26 Birthday Party Activities That Won't Cost You a Dime

Entertain Your Guests Without Busting Your Budget

birthday presents and cupcakes

The Spruce / Margot Cavin 

If you are thinking about hosting or entertaining a birthday party at home, prepare a set of birthday party activities that can make your event a hit without having to spend any extra money on supplies. For younger children, red rover, hot potato, or musical chairs are fun party games. For another birthday party idea: Think about a scavenger hunt, which is tons of fun for all age levels.

Some birthday party games might require a few supplies, but they're everyday objects you probably already have lying around your house. It's OK to improvise if you have a similar thing (for instance, you don't have a potato, but you have a carrot). A slight variation gives a new twist. Chances are your guests won't notice, but it'll be humorous if they do.

For younger kids, activities like face painting, playing a sport, or erecting a ball pit can also make for a fun birthday party at home. If you're going to be the one to host a birthday party, it's best to get organized with a checklist, set a date, make an invite list, and square away the plans for food, birthday cake, and more.

Look at this list of easy, inexpensive birthday party activities that are great for kids, teens, and adults, provided you make some age-related modifications.

Tip

If your party is for a holiday or near one, pull ideas from these holiday-themed party games for Halloween parties, Christmas celebrations, Valentine's Day, and even the Super Bowl.

  • 01 of 26

    Treasure Hunt Game

    Child searching box

     

    Steve Hix / Getty Images

    This birthday party game gives clues to the guests that lead them to areas around the house or yard until they reach their final prize. This free birthday party game can be customized for adults and little kids.

  • 02 of 26

    Three-Legged Race

    Three Legged Race
    SolStock / Getty Images

    This classic group game is such a fun birthday party game that's great with kids but hilarious for adults. All you need for this game is something to tie each pair's legs together.

  • 03 of 26

    Button-Button

    Button box
    Image by Catherine MacBride / Getty Images

    Who has the button? Let your guests play detective to find out. All you need to play this easy birthday party game is a button!

  • 04 of 26

    Charades

    Women enjoying indoor games
    Morsa Images / Getty Images

    The classic game of charades can be adapted for children of all ages and adults. It's a great idea to match a game of charades with the theme of your party.

    Continue to 5 of 26 below.
  • 05 of 26

    Elephant Tug of War

    Pull!
    PeopleImages.com / Getty Images

    A fun game of tug of war that doesn't need anything other than something to tug. This is a great game that will really encourage your guests to use their imaginations. This one also goes great with other jungle-themed party games.

  • 06 of 26

    Fruit Basket

    Fresh fruit in red bowl
    Nancy Rose / Getty Images

    This free birthday party game is great for larger groups of guests and kids and adults will love it equally. This is an inventive game that takes barely any prep work.

  • 07 of 26

    Marco Polo

    Kids in garden playing blind mans buff
    Westend61 / Getty Images

    This classic water game is just as fun on land. Add some funny voices and you've got yourself quite the party game. Be sure to scroll down to view the variations you can use to put a spin on this easy birthday party game.

  • 08 of 26

    Obstacle Course

    Young boy in an obstacle course
    Alberto Guglielmi / Getty Images

    Set up an obstacle course in your backyard or large area in your home using items you have on hand. You'll be surprised what items you have that may challenge your guests.

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  • 09 of 26

    Hot Potato

    Three young girls playing catch in a sunny field in summer
    Vladimir Godnik / Getty Images

    The classic game of Hot Potato is a lot of fun and brings about a ton of laughs. The person left may be the winner but you can keep the game going by having them be the next caller.

  • 10 of 26

    Red Rover

    Group of children (7-12) playing red rover in yard
    Andersen Ross / Getty Images

    Many people know the easy-to-play game called Red Rover, and it will be a hit at your next birthday party. This is a great game to play outside and even better if you have a fairly large group.

  • 11 of 26

    What's In the Bag?

    Girl wearing pink crown holding gift bags, father watching
    Westend61 / Getty Images

    What's in the bag is a super fun guessing game for a birthday party. This game can be easily changed for older children.

  • 12 of 26

    Simon Says

    Family Jumping in a Park

    Digital Vision / Getty Images

    Simon Says can be played anywhere at anytime without anything to buy. Put a twist on this popular birthday party game by changing the name "Simon" to something to fit your theme.

    Continue to 13 of 26 below.
  • 13 of 26

    Boomer-Whitz

    Father and daughter playing hide and seek in park
    Hero Images / Getty Images

    A cross between I Spy and Hide and Seek will keep kids of all ages into this birthday party game. You only need one object for this game and it can be one of your choosing.

  • 14 of 26

    Dress Up Relay Race

    Boys playing together in a garden
    Alistair Berg / Getty Images

    In this birthday party game, the guests will compete in relay races where they pile on the clothes and accessories. You can even customize all the clothes and accessories to fit whatever the theme of your birthday party is. There are also lots of other variations for relay races you'll want to check out.

