Skip to main content

8 affordable and easy kid’s birthday party themes

Ask your child what their favorite holiday is, and you’re likely to hear that it’s their birthday! Birthdays should be an enjoyable day for the birthday person and the guests they might be celebrating with. Yes, scouting ideal party venues are vital in any preparation of the sort. But for kids, there’s another aspect of the event that holds a higher priority. For most of them, enjoying the day might mean that their birthday party is themed just right. And while some party themes can be complex and expensive to execute, some fun and affordable (and gender-neutral!) ideas are out there.

Child's birthday party
John Eder/Getty Images


For a beach party, invite guests to wear tropical shirts (and bathing suits if you’ll be visiting a pool). Nets and seashells make for interesting table decorations. Play the limbo — a classic beach activity. Have a beach-themed photo booth, with props like sunglasses and snorkels. Coat the tops of cupcakes with crushed graham crackers to make “sandy” treats. For party favors, allow kids to choose their favorite candies out of (clean) sand pails. You might consider nautical-inspired candies to include, like gummy sharks, rock candy (coral), or white-colored candy-coated chocolate pieces (pearls).


Artificial ferns and other similar plants can set a prehistoric, forestry scene. Glue construction paper “spines” onto party hats to make them look like dinosaurs. Small plastic dinosaur figurines are an affordable item with many uses: They can be a party favor, table decoration, or cupcake topper. Decorate dinosaur-shaped cookies for a yummy bonding experience. Or, for a healthy snack, craft a dinosaur head from a watermelon! Play pin the tooth on the T-rex by printing a large photo of a T-rex and cutting “teeth” from white paper.

Boy with mother at birthday party
Johner Images/Getty Images


Invitations for a film-themed bash can be shaped to look like tickets. Set the scene right by gathering blankets and pillows to create a comfy viewing area. Typical movie snacks are a must-have for a party of this kind! Think popcorn, hot dogs, and candy. You might even rent a popcorn machine for the night in order to best replicate the movie theater experience. Besides watching a movie, another related fun activity is movie trivia. As a take-home craft, kids can design their own Hollywood Walk of Fame star.

Outer space

Hang planet cut-outs or metallic stars from the ceiling — and for a scientific touch, arrange the planets as they currently are located in relation to the sun. Star-shaped balloons are another great decoration. For a tasty and nutritious snack, have children build fruit rockets on skewers. Make finger sandwiches and cut them into stars as another food option. Have kids glue googly eyes on and paint stones to look like aliens. Alternatively, paint stones ahead of time to look like neon “asteroids” and hide them around the house or outside for an asteroid hunt.


Craft a jungle-themed balloon arch out of golden, white, and green balloons (and animal-print balloons, if you can find them). Play charades and have each child act out a different jungle animal. Or, play “musical animals” where each child has to stand or sit on a photo of an animal. Provide kids with a selection of plant-based snacks so that they can eat like a giraffe or monkey would. Plus, animal crackers would be a playful party favor.


Make a banner out of bandanas and twine. Construct a rustic-looking “watering hole” out of a wood pallet. A photo booth with a “wanted” frame plus cowboy hats and horses on sticks as props lets kids act out their cowboy outlaw dreams. Have children practice their lasso skills by trying to loop a lasso around a blow-up or rocking horse. Barbecue meats, corn on the cob, and baked beans can be served for a hearty, festive meal. And for dessert, kids can eat chocolate cookie “cow pies” and puffed rice bar “hay bales.”


A fantasy party should be about all things whimsical. Think pastel colors, imaginary creatures, and lots of shiny things. Tissue paper balls could serve as lively decor. Fashion normal party hats into narrower cones to create “unicorn horns.” Ice cream cone-topped cupcakes are another unicorn-like item you can have at a fantasy party. Have kids make bracelets or necklaces out of sparkly and pastel beads. They could also mix “fantasy slime” complete with glitter.


Invitations to a sports party can be printed on papers that are shaped and printed to look like balls used in various sports. Perhaps have the kids watch a sports game prior to playing one. Baseball, soccer, and basketball are just some ideas for sports that all party guests can play together. Serve round foods for snacks, like cheese ball “basketballs” or malt ball “footballs.” A tasty dessert could be a cupcake cake decorated to look like a ball.

