Birthdays are the sweetest. They’re also the worst and literally the most annoying. No? Just me? I am not a mom who loves a birthday party for my kids. I just don’t care for them. It’s a lot of work, a ton of money, and for a few hours of play time with their friends?
Our kids already have ample playtime with their friends so why am I doing this? My husband and I are ‘let’s take a trip! Pick a place and we’ll go!’ kind of birthday parents. Experiences are more fun, in our opinion.
Alas, I’m throwing a birthday party in less than a month for our twins and our middle daughter. The twins turn nine two days before our middle lovebug turns 12, and they want a party. And we are traveling nonstop these days, so it’s no longer special to them.
Our party is over-the-top décor, a gorgeous cake from the local bakery who makes anything delicious, amazing, and beyond beautiful, and I’m taking the lazy way out and ordering a million pizzas. Easy, easy, easy.
The good news about kids and birthday parties and party food is that they are the simplest people. Kids like all the simple foods, so you can get away with just about any kind of menu and be fine.
Our middle daughter would, if she had her way, suggest a menu of edamame, roasted broccoli, salad, and chicken sausage with kale because those are her favorite foods. They might not go over well with her friends, but it’s unlikely she’d care. My point is that you can throw a child’s birthday party with a budget menu and no one will ever know. They’ll never know. In fact, they’ll love it.
1. Pizza Party
The easiest thing you can do for a birthday is serve pizza. All kids love pizza. And what’s even better about a pizza party is that I’m almost certain every pizza restaurant in the world has a promo code you can use to get 25-30 percent off your total order. Google your local pizza chain or restaurant, and you’ll see.
2. Taco Party
Tacos are the cheapest food on the planet – yet they’re also the tastiest and best. Everyone loves a taco, and who doesn’t want to host a taco party? If you can manage it, throw it on a Tuesday afternoon/early evening, call it taco Tuesday, and then everyone will clear out within two hours because it’s a school night. You win all the way around on this one.
Burgers are also exceptionally inexpensive, but you can make them more fun. Add fun cheese, toppings, and bakery bread. My husband makes the world’s most amazing turkey burgers.
He adds all of these amazing seasonings to his turkey meat, grills it, and then he grills pineapple slices and red bell pepper, adds pepper jack cheese to the turkey, and he serves them with this homemade sauce that’s so decadent. When we invite friends over for pool parties, they usually ask him if he’s going to make his burgers because they are that good.
4. Hot Dogs
I’ll say it – hot dogs are disgusting. They look funny, smell funny, and I imagine they taste funny. But kids love them. Buy hotdogs, buns, and toppings, and let these kids go to town.
5. Nacho Bar
Another fun one is a nacho bar. This is a cute concept, too, because you can put down paper on a table, load the paper with the nachos and toppings, and let the kids make their own. This covers every picky eater, too. Just chips? Okay. Just chips and cheese? Cool. Everyone is happy.
6. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
The great thing about grilled cheese is you can make them as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. Depending on your budget, you can do whatever you want. What matters, though, is that kids love a grilled cheese, so you’re going to win.
7. Make Your Own Sub Party
This is often something we do when we host football games. We go to Publix, buy a ton of different bakery bread, a couple platters of different Boar’s Head lunch meat and cheeses, and then all the veggies for toppings. Everyone can customize their own sub, choose from chips, and it’s always a huge win. It’s inexpensive, too.
8. Dessert Party
Who said you have to feed people at a party? If you host your party anytime of day that is not during dinner or lunch, you can have anything you want. If you want a dessert party, just serve cookies and cake and ice cream and candy. No one will hate you for it if they’re under four feet tall…and the best part is that their parents will never let them come to another of your party’s again, so you don’t have to host another.
9. Charcuterie Party
How simple can this be? Pick the kids’ favorite meats, cheeses, fruits, and veggies, and then arrange them nicely on little boards. They’ll pick and eat things they love, and you aren’t spending a ton of money. Kids love to graze, so this is perfect.
10. Appetizers Only
Again, you don’t have to feed anyone a meal. My favorite events to attend are the events in which they provide appetizers only. They’re always the best food to consume, and it always works.
11. Pasta Party
My kids love anything Italian, and so do most kids. Try a pasta party. Plain pasta with butter. Spaghetti. Alfredo. Whatever you want. Kids love pasta, so give the kids what they love.
12. Mac and Cheese Tasting Party
This one might be good for all of the guests at your child’s party – parents included. Mac and cheese is simple and inexpensive, but also so personalized. You can make it anyway you want to make it, and it’s delicious.
