It is nice to have a theme for your child’s birthday party, but themes do not have to involve endless accessories, especially if you are on a budget. Birthday party themes can be simple and inexpensive, but with a few imaginative ideas , they can be just as spectacular.

Colour parties : Newspaper parties : Letter parties 

Having a theme for your child’s birthday party does not necessarily mean matching tablecloths, printed balloons and designer cakes, there are plenty of great party themes you can create with very low cost. Here are a few party theme ideas for throwing birthdays on a budget. For more party theme ideas, check out our Party Theme section.

Colour Parties

Colour parties are easy, and you’ll be surprised how many things you can find in a single colour if you put your mind to it.


Write your party invite on a piece coloured card – obviously the same colour as your party theme! Put it in the same coloured envelope, and you have already set the scene.


Simply pick a colour and deck out the entire house with anything you can find. Tablecloths and sheets can be draped down walls to create colour blocks, and then add coloured crepe paper and balloons to match. You can buy plain coloured balloons and crepe paper for about $2 from emporium type stores.


You can use any traditional party games and change it to a colour theme. These ideas will get you started.

Pass the Parcel

Wrap every layer in your chosen colour paper, and if possible make the prize the same colour as well.

Memory Game

Put approximately 6 – 12 items onto a breakfast tray, making sure that everything matches your chosen colour theme.

Show the breakfast tray to the party guests, and ask them to try to remember everything in their head. Once they have had a few minutes to take a mental picture, take the tray out of the room and remove one or two items. When you bring the tray back into the room, the children can take turns trying to guess what is missing. The child who guesses correctly gets to put the items back on the tray, and remove something different for everyone to figure out.

Word Games

Have all the children sit in a circle, and have the birthday child start by saying ‘For my birthday I want something red’, (or whatever your chosen colour is). The next child follows by saying ‘For your birthday I will give you a…..tomato, (or anything else that’s red). The next child says ‘For your birthday I will give you a tomato and an apple. The next child says ‘Tomato, apple and ……chilli’. Continue around the circle with each child having to repeat the entire list, and then adding something red of their own.


Food is easy for a colour themed party. Start by trying use food which is already your chosen colour, or add food colouring to turn everything a special shade.

Newspaper Parties

Everyone in NZ has stacks of newspaper lying around, and it can be used for just about every aspect of a newspaper themed party.


Cut out letters and words from a newspaper, and paste them onto white card to make your newspaper themed invitations. You could keep it simple or cut and paste the invite to look like the front page of a newspaper. If you have lots to make, and limited time, simply make one and photocopy the rest.


Use newspaper to make streamers and decorations which you can hang all around the house. If you want, add black and white balloons as well.


There are heaps of games you can play with stacks of newspaper, especially if you have lots of room to run about. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Build a Tower

Give each guest a stack of newspaper and a roll of tape, and ask them to build a tower as tall as they can in 3 minutes. The tower has to be able to stand on its own, and the person who’s tower is the tallest when the timer stops – wins.

Project Runway

Divide the guests into pairs, and give each couple a stack of newspapers, a stapler, some tape and a few clothes pegs. Have one person in each pair be the model, and one the designer. Give them a set period of time to design and make an outfit for the model to wear. When the time is up, the models must parade up an imaginary catwalk while the designer explains their design. The best design wins.

Relay Games

Scrunch up balls of newspaper, and make bats by rolling up pages and taping them together. You can play all sorts of relay games with bats and balls.


For a newspaper party on a budget, make all your food black and white. Some good ideas are:

  • Black and white jelly beans
  • Chocolate spread or marmite on white bread
  • Cookies and Cream Ice Cream
  • Top Deck Chocolate
  • White meringues with cream and chocolate hail
  • Liquorice

Letter Parties

Letter parties are just like colour parties, in that you pick a letter and go to it.


Cut out your letter from coloured card, and write all the party details on the back. If there is a colour that starts with your letter, make that the colour of the card you use. When writing the invitation, try to use lots of words that start with your chosen letter.

Bounce along to a beautiful ‘B’ birthday bash. Beginning at 2pm, bye bye time is 4pm.


Choose a colour that starts with your chosen letter, and use that to decorate the party space. Then to finish it off, gather together lots of things that start with your letter, and have them hanging from the ceiling. Add a few cut out letters to the walls and you’re done.


You can use the same games for a letter party, as you can for a colour theme. Just change the emphasis from colour to letter. Easy peasy.


Making your food match your letter choice may not result in the tastiest menu, but it will certainly be interesting. If all else fails, make traditional party food and give it fancy names starting with the letter of your choice.

For more great party theme ideas, check out our Party Theme section.

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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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Cheryl Hodges

I love the “guess what is missing (off the tray)” game. We are using that one for my child’s birthday party this weekend.

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