Teen Birthday Parties for less than $100

Birthdays have been on my mind lately and today is J-Dub’s 17th (SEVENTEENTH!!!) birthday. Which got me to thinking about how the heck we are going to celebrate it. Coming up with party ideas for a teen birthday is not always easy. Especially when you’re on a budget.

When my boys were little I had fun planning little themed birthday parties for them. They were never Pinterest-worthy, but they were cute. A basketball party with a basketball cake and lots of balls to throw around, a chocolate chip happy face pancake breakfast party, and a Tonka truck filled with dirt (brownies) for a Bob the Builder party. One year when we’d gotten into the habit of doing pinatas, but didn’t have the time or money to buy one, hubby made one out of a paper bag. He then made up Indiana Jones themed games, and turned it into the best birthday ever.

Now that my boys are teenagers, they don’t want those kinds of parties anymore. But in our family, not celebrating a birthday is not an option. The budget is always $100, though, so whatever they do, they have to make it work on a budget.

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Here are some of the birthday party ideas we’ve come up with.

You know, since the boys have gotten into those complicated and more picky (and more expensive) years of adolescence.

Just have pizza.

Sometimes they like inviting friends over to hang out and eat pizza as their “party.” Provide the pizza, soda, chips, and let them hang out. Done.

Have an adventure.

One year J-Dog wanted to go paint balling but we didn’t have enough equipment for he and his friends. We found a coupon online for a paintball place and he, my husband, and two friends went paint balling. By only inviting a couple of friends he was able to stay within the budget. And they had a blast.

Let them go on an outing by themselves.


Another year my younger son wanted to go to the beach with his friends. Since his birthday is in January this was a little iffy, especially because we live more than an hour away from the beach. But we do live in Southern California where the weather by the beach can actually be quite nice in the winter. Technically, this outing didn’t end up being an official birthday celebration for some reason. But it was a great activity that very well could have been. We planned it for a day that the weather was nice and my husband, who works near the beach, could drive them down and drop them off while he went to work. They walked around by the water, walked to a restaurant to eat, walked on the pier, and the bravest of the group actually jumped in the water. They had an absolute blast and Hubby picked them up after work and took them all home.

Have a flashback to childhood.

One year J-Dub had a few friends over for pizza and playing video games for his birthday. Hubby, deciding to spice things up a bit, came home with not only the pizza and the soda, but also avengers cups and plates. It was a hilariously big hit.

Throw a surprise party.

When I was 13 my mom threw me a surprise party and it was the best birthday I’d ever had in my life. Once I did it for my oldest son. I invited everyone we knew from the different places we had lived. NOt everyone could show up, but it was still a huge surprise and I think it really made his day.

Have dinner out.

This year J-Dub wants dinner out with the family. He’s debating between Korean BBQ and Steak. Simple. And yummy. I guess pizza is a little too childish for his newly refined palate. I’m OK with that.

Next year he’ll be a senior and he’ll be 18. I have NO idea what we’ll do for THAT birthday. But I guess we’d better make it good. Because 18.

Birthdays can really be anything you want them to be. Sometimes it’s hard to get teenagers to decide on something. At least something you can afford (is that just our kids?) But there are a lot of options out there.

What do YOU do for your teenager’s on their birthdays?

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2 thoughts on “Teen Birthday Parties for less than $100

  1. Thanks for this post. My 1o-year-old’s birthday is coming up and she’s at that in between age where she’s kind of too old for theme parties but she still wants to think of something cool to do with her friends. We were actually just talking earlier today about what we were going to do for her birthday!

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