booth with props like masks and capes.
Superhero Party Decoration Set
Superhero Party Decorations
Pin the Mask on the Superhero
Superhero Games Bundle
Serve superhero-themed snacks like “power punch” or “superhero sandwiches.”
Fairy Tale Themes
Fairy tale themes are another popular choice for kids’ birthday parties. This theme can be adapted to suit different interests, from classic fairy tales like Cinderella and Snow White to newer stories like Frozen and Tangled.
To create a fairy tale-themed party, consider the following:
Use fairy tale-themed decorations like fairy lights, flowers, and castle backdrops. You can also create a fairy tale photo booth with props like tiaras and fairy wings.
Fairy Party Decorations
Fairy Party Games Bundle
Serve fairy tale-themed snacks like “enchanted fruit skewers” or “magical cupcakes.”
Spa Party Theme
You could even incorporate this into the party favours by providing inexpensive nail polish, face masks and hair bows then letting each guest take a set home.
Spa / Make Up Party Decorations
DIY Spa Station Signs
As well as the spa activities, you could give the guests crafts and games to do during the party to keep them entertained, such as this Spa Party Games Bundle on Etsy. As a printable digital pdf file, it’s available instantly making a great last minute addition to the party you can print at home.
Spa party kit
Spa Party Games Bundle
Video Game Theme
Gamers of any age will love a video game party. By choosing an age appropriate multiplayer game such as Minecraft or Mario Kart, you could set up tournaments or knock outs with prizes for the winners.
If you already have the console and games, this would be a low cost and engaging party idea! Of course, it would be fun to play some traditional party games with a video game twist too.
Video Game Decorations Bundle
Video Game Party Favours
Throwing a birthday party for kids can be expensive, but with a little creativity, it’s possible to create a fun and festive atmosphere without breaking the bank. DIY decorations are an excellent way to save money while still making the party feel special.
One easy DIY decoration idea is to make tissue paper pom-poms. These colourful decorations are inexpensive and easy to make, and this tutorial shows you how.
Another fun and easy DIY decoration idea is to create a balloon garland. This balloon garland tutorial takes you through step by step.
For a more rustic look, try making bunting out of scrap fabric or paper. Cut triangles out of the material, and then use a sewing machine or glue to attach them to a long piece of string. Hang the bunting across the room or use it to decorate the party table.
Finally, don’t forget the power of good lighting. String up fairy lights or paper lanterns for a magical atmosphere. You can also create your own lanterns by covering jars with tissue paper and then placing an electric tea light inside.
Affordable Catering Options
Another way to throw a budget-friendly birthday party is by preparing the food yourself instead of hiring a caterer. Here are some affordable catering options for your kid’s birthday party.
Homemade snacks are a great way to save money and ensure that the food is fresh and healthy. Here are some ideas for homemade snacks that are easy to make and kid-friendly:
- Mini Pizzas: Make mini pizzas with pita bread, tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice.
- Veggie Sticks with Dips: Cut up vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers and serve with dips like hummus or ranch dressing.
- Mini Sliders: Make mini burgers with slider buns, ground beef, cheese, and toppings of your choice.
- Veggie Wraps: Fill tortillas with hummus, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and other veggies.
- Cheese and Crackers: Serve a variety of cheeses and crackers for a simple and delicious snack.
- Chicken Skewers: Marinate chicken pieces in your favourite sauce and grill them on skewers.
Drinks are an important part of any party, but they can also be expensive. Here are some budget-friendly drink options that are both tasty and affordable:
- Fruit Punch: Make a big batch of fruit punch with fruit juice, soda water, and fresh fruit slices.
- DIY Smoothie Bar: Set up a smoothie bar with a variety of fruits, yogurt, and milk. Let the kids blend their own smoothies.
- Flavoured Water: Infuse water with fruit slices or herbs like mint or basil for a refreshing and healthy drink.
Entertainment on a Budget
Throwing a birthday party for kids can be expensive, especially when it comes to entertainment. However, there are plenty of ways to keep the little ones entertained without breaking the bank. Here are some budget-friendly party games for kids under 12.
Pin the tail on the donkey
This classic game is easy to make at home. All you need is a large picture of a donkey, some paper tails, and some tape. They can also be bought inexpensively.
Create an obstacle course in your backyard using items you already have, such as hula hoops, cones, and jump ropes.
These are great for both indoor and outdoor use, and encourage teamwork. Make your own trail of clues, or buy one pre made like this. They are inexpensive to buy and as a digital pdf file, available instantly making it a great last minute addition to the party.
Obstacle Course Kit
Pin the Tail on the Donkey
Printable Scavenger Hunt
Inexpensive Party Favours
Party favours are a great way to thank guests for coming to a birthday party. However, they can quickly add up and become an expensive part of the celebration. Fortunately, there are plenty of inexpensive party favour ideas that are still fun and memorable for kids.
One idea is to create DIY party favours. Set up a craft area where kids can make their own mementos to take home with them. For example, they could decorate their own picture frame, make a friendship bracelet, or create a personalised keychain.
This not only saves money, but it also provides an activity for the kids to do during the party.
Another idea is to give out edible party favours. These can be both inexpensive and practical, as kids can enjoy them during the party or take them home to enjoy later. Some ideas include homemade cookies, popcorn, or candy bags.
You could also create a DIY snack mix station where kids can create their own snack mix to take home.
If you want to give out traditional party favours, consider buying in bulk. This can help save money, especially if you have a large number of guests. Some inexpensive party favour ideas include bubbles, stickers, temporary tattoos, or small toys.
Unicorn Favour Bundle
Party Favours Bundle
Sending Digital Invitations
One great way to save money on a kid’s birthday party is to send digital invitations instead of printed ones. There are plenty of websites such as Etsy that offer low-cost digital invitation templates that can be customised to suit any theme, or you could try your hand at making your own.
When sending digital invitations, it’s important to include all of the necessary information, such as the date, time, location, and any special instructions or requests. It’s also a good idea to include a link to a website or social media page where guests can find more information about the party and RSVP.
Want more Budget-Friendly birthday party ideas?
We hope this post has given you lots of inspiration for your budget-friendly birthday party. If you have any more ideas on how to save money on children’s parties, be sure to leave a comment below to share with the community.
With a little creativity and resourcefulness, it is possible to celebrate a special occasion without spending a fortune.
About the Author
Melissa is a working parent who left behind a senior management salary for a better work/life balance. Following her own money saving and money making strategies she was able to clear debt and live a life she loves. Blogging, selling digital products on Etsy and selling preloved items on eBay are her favourite side hustles. Read her story here.