21 answers

Birthday Party Ideas for 3 Year Old

I am looking for some inexpensive ideas for a 3 year old birthday party. My son is turning 3 and wants to go to Chuck E Cheese -- that can be expensive. Our house is pretty small, especially for several 3 year olds and their parents...We are struggling like most everyone else financially and are looking for some ideas on doing an inexpensive but fun birthday party for our soon to be 3 year old.

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So What Happened?™

A huge THANK YOU to all of you for your suggestions! I am not sure what we are going to do yet, but thank you so much for all your ideas and support!!! I will let you know how it goes.

Featured Answers

I have learned, the hard way, to keep birthday parties for a 3 year old small and simple. They are easily over stimulated with all the attention and usually melt down in the middle of what is supposed to be a happy celebration.
Trust me. I've been there, seen it, done it.
lb

Personally, I don't think a 3 year old really needs a party. Buy some balloons, make or get a small cake and maybe some party decorations and just have his favorite meal, a couple of presents and cake at home.

If you start having "events' this young, how will you top it every year? What will you have to do when he's 16? 18? prom, graduation? that's why so many of these events are getting out of hand.

Do something together that he will really enjoy, that will be "special" and that's it. My son is going to be 18 in a few weeks, like you, soon after Christmas. We'll be lucky to talk him into letting us take him out to dinner. He doesn't think being born merits a big to do.

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I don't know how you feel about faith based things, but for my son's birthday this year we are doing a Noah's ark theme. I also have a VERY small house. We're doing his entire party (cake and decorations included) for about $35!
I found a GREAT cake recipie for a cake that looks like Noah's ark. If you don't want to make a cake, just make some cupcakes and put animal crackers on the top of them as decorations. Then serve Rainbow Sherbert with it.
For the decorations, I am using primary colored balloons that I blow up myself and hang from the ceiling with fishing line so that they look like little floating clouds with little blue raindrops hanging from them, and we are putting a rainbow up next to the food table in balloons. The table cloth is just one of the $1 ones in blue and all the plates and napkins the same.
Favors for the kids are little snack ziplock bags full of animal crackers with a tag printed from my computer with their name on it.
For an activity, we are watching a small 8 minute video that we have about Noah's ark (but you could read a book if you have one, or check a book or video out from the library) and we will sing a song about Noah's ark. I also found a really cute simple coloring book online: http://www.auntietrees.com/ark.html that I printed off and the kids will color it and we will put it together. That is another "favor" they get to take home with them.
We aren't going to have any extra snacks since the party is only 2 hrs long and the adults don't really care anyway. But the house looks great and the kids will have lots of fun! And best of all...it was totally cheap!
If you need any more help, or want my noah's ark cake recipie, let me know and I'll send it to you. It is so cute and looks like a little boat and everything!

Hope that helps!
K.

2 moms found this helpful

You can do Chuck E Cheese cheaper than their birthday packages. We use two coupons, from the sunday paper and online. My husband order one pizza and I order the other and just bought a few extra drinks. My only suggestion is if you go there only do so on a weekday evening. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are so busy even at off peak times that you can barely find your kids.

PS. We spent less than $70 dollars and have a ton of tokens left over.

Personally, I don't think a 3 year old really needs a party. Buy some balloons, make or get a small cake and maybe some party decorations and just have his favorite meal, a couple of presents and cake at home.

If you start having "events' this young, how will you top it every year? What will you have to do when he's 16? 18? prom, graduation? that's why so many of these events are getting out of hand.

Do something together that he will really enjoy, that will be "special" and that's it. My son is going to be 18 in a few weeks, like you, soon after Christmas. We'll be lucky to talk him into letting us take him out to dinner. He doesn't think being born merits a big to do.

A three year old doesn't need many guests so the size of the house doesn't really matter. Play games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Drop the Clothespin in the Bottle, Toss the Beanbag into a Target (or whatever you draw on poster board) Get prizes, for everyone, at a dollar store, such as Dollar Tree. Make your own cake or cupcakes. Buy frozen pizza's to serve, if the pizza thing is a big deal. I did party's for three sons, always on a budget. Try looking on-line for party games, snacks, etc. If the weather is nice, go outside, play Red Rover, Follow the Leader, etc. It is all about having fun at this age! Peaceful wishes!

darn, I was hoping to scam an idea off your post. My daughter turns 3 in Feb. and hasn't stopped talking about her birthday party since Christmas. They have all out birthday parties at daycare (the daycare will transport them where ever the party is at). We have other friends we'd like to invite so we are hoping to play something on the weekend and maybe have a kid or two drop out of the daycare crowd. One of the kiddos recently had a b-day party at Monkey Bizness in Olathe...I checked it out b/c it was awesome...$200!!!!!!!!! I hate Chuck-e-cheese with a passion and don't want to have a whole bunch of people at my house.

