5 DIY Birthday Parties for Any Age, Simplified

We celebrate most of our family birthdays at home.  Even without big families, you can make any birthday a celebration.  With any number of people.  For the birthday boy or girl. When birthday parties seem to be the least of our priorities, it’s especially important to remember that creating a festive birthday celebration helps our buddies feel loved.


Homemade Cake
Happy Birthday Cake

Here are 5 birthday themes you can make happen with supplies already in your house.

In the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020, our family celebrated two birthdays.  As a bonus, it was toward the beginning of the quarantine.  So not only were we sad that we were stuck at home,  but all the birthday plans we had made were postponed (but it felt like they were cancelled) at the very last minute. 

pinwheel play

Tips for “Stuck-At-Home” Parties

  1. Ham it up.  Even if your child is in that “I’m 16 years old, Dad, this is stupid” phase, this is the time to be as corny as possible.  Get into it and even if they roll their eyes (which they probably will if they are anywhere between the ages of 12-18), secretly–maybe even subconsciously–they will love the attention.
  2. Use what you got and don’t apologize.  Be creative and confident.  Don’t be afraid to embrace your art skills or your lack thereof.
  3. Make a meal of their choice, present a treat (whether it’s a birthday cake or an ice cream sundae or something else completely), and do something they want to do.  Together. As a family.


Here are some themes to have a fun birthday at home with the supplies on hand.

Western Birthday Parties

Cowboys and cowgirls come in all ages. And you can make any event memorable with this theme.

Create a Western theme collage on a statement wall behind the serving table. String up a garland of horseshoes.  Print a dozen or so horseshoes, color, cut and hang. Tape cowboy hats around your party room and give everyone a paper sheriff’s badge to wear on their shirts.

Serve corn bread muffins and chili.

Build a bonfire and sing old cowboy songs. Line dance.  You can find some fun and easy dances to learn on YouTube.

Circus Birthdays

It’s the greatest show on earth!  Older kids may enjoy a theme based on aerial arts and younger kids may like the elephants.

What a circus theme calls for is lots of colors. Cut out flags of all colors and string them together as a garland.  In fact, make multiple garlands, crisscross them around the room, and attach them with large bunches of balloons at each end.  Or make a huge bunch of balloons above your serving table and string the garlands out to the ceiling across the room. 

You can do this using only garlands or crepe paper. The fabric is nice but completely unnecessary. Replace the fabric with more garland.

If you don’t have any colored paper, it shouldn’t be a problem.  Cut out your flags and use crayons or markers to decorate with bright patterns.  Be as colorful as possible on top and then, if you have any red or white table clothes use those for the tables. 

Serve hot dogs or corn dogs,  popcorn, and peanuts. 

Set up a ring toss by cutting out the middle of paper plates. 

Create a Ball Toss where you knock down stacked Solo cups.

Trains Birthday Parties

train party
photo courtesy of https://www.avisualmerriment.com

Everyone loves train travel. Birthday parties celebrating with trains works for so many people.  Older kids may like the idea of riding the Orient Express (so an Asian Theme) and younger kids might just want to play with trains.

For any type of train theme you use, print out these railroad signs and post around your party room.  Tape railroad ties and rails on the floor (knowing full well that this will end up being destroyed) or on the tables.

Serve any type of food from the desired “destination.”

Listen to “The Locomotion” on Spotify and dance as a train for the whole song. Play Ticket to Ride (one of our families favorites) or Monopoly.   Or watch Choo Choo Bob on YouTube

“Movies” Parties

Going-to-the-movies birthday parties can be glammed up for your older kids to be like the Oscars or basic for your younger kids as in pretending to go to the movie theater.

statement wall
image courtesy of http://jollybiglive.ru/

If you have twinkle lights or white Christmas lights, now is the time to break them out.  String them from one wall and out to the the other wall, plug them in, and turn the lights down.  Print out your favorite movie posters and tack them to the wall behind the concession table.. 

While you are watching your movie, indulge in popcorn and movie theatre candy.  For a fun meal, try some nachos or pizza.  This is the easiest theme for activities.  Let the birthday guy/gal pick what to watch.  If you want something more, you can play Movie Title Charades or one of these games.


Treasure Hunting Birthday Parties

treasure hunt map
image courtesy https://www.designdazzle.com/ahoy-matey-its-a-pirate-birthday-party/

Speaking of movies, National Treasure and Indiana Jones are movies that embody the love of a good hunt.  All ages enjoy searching for the prize!  You could personalize this to be a pirate theme or a spy theme.  This theme can be indoors or outdoors and the weather doesn’t even really matter.  What matters is the actual treasure hunt and presenting the clues.

Begin the treasure hunt in character and give your hunters the clues in an appropriate way. Pirates receive a treasure map. Spies receive a  clue that they need to decode to find the next one. Journalists are given a notebook with a pencil to write down facts for the ultimate win.  Archaeologists need to dig up their clues. 

While a Treasure Hunting Party seems to be the least amount of visual work, there is a lot of behind the scenes work, but I promise it is worth the work.  This will be a birthday remembered forever.


pizza birthday cakeLinks to More Birthday Fun

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