At a certain age, the simple family birthday party may not be enough for a child. They may want to have a specific theme, invite their friends from school, church, etc and play lots of games. Hosting a party at home can greatly lower expenses, provide greater control and allow for more creativity. With a bit of forethought a birthday party can be a memorable experience for the children at a lower cost for the adults.


An at-home party will need more planning than just booking an outside facility. A good time to start is four to five weeks from the date of the party.

Theme – This will help organize the rest of the party, including invitations and decorations, so it’s a good place to start. Superheroes, knights and pirates work for boys, while princesses, favorite cartoon characters and craft parties work well for girls. Check Celebrate-It and Fun Birthday Themes for some ideas!

Invitations – These can be store bought or hand-made, and there are some great sites that offer free printable invitations, but if you choose to go the paperless route for the cheapest option, try a site like Evites.

Guest list – A common formula to use when deciding how many children to invite is the birthday star’s age plus one. Parents need to know their limitations and how much help will be available.

Times – Consider early afternoon times like 1-3 p.m. or 2-4 p.m. because a full meal will not be necessary.

Food – Obviously, cake and ice cream will be expected, but kid-friendly snacks are also a good idea. Try popcorn and peanuts for cheap snacks!

Activities – Plan enough to keep children busy. If prizes are used, make sure everyone leaves with something. Piñatas, wacky relay races and treasure hunts work well. Pin the Tail on the Donkey is a favorite, and it can be updated using popular cartoon characters. If games are competition-based, find ways to make them silly so they aren’t taken too seriously. Ask someone the kids know, such as a relative, who may be willing to dress as a clown or character for free entertainment.

Other considerations

There will be some measures that will need to be taken to protect the house, particularly if the party will include younger children:

Limited space: Let guests know there are only one or two rooms they are allowed to be in and remove anything valuable or fragile from those areas.

Protect furniture: Use washable furniture throws to protect couches from spills and stains that are inevitable as part of a large gathering of children.

Pets – It is best to keep pets separated from people they do not know.

Kids want to have fun at a party and they don’t worry about how much the whole thing costs. Holding a child’s birthday party at home can still provide all those in attendance with a lifetime of memories without the extravagant cost of renting a facility.

This is a guest post by Caroline Smith who writes for