A child with a party hat sits behind a birthday cake.

You Don’t Need To Throw A Party To Celebrate Your Child’s Birthday

While birthday parties are fun for kids, they can be stressful for parents. Even just having 10 kids over for an afternoon of food and games can be exhausting while putting a strain on tight budgets. And if your kid is younger, birthday parties might mean catering to their whole class.

But you don’t always have to throw a huge party with all the extras to please your children on their special day. There are plenty of excellent alternatives that will make your child beam with joy, without stressing you out or breaking the bank. You can even have someone else host the party for you.

To ensure you have a fun, stress-free time planning your child’s birthday, here are fun things to do with family as birthday party alternatives.

In The Morning

To start your child’s big day right, have them wake up to a special breakfast. This breakfast could include fun-shaped pancakes with decorations, like balloons, at the dining table.

After breakfast, give your child their presents. And then tell them what you have planned for the day, either as a reminder or revealing your surprise plans.

Go Camping, Hiking, Fishing

Whether in your backyard or at a nearby campground, camping always makes for a fun outdoor adventure. Go for a hike, canoe ride, or fishing trip. And spend the evenings playing games and making s’mores by the fire, spending quality time with the family away from screens.

Go To The Movies Or Live Theatre/Music

Stay up to date with kids’ movies that are coming out in theatres or on DVD. You can treat your kid and a friend or two to a movie at the theatre, or have a movie night at home with popcorn and snacks.

For older kids, consider bringing them to see a live performance, such as a theatre production or a concert.

Plan A Day Trip Out Of The City

Visit a nearby town or city for the day, taking in local kid-friendly sites and attractions, like museums and zoos. A family day trip is a special way to celebrate a birthday. And if you let your child choose where you go, they will really enjoy it.

Have A Slumber Party

Slumber parties are a low-key alternative to birthday parties. Instead of going all out with food, decorations, loot bags, and activities, you can let your kid invite a few close friends over to watch movies, play games, and eat snacks.

And for younger kids who aren’t ready for sleepovers, invite them over for snacks and a movie before bedtime so they can go home to sleep.

Go To A Skating Rink

Whether at a local ice or roller skating rink, plenty of fun can be had with the kids for a few hours. And if there’s a DJ, request your child’s favourite song and let the DJ know it’s their birthday so they can announce it on the speakers and make your child feel even more special on their special day.

Visit An Amusement Park

Depending on the time of year, outdoor amusement parks are a thrilling excursion for kids. But if your child’s birthday is in the colder months, consider bringing them to an indoor water park instead. Amusement parks can be pricey, so keep your eye out for family discounts online.

Go Bowling

Bowling alleys are fun for the whole family. You can plan to go out for dinner before or after bowling. And some bowling alleys even have local restaurants deliver, such as neighbouring pizza parlours. Many bowling alleys also have discounts on certain days of the week along with family discounts.

Have A Spa Day

Book a spa day for you and your child, or plan one at home if your child is into pampering themselves. You can do manicures, pedicures, and facials while sipping on fruity drinks and listening to relaxing music.

Attend A Sporting Event

If your child has a favourite local sports team, bring them to a game for their birthday. And if their favourite team isn’t playing, or the tickets are too pricey, consider bringing them to a college or high school game instead.

You can even organize your own sporting event at a local park. Have your family and your child’s friends play in a friendly game of baseball, soccer, or tag.

Spend The Day At A Play Centre

Play centres offer a variety of fun and adventures for all ages, making them one of the top family things to do for a birthday. Consider inviting some of your child’s closest friends to a play centre for their birthday. They can enjoy tasty kid-friendly food, indoor playgrounds, arcades, and Laser Tag.

Extra Tips To Make The Day Fun


You don’t have to spend a fortune on decorations to make the day special. Balloons should do the trick, especially a room full of balloons.

Wear Costumes/Play Dress-Up

Dress up with your child for the special occasion. Put on extravagant clothing, costumes, or whatever clothing you and your family find fitting.

Pack Surprise Notes or Cards in Their Lunch

If your child’s birthday lands on a school day, pack a surprise note or card in their lunch to keep them feeling loved and excited on their special day.

Plan a Scavenger Hunt for Their Gifts

Set up a scavenger hunt for your child at home, in your backyard, or at a local park. And if you really want to make it special, the hunt can be for their birthday gifts.

Take Lots of Photos (And Compare to Previous Years)

Take plenty of photos on your child’s birthday. Prepare a slide show with family pictures to show your child how much they’ve grown up over the years.

Consider these ideas for birthday party alternatives to ensure both you and the birthday kid have a memorable, fun, and stress-free birthday. And if you’re not planning a surprise birthday, suggest some of these ideas to your child so they can help you plan for their special day.