Winter birthday party ideas for kids

Feb 1, 2012 at 12:20 p.m. ET

Big, over-the-top birthday parties have been a trend for a few years now. This year, scale things back a little bit and create a more meaningful and affordable party with a handful of your child's closest friends and family members. If your little one was born in the wintertime, create a birthday party theme that celebrates the frosty weather.

Little girl with birthday balloons

Start with snowflake invitations

Create your own invitations by making snowflakes out of white paper and gluing them to silver or ice-blue pieces of card stock. Your child can help cut out the snowflakes -- each one will be different and special. You can handwrite the party details onto the cards or print them from your computer.

Take the party outdoors

If it's still snowing in your neck of the woods, plan the party games and activities outdoors. Depending on the age of the kids, sledding, ice skating, snow tubing and other winter activities are a fabulous idea for a winter birthday party.

Even if you don't leave your front yard, your kids can enjoy the snow. Set up a game where kids need to toss or roll snowballs into a hole in a snow mound that you've created. Keep track of points and award small prizes. Another fun game is to bury a treasure chest (a waterproof plastic box -- a cooler would work) filled with treats and trinkets somewhere in the snow in your yard. Write down clues or create a map puzzle indicating where to find the treasure. Split the kids into two teams and have them answer trivia questions to earn a clue or puzzle piece.

Decorate with winter garland

Back inside the house, decorate with snowflake- or penguin-themed garland, confetti and other decorations. You can make your own, find them at your local craft store or look on Etsy. The GFetti Etsy shop offers some adorable blue-and-white snowflake garland that you might have seen in Parenting magazine.

Serve comfort food

If you keep the party small, you can serve a great meal rather than just cake and ice cream. Warm up the kids with comfort food like grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. You can create a "soup bar" where kids can choose from an assortment of different soups and crackers. Even if you aren't planning an entire meal, you can keep everyone warm and cozy by serving hot cocoa or cider.

When it comes to the cake, stick with the winter theme. Though you might be tired of cake pops by now, you can't pass up these adorable tuxedo penguin cake pops. Of course, you don't have to order them online. Your neighborhood bakery can probably make something very similar if you aren't prepared to make them yourself.

Think outside the box

Want to do something completely different for your child's winter birthday? How about a swimming party? That's right -- swimming in the middle of winter. If your neighborhood has a natatorium or aquatic center that is open year-round with an indoor swimming pool, see if you can rent it out for a party (or even consider a local hotel with an indoor pool). The kids will love getting in the water. Just be sure they are completely dry and bundled up before heading outdoors again.

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