Coming up with entertaining and original kids’ birthday party ideas isn’t easy at the best of times – but deciding on birthday ideas for kids at home is trickier still.
Fear not – our round-up has everything you need to make your kid’s party go with a bang, from planning the perfect food and budget-friendly foodie activities to easy cakes with the wow factor and the best mocktails for tweens and teens. All you need do is pick a theme, then get the whole family involved – there’s something for kids of all ages.
Birthday activities at home
Sweet treat factory
What’s the best way to reduce the stress of baking for your kid’s birthday? Getting everybody involved! Set up baking stations for every member of the family with pre-weighed ingredients, you can even go to the effort of hand-writing recipe cards for each of you to follow. Choose from easy chocolate-dipped marshmallows and cake pops or easiest-ever biscuits and thumbprint cookies. Throw in some healthy options, too, like watermelon pops or cherry smoothies. Divide the goodies into homemade boxes so everyone gets one of each.
Board game cafe
Stack the table with age-appropriate games like dominos, cards, Trivial Pursuit or Monopoly. This idea can run over a few hours so choose food that’s mostly at room temperature, like hummus and crudités. The birthday boy or girl will have their hands full of dice or playing cards, so stick to a grazing platter loaded with nibbles that are easy to pick up and eat – no cutlery required. A pre-prepared dessert buffet works well because everyone in the family can help themselves to a bite to eat between rounds: lay out some popcorn, three-ingredient peanut butter cookies or chocolate bark.
For this kids birthday party idea, you all need to arrive in your dressing gown or onesie. The host sets up stations with fluffy towels and foot-rests and each family member gets to book in for a pamper, such as a pedicure, new hair do or painted nails. You can make up goodie bags filled with lip balm, hair gel or face packs. Fill lidded jam jar glasses with watermelon lemonade for mid-treatment refreshments and prepare finger food for afterwards, such as chicken satay or falafel. You can decorate this chocolate traybake with a candy message that reads ‘relax’ ‘or ‘spa’.
For an extra-special birthday idea for kids at home, try an upscale afternoon tea. Hang up some bunting and assemble a selection of mismatched pretty tea cups and vintage crockery. Make a variety of kid-friendly sandwiches or lay out a spread on a platter or stand. Watch this video to help you perfect scones and choose a traditional bake like a classic Victoria sponge or coffee cake. In good weather, you can lay out a picnic rug and take the party to the garden with tealights and blankets to keep everyone cosy.
Family film night
With a little bit of extra effort, your standard family movie night can be elevated to a kids’ birthday party from home to remember. Start by printing posters to display around the house and ‘admit one’ tickets for tonight’s screening. Invest in stripey popcorn bags and boxes for nachos. Prepare fruit slushies and serve in little glass smoothie bottles. Try sugary cinnamon popcorn or five ways to take it in other flavour directions. If you have a projector, you can pile up blankets and garden cushions and set up your very own outdoor movie theatre, complete with campfire cupcakes or s’mores dip, our take on the American campfire treat.
Outdoor scavenger hunt
Collect together your little one’s favourite toys – army soldiers, zoo animals, mini dinosaurs or wooden figures work best as they are easily cleaned. Tie luggage labels around them with clues that lead from one to another in a trail, then hide them in the garden. Give the party boy or girl a bucket and lead them on the scavenger hunt. At the end of the trail they’ll find the real treasure in little cellophane or paper bags: homemade honeycomb, next-level chocolate chip cookies or rocky road clusters. For older children, you can switch the toys for trickier clues to code-break in a trail of coloured envelopes.
Gingerbread houses aren’t just for Christmas – for an edible birthday party idea, try making a whole town. Bake biscuit components ahead of time and lay out with icing and sweeties waiting to be constructed. Choose from mini houses so you can all decorate your own, gingerbread trees to make a forest backdrop (use green icing so your trees look less festive) and any shape you fancy to populate your village, from penguins to people. Chopping boards covered in foil make good bases and royal icing is best for sticking together the biscuit foundations. Two-dimensional designs laid flat on tin foil bases can speed up construction and best suit younger birthday builders.
Pizza party plus
You’ve heard of pizza parties, where everyone in the family gets to make their own masterpiece, spreading homemade passata on shop-bought or homemade bases, before covering with grated cheese and their chosen toppings. But if your teen fancies something different, what about build-your-own bruschetta instead? Make the bases ahead of time, using a nicely charred crusty bread, drizzled in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Lay out a selection of toppings and let everyone construct their own. You can pick-and-mix and there’s no additional cooking time, leaving the family more time to focus on opening pressies and cards.
For a kids birthday idea in bold technicolour, try throwing a rainbow party. Fill the room with rainbow bunting and balloons and lay out art materials in all the colours of the arc. Tailor your creative activity to the age of your children (factoring in mess, damage limitation and tidying up!). Try fingerprinting or painting pebbles on newspaper, making a giant rainbow on paper masking-taped to a wall, chalk drawings on the outdoor pavement, rainbow sock puppets or colourful cross-stitch designs. Set up a multicoloured juice and smoothie bar with berry red, orange juice, yellow sunshine smoothies, kiwi fruit green and purple-pink cherry. Make rainbow rice paper rolls and rainbow fruit skewers, plus rainbow rippled meringues or a funfetti rainbow cake.
Get out the white coats and googles and turn your kitchen into a science lab for an experimental kids’ birthday party idea that goes off with a bang. Make slime, bubble mix, bath bombs or, best of all, magical instant ice cream, part recipe, part weird science which turns milk into ice cream before your eyes. Also on the menu are moon cycle cupcakes or, as a centrepiece, an anti-gravity cake or galaxy cake.