Welcome to Mumsnet!

We’re delighted you’ve found us. Join in the conversation on the UK's busiest site for parents

Get started »

Birthday outing ideas for older children

Hand on indoor climbing wallBirthdays for pre-teens can be a lot more expensive than they are for younger children. So, while going out is easier on your interior decor than staying at home, it's likely to be far pricier.

But outings are enormous fun, so if you're worried about the cost, consider teaming up with another child in the same class or group of friends. This immediately halves your budget.

Alternatively, if your child wants an expensive treat, you can explain that it's possible but they'll need to keep the group small - and that they can have just as much fun with a couple of friends as with a dozen or more. 

Children love planning parties - that's a big part of the fun for them.  Encourage them to write lists of who they're inviting and to think about what they'd like to do.

Party outings for older children

  • Go-karting
    Great for both sexes, and comes highly rated, especially for over-10s. Make sure you're not caught out by height restrictions.
  • Swimming pool party
    Swimming can be a cost-effective way of entertaining a large group, especially if you book the entire pool.
  • Campfire or den-building
    This is a top-notch DIY idea, where you build a den or a campfire in your garden or a local woodland area. It goes without saying that you need to make sure that it's in a safe place, and that the fire is 100% supervised. 
  • Climbing wall
    A great way to release a bit of adrenaline without a full-on terror experience.
  • Paintballing 
    An expensive option, but bound to be the talk of the playground afterwards.
  • Cinema 
    Great for winter birthdays, but remember they'll have been sitting down for a long time, so if you can, give them somewhere to let off steam afterwards.
  • Adventure playground
    Another good budget option - a play, plus a picnic.
  • Make your own pizza
    Fun to do at home with lots of toppings, or if you want to go out, Pizza Express does an excellent package.
  • Rounders/cricket in the park
    Another money-saver with lots of potential for fun, but have a fall-back in case of bad weather.
  • Ice rink
    Good fun, but make sure the experienced skaters help the less confident.
  • Bowling
    Very popular, and a great way of having some exercise indoors.
  • Museum/art gallery
    The trick here is to find a really 'cool' exhibition, and to peg the entire party to it.
  • Beach party
    Fabulous (and free, minus the picnic) if you can transport all the kids to the coast. Train?
  • Skateboarding party
    You'll need a skatepark, and the kids will need to bring their own boards - best for children you know already like it.
  • Camping at granny's
    Good for younger children, and a great way to include grandparents, save money, and give the kids a wonderful adventure (grandad's magic tricks/granny's cake...all the Gransnet skills get a chance to shine here!)

Other things to thing about...

Decisions on who to invite to older children's parties are often fraught. How much say should a parent have? The advice on the Mumsnet Talk boards is: give your children a steer - tell them if you think they're making an unwise choice - but the final say has to be theirs.

Party bags

Party bags are very, very important to pre-teens. They love choosing them - so part of the fun for your child will be going to the shops with you to select the contents. Make sure you agree on a budget before you leave the house (and stick to it - going up by even 50p per child can add pounds if it's a big party).

Party bag content ideas

  • Bubbles
  • Sweets
  • (Almost) anything cheap and plasticky from a 99p shop
  • Water pistols
  • Hair slides
  • Very cheap jewellery from a charity shop
  • Keyrings
  • Whoopee cushions
  • Mini-torches

And no-nos (according to most Mumsnetters) include:

  • Books (it's just not the place for them, you'll see faces fall...)
  • Pens and crayons - as Mumsnetter notnowbernard puts it: "How many colour pencils must a child have?"

Image: Shutterstock

Last updated: almost 3 years ago