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5 Best Minimalist Birthday Party Ideas for Kids

5 Best Minimalist Birthday Party Ideas for Kids

Minimalist parents get a lot of negative feedback about how their lifestyle is going to impact their children. Let’s take a look at how my family celebrates a minimalist birthday party for our kids.

At this point we’ve celebrated six birthdays for my older daughter and five birthdays for my younger daughter since becoming minimalists. Our goals and situation changes from year to year so we’ve handled birthdays differently each year.

What is a Minimalist Birthday Party

A minimalist birthday party for kids is intended to be more about the experience and less about the decorating or presents. Instead of spending money on goodie bags for each guest a minimalist party would prefer to shift that spending towards food or entertainment.

The birthday kid is the center of attention at a minimalist birthday party. The mom or dad is not being doted on for their sublime crafting skills to make the perfect backdrop or create an elaborate theme.

Minimalist birthday parties don’t put emphasis on all the people who are supposed to be invited. Instead, the birthday child is given the opportunity to hand select the guest list.

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Benefits of a Minimalist Birthday Party

The stress level at a minimalist birthday party is extremely reduced compared to a typical birthday party. Because the child has hand selected the guest list there is more opportunity for genuine connection as opposed to the typical party which feels like wrangling cats.

Financially the expenses are usually less than an average kids birthday celebration. In some instances the costs are the same, but the quality of the party is much higher because there are less people.

Do Kids Hate Minimalist Birthday Parties?

Our kids love their minimalist birthday parties because they are in more control. So much of the time a regular party morphs into a parents vision. The parents visions gets mashed up with all the social expectations of what is supposed to happen.

Minimalist parents are focused on the experience of the child at their own birthday party. When kids are empowered to make choices they are even happier with the outcome.

minimalist birthday for kids

5 Best Ways to Celebrate a Kids Birthday as a Minimalist

Presenting options without influencing the outcome is tough for parents. If you begin talking about birthday celebration options far enough in advance, your child has a lot of liberty.

#1 Family Meal at Home

Family can mean different things to different people. You can keep your eating extravaganza to immediate family or extend the invite to anyone your child deems desirable.

Let your kid pick the meal of their dreams. Don’t try to influence them to include elements you find appropriate. Make whatever they want.

You might think birthday dessert has to be cake, but if your child wants brownies, pie, jello, or cookies than smile and nod. Let them help make the meal or do it all for them as they wish.

#2 Family Meal Out

Again, who you choose to call family is not the important part of this minimalist birthday celebration. What matters most is holding intentional space for quality time with your birthday kid.

You child should be in charge of the guest list and the restaurant choice. If there are budget restrictions or practical realities make you kid aware of those perimeters.

For example, your son or daughter might love a restaurant that doesn’t take reservations yet they want to invite ten people. They may also suggest somewhere with only counter seating or not enough seating for a group of your size. Continue to present options and help them understand logical reasoning as they make their restaurant choice.


#3 Intimate Friend Party

My kids both chose intimate friend parties this year. An intimate friend party is one with very few guests which allows for a more extensive experience.

Our kids decided they wanted a DisneyLand birthday party. Here in Tokyo a kids Disney ticket is only around $40 USD. I gave them the option of picking one friend or three friends in because that would make the most sense on rides.

Both children chose one friend which caused me to give them the choice of staying overnight at a Disney hotel the night before their DisneyLand day. The girls both decided the hotel was a good idea. All the decisions about food, rides, and activities will be chosen by the birthday girl.

#4 Wider Friend Party

A minimalist birthday party for kids can look pretty similar to a traditional birthday party. Lot of friends, family, and food but on a less extravagant level than an intimate party.

One major difference with a minimalist kids birthday party is the lack of waste such as decorations. You might also consider guiding party guests to either not buy gifts or suggest experience based gifts.

If you are opting the no presents route, remind guests that their presence is present enough. Gathering lots of people is more stressful if you put specific expectations on the event. Help your kid go with the flow and enjoy their birthday experience.

minimalist birthday vacation

#5 Destination Birthday

Giving your kid the option of a birthday trip is memorable times ten. My oldest daughter Jefri spent her 5th birthday in Moscow while my younger daughter chose to spend her 5th birthday in Paris.

If your budget feels too tight to afford a family trip, be sure to read my Travel for Free Guide. Both our kids minimalist birthday vacations were heavily travel hacked.

