Having a themed birthday party can ramp up the fun for everyone involved. When birthdays roll around, choosing the birthday party theme is the most important task. After this crucial element has been decided, the other details are fairly easy to plan.
Favorite Themes for Preschoolers
Themes for young children should be simple, especially if the child is younger than five years old. He may have a favorite character like Sesame Street or Bob the Builder and if so, getting your supplies is easy. If you want to plan something a little more creative, consider some of these themes.
Dig for 'fossils' in a sandbox, play pin the horn on the triceratops or have a dinosaur egg hunt (speckled plastic eggs work well.) Serve dinosaur chicken nuggets for lunch and make a plain frosted cake and use small dinosaur figures as decorations. Cut dinosaur footprints out of construction paper and hang them up all over your house.
Instead of party hats, don safari hats and give out mini-binoculars. Decorate with lots of green streamers and balloons to make your party area look like a thick jungle. Play music from the soundtrack for Disney's Jungle Book. Games can include things like limbo, and 'hot banana' (just like hot potato except with a banana).
An insect party is just the thing for budding entymologists. Give out magnifying glasses and bug collecting jars. While junior may only settle for cake, you can also serve pudding cups layered with cookie crumbs, cool whip and topped off with gummy worms. Serve a caterpillar cake made from single cupcakes lined up to look like one caterpillar or use a bowl-shaped cake pan for an easy ladybug cake.
Round up your cowgirls and cowboys for a rip roarin' good time. When the kids arrive, have the kids make cowboy vests out of large, brown paper grocery bags. Give each child a sherriff's badge and a bandana to help create the theme. Hand children sherriff's badges as soon as they arrive at the party. Use large refrigerator boxes to create a real Old West Town. For invitations, create wanted posters that give details about the party.
Teddy Bear Tea Party
Invite your child's friends and their teddy bears to a very special tea party. Tell guests to dress up especially nice. Serve apple or white grape juice as tea and use small teddy bear cookie cutters to create peanut butter and jelly finger sandwiches. Help guests create beaded bracelets or necklaces.
Under the Sea
A deep sea adventure is the perfect event for your seafaring child and his friends. Serve fish sticks for lunch along with potato chips for a fish 'n chips that kids will enjoy. Let kids go 'fishing' using paper cutout fish with magnetic tape on the back, and a fishing pole made with a dowel, string and large paper clip attached to the end. Contact parents ahead of time, and send home a live goldfish or Betta fish for a memorable favor children won't forget.
Host a day of playing your child's favorite sport, but with the twist that you only use beach balls. Kids will enjoy playing soccer, basketball (use a hoola hoop for the net), or even baseball when the play is made unpredictable by a wacky beach ball. Serve traditional sporting event fare such as hot dogs, nachos and popcorn.
Have guests don their prettiest princess (or most princely) outfit and join your child in a celebration fit for royalty. Have guests wear tiaras in lieu of party hats, and use stick-on jewels to create a one of a kind mirror.
This is a great idea for when you don't have a lot of time since you can coordinate it with just about any color. Pull out the play dough board games, grab a bunch of plastic spoons and knives to help in the sculpting and set your Play-Doh lovers free with a whole bunch of Play-Doh.
Creative Themes for Ages 6-8
Center party ideas around activities so that active bodies and hands are kept busy.
What's more fun than playing in a swimming pool of Legos? Fill a plastic pool with Legos and let the kids have at it. Make sure that you get a flat Lego boards for each child so he can take his own creation home.
Host a pizza party where the guests make their pizzas. Put out several bowls of toppings such as cheese, veggies, pepperoni and ham. Provide budding chefs with a chef hat and a slab of pizza dough.
Warn guests to wear their messy t-shirts and pants, and set up the party area as a large canvas. Let kids paint (or use markers) a mural, use sidewalk chalk on the driveway and even decorate their own cupcakes. At this party, the world is a canvas.
Junior PJ Party
Invite birthday guests over for an evening of fun without the slumber. Host the party to start a little before dinner and to end right around bedtime or a little later. Have guests come in pajamas and slippers and do typical slumber party activities.
Help kids get the wiggles out by throwing a dance birthday party bash. Create a music list, replace bulbs with black light bulbs and encourage kids to let loose by joining in the fun.
Themes for Ages 8-12
This age group is more mature and can handle abstract ideas and those requiring audience input. Some of the ideas for kids work well for tweens and teens, too. Here are several additional ideas for tween and teen birthday parties:
Hand pairs of guests a list of things to get or tasks to accomplish. Give points per item or task accomplished based on difficulty and award the winners a small prize. Serve plenty of drinks to keep the party goers hydrated and offer lots of 'on-the-go' snacks for refueling.
Use your karaoke machine and set the stage for an American Idol showdown. Change some of your light bulbs to colored bulbs to help set the stage. Ask a couple of the other parents to help 'judge.' If your group isn't camera shy, let them video tape themselves performing or encourage them to do a silly group video.
List movies that will be shown on the invitation ahead of time. Print invitations to look like movie tickets or include tickets that say, 'Admit One' for party guests. Serve popcorn, nachos and movie theatre candy.
Nail polish, masks, and foot soaks are the order of the day. Enlist the help of older teens or other parents and set up several spa stations around the party area. Include a manicure station, a spot for foot soaking and pedicures, make up, and hair. Give small mirrors and lip gloss as party favors.
If the birthday happens to fall in a warmer month, encourage guests to bring a bathing suit and a towel and have fun in the back yard playing in the water. Set up relay races through the sprinklers, obstacle courses around kiddie pools, and use a big slip 'n slide for lots of fun. Don't forget to fill a couple trash cans with water balloons and have an all out water war.
Last Minute Ideas
Are you throwing together a last-minute party? Consider these options for a low-fuss party that pulls together seamlessly.
- Tumble at an indoor tumble gym
- Bake or decorate fun treats
- Go-cart racing
- Rock climbing
- Choose a color for your theme and pick up decor and treats in that color
- Craft Party
- Lazer Tag
- Hang at the mall (you can use the food court for the cake or go back to your house)
Making the Most of Birthdays
Whether your child enjoys a particular character, hobby, television show, or sport, it can be used as the theme for a birthday party. After you have chosen your theme you can easily pick coordinating invitations, decorations, favors, and games.