Broke Birthdays: 4 Free Birthday Gift Ideas for Kids

There’s no way around it: being broke is not fun.

In my experience, I often find myself counting pennies during a month that has loads of birthdays. Often, I’m broke because in those months because the month before it had loads of birthdays. Vicious cycle alert! 

Anyways, I’ve found myself wracking my brain for birthday gift ideas that won’t break the bank on more occasions than I care to remember. I thought it was just me, and I had a loose plan to write a post about it ‘one day’ just for the fun of it. 

But recently, I’ve stumbled across SO many posts in the Facebook mom groups and local community groups I’m part of that I decided to actually wrangle my thoughts and put a post together. 

Here it is.

1. A Love Jar 

I can’t even count how many love jars I’ve made in my time. In my eyes, they’re one of the most incredible gifts you can give to someone and something I would love to receive myself one day. 

Grab an old jar, decorate the shizz out of it, and decide what kind of jar you want to make. I’ve made a jar of: 

  • 365 reasons why I love you 
  • 100 reasons to smile
  • 365 reasons why today is a good day 
  • 150 things to do when you’re bored 

And those are just the ones I can think of right now. I’ve been doing this since I was around 10 or 11 years old and it’s a simple way to show somehow how much they mean to you without spending a cent.

Every jar I’ve ever made has been very well received. It’s a really great gift for adults and teenagers especially, but you can easily make one for kids too.    

2. A Mini Spa Experience 

Arabella adores all things girly and she gets a real kick out of watching me do my makeup. Me painting her nails is ridiculously fun for her. If your kid is anything like mine, I’m sure they’d love this idea. 

Go through your toiletries and cosmetics and determine which ones are child-friendly. Then start putting your pamper plan together! 

If you want to go all out, you can even create a little schedule to make it feel like more of an experience. Plus, this makes for an ADORABLE keepsake!

Paint those nails, create a kid-friendly face mask and hair mask with ingredients you likely already have in your cupboard, add a whole bunch of Enya songs to your playlist, and voila! 

3. A Movie Day or Night 

Movie days are the best days, and they’re a super way to celebrate birthdays. Simply dust off the birthday guy or girl’s favourite DVDs, grab your hard drive, head over to Netflix, or hit that download button. 

Close all the curtains, grab your fluffiest blankets, and instruct those joining in on your movie sesh to change into their jamjams while you make some popcorn. 

Sure, it’s not much but the excitement will be real.  

4. Hit The Exploration Station 

Guilty parent confession: I know for a fact that I don’t take Arabella outside enough. We live in a first-floor apartment and don’t have a garden, but that’s no excuse. 

You’d be surprised at just how effective making a mission out of hitting ‘the outside’ can be. If there’s a park in your area, take the little one to go explore it! If you’re lucky enough to have a nature reserve in close proximity, load the car up, charge your camera, and get going. 

If you want to go all out and really make a meal out of your time outside — it is your kid’s birthday after all — consider planning a scavenger hunt using toys from their room or snacks from your cupboard.   


My love language is gifts (shocker!) so I suppose I was biased from the get-go, but I will say that I acknowledge the fact that birthdays aren’t synonymous with gifts. As I’m getting older I’m realizing that gifts don’t always come in a pretty box with a big bow on top. 

Sometimes a gift is someone going out of their way to make you feel special. Or putting together an experience — no matter how small — that shows you that they actually know you.   

I know that most parents want to provide their kids with absolutely everything under the sun because the little buggers truly deserve it, but that’s not always possible — no matter how well you budget in advance. 

I hope that these ideas prompt you to think outside the box a little bit and find a way to celebrate the special guy or girl’s birthday without having to even break the bank open.    

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