So your kid is approaching their 5-year-old birthday and there’s going to be a party. How do you celebrate the gravity of your offspring having been on this Earth for half a decade? By spending an irrational amount of money on jumbo balloons that spell out “five”? By attempting to carve a cake into the shape of Elsa from Frozen or losing your kid in a Chuck E. Cheese? There’s a better way.
Here, the best 5-year-old birthday party ideas are timeless, easy to execute, inexpensive, and a ton of fun. Whether your kid just wants to eat cake with their friends or prefers an elaborate schedule of activities to celebrate their trip around the sun, there’s something for you and your family.
Arts & Crafts
All you have to do is provide the supplies and watch your guests’ creativity flow. They can paint paper, canvases, or premade knick-knacks such as birdhouses. Even rocks will do! (These paint palettes will make them feel extra professional.) Puppets are easily fashioned out of paper bags or socks, and tissue-paper flowers require nothing but a little tissue paper, pipe cleaners, and a pair of scissors. For a blast from the past, introduce the kids to scratch paper, dot paint, or sand art.
This colorful and gender-neutral theme is sure to be a hit with guests yearning to use their imagination. There’s plenty of simple DIY inspiration on the internet, from mask-making crafts to googly-eye-adorned toothpicks and sippy cups. Start with this monster party pack, which gets you a banner, 18 balloons, and 14 cupcake toppers for just $19.99.
Mark off an area for the “stage,” allot time for guests to prepare their acts, and provide props like microphones, hula-hoops, and music if you like. Then revel in the fact that they’re probably not old enough to play instruments … yet. These $1 trophies will make everyone feel like a winner.
In terms of ubiquitous trends, unicorns are up there with avocados and palm-leaf-printed anything. But they’re particularly cute in the context of a fifth birthday. Who doesn’t want to wear a tutu and a unicorn-horn headband and binge on a rainbow-colored cake? Plus, sources of inspiration for unicorn-themed food, decor, and even games are everywhere. Pin the tail on the donkey gets a magical upgrade (and it’s just $6.99!!), and these temporary tattoos are sure to please.
Forget all of the expensive trampoline parks and labor-intensive DIY decorations. It’s time for some good-old-fashioned fun. We’re talking tug-of-war ($10 to $20 for the rope, depending on length), potato-sack races (six sacks for $16.99), and egg-spoon races ($10 for a set of six wooden spoons and “eggs,” or use your own.) Remember hot potato? Musical chairs? Twister? Or how the best day in gym class was when they pulled out the parachute? That’s hours of fun for a $17.95 piece of circular fabric. Of course, there’s always inflatable bowling, giant connect four, and those human hamster-wheel things.
It’s an oldie but an undeniable goodie. Guests can finally wear their “dress up” out of the house, while activities, like jumping through a hula-hoop or navigating a laser field (made of streamers), can test their superpowers. Decorating superhero masks is the cherry on top.
For the soon-to-be 5-year-old who likes dressing up as much as running around the playground, the spa party offers an opportunity to be pampered. Set up stations for nail painting, hairdos, and face masks, preferably featuring these cat ear spa headbands to pull the hair back (10 for $12). If you’re worried about filling up time, these sleep masks are begging to be decorated.
Perhaps one of the least labor-intensive options, the movie party requires little more than your child’s favorite flick and a stockpile of snacks. Movie theater popcorn tastes best in those classic red-and-white-striped popcorn boxes. Invite guests to come in their PJs for extra festiveness.
Like your kid’s favorite activity, except with a bunch of friends present. Serve tea or juice out of teacups (you can find them at your local Goodwill) along with bite-size sandwiches and cookies. To go the extra mile, provide dress-up materials like hats or costume jewelry. Stuffed animals welcome.
No birthday party is complete without pizza, but take it a step further and let guests customize theirs. This printable pizza bingo will keep guests busy while their masterpieces cook. Chef’s hats optional.
There are only so many years left of make-believe, so celebrate by playing dress-up, reading stories, and letting their imaginations run wild. This $5 book features all the classics, while these storytime dice ($12.99) allow you to roll your own adventure. Provide some flower crowns (nine for $10.99) or fairy wands (12 for $7.74) to take the pretend play to the next level.
Have kids decorate flower pots or plant simple flowers. This pack of 28 mini terra cotta pots will cost you only $19.99 (they’re very small), while these kids’ ones, slightly larger and more expensive at six pots for $16.80, feature designs for coloring. Other options include decorating birdhouses, or order this set of 12 magnifying glasses for $9 and send the kids on a nature scavenger hunt. A picnic to follow rounds out the whole affair.
Set up simple games like ring toss, cornhole and pin the tail on the donkey. This game set with cones, rings, and bean bags is a great place to start.
Tie-dye has stood the test of time as a childhood activity that continues to impress even in the digital age. It’s hands-on and provides a built-in take-home, eliminating the need for a goody bag. Offer guests white T-shirts, or give them the opportunity to bring more elaborate items like beach towels or string backpacks. For $16 this kit provides enough non-toxic dye for up to 36 projects, which is permanent enough to withstand the washing machine. It even promises that you don’t have to pre-soak fabric in soda ash, saving a bunch of time. This eight-pack of t-shirts will cost you $21. Throw in some pizza and party hats, or hold your party in the afternoon and skip a meal, and you’re on your way to an affordable party.
Breakfast Pajama Party
This theme is great because eating breakfast with friends is a novelty, but it’s not much more complicated or expensive than your average weekend breakfast. Just make some of your kid’s favorite breakfast foods, and maybe provide some classic party games like limbo, freeze dance, or pin the tail on the donkey. If you want to go all out, set up a waffle bar where guests can go crazy with the toppings. Or keep it simple with bagels and fruit skewers. For a birthday twist, make these funfetti cake batter pancakes and stick a candle in them.