Last Updated: Jul 28, 2017
When planning your child’s birthday party, the most important decision you will make is the theme. From there you’ll find plenty of great ideas online for birthday invitations, décor, activities, food and party favors. Think about your child’s favorites at this stage in their life, and choose one for a party that they’ll love.
Favorite Book or Series
Plan a party around your child’s favorite book or series. Blow up pictures of the book’s cover and best illustrations. Find games and favors that compliment the theme.
The Cat in the Hat – The whimsical illustrations and bright colors of this book make it a great inspiration for a party. Serve blue soda and red velvet cupcakes with wild cotton candy hair. Make a tall hat and striped scarf for a photo booth. Send kids home with a Dr. Seuss coloring book for a great party favor.
Fancy Nancy – Stock up on anything pink, purple, sparkly or fancy for this birthday party. Serve tiny sandwiches and teacakes, and let the kids bedazzle journals or jewelry boxes. Costume jewelry and feather boas make the perfect party favors.
Percy Jackson – Invite kids to Camp Half-Blood where they’ll decorate cardboard shields with their own insignias and battle balloon monsters with wooden swords. Prepare a scavenger hunt or trivia game, and serve plenty of blue food.
Harry Potter – This is a perennial favorite of older kids and even teens. Look up recipes for butter beer and cauldron cakes and order branded Harry Potter candy. Make wands and scarves for the kids and plan activities like Sorting Hat and Capture the Snitch.
If your child is really into Thomas the Train or Disney princesses, base your party around their favorite obsession. Play clips from the TV show or movie and include the character on invitations, table settings and decorations. If you can, arrange a character visit by hiring a local party planner or asking a friend to come in costume.
Bubble Guppies – Plan your party at a splash pad or prepare lots of water activities to have a Bubble Guppy party in your own backyard. Serve goldfish crackers and a polka-dotted cake. Wrap Swedish fish and bubbles for a great party favor.
Dino Dan – Lots of kids are into dinosaurs, so you’ll find plenty of décor and party favors for this theme. Let kids dig for “fossils” in the sandbox and serve dirt cups (chocolate pudding with Oreo crumbs) with a shovel-like spoon. Give plastic dinos as party favors and play plenty of dino-themed games.
Scooby Doo – Scooby Doo is retro-cool right now, and many kids are rediscovering this fun mystery-solving team. Paint a refrigerator box like the Mystery Machine and find “Scooby Snacks” at the store or online. For activities, give kids clues to solve their own monster mystery.
Strawberry Shortcake – Think pink, red and green when decorating for this theme. Find fruit stamps and let kids stamp and paint aprons for a fun activity that doubles as a party favor. Serve fruit juice and, of course, strawberry shortcake.
If your child has a favorite sport, hobby or academic passion, plan the festivities around that. Invite members of their team or club, but don’t hesitate to invite outsiders as well. Just be sure the pros don’t make them feel clumsy or left out!
Sports – If you’ve got a star athlete who lives for basketball, baseball or soccer, take the party outside. Gather up enough balls for all the guests and do drills, then stage a scrimmage. Serve Gatorade and tailgate food, and decorate the cake like the ball of their choice.
Mad Science – Many party planners and even universities rent out scientists to lead kids in fun and amazing science activities. If you don’t have an expert at your disposal, go online and find experiments like Alka-Seltzer rockets and activities like making molecules from marshmallows and toothpicks.
Dance Party – If your child loves ballet, Bollywood or hip-hop, host a dance party with a DJ and all her friends. Ask an instructor to come and teach the kids some moves, or borrow a gaming system to play a dance game on the TV. Decorate with glow sticks for a rock party or pastel pinks if she’s into ballet.
Lego/Building Blocks – Lots of kids love Legos and building blocks, and they can be a fun party theme. Bring your whole stash out and challenge kids to build to a theme in a set amount of time. They might have five minutes to create a new form of conveyance or a house for a troll. Serve cakepops shaped like Lego heads and send kids home with a bag full of random pieces or a new set of their own.
The hardest part of choosing a birthday party theme is deciding among all the fun options. Consider the venue and the interests of your child’s friends as well, but ultimately let your kid’s greatest passions dictate the order of the day.