10 Low-Key Birthday Party Activities for Kids

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Birthday party activities don’t have to be stressful! It’s Melissa & Doug’s Birthday Bash and they’re throwing the Ultimate Birthday Bash. They’re sponsoring how I do my birthday parties and keep them low-key, aka less stress for me.


I am not a huge Birthday party thrower.

We keep it pretty low-key. Although I’m always a tad jealous of all the parties I see floating around Pinterest and blogs. They always seem so happy and fun!

But when it comes to parties, I want to be able to enjoy them too. I don’t want to be running around like a mad-woman making sure everything is in place and the activities are done on a schedule and all the kids participate. That’s not how I roll.

My kids are still pretty young (Henry turns 5 next week) so family is the majority of our birthday party invites and I want to be able to sit down and chat with them when they’re here.

So I do a few things for every party that I’ve thrown to make sure that I still get to enjoy the day too. And the kids are sure to have an awesome time too.

10 Low-Key Birthday Party Activities for Kids

How I come up with our birthday party activities:

Every party we have had has some sort of theme. Henry’s first birthday party was blocks. His 2nd party was just a party theme. His 3rd birthday was tractors and his 4th was semis (ahem, yes. We have a farmer.). This year we’re doing monster trucks!

I then take that theme and plan an activity for the kids to do. Much like I do most of our activities here. I base it off my kid’s interests to make sure they’re going to have a great time with it. I then treat the activity as an ‘invitation to play’.

Its something that’s there if the kids want to play with it, but they don’t have to. And its something that the kids can do together and on their own (without adult help, but with distant supervision.)

All of my birthday parties have stations and the kids can travel freely between them. I love not having to direct the party any more than I absolutely have to. ” – Joyce of Childhood Beckons

10 low-key birthday party activities to set up:

  1. Packages of play dough with objects to play in it with, such as trucks to make tracks, or blocks to make prints with, like Toddler Approved did. (Tip: Play dough can also be used as the party favor!)
  2. Set up block towers ready to be played with. Melissa & Doug Wooden blocks work nicely!
  3. Since we’re all ‘boy’ here, I often set out tractors and trucks to be played with on the floor or play table (and that often goes with our birthday theme). You could set up a racing area too like B-Inspired Mama. In addition to the trucks and such, I’ve made roads with tape and set out blocks  (or other small objects) to have them haul.
  4. Create a dress up play area with old Halloween costumes, or clothes found from the thrift store. Get them a couple sizes bigger than your biggest kids so they can slip them on right over their clothes and do it on their own.
  5. Tea Party. Set up a simple tea party with stuffed animals and the kids’ plates, bowls and cups. Let them play pretend during the birthday party!
  6. A tub of dirt has so many possibilities! A dino dig wouldn’t require much for adult interaction. Or have a garden planting activity, set out a tub of dirt (maybe best for outside if you’re worried about the mess) with all the tools needed to plant a garden! Easy idea from The Imagination Tree.
  7. A super simple one for outdoor birthday parties is to have bubbles and chalk set up for the kids to play with, an idea from Buggy and Buddy.
  8. Set up art stations. Mama Miss did a spray painting station. Set up a bunch of Melissa & Doug art supplies and they kids won’t want to leave the art table.
  9. Cardboard boxes are a great invitation to play and can be made into anything for a pretend play station. Coffee Cups and Crayons made some into pirate ships!
  10. Books and a coloring area (can be adapted to any birthday theme!) are a great activity station for birthday parties! Boy Mama made one for their Garbage Truck Birthday Party.

… just set up little stations and let the kids go back and forth between them. I set up my son’s pirate party like that and it was low-key and fun for everyone.” – Megan of Coffee Cups and Crayons

10 Low-Key Birthday Party Activities for Kids
(Cardboard Box Pirate Ships from Coffee Cups & Crayons)

My additional tips for a non-stressful birthday party:

  • Remove toys that will likely be fought over. (Think favorites or the ‘big’ toys that you only have one of.)
  • Clear the area. Remove rugs if possible. (Or lay down tablecloths to protect the floor.)
  • Once the party goers start arriving. That’s it. No more worrying about how the party unfolds. Just let it happen as the kids make it happen!

$500 Giveaway to spend at Melissa & Doug:

Want more Birthday Bash fun? Click here to see ALL our Birthday resources and tips, AND to enter our special Birthday Bash Giveaway, where you could win $500 to throw the Ultimate Birthday Bash from Melissa & Doug! For even more fun, be sure to check out our Birthday Wishes Pinterest Board!


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  1. ACsMama says

    I love the tea party idea! I’m thinking maybe a princess tea party theme for my LO’s 4th birthday – have a princess dress-up station, cups, bowls, plates, teddy bears and dolls, maybe a paper crown decorating station (markers, glue, glitter, stickers), and maybe even some blocks and/or cardboard boxes for making castles! Her Dad is already planning the castle cake he wants to make for her, so I think it would be perfect!

  2. says

    Simple is more, love the bubbles & chalk idea. Last year for my 6 year olds birthday we did a wading pool, a sprinkler, and lots of bubbles and bubble blowing tools. It was a blast & no big mess to clean up.

  3. says

    I think a stress-free party is great thing to focus on! Another focus for me is making it magical for the kids! I think the way to make a birthday party perfect for children is to cater to their specific likes and dreams with the games and decor! So a fairy theme or princess theme is great for the little girl that loves those things, and so on. Once you find the right theme, the next step is decor and games! I have found some great, fun games and have loved the response from the kids!

  4. sarah patch says

    My daughter has been medically challenged sinc she was born (12 years ago). I use her party as a celebration of ALL of us. Each year we struggle as a family with various doctor appointments, hospital stays, etc. Each year we’ve had a theme (usually based on one of her favorite books but not always). I set up little crafts to do so guests have something to take home. The grown ups like it because it gives them something to do while visiting with other guests. Ive had a karaoke machine, bubble machine, & just little games related to the theme. My son’s birthday party this year was about balls. We had it at a park & brought a lot of our collection of balls & the kids went to town playing with them (it also helped we had a “human sized” ball). It was the easiest decoration & theme to do. & EVERYONE had a BALL!

  5. Angela says

    For my son’s fifth birthday party we are doing stations too. So far we have lego, colouring, trains with tracks, hot wheels and decorate your own sugar cookie stations. I am 7 months pregnant and DO NOT want to be running around any more than I have to. Party is tomorrow so wish me luck.

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