11 Exciting School Birthday Treat Ideas that Aren’t Cupcakes

birthday party treat ranibow

Beyond Cupcakes: Creative School Birthday Treats

There is one day throughout the school year that my kids can look forward to no matter what. 

Their birthday, the day they get to bring in a treat, pass it out, enjoy taking a break from class, and all while feeling so very special for that moment. (They also anticipate their classmate’s birthdays, and regularly report who distributed a birthday treat on such days.)

Clearly, birthday treats are an important feature in many classrooms.

Like many things, treat planning has become a little more complicated than it used to be. Considerations such as food allergies, school restrictions, teacher preferences, simplicity and ease of serving, preparation time, Pinterest-planted expectations, parental concerns about sugar, and cost, can make the decision more overwhelming than it might otherwise be.

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11 School Birthday Treat Ideas

Here are a few kid-approved and enjoyable yet simple birthday treat ideas to make your decision a little easier.


Pretzels… With Sugar on Top

Elevate the lowly pretzel rod by dipping it in melted chocolate and then in sprinkles or mini chocolate chips.

(If you don’t mind an extra step, dip it in caramel before adding the chocolate layer.) Kids love to help with the sprinkles, so be sure to involve them in the process. 

Birthday treat hacks pretzels

Licorice Rainbows

A great idea for those rainy spring birthdays, create a rainbow scene with colorful licorice and mini marshmallows. Don’t forget the (chocolate filled) gold coin! 

Birthday hacks licorice rainbows

Chocolate Gold Coins

amazon gold coins


Everyone loves bubbles! For a good deal, check out Dollar General’s party packs of 24 for $3.50; larger bottles are also available at many local stores.

Some teachers don’t mind an impromptu bubble-blowing party in the classroom while others prefer that the students enjoy the bubbles on the playground or at home, so give the teacher notice so that the distribution can be timed for right before recess or dismissal, if desired.

Girl Blowing Bubbles hacks


Make Fruit Fun

Who can argue with fruit? The possibilities are endless and can be as simple or involved as you want them to be.

Grab a Sharpie and a package of stick-on googly eyes to dress bananas as Minions.

Have your child write short messages on Clementine Cuties. (Or provide plain Clementines—that’s fine, too!)

String chunks of fruit into kabobs (no sharp sticks though, please). For kabobs, save time and knife-washing by purchasing ready-made fruit salad.

This may be the easiest option for the super busy mom. You can make it even quicker to finish by ordering ahead and picking up from Fast-Lane Pickup service at Family Fare—they’ll bring your purchase out to your vehicle and birthday treat anxiety is gone

Birthday treat fruit kabob

Kids Love Balloons

Balloons go hand-in-hand with celebrating. Younger kids will appreciate any balloon to take home, and punching balloons are great for bigger kids.

Another twist on the balloon is balloon animals. For older kids, package a long, skinny balloon with a printout of instructions for a balloon animal, such as this one. Make sure to provide the type of balloons intended for sculptures, which are extra-long and much more flexible than the regular kind.

A Balloon Animals Kit from Amazon will ensure the correct balloon type for this and includes 100 balloons—plenty for all.

birthday party treat balloon animals

Balloon Animal Kit – 100 Balloons

balloon animal kit amazon

Gift the Classroom Some New Books

In honor of your child’s birthday, purchase a book for the classroom that the teacher (or you, or the birthday kid) can read to the class.

If you are stuck for ideas, ask the teacher for his or her wish list or your favorite librarian for age-appropriate suggestions. My daughter was really excited this week when a classmate donated the brand-new release of the latest series she’s reading. It was truly a treat!

birthday party treat books 1

An Elephant & Piggie Biggie!

elephant and piggie book

Put Together Special Candy Kabobs

Customize kabobs with your child’s favorite candy.
Cut larger pieces down to size and put on toothpicks.

Birthday hacks candy kabobs

The Butterfly Snack Bag is Easy, and has High Impact

Make a variation of the Pinterest-favorite “butterfly snack bag.” The easy version just involves twisting a pipe cleaner.

Or, you can get fancy and do the clothespin version and customize each clothespin with each child’s name with a magnet on the back so kids can display notes or drawings on the fridge at home.

birthday party treat butterfly snack bags

Snack Mix

Snack mix is easy to personalize with your child’s favorites (cereal, pretzels, dried cranberries, M&Ms, marshmallows) while customizing to class allergy concerns.

For a low-waste, extra-tasty option, serve it in flat-bottomed cones instead of plastic bags.


Crazy Straws

Kids love drinking out of crazy loopy straws, and if they change color, even better! 

You can buy just the straws, or attach fun labels to the straw to make them more personalized.


Dress Up Donuts

You can do a lot with a donut and just a few embelishments. (Krispy Kreme is known to be more allergy-friendly.)

From adding fangs to create a spooky mouth to dabbing on a bit of icing with a brush, a donut is now your new canvas.

birthday party treat minion donuts photo credit Kelly Rawson 1

Photo Credit: Kelly Rawson

4 thoughts on “11 Exciting School Birthday Treat Ideas that Aren’t Cupcakes”

  1. Great ideas however our school district will only allow store bought items in unopened containers. 🙁 So much for showing the kids a healthy alternative and creativity to cupcakes and candy. I opted for fruit cups and applied a birthday sticker to the outside. Bleh…

    1. Stephanie Kozlowicz

      Sometimes you can ask the school to prepare the food using their kitchen, and they will agree to that! So simple things like the fruit kabobs will sometimes work in that situation!

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