13. Party Platters
Aside from pizza, this is my favorite kids’ birthday party meal idea. We call Publix, order chicken tenders, popcorn chicken, and sub platters for the kids. For $200-$300, we have food for 50 people, including veggies, fruit, desserts, and appetizers. You can’t beat it.
14. Lasagna Party
Lasagna is one of those things everyone loves. It’s pasta, which is so relatable and good. It’s also filling, and you can add some good additions to it. Serve with salad and bread, and everyone is happy. The most difficult part of this meal is the actual preparation of the lasagna. If it’s not all consumed during the party, you have leftovers.
15. Tea Party
It’s unlikely this party will go over well with your group of little boys, but little girls might love it. Let them arrive dressed up and fancy, set a darling table for them, and serve afternoon tea. Little sandwiches and sweet treats abound with a party like this one. You can even make this an entire theme, and who doesn’t love a party with a great theme?
16. Ice Cream Party
I know I’ve mentioned it before, but why not have a party that doesn’t involve a meal? An ice cream party is its own theme. You can serve the kids ice cream, toppings, cones, bowls, and anything else you can think of. It serves as the purpose of the party as well as the food being served, and no one can be upset that there wasn’t real food served.
The party should be held during a time when no one is expecting a meal, however. Early afternoon between lunch and dinner is a great time, and making it clear that the party is an ice cream party is a great way of giving everyone a head’s up.
17. Brunch Party
If there is one meal that everyone loves, it’s brunch. From light snack foods to lunch items to breakfast foods, you can create a brunch party that is inexpensive and decadent. It’s also a great way to keep the party early so you can have the rest of your day to clean up, organize your life, and relax after it’s all said and done.
18. Skewer Party
Picture this. Skewers. Chicken and veggies on one. Fruit on another. A cute veggie skewer. A balsamic with mozzarella and tomatoes. You can turn anything into a skewer in no time at all, and it’s adorable. Little cantaloupe balls on one. Strawberries and blueberries on another. It is inexpensive, darling, and absolutely the cutest idea for a party for kids. Who does not love food on a stick, right?
19. Pancake Party
Pancakes are life. Need I say more? Make a pancake bar. Big ones, small ones, in between, fun shapes; you do whatever you want. This is the gift of being a pancake bar. You can do your pancakes your way. Add a table of fun toppings.
Chocolate chips, fruit, whipped cream, and everything in between. The kids can make their own pancakes and decorate them like they want to, and then they can eat them and move on. You can leave it simple with just pancakes. Add a bit more with waffles, throw in some bacon, and maybe some yogurt. This is all about your budget and what you might do with it.
20. A Chili Party
If you are throwing a child’s party in a cold climate, do it with chili. Kids love chili. Add some fun crackers, bread, a salad, and then light a bonfire and make s’mores. That’s the only way to do it, right? It’s such a cold weather staple, so do it big.
Tips for Hosting Kid’s Birthday Parties
There are a few things my husband and I have learned over the years. We are not big birthday party people, but here are the things you should know. If you want to invite one friend from class, you have to invite them all.
The caveat is that you obviously don’t have to do this if you know the friend’s parents and invite them yourself. However, most teachers will not allow your child to bring a few birthday party invitations to class for some kids and not others. It’s an all or nothing deal.
Another great tip – put hours on the invitations, otherwise you’ll have kids who did not exit your body for a period of time you don’t care to have them. The party starts at this time, and it ends at this time. another great tip I like to share is that most people don’t care for sleepovers, so let’s try to avoid that. Or, at the very least, don’t be offended when some kids cannot stay. We don’t allow our kids to sleep over with anyone who is not family or the child of a close friend of ours.
Finally, one tip you should keep in mind: Some parents will stay. Be prepared for this. Not all parents are willing to bring their child to your house and leave for a few hours before picking them up. Be prepared. Offer them a drink and make conversation. My husband and I keep our kids too busy to go to birthday parties for kids who are not family friends or family, but we would not drop our children off at someone’s house and leave.
You don’t have to throw an expensive, over-the-top party. Kids don’t care. You know what they care about? Their friends, the fun, and the cake. There is very little else that matters to kids, so listen to their ideas, do what they want, and don’t worry about how it looks or what other people think. This is not Instagram. This is your child’s childhood, and their happiness is all that matters.
- Family bonding activities
- Party activities for kids
- Outdoor activities for kids
- What Is Inductive Parenting And Should You Consider It?
- 20 Awesome Take Your Kid to Work Day Activities