Ultimate last minute kids birthday party ideas (2024)

It’s the eleventh hour and you have a birthday party to pull together! Food, games, decorations, music,…there is so much to do!

Here at Parties Universe, we have literally pulled together hundreds of great birthday parties over the years! We know what works and we know a thing or two about simple, affordable birthday parties!

In this post you will find great ideas, inspiration and tips for throwing a last-minute kids’ party on a budget.

Steps for planning a last minute party:

1. Decide the venue

2. Decide the theme or activity

3. Decide how many kids you want (may be limited by the options above- great! less work!) and send invitation text or email to the guestlist! Don’t worry about invitations, they’re an addition that won’t affect the amount of fun your kids has!

4. Online order food

5. Remember the 3 stage formula: music, food, activity. That’s it, you don’t need to create a huge amount more than that!

In the rest of this post, we will take you through last-minute party ideas to host at home, at a local park or woods, and at venues (that might not need to be booked far in advance!). We hope these inspire you, and give you some top hints and tricks.

Park games party themes:

One great thing to do in a local park is some sort of sports theme with little game challenges! They can either be mini competitions or a little obstacle course.

The party can involve games, some food and music. Since it’s in a park, no need to decorate, you can simply lay out a picnic rug and perhaps tie a couple of balloons to a nearby tree to mark out the party zone!

Ideas for birthday party themes in the park:

  1. Olympic games
  2. Superhero training
  3. Ninja Warrior Challenge
  4. Pirate Bootcamp
  5. Medieval Knight Tournament
  6. Ancient Mythology Olympics
  7. Sports Carnival Fiesta

Challenge ideas:

  1. Three-Legged Race: Guests pair up and tie one of their legs to their partner’s leg so that between the two of them they have 3 legs. They then have to compete in a race with other pairs!
  2. Sack Race: Guests hop through a designated course with their legs inside a sack. You could also use a sturdy bin bag or other household basket if you haven’t got sacks! They the have to race to finish an obstacle course. This is so much fun, particularly for small kids when they almost fit completely inside the sack! 
  3. Tug of War: Two teams stand in a group opposite each other. One group holds one side of the rope and the other group old the other side. One the count of 3 they tug, and whichever group tugs the other group out of their starting zone wins! This is a great idea if you have kids of mixed ages and heights.
  4. Balloon Pop Relay: Create a relay race with a challenge for party guests to carry a balloon between their knees without using their hands. Get them to walk around a stick about 10 yards away and then back to their group to and pass it on to the next person (without popping it!). Relay races are such fun games for groups of mixed ages because everyone can play an equal part!
  5. Water Balloon Toss: Teams spilt into partners and have them toss water balloons to each other. After each successful toss, they can take a step back. The last pair with an intact balloon wins!
  6. Bean Bag Toss: Set up bean bag toss (or any household item such as washing pegs or lego blocks) where there are special buckets or markers, each with different point scores attached.
  7. Hula Hoop Contest: Hoola hoop challenge! Who can hoola the longest have member of each team tine up beside each other and the longest spinning team win!

Another great thing to do in a park is host a themed picnic!

Simply buy a spread of picnic foods and that’s it, party sorted. You can take a ball, skipping ropes and any other park toys for your kids to enjoy while you’re there and have some music for parents sitting around the food table. For this, buy ready made foods to keep your life simple!

Theme ideas for a picnic birthday party:

  • Teddy bear picnic
  • Fairy picnic
  • Rainbow picnic

At home party themes

– Classic child’s birthday party! Keep it simple with games like pass the parcel, musical chairs and musical statues. have some music on and let the kids hang out and have fun with minimal prep.

Remember you don’t need to keep up with the joneses if your kid would have an equal amount of fun and feel just as special with the classic games. In fact, simple parties like this have become so rare amongst big party organisers that they’re are almost a retro theme!

– Classic kids party with a theme! We have a huge amount of ideas for party themes on this blog. They are mostly aimed at 4-6 year olds and they are the type of party that take a bit of imagination but very few resources and prep.

Often the games are based on themed variations of classic party games which means  What’s more, we give so many ideas (all for free) so you really will have to put in minimal thought. Check out some of these awesome theme options:

  • Pirate party
  • Under the sea theme
  • Princess party (frozen party, Rapunzel party, Cinderella party, snow white party)
  • Dinosaur adventure party
  • Fireman party
  • Outer space party
  • Puppy party (or paw patrol party)

– Movie night in the living room: Bring out big cushions blankets and sleeping bags and cover the room in fairy lights. This makes the room look so cute and cosy, but is a very simple look to achieve!

