Frugal Festivities: An Upside-Down and Backward Birthday Party

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With two girls, I threw quite a few birthday parties in my day. One of the most popular, hands-down, that my kids still talk about is my daughter’s Upside-Down and Backward Birthday Party – and it was by far the least expensive party I ever organized.

Birthday parties can cost a fortune. Toward the end of my youngest daughter’s birthday party phase, I was seeing party favors that were $20-30 – and even higher – per guest. I couldn’t believe it the one time she came home with a purse and wallet that was so nice she still has and uses them. One survey says that parents spend between $400-500 for a children’s birthday party.

We were never in a position to throw parties with that kind of budget, and I’m not sure I would have even if I could have. It seems a little bit outrageous to me.

What’s an upside-down and backward birthday party?

It’s exactly what it sounds like – a party with a twist. Everything has to be either upside down or backward, from refreshments to party attire to games.

So you’re doing the typical birthday stuff and just switching it around a little bit.

The “rules” of an upside-down and backward birthday party.

The rules of an upside-down and backward birthday party are quite simple.

  1. Invitations: We carefully wrote our invitations backward so they could be read with a mirror. You can spell the words backward instead if you want to be really tricky and make people decode it, or write upside down in the invitation, so they have to turn it over to read it. The sky is the limit!
  2. Decorations: All decorations should clearly be hung up backward! You can put the table cloth on the table upside down (more on the table in a minute). The sign out front should say, “Welcome to (name spelled backward)’s Backward Birthday!” Don’t get helium in the balloons and hang them downward from light fixtures, trees, etc.
  3. Clothing: Everyone at the party has to wear at least one thing upside down or backward. This can be as simple as turning your shirt around backward to as extreme as wearing a skirt for a top and a top as a skirt. Don’t forget a silly hairstyle. Be specific on the invitations about the attire. Everyone will be laughing from the very beginning at the outrageously creative outfits that visitors wear. Pointy party hats will be handed out at the door to wear under the chin.
  4. Games: Play games where the person who would normally be the loser is the winner. For example, if you’re playing pin the tail on the donkey, the tail furthest from the donkey’s rear end is the winner. If you have a space where no one will get hurt, play backward tag. Do backward somersault races. Get into the upside-down and backward birthday spirit!
  5. Scavenger hunt: Do a scavenger hunt in which kids have to do the opposite of what the directions say. Instead of taking five steps right and one forward, they would take five steps left and one backward.
  6. Refreshments: This part is lots of fun. First, guests must sit UNDER the table instead of at the table. I got a dollar store birthday table cloth to protect my carpet. Food is served upside down. So, for example, we had pizza which was presented face down, and guests were required to eat from the crust to the point. I poked holes in the bottoms of juice boxes and soda pop cans and inserted straws, so the drinks were upside-down. Napkins are unfolded and refolded inside out. Write names upside down on cups for water before or after refreshment time. Making your refreshments from scratch can save you tons of money.
  7. Cake: For safety reasons, put the cake on the table for blowing out candles. Print out the birthday song backward so the kids can sing it that way. (Trust me, it will sound terrible, off-key, and nobody will be singing the same thing. Delightful, giggly chaos!) The birthday cake is served frosting-side down.
  8. Party Favors: We did an upside-down photo, printed it off, and put it in a little dollar store frame for the kids to take home with them. I took the picture by having them lay down on the grass and spread their hair out behind them like they were hanging upside down. One of my daughters recently got a message from a friend who had been at that party with the photo that she had come across! Another idea is to do some kind of craft and put your names on them backward. Bonus points if the writing is also upside down.

You’re only limited by your imagination.

I threw other parties that cost a lot more money, but the upside-down and backward birthday party seems to have been the most memorable, and it cost practically nothing except the price of refreshments. Kids love using their imaginations and being silly, and a party like this is ideal for both.

What was the best frugal birthday party you ever threw for your child? Share your creative ideas in the comments!

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Frugal Festivities: An Upside-Down and Backward Birthday Party
Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is an author and blogger. She's the single mom of two daughters and credits extreme frugality and a good sense of humor for her debt-free lifestyle. She is the author of numerous books, the editor of, and is the founder of a small digital publishing company in the emergency preparedness niche.

3 thoughts on “Frugal Festivities: An Upside-Down and Backward Birthday Party”

  1. Best party that my son ever went to (when he was 10 and now he’s 45 and still talks about it) was a water pistol (maybe 69cents each) birthday party – all games involved using the water pistol. Shooting at a target painted on a piece of scrap plywood, getting water in a bucket and increasing the distance after each round, how high or far can you make the water shoot and tag. Tag was, obviously the biggest hit. A simple homemade sheet cake and ice cream was served. The party favor was the water pistol and all were very happy and wet! The reason for this kind of party – mother was ill with cancer, father had been laid off from work. They were trying for some sort of normalcy and succeeded beyond their expectations.

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