Planning an international minimalist birthday for kids is exhilarating and part of the bonding experience with your child. Make sure to research and make choices together leading up to the big birthday vacation.

4 Minimalist Birthday Gifts for Kids

It’s not as though minimalist parent are advocating to never give presents to their children. There is a certain amount of un-avoidable stuff that comes along with having children.

Consider buying gifts within these specific categories to reduce the likelihood of clutter in your home.

Something They Want

No matter how minimalist a kid is (ours live out of 1 large suitcase), there will be physical items they want. Maybe someone at school has this must have object or they saw an advertisement that made them want the item.

Help them determine the difference between an impulse and a real desire by asking a lot of questions.

Something They Need

Try not to make this necessary item as boring as socks and underwear. But, a new backpack or new sneakers are needed plus kinda fun.

Take into consideration your child’s personal style and preferences for this need based gift.

Something to Read

One of the most common minimalist loopholes seems to be surrounding books. I think this is because minimalists are curious people which makes them very likely to be avid readers.

Feel free to opt for physical or digital books to inspire your kids love for reading and learning.

Experience Based Gift

By far my favorite minimalist birthday gifts for kids are anything experience based. There are a wide range of experiences that make great birthday gifts.

  • Zoo Membership
  • Concert Tickets
  • Digital Money for a Game
  • Pottery Painting
  • Archery Lessons
  • Horse Riding Camp
  • Video Cameo
  • Kid’s Photoshoot
  • Rock Climbing
  • Batting Cage
  • Theme Park
  • Yoga Class
  • Whale Watching
  • French Cooking Lessons
  • Urban Garden Supplies
  • Indoor Skydiving
  • Ski or Snowboard Pass
  • Online Game Funds
  • Geocaching Event
  • Jungle Safari
  • Language Lessons
  • Movie Tickets
  • Queen for the Day
  • Escape Room
  • National Park Pass
  • X Marks the Spot Scavenger Hunt

These are just a few of the ideas you can give to party guests who wish to respect your minimalist family values. Our family and friends love when we provide specific ideas that are currently on our experience wishlist.

minimalist birthday gift for kids

Make Your Traditional Birthday a Little More Minimalist

Even if you are not vibing with the idea of a full on minimalist birthday party for your child, there are ways to shift a traditional party. Small tweaks over time add up to become more and more minimalist as time passes.

Less Decor

You have been conditioned to believe that going all out on theme and decor means something. A part of you believes that if you don’t fulfill that social expectation it means you aren’t a good parent.

Do you know the only thing that hardcore decorating means? It means you have less money. Oh, and it probably means you have less sanity because you went a little crazy trying to pull it all off.

Instead, choose to re-allocate decorating budget to something more meaningful.

Presence Over Presents

Let people know that their attendance is a present in itself. When people take time off work, decline other obligations, or simply prioritize your child’s birthday party, that is meaningful.

Be sure to thank them for making the time to spend quality time with your child. Showing up for people is not as common as it used to be. It’s so easy to digitally wish someone a happy birthday and drift out of someone’s life by continuously not showing up.

There are some friends or family that may decline a birthday invitation simply because they don’t have the funds to show up with a physical present. Don’t let some hidden financial situation prevent a person from staying involved in your child’s birthday memories.

minimalist birthday party for kids memory

Create a Memory

Minimalist birthday parties for kids should be focused on creating a core memory based on a shared experience. While most birthdays do involve food, there are many ways to incorporate experiences.

You could rent a bounce house, hire a princess performer, create a choreographed dance routine, have a magician, or set up an obstacle course. Think outside the box to involve every party goer in the memorable activity.

The memories that will stand out in your child’s mind well into adulthood will be unique and special. A minimalist birthday party for kids is the perfect way to shift from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Celebrate the Minimalist Way

The goal of your minimalist birthday party is not social media clout or to be perceived a certain way by the guests. Your goal is to create a meaningful and magical memory for your birthday boy or girl.

Minimalism focuses on what is truly important in your life. Eliminating distractions, especially ones ingrained in you through social expectations is not easy.

You might find yourself saying, “Well we have to….” The honest truth is that whatever belief you have about what a birthday must look like, it’s all made up.


  • Veronica Hanson

    Veronica Hanson blogs from whatever country she happens to be in at the time, currently she's hanging out in Japan. She's been living as a nomad remote entrepreneur with her family since 2020.

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