5 Frugal Birthday Party Games

By Craig Ford on 3 August 2010 (Updated 4 June 2014) 4 comments
Photo: flickr roland

My daughter recently turned five. In case you don’t know, birthday parties are a big deal to a five year old. Our family lives in a third world country so we knew we’d have to get creative when it came time to plan our birthday games. In the end, we came up with some great games that the kids absolutely loved. My wife and I loved the fact that we spent less than $10 on the games for the birthday party.

Frugal doesn’t mean boring.

For some reason, people think that frugal must mean boring. To plan a frugal birthday party just means you’re going to find the best activities that don’t cost a lot of money. Make sure the games you pick are unique. Most of these ‘homemade’ games will work once, but perhaps not every time. The novelty is what is exciting to the kids.

As a parent, you need to set the tone. We were really excited about the birthday party, my daughter was excited, and that was infectious. Everyone had a great time playing these birthday games.

Homemade Bowling

Take six empty two liter containers and fill them up with a few rocks to weigh them down. Set up the containers like bowling pins and have the kids stand several feet away. Give them a ball and sit back and watch. I was responsible to set up the pins and my wife fetched the ball.

As a side note, we didn’t even have a ball so we used a coconut. Unfortunately, after about 15 minutes, one of the girls threw the coconut instead of rolling it — no more ball, so no more bowling.

Create Balloon Animals

Yes, you could spend $100 or more and hire a clown, or you could get online and learn how to make balloon animals. In our case, we chose the latter, and my wife had all the kids make their own balloon animals. It’s amazing how simple it is to make a little puppy dog out of a balloon. The kids loved the challenge and kept laughing at how different each dog turned out.

Funny Face Competition

Pull birthday guests out one by one and have them make a funny face in front of the camera. (Don’t take them to a different room, just pull them to the corner.) Ask one of your adult helpers to take pictures of each kid making a funny face. Load the images onto the computer and invite everyone to judge to see which picture is the best, most creative, funniest… Keep making up categories until every kid is a winner of one category.

Pin the Nose on the Clown

For this game, you’ll need someone with an ounce of artistic talent. Draw a clown picture on a large piece of paper, and then tape the picture to a wall. One by one, each kid gets blind folded and spun around with a sticker in hand. The winner is the person who puts their sticker closest to the clown’s nose.

Bubbles Mania

On a warm and slightly windy day, we gave all of the kids a little bubble container. Of course, anything involving kids and bubbles is sure to be a success. After the kids play independently, you can stand up on an elevated porch, ladder, or pickup truck and blow bubbles. Encourage the kids to pop all the bubbles before any of them touch the ground.

What frugal birthday games have you played that were a success?

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Cricket

One year we had a lego party where we pulled out all the legos for the games. 1) Lego Charades: assign things for the kids to build, give a time limit, and see who can guess what it was 2) Drop the lego in the jar (3 different sized spouts) 3)Work in teams to build the tallest tower that will stand in 5 minutes 4)Guess how many legos are in the jar. Of course free building with the legos was a great way to entertain the boys while we waited for everyone to arrive. The party was a great hit!

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Guest

All time best party game: Balloon stomp. Good for children of all ages, and is even more fun with adults. Each participant gets an air-filled balloon with a yard of string tied to it. The other end of the string gets tied around the ankle of the participant. On "Go" participants try to stomp balloons of others, while preventing his/hers from getting popped. Once a balloon is popped, that participant is out of the game. It is a totally hysterical game. It works better indoors, unless you have every soft grass, as things in grass can pop a balloon.

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At our daughter's 2nd birthday we had "stations" which were our informal way of having things for kids to do. There was a "fishing" station with a bucket and magnetic bath toys. There was a "sandbox" station with a kiddie pool filled with sand and sand toys. And, there was an indoor play area with music, blocks, books, and pillows. We also have a play structure outside that kids enjoyed.

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These are great ideas! I love the idea of having the kids make their own balloon animals. I always loved having crafts like this at my birthday parties.