Moral of the story...I guess I don't have one except that you aren't alone, b-day parties are rediculous but you totally can't skip them...if your kiddo is anything like mine, it is thier own speical day and they know it!

Hi! I'm pretty sure it was my daughter's 3rd bday that we did Chuck E Cheese. I did not, however go through them. I went as a public person and did one of those coupon deals with so many pizzas, drinks and tokens (there's one with like 100 tokens!) for like $40. Then depending on how many kids show up you can buy additional cups or pizza. Also, 3 yr olds dont tend to eat a lot, so you could ask them to cut the pizza in squares for less waste. We baked little cupcakes and brought them and supplied all our own plates etc. If you choose to do this, just mention somewhere that it's not a party through ChuckECheese so if they ask for that party, the facility won't have record of it and just to look for the ___ red balloon or whatnot.
Good luck and just have fun :)

Check our company at www.mobileteddybearparties.com. We are Johnny's Animaland. We travel to your house party and bring a make your own stuffed animal store right to your party. THis is a great idea! Call us at ###-###-####. We are in Southern California!

Good Morning P., What we did for our 3 yr old gr son's birthday is went to Mickie D's the one with all the play stuff. Everyone bought their own hppy meals etc.. and I let them eat when they wanted to. We took cup cakes. You could take Big cookies instead.
I had called about having a party there first and they have a Charge and they supply very little.

This way we just walked in and had our little get together.
They actually made more money this way.

Thats what we did and everyone seemed to have a blast.

God Bless and Hope everything turns out Great!!
Happy Birthday Little Man
K. Nana of 5

Have you ever gone to www.familyfun.com? It has ideas for all kinds of kids things. Good luck!

I got a great suggestion off this website for the Party Barn. I think it's awesome and is much more reasonably priced as compared to Pump it Up. Here's the site:

http://firstfamilyacademy.org/htdocs/party_barn.html

I have learned, the hard way, to keep birthday parties for a 3 year old small and simple. They are easily over stimulated with all the attention and usually melt down in the middle of what is supposed to be a happy celebration.
Trust me. I've been there, seen it, done it.
lb

Hi P., I totally understand where you are coming from so I wanted to share with you what I've done the past two yrs for my daughter's 2nd and 3rd bday party. She too wanted to go to Chuck E Cheese and I did not want to spend what they charge on actually having them do the party. Plus at this age her parties consist more of adults and family members than kids her age anyway so it seemed kind of a waste. So what we did was go to Chuck E Cheese anyway and just got a few tables near each other, brought our own cake, balloons, and gifts and had our own party. Everyone paid for their own food, if they even wanted any, and bought their own tokens. And nobody that worked at Chuck E Cheese's cared one bit because we still spent money with them.

Not sure what area of the city you live in, but Zona Rosa in the Northland has an indoor play area for kids in the Marshall's building. It's very fun and cute and just right for a soon-to-be three year old. Maybe you could bring pizza in, too. You would probably need to check out the Zona Rosa web site to see if there are restrictions. We went to a 4-year-old's party there a couple of years ago, and there were tables and chairs for "cake and presents" time. Almost next door to the play area is a "Build-a-Bear" store, but I know that can be expensive. Good luck! If all else fails, there is always McDonald's Playland...kids love it!

My son turned two and wouldn't give me any ideas for a party (his friend, 10 days older, was insistent on Mickey Mouse). I went with what I knew he liked: fish and bubbles. I read a story that we already had, the kids went "fishing" (my dad's old fishing rod with a clothespin, cast over a strung-up decorated bedsheet; the kids "caught" small toys from the dollar store that my mom put on the clothespin), they went "swimming" in a kiddie pool filled with crumpled-up tissue paper (they also found some toys in there), and they blew bubbles. It was really fun!

Just go with what you know your son already loves and think "cheap" and "creative" around that. Let me know if you would like some help brainstorming.

Do you have friends that have things like the Fisher Price table top air hockey table, the skee ball game, and/or several of the pop up tunnels? If not, can you create your own games and make your home like a Chuck E. Cheese? You could even make up tickets that they would have to use to play each of the games to make it feel like Chuck E Cheese.

