Tugging at my inner child heart strings, I love the idea of birthday parties. I remember slumber parties with my friends, bounce houses, ice skating, a trip to The Magic Time machine, the skating rink, playing silly games in our garage, playing yard games at the park. I don’t remember anything about the decor, fancy invitations or the type of food served. I remember friends, family and fun (… and my grandma’s homemade no frills cakes).
In spirit of fun, memorable parties that can be practical and don’t necessarily have to take a half year’s worth of Pinterest planning or your life’s savings. Here are some creative and doable birthday party ideas – across the board, across ages – for you!
- Baking or cooking. Make your own pizza, decorate cupcakes or cookies, or lead a cooking or baking demonstration. Do it at your house or at a local restaurant or venue.
- Art party. Pit stop at Hobby Lobby for supplies to canvas paint in the backyard or host at a local art studio. Throw in a rainbow theme for easy decor.
- Mad science. I guess you could figure out your own experiments, or you could leave this at-home demonstration to the science experts.
- Craft party. Recommended for the naturally Pinterest, DIY-activities-with-your-kids type. Pick your favorite craft, and craft away!
- Home Depot workshop. Did you know Home Depot hosts kids workshops? Reserve a handful of spots for a small group, or ask if your local store hosts private parties.
- Garden party. Backyard set up, community garden or even at a park. Have everyone decorate their own pot and plant a flower in it. Dirt pudding for dessert.
- Field day / yard games. From relays to hula hoop, I bet you have plenty of odd and ends around the house to move field day from school to home.
- Ninja warrior / obstacle course. Always wanted to be a Ninja Warrior? You may have to be a little creative to craft the obstacles, but fairly certain the adults will love it too.
- Red carpet movie premier. Cut fabric for a red carpet entry, pop some popcorn and turn on a movie. Add a photo backdrop and party dress theme for bonus points.
- Sit-down dinner party. If your kiddos are old enough to enjoy a night around the dinner table, play chef and serve their closest friends a multi-course dinner to delight.
- Backyard camping. Pitch a tent, and tell spooky stories under the stars. S’mores are a must! If overnight is too much, use your camping gear to swing an easy decor theme.
- Sports tailgate. Gathering to watch your favorite sporting event? Nail two birds with one stone… watch party at your house! Prep the party tailgate-style.
- Ice cream party. Ok, this is more themed-oriented, but ice cream themes are so cute and easy to decorate. Set up a sundae bar spread or have an ice cream truck stop by.
- Holiday-centric themes. Birthday near a holiday? Host a Thanksgiving potluck, Halloween party, Christmas gift exchange, Easter egg hunt, NYE celebration…
- Pajama party. Wouldn’t it be nice to stay in pajamas all day and have breakfast for lunch or dinner? Stack dessert pancakes for a fun cake. Even tie it in with a sleepover.
- Slumber party. Remember how fun it was to stay up too late, spend the night in giggles/chaos and pile into the living room with sleeping bags? Order pizza; call it or night. Hotel works too!
- Tea party. BYOF – bring your own friend (stuffed animal, Barbie, action figure, etc). Have the kiddos round up on a blanket, sip tea and play away.
- Dress-up theme. This could be anything. Into princesses or superheroes? Wear your favorite dress or costume. You can also supply a dress-up bin for partygoers.
- Surprise party. Why do we typically host surprise parties for just the adults? They can easily be set up for kiddos too, at home or out-and-about, and can be as simple as you’d like.
- Board games. Bust out the board games, and call it a party. Make stations, rotate games or even set up a friendly competition.
- Practical classics. When all else fails, go with what you know – backyard BBQ, fiesta theme, luau pool party. Hit up the dollar store for affordable decor.
- Day trip or field trip. The sky’s the limit (just need transportation). Go to the Austin Zoo, Schlitterbahn, Natural Bridge Caverns, the Riverwalk. So many options.
- Attend a sporting event. Take a group yourself or have everyone meet at the game. Round Rock Express, Texas Stars, UT baseball game, even high school games.
- Limo or party bus ride. This can be a splurge, so maybe for a milestone birthday like 10 or 16. Load up your group, and make pit stops at your favorite local stops.
- Progressive dinner. Pop from restaurant to restaurant or house to house for appetizers, dinner, dessert and assorted activities.
- Trip to the movies. Recommended for kiddos old enough. Could opt for a theater party package or just buy tickets per normal and coordinate the group yourself.
- Putt putt at Peter Pan Mini Golf. I may have particular bias to Peter Pan due to BYOB, but also, there is no extra charge to book the picnic tables for your party. Just plan ahead!
- Girls or boys day out. Make it special with a small group (parents/kids) or several. Spa day for the girls, mani/pedis, shopping. Fishing for the boys, golfing, arcades.
- Play a sport. Frisbee golf, volleyball, kickball, flag football, bubble soccer. Find an open field or park where you can play a game.
- Scavenger hunt at the mall. Loved this as a kid. Make a scavenger hunt list, go to a mall and split everyone into groups to tackle the list. Photo proof required.
- Karaoke. If your kid and his/her friends love to sing, ta da! There are several karaoke spots around town, and you don’t have to stand on a stage. Rent a private room.
- Party package, anywhere! Looking for the ultimate convenience? Go party package: arcade, skating rink, theme park, waterpark, play gym, bowling, batting cage, trampoline park and more!
- Volunteer day. For the giving-back type who is looking for an alternative to traditional gift-giving parties, pick a local nonprofit and coordinate a birthday volunteer day.
- Picnic at the park. Pick a park, any park, and have a party. Set up yard games if needed. Some parks have table reservations. Others, like Zilker, bring a blanket and go!
- State park hiking. Ok, it could be a picnic or swimming too. Did you know Central Texas has a ton of amazing state parks?
- Food truck park. Bring some balloons, a cake, and set up for an hour or two at a food truck park like The Picnic or The Midway Food Park.
- Brewery, distillery or winery. I mean if the kid is too young to remember, and it’s just family and friends anyway, why not? Treaty Oak and Jester King are personal faves.
- Local restaurant. Make a reservation at a local restaurant, and have an easy celebration. Can even be as simple Chick-fil-A! (Bonus points for a play area for littles.)
- Local festivals or activities. Austin has so many great festivals to enjoy for a birthday if the timing is right – Zilker Kite Festival, Blues on the Green, ACL, Trail of Lights, etc.
- Swimming hole or beach. Greenbelt, McKinney Falls, Blue Hole, Barton Springs, Deep Eddy Pool, etc. Check out Austin swimming holes or visit a swimming beach at a lake.
I think the point is to enjoy the birthday celebration and not make it a hassle. If you love party planning and decor – great. If you don’t – that’s ok. Parties should be more fun than stress. Try something new. Involve your kid in the planning. Select a theme or activity that is comfortable and resonates with you. Who knows, maybe they don’t want a party and would prefer a family activity instead!
Check out more birthday party inspo from Austin Moms Blog, including A Guide to Birthday Parties in Austin, 50 Places to Host Your Child’s Next Birthday Bash in Austin and more.