DIY Old School Birthday Ideas for Kids

We’ve all seen them, or maybe we’ve even hosted them for our own children…perfectly themed, color coordinated, over the top beautiful birthday parties with fancy favors to boot. Some people blame Pinterest and Instagram culture while others think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going all out to celebrate your child’s yearly milestone.

No matter which side you fall on, this is a reminder that for the years where you’re looking at going a simpler route to celebrate, it’s more than ok. Kids don’t need fancy parties or elaborate activities to feel celebrated and make birthday memories. Here are a few old school party ideas from our parents’ and grandparents’ book.

Pizza Party & Play Games

If you ask most adults today about their birthday parties growing up, you’ll hear the word “pizza” thrown about more than any other word. There’s a reason “pizza party” is an infamous term in America! Whether you order a few pizzas from your local pizzeria or decide to do the DIY route where each child makes their own, kids will eat it up. Consider cutting the slices into sixteenths to make it easier for sharing and trying different topping assortments. Get some age-appropriate board games to play, or bring out a few old school party games like pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, telephone or charades. Gather everyone into the living room or back porch for the special boy or girl’s celebration and have fun.

Summer Waterplay & A Picnic Lunch

I can still remember the unforgettable feeling of an expertly thrown water balloon splashing against my back in the heat of summer and hearing my sister laughing behind me. Summer birthday parties have a whole other option on the table; waterplay parties! This could be as low key as turning on the sprinkler for party guests or meeting up at the community pool. Grab a few plastic water guns or water balloons from the Dollar Tree, and you’re ready for a day of play. Make food options available outside to avoid dripping wet children in the house by hosting a picnic lunch. Throw a few blankets down on the lawn, and serve sandwiches or hotdogs with chips. Don’t forget to invite everyone to bring their swimsuits and a towel!

Ice Cream Sundaes & A Sleepover

“You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream!” If your youngster is at the age where a sleepover is on the list of party options, embrace it for a simple night at home with a few classmates or just their best friend. Have them celebrate their birthday with their favorite ice cream flavor or two, grab a few tasty toppings like whipped cream, M&Ms, hot fudge and cookie dough bites. You can even have them make it a contest by who can create the most delicious looking ice cream sundae and vote for the winner. Simple and scrumptious!

Scavenger Hunts

Children of the 80s and 90s are no stranger to a good old fashioned scavenger hunt. Create a list of items to find, or create clues to help partygoers discover what’s on their list as they compete against one another to cross everything off their list first. The hunt can be a team activity or every child for themself! This is an old time fan favorite for many reasons, but as a parent myself, I look back and wonder if my own mother pulled this activity out more than a few times because of how great it was at keeping kids occupied for a decent length of time. Perhaps it’s just a convenient bonus?

Birthday Cake and Presents

Let’s be honest, at the end of the day, these are the two things that kids look forward to the most when it comes to birthday parties! If hosting a long party with planned activities isn’t your cup of tea as a parent, guess what? There are no rules. Instead, invite a few of your kids’ friends or family members over for cake and presents for an hour or two, and watch your child have the best birthday. The memories they’ll make spending time with the people they love most and getting excited about being another year older will make it as special as it gets!


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