Birthday parties don’t have to be frustrating or expensive to plan. Your child and their friends can have lots of fun without breaking your budget. Your creativity is the limit when it comes to invitations, decorations, activities, snacks, and favor ideas for a kid’s party!

Child eating cake at a birthday party
Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Editors' Recommendations

Road trip games for laugh-out-loud fun in the car (and no devices!)
Keep your sanity in the car with kids and try these classic and new road trip games
Image of a road

Road trips can be a lot of fun for the entire family. From the scenic mountains to the majestic plains, no matter where you're going, there's always something exciting to see when you are on the road. However, when you have kids, sometimes, even 20 minutes into the trip, you may start to hear things like, "Are we there yet?" The other problem with road trips is that kids, especially tweens and teens, retreat into their devices. Instead of the scenery, kids are getting even more screen time.

So how can we help kids find creative ways to pass the time in the car that don't involve electronics? It's not any different from when you were a kid. Road trip games are a tried-and-true way to keep kids busy in the car without zoning out on their screens. Don't remember car games from your childhood? We've got some classic road trip games and some new ones to help you keep the kiddos engaged so you can drive to your destination in peace.
Road trip games for kids
No one really knows when road games became a thing, but playing games has been around for centuries. Archeologists even found a pair of dice that were thought to be 3,000 years old. So, it stands to reason car games became a thing pretty quickly because kids haven't changed much. They get bored easily, especially on long car trips. Road trip games are a great way to keep the kiddos occupied in the car, off their devices, and engaged with each other. Family bonding is a big part of a road trip, and the fun doesn't have to start when you reach your destination.

Read more
Easy riddles for kids to help them learn – and you might enjoy them, too
Telling kid riddles develops important learning skills in children
Yellow riddle box with question marks on it

What goes up and never comes down? Your age! No, this isn't a dad joke, though it could be. It's actually an example of a classic easy riddle for kids. Children love riddles and it turns out riddles are great for kids and adults, too. So why are riddles an awesome thing for kids of all ages? The answer isn't a riddle.

What is a riddle?
A riddle is a question or phrase that needs to be solved. The answer is not an obvious one, which is what makes riddles fun and beneficial. The oldest riddles trace back to Ancient Greece and were often used to show one's knowledge. Classic riddles have been passed down from generation to generation.
Benefits of riddles
Kid riddles may be a silly way to pass the time while you're waiting in line at the grocery store, but those 5 minutes have a lot of value. Riddles have many pluses for kids. Telling riddles works the brain and helps develop all-important problem-solving and critical thinking skills in children. Since a riddle is a puzzle, trying to solve one teaches kids to think outside of the box because the answer isn't usually a simple one.

Read more
Expand your child’s collection and support these Black-owned toy companies this February and beyond
Find your kid's next favorite toy from one of these Black-owned brands
Two toddlers playing with toys on a table

Kids like the toy, not the label, and they don't care who made it. But adults need to help children understand that where the product comes from is as important as how much they like it. We all need to get better at paying more attention to the products we buy. Discuss these Black-owned toy brands with your child and see what items they'd like to add to their toy collection.

For the puzzle-solving geniuses
Puzzle Huddle
Puzzle Huddle is a relatively new company that Matthew Goins started in 2018 in response to the lack of diversity in the puzzle space. Having small children, he and his wife wanted to even the playing field. In just a few short years, Puzzle Huddle went from creating a variety of puzzles in various sizes to adding products like pillows. throw blankets, T-shirts, coloring books, and canvases.
The Magnus Company
The Magnus Company might be a brand-new addition to the puzzle world, but it's a female- and Black-owned business to have on your radar. It pairs its puzzles with plush dolls that you could get together or separately, which is an adorable touch.
For kids who want dolls to make playtime fun
The Fresh Dolls
Created by mother and former professor Dr. Lisa, The Fresh Dolls lets boys and girls find the perfect unique doll for their personality. You'll find over 65 different dolls for your child to pick their favorite, with styles for younger and older kids. The company also sells cool adult coloring books for you and your child to do together.
Natural Girls United
The Natural Girls United dolls celebrate all hair types. Not only are the dolls' clothes handmade, but the beautiful hair and various skin tones will give every child a chance to find a doll like them. They are truly works of art.

Read more