Awesome Birthday Party Hacks

Cupcakes for kids birthday, child jungle party.
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If planning your kid's party has you feeling overwhelmed, try some of these clever birthday party hacks.

  • 01 of 10

    DIY Photo Booth

    Child 2-3 Years, Photo booth, screaming to camera
    JW LTD / Getty Images

    You don’t need a professional photographer with an actual booth, all you need is a backdrop, some props and a camera of your own. Or, since everyone seems to carry a cell phone, ask parents to snap the photos themselves.

    Outdoors, find a spot where nature provides a lovely backdrop. Indoors, you can use balloons, streamers or plastic tablecloths to create a backdrop against a wall. Or, go with one of these super cool DIY photo booth ideas

  • 02 of 10

    Make Your Own Tattoos

    Child applying temporary tattoo to arm, cropped
    PhotoAlto/Anne-Sophie Bost / Getty Images

    Sure, you can get a few sheets of temporary tattoos at the party store, but what happens when you can’t find tattoos that fit your party theme? If you have a printer and the clipart your heat desires, all you need is temporary tattoo paper that you can find online or in most office supply stores. Once you have the paper, simply follow the directions to create your own custom temporary tattoos. 

  • 03 of 10

    Face Stamping

    Girl with Face paint
    Annie Otzen / Getty Images

    Facepainting has become somewhat a staple of kids’ birthday parties. If you want to include facepainting at your party, you can either have someone else do it (hire a professional or ask a friend to volunteer for the job) or do it yourself. DIY facepainting sounds simple enough; all you have to do is purchase a facepaining kit and wait for the kids to line up, right? Well, sure, except for the part where you have to actually be able to paint a design on a face. That part isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

    Face stamping, however, is one of those DIY hacks that has everyone wondering, “Why didn’t I think of that?” You can purchase foam stamps in a variety of shapes, dip them in the paint and press on the face to create a perfect design. Or, use stamp designs from the craft store, along with either face paint, or non-toxic, washable stamp-pad-ink. Easy, peasy, pretty!

  • 04 of 10


    birthday party balloons

    Balloons are the original birthday party hack. Inexpensive, colorful and fun, they can serve as everything from decorations to party favors. Best of all, kids of all ages love them.

    The availability of DIY balloon kits, complete with a helium tank, have made floating balloons even more accessible to DIY party hosts. The cost of them, along with the shortage of helium, however, has led to many creative ways to use balloons that are inflated the old-fashioned way. Want them to appear as if they are floating? Dangle them from the ceiling! Need a backdrop for a photobooth or dessert table? Tape a colorful array of balloons to the wall.

    Really, you could build an entire party around a bunch of balloons. Write the party details on inflated balloons and hand deliver these balloon-invitations to party guests. Use a bunch of balloons as the food table centerpiece, play these fun balloon party games and send kids home with balloons as favors. 

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Digital Invitations

    Close up shot of hands using handphone
    Carlina Teteris / Getty Images

    Thanks to the digital age, sending a birthday invitation is literally as simple as pushing a button. You can use a service, such as an e-vite, that sends the invitations for you, create a Facebook event to notify intended guests or even send a text message to invite someone to your shindig.

    If you’re a traditionalist, by all means, stick with the actual paper-by-mail invitation, but if you’re looking for a party invitation hack to make your life easier, go ahead and go digital. 

  • 06 of 10

    Prepare Individual Food Servings

    Birthday party cupcakes

    Here’s a question every parent planning a birthday party has pondered: What should I feed my party guests? From tea sandwiches to pizza to a candy dessert buffet, the options seem endless. Another thing that can seem endless is the amount of time it takes to serve the food you finally decide upon.

    Whatever you choose to feed the kids at your party, here’s a hack that will save you time, mess and stress: pre-measure your portions.  Serving snack mix? Rather than have a large bowl in which everyone dips their hands, scoop individual portions into cupcake wrappers and set one at each place setting. Making finger sandwiches? Plate them ahead of time, or use pre=packed “lunch boxes” (small cardboard boxes, or even actual lunch boxes that can be taken home as party favors). Pack each box with a sandwich, side snack, and bottle of water or box of juice.

    When dessert time comes, use a small cake as the decorative, themed or display-worthy birthday cake. Bake a sheet cake in the same flavor as the display cake. Pre-slice and pre-plate the slices of sheet cake, so you have servings ready-to-go as soon as the candles have been blown out on the small cake.

    Ice cream can be pre-scooped with an ice cream scooper, and placed on a cookie sheet. Slide the cookie sheet into the freezer and you have already scooped, ready to eat portions waiting to be served at dessert time.  

  • 07 of 10

    Party Food as Favors

    Cake pop party favors

    If you’re serving cookies, cupcakes or any kind of individual-serving-sized food, make an extra serving for each party guest. Then, simply wrap it in plastic, seal it in a zip-top bag, or stick it in a favor box. Stick on a label and hand them out to kids as they leave. Who wouldn’t love an extra party treat after the party is done?

  • 08 of 10

    Make Their Own Favors

    Girl making party craft

    Why spend hours of time making favors before the party when you can have the kids make them during the party? Incorporate a fun and easy craft into your party’s schedule and you’ve not only provided them with an entertaining activity, but a cool gift to take home. 

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Get Your Cake From a Box

    Monster truck cake
    Christine Gauvreau

    You don’t have to take a fondant class or hire a professional cake decorator to make a themed birthday cake. With some colored frosting and edible decorative pieces, you can create just about any theme cake you wish, from a simple box of cake mix and can of frosting.

    Need inspiration? Check out these DIY theme cakes that started in a box.   

  • 10 of 10

    Make it an Activity Party

    Kids cooking party

    There’s probably no better way to streamline a birthday party than to make it an activity party. A tie-dye party, for instance, puts the focus of the event on the tie-dying activity. A cooking party can not only provide them with an activity but the party’s meal, too.

    Guests will arrive and become immersed in the activity for most of the allotted party time. And then they get to take their item home as the party favor!

    Hire someone to run the activity, toss in a pizza and a cake (if you’re not doing the cooking activity) and you’ve hacked your way to an (almost) effortless event.