I would also like to mention, that Chuck E's doesn't need to be expensive...you CAN slide by and NOT do a meal and just bring the cake and buy sodas. AND, if you go and register at http://www.chuckecheese.com you can get instant coupons that CAN BE COMBINED on a visit. I don't know ANY place that will let you combine coupons on the same visit. With just the token coupons alone you can get 180 tokens for $27.50 which drops the cost of each game from 25 cents to about 7 cents. If you have multiple email addresses you can probably get more coupons and have your husband buy tokens separately from you and double it for a little over $50. Usually when we go $20 will keep my 2 kids occupied ALL afternoon. And if your house is close to the restaurant you could even split your time between the house (where you can eat and open presents) and the restaurant where you can just go and play.

P., i agree with some of the ladies that have posted already. i do think that with a 3 year old, less is more, but i do actually think they deserve a celebration of some kind - there doesn't have to be the need to top it every year, there's no reason to set that expectation. if your son is in preschool or daycare i would invite just two or three of his closest buds, or even just family, and have a smaller party. he's three so he's not going to care if you have the "birthday party" at chuck e. cheese. maybe you could just go, get a pizza or two, and play a few games. then do cake and ice cream afterwards at your house. for my son's 2nd birthday (sept 24th) we just had a couple of friends meet us at deanna rose petting zoo and went through it. we didn't do cake or presents or anything, just got together to celebrate the day. it was the easiest and most hassle-free "party" i've ever thrown. then we did a family thing at grandma's house with presents etc. i also didn't want people to feel like they had to buy my son a present. anyway, that's what we did. i imagine it'll be similar for his birthdays to come. it's not about giving them the moon one day a year, it's about celebrating the joy of his birth and making him feel special. you don't have to break the bank to do it!

PS, i am also a "boy" mama....love my little boy, and i hate to say it, but i'd have a dozen more - like you, IF i knew they'd be boys! not sure what i'd do with a girl at this point! :)

Actually Chuck E Cheese is not all that bad, as we just had the party there ourselves and did not hire them to do it.... The big thing is that we did it on a week night, so they were not swamped, were able to take our own cake, use the long tables and order off of the regular menu.... They also have coupons on their website all of the time. So you might want to check that out too.

Hi P.! I know you have gotten tons of responses and good advice. I just wanted to offer up a tradition that my kids and I do for their birthdays every year that has made for some very special memories with very little expense. Your son is at a great age to start this one! It doesn't have to replace a party. It's just a little something special to do with the birthday child.
I always wanted my kids to feel special and I wanted to help them have a day that was about them, so this is what we do. I keep an assortment of colored sprinkles, sugars, food coloring, candies, and etc. in the cabinet. The week before the birthday, when we go to the grocery store, the kids get to pick out a cake mix and frosting that they like. Then, on their birthday we have some quality time together baking their cake. It's fun spending the time together talking about the year they have had. Then, when the cake has cooled, they get to take out the variety of decorating supplies from the cabinet and decorate their cake ANY way they want. I tell them to have fun with it and make their cake their own. Every year we take a picture of the cake and over the years we look back with fond memories of each special day and the beautiful and individual jobs they did decorating their cakes. My kids remember the fun of our cake baking time more than they do the games they've played at Chuckie Cheese or other fancy parties, and they laugh about the big piles of sprinkles and things they put on their cakes when they were little. It is time together that you will always cherish, and so will your son. Kids of any age want our time, love, and attention more than anything else we could give them.

P.,
You should check into Wonderscope in Shawnee. I think their parties are much cheaper than other places. We have been to several parties there. I am thinking it might be about $5 per kid but I am not sure

I liked the idea of McDonald's or another place with a play area, easy and fun! Also, the Great Mall of the Great Plains has a fantastic play area and I think it's free to use some tables for cake and juice. The kids can play, you can supervise, cake and go home!

Another idea is a firestation visit. If you live near one you can maybe walk over there and get a tour (just call ahead, but most firestations will happily do it!) and then walk home for cake and ice cream. 3 year old boys would be in heaven!

You might not like this idea...we don't do parties with the kiddos for my daughter. I kind of feel like "stop the insanity" on that issue. We have bday parties with our family invited over and some close friends. Cook sloppy joes or something and have cake.

I just heard that our local animal shelter will let you have a party there. You collect "gifts" for the animals, not your child.

I am considering that for her first party that kids are invited to. She'll be SIX. Then again, I still might not do a party. I have a friend who lets her kids do an "invite the kids" party only every other year.

Good luck and remember, a 3 year old doesn't expect a huge birthday party, we do.... He might really enjoy you guys and a trip to Chuckthedevil land.... :)

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