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Non Soft Play Birthday Party Ideas

We wanted to throw a birthday party for the Dinosaur this year because he’s never had one before but because he has cancer, we needed a non-soft play party. There are a few reasons why we’ve never thrown him a party. First, he was too young so a party seemed a bit pointless, then the pandemic hit and Zoom parties just weren’t our thing so with his diagnosis we decided that this year would be the year. Children with cancer can’t have a soft play party as the infection risk is too great so that left us scratching our heads to come up with something that was inclusive, fun and not too expensive. Luckily, some friends came up with some great ideas to get the ball rolling so here is a round-up of some great options for non-soft play birthday parties for kids of all ages.

Fancy Dress Disco

A dance party is the non-soft play party idea that we went for to celebrate the Dinosaur’s 5th birthday. As he had just started Reception and was in maintenance so was allowed to return to education, we decided to invite the whole class so that we could start to get to know the other parents. We decided to do a fancy dress theme but we didn’t want to put any pressure on parents to spend money so we asked the children to wear their favourite outfits.

I hired the hall at the local community centre and booked the DJ that does the school discos at my children’s school so I knew the guests would be kept entertained with party games. To cut down on costs I got the whole family involved in decorating, I did the food myself and bought the things from Tesco so that I could get the Clubcard points to use for a treat at a later date. I also bought the cake from Tesco as I didn’t want it to be too expensive and elaborate. You can read about how I pulled the party together here. I’m pleased to say that all the 4 and 5 year olds in attendance had a good time.

Harry Potter Party

Katy of What Katy Said, threw a Harry Potter themed party at home for her daughter’s 8th birthday all the guests had so much fun. Katy held the party at home and did a lot of things herself. She decorated the party room to match scenes from the Harry Potter themes and she created all the food, activities, drinks and even the cake herself, all of which were true to the Harry Potter theme. This makes an excellent non-soft play party for any Harry Potter fan. You could get the entire family involved by getting them to dress as different characters and each could be in charge of an activity, there are loads of fun activities on Pinterest.

A Harry Potter Themed Non Soft Play Party

Cinema Party

This could be another fun non soft play party for children of different ages and it’s a perfect way to celebrate special occasions with minimal effort. If you have an independent cinema near you then you might be able to hire a screen just for your party. The entertainment will be sorted and it is likely that the cinema will be able to do a deal for you for drinks and snacks.

If you don’t have an independent cinema then you could still do a party at a big chain cinema, head to the website of your local cinema and see what birthday party offers they do.

Non Soft Play Party Idea: CinemaHow about a cinema party?


Your local bowling is a great place for a non soft play party for smaller numbers and it’s also great for reducing the workload for the host. Bowling parties usually include a meal deal, the entertainment is taken care of and you may not even need a goody bag. Most bowling alleys offer some kind of party package that usually includes a fast food meal and drinks and often some kind of special treat for the birthday child. There are also normally some arcade games so you may want to make it clear whether they will be doing this or not.

Non Soft Play Party Idea: BowlingBowling is always fun and usually includes food and drinks.

Crazy Golf

Crazy golf is usually an outside activity so if you are worried about infection risk then a crazy golf party is a brilliant alternative to a soft play party. Depending on the venues near you, this may involve some additional work as there may not be outside food options available. If this is the case you could pack a picnic for the guests using fun-themed boxes like these. It might be a good idea to set a time limit for each hole to avoid a queue of players waiting for their turn.

Non Soft Play Party Idea: Crazy GolfThis has the added bonus of being outside so it reduces the infection risk.

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Teddy Bear Building

This non soft play idea can be done at Build a Bear or you could do it yourself at home. To create your own bear-building party for younger kids, head to a charity shop or car boot sale and buy a selection of cuddly toys. This is also a great way to reduce the number of stuffed toys you have at home. Wash and dry them then remove the stuffing. On party day the children can choose a stuffed animal, add a wish and a fabric heart and then stuff it, you then stitch them up and they can take them home instead of a goody bag.

Non Soft Play Party Idea: Teddy Bear BuildingA teddy bear building party means you won’t need to provide goody bags.

Pool Party

An exciting non soft play party for active kids is a pool party, this one is probably best for older kids due to having the right numbers for adult supervision. Emma from Emma and 3 has some brilliant tips on throwing a pool party. Have a chat with the swimming pool to see if they have different foam blocks you can use to create obstacle courses or a ninja course for some crazy fun in the pool. Afterwards, you could then have a snack bar and ice cream for the guests to help them boost their energy and cool off.

Pool PartyWhat about a pool party?

Science Party

Another non soft play party idea that would be great to do at home is a science party. You could tailor the experiments to suit the age range of the children attending. Louise from Pink Pear Bear has these suggestions. You could even incorporate a scavenger hunt or use household items to try some fun experiments like the best way to melt ice or how to build a sturdy bridge using a roll of tape, a cardboard box, a tennis ball or another random selection of objects.

(editor’s note: make sure that young children are closely supervised when using sharp objects).

Science Party
A fun and educational party idea.
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