You often hear it repeated: we only get 18 years of milestones, events, and experiences with our children. That’s 18 summers, Christmases, Back-to-School seasons, and birthday parties. However, sometimes these experiences tend to feel overwhelming. My most daunting event? The annual birthday party. With an almost 14-year-old, I’ve tried it all: family parties at home, parties with friends at the roller rink, even the dreaded teenage sleepover. Over the years, I’ve replaced birthday parties with birthday experiences, which have proven to break up the monotony. So, here are my favorite ideas for alternatives to traditional birthday parties to celebrate in a smaller fashion.

young girl smiling at camera with birthday cake
Photo taken by contributor Christina Carlisi


Whether it be a destination trip during a school break or a staycation at a local resort, it’s a great way to stack a family vacation with a child’s celebration. We’ve traveled to New York City, spent a couple of birthdays at the Walt Disney World or Universal Resorts, and squeezed a few cruises into our daughter’s birthday window. To make the day stand out from the rest of the vacation, we decorate our room, participate in special events like cupcake decorating classes, and visit the spa for kids’ manicures. If you plan the trip far enough in advance, you can encourage family members to send gift cards to where you’re traveling as presents for the birthday child.

These birthday trips serve as delightful alternatives to a traditional birthday party, allowing for unique experiences and cherished memories while still honoring the celebratory spirit of the occasion.

Yearlong Pass

With the price of some of these parties costing several hundred dollars, you can easily redirect that budget towards an annual pass at many local attractions. For instance, a family membership to the Orlando Science Center is only $189 plus tax, a considerably lower expense compared to most birthday parties. Even the cheapest tier of annual pass at Walt Disney World, priced at $439 plus tax, proves to be a worthy investment when considering the cumulative expenses of hosting a traditional party. Even purchasing Genie+ for the family is money better spent. 

Other alternatives include purchasing season tickets to the traveling Broadway show series or the local theater, investing in season sports tickets, or opting for memberships to spas and gyms for older kids. Additionally, class packages for sessions of dance, karate, or cooking classes offer enriching experiences throughout the year.

What’s particularly appealing about choosing one of these options in lieu of a traditional party is that it provides the opportunity to enjoy your child’s birthday celebration all year long.

Event Tickets

child at Frozen on Ice smiling at camera.
Photo taken by contributor Christina Carlisi

Whether your child enjoys concerts, Broadway shows, sports games, or conventions like MegaCon, there’s undoubtedly an event nearby to enjoy. Take your child, the family, or a few friends of the birthday child to celebrate their special day. Transform it into an all-day outing and indulge in lunch, dinner, or a special dessert. Such outings are bound to create memories that will be cherished for years to come.

We only have 18 years of experiences with our children. It’s up to us to make great use of those years. I want to ensure they’re memorable and enjoyable for everyone involved. I don’t want every birthday party to be stressful and overwhelming. By incorporating some of the ideas mentioned above, our family has been able to create a diverse array of cherished memories. I’m committed to savoring the last four years of my child’s childhood.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here