  • 15 of 26

    Steal the Bacon

    Kids running in the park
    Ty Allison / Getty Images

    A unique spin the classic game of tag that uses just one simple item you are sure to already have in your house - and guess what? It's not bacon. This game works with a just about any group of people, you'll just need to divide them up into teams.

  • 16 of 26

    Water Balloon Toss

    Colorful water balloons in hands
    MamiGibbs / Getty Images

    This birthday party game is best played in the warmer weather and needs to be outside. Pair up the guests and have them see how long they can go before they break the water-filled balloon.

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  • 17 of 26

    Capture the Flag

    Girl Planting White Flag on Beach
    Pete Leonard / Getty Images

    A fun, classic birthday party game that's best played outside and exciting as a team activity. You can use flags, bandanas, or just about any soft object.

  • 18 of 26

    Cross the Lava Flow

    Group of happy kids having fun in the park.
    BraunS / Getty Images

    This is a great birthday party activity that is sometimes called Cross the Lava or the Floor Is Lava (like the popular game show). How many of the guests can make it to the end point without falling in the river?

  • 19 of 26

    Musical Chairs

    Children on birthday party having fun, Munich, Bavaria, Germany
    Lumi Images/Alexandra Dost / Getty Images

    Pair some fun music with an assortment of chairs, and you've got yourself an easy birthday party game that's always full of fun. Set up chairs or cushions in a circle but have one less than the number of people playing. When the music stops, anyone without a seat is eliminated and one chair is removed. Last one in the last chair wins!

  • 20 of 26

    Egg and Spoon Race

    Children having a spoon and egg race in garden on a birthday party
    Westend61 / Getty Images

    This birthday party game could get messy quickly, but that makes it all the more fun! Have all the guests put one hand behind their back and use the other hand to hold a spoon with an egg in it. Have them run to the finish line just like that.

    The first one who makes it with the egg still intact and their arm behind their back, wins. If the egg falls halfway through, they have to start over from the beginning.

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  • 21 of 26

    Partners in Pen

    Little Girl's Art
    Annie Otzen / Getty Images

    Much like charades but through writing, this free birthday party game involves guessing what your partner is describing. Have the pair sit back to back. One partner has an object that they have to describe to their partner who draws out what he or she thinks the partner is holding. 

    The team that finishes with the quickest time wins. The only catch is that the one holding the object cannot say its name or explain what the object is used for.

  • 22 of 26

    Plastic Wrap Game

    Plastic wrap

     

    FotoDuets / Getty Images

    This is a perfect birthday party activity for a large crowd, and multiple people can get prizes along the way. The basic idea when making this game is you start with a high-value present in the middle, wrap it with plastic wrap, then add a second prize in the next layer, wrap that, and you keep adding items and wrapping until you have a giant ball. The object of the game is for players to unwrap the ball, get a treat each time, and get to the prize in the middle.

  • 23 of 26

    Opposites

    Children dancing at party
    Cultura RM Exclusive/Robyn Breen Shinn / Getty Images

    This is one of the easiest birthday party activities to start because it just requires the participants—no props or money involved. However, it gets hard quickly. To play this game, instruct the guests to do something, but they have to do the opposite in order to stay in the game. For example, if you say raise your right hand, they have to raise their left hand; if you say to jump, they need to squat.

    You can even combine this game with a Simon Says type of game by having them watch you act something out but they have to do the opposite.

  • 24 of 26

    Minute to Win It Games

    Kids playing hopscotch

    mixetto/Getty Images

    Minute to Win It games are short games that are both fun and challenging. These are perfect for birthday parties because everyone or just a few can play during the party. They also only take a few supplies and most of them you'll already find in your home.

    There are a whopping 35 Minute to Win It games here that will keep everyone at the party busy and having fun. These are great for kids, tweens, teens, and even grown-ups, including some ideas here on how to play the games in various ways, such as against the clock, as a small team, or as a large group.

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  • 25 of 26

    Giants, Wizards and Elves

    Little wizard casting a spell

    Imgorthand/Getty Images

    This is a unique birthday party activity that you probably haven't seen anywhere else. Players are on teams that meet in the corner of the room, and each group is either a giant, wizard, or elf. There are a few fun rules that everyone needs to follow to make it all work, but it can get loud since it includes some shouting. This fun game could easily be used as an icebreaker. It would be perfect for a wizard-themed birthday party.

    Adults can also get in on the fun in a totally silly spontaneous way. This is really perfect for any large group.

  • 26 of 26

    Make Party Favors

    kids craft

    JulPo / Getty Images

    Skip goodie bags altogether and have the attendees make the party favors. You can pick a craft appropriate for the age of the birthday kid. It can be as simple as or building lightsabers out of empty wrapping-paper rolls. Don't feel like you have to go out and buy supplies — there are a ton of crafts you can do with just a plastic bottle.