– Spa night: buy some affordable face masks and a few new nail polish colours and offer a small group of kids a little makeover or manicure while they watch a movie or hang out listening to their favourite party songs! This is very simple and requires very little prep!

– Video game party: let you kids have an afternoon playing their favorite video games with friends! This is a great option for guaranteed fun.

– Board games party: this is a good idea for older children who might enjoy hanging out with two or three of their closest friends rather than inviting the whole class!

At home food parties:

Another great last-minute birthday party ideas is a food making party. You will have to shop for ingredients but that’s about it, because kids can make their own party food on the day and have fun doing so! 

Pro’s of this party is that it can be super short notice, you can buy things from a local grocery store easily in half an hour on the day rather than having to pre-order, there is an inbuild activity for your kids to engage in!

Great options for this include:

– Pizza making

– Sushi making

– Summer roll making

– Cupcake decorating

– Fruit fondue

– Gingerbread decorating

Last minute venue parties (that don’t need booking in advance!)

Often if you have a limited group, for instance 8 kids, and enough accompanying adults, you don’t need to pre-book these activities, especially if you organise them for an off peak time.

This makes them great options if you want a last minute party with practically zero planning. It’s a great way to let your kids have fun with a group of friends, while keeping a time-bounded activity that’s outside of the house!

– Swimming pool (pool party in a local sport centre!)

– Ice skating (A local community ice rink or even outdoor if it’s winter and you’re somewhere cold!)

– Pizza hut or kid friendly large restaurant (if it’s not a peak time, you can often book these places for a fairly big group without too much notice!)

– Cinema (pick a film that’s not a new release and there is likely to be plenty of space!)

– Karaoke booth

– Theme park

– Bowling alley (just one or two lanes for the group!)

Food ideas for a last minute party:

Party food can be a stressful thought, but our advice is just to limit the thought you give it! We think the best way to do this is a straightforward plan and no distractions.

Choose simple foods that are party staples and keep the offerings limited as a super easy way to avoid extra cost while still creating the feel of a balanced food table!

To keep this simple pic three savoury options and 3 sweet options and that’s it! 

Here are some great combos you might like to choose from:

Savoury options:

  • Mini pizza, cheese twists and carrot batons with hummus
  • Mini sausages, cut up cucumber sticks and crackers with cheese
  • Cheese sandwich triangles, cut up cucumber and carrots, and crisps

And sweet options:

  • Grapes, party rings and chocolate brownies
  • Strawberries, popcorn and Maltesers
  • Pineapple, chocolate biscuits and Haribo

Offer one type of juice and tap water to drink!

To reduce on washing up, consider paper cups and plates (or even plastic cups if necessary).

Ideas for last minute party decorations:

For decorations, you want the space to feel special for the birthday celebration, while still being simple and little effort to put up and take back down! We have refined our tastes at parties universe to decoration ideas that look impactful, but are cheap and simple!

– Party balloons are always festive and looks super bright and colourful. They are affordable and quick to hang up!

– Some type of interactive decoration. What make a space feel decorative is to have guests interacting with a decoration. Depending on whether or not you choose a theme, consider whether party hats, flower necklaces, masks or headdresses could be fun decoration addition to your party (and also act as a party favour).

-If you don’t like balloons another super easy decoration is a tinsel curtain. This instantly makes a room sparkle and it also easy to put up. Hang two or three around the space, in a suitable colour for a theme (or maybe rainbow colours if there’s no theme) and that’s all you need!

Last minute birthday cake ideas:

-Buy a generic store bought cake and cover the top with your child’s favourite candy!

-Buy colourful cupcakes and stick candles in them, this looks beautiful and s simple and affordable!

-Scroll Pinterest for easy cake decoration ideas! There is so much inspiration out there for easy and cute ideas, whether you’re making the cake or not, some of these decoration ideas won’t take more than 15 minutes.

-Delegate this to an aunt, uncle or grandmother! You don’t have to do it yourself for your child to love it 😀


We hope you’ve enjoyed these creative last minute birthday party ideas and feel a bit of a plan coming on for what you are going to do for your child!

Whether you choose one of our at home ideas or one of our suggestions for birthday party venues, remember the main thing is that your child feel special and loved and have a chance to spend time with their friends!

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