Birthday Party Themes for Active Imaginations
A birthday party theme lets you and your birthday kid get creative. Pick a theme that captures your child’s interests and use that theme to plan birthday party activities. By focusing on a specific theme, you avoid the stress of overwhelming choices.
These 10 birthday theme ideas highlight childhood favorites. Use the ideas for invitations, decorations, party food, activities, and party favors to create a complete birthday party for your child. Or, customize the theme ideas to match your child’s birthday wishes.
Rocking Robots Birthday Party
This robot birthday party theme will send kids into orbit. With personalized robots, an outer space atmosphere, and a robot cake, guests’ imaginations will soar.
- Party Invitation: Design a robot invitation from silver construction-paper rectangles; use silver fasteners to attach the body parts. Write party details on the body, and add googly eyes and silver chenille stems for antennae.
- Party Decorations: Hand each guest a glittered antennae headband and glow-in-the-dark necklace as they enter the party galaxy. Use fishing line to hang metallic cardboard stars and plastic foam planets painted with glow-in the-dark paint from the ceiling.
- Party Activities: Make a robot body from a box (one hole for the head, and one on each side for arms), slip it over the head of an adult or teen volunteer, and let the kids decorate using silver tinsel, disposable cake tins, aluminum foil, tape, and stickers.
- Party Food: For lunch, serve star-shape chicken nuggets in mini pie tins with a honey- mustard dipping sauce. A Robot Cake (see our recipe, below) is fun to display and eat.
- Party Favors: Make candy-filled flying saucers. Fill a disposable bowl with space-theme candies (find retail sources online), and cover with another bowl rim to rim to form the flying saucer. Attach the two bowls with star stickers or a strip of colored tape. If you’d like, add a plastic space alien toy on top and tape a clear plastic cup upside down to create the saucer’s control cabin.
Get the Robot Cake recipe.
Fairy Princess Birthday Party
For every little girl who dreams of a being a fairy princess, this birthday party theme is filled with fairy wings, pretty flowers, and the magic of fairy dust.
- Party Invitation: Cut vellum or other translucent paper into the shape of fairy wings, a crown, or fairy wand. Write the party details on the paper cutout. Embellish with an artificial flower blossom or a few plastic jewels. Dust with a little glitter.
- Party Decorations: Fill your party table with flowers, plastic jewels, and fairy dust. Add edible glitter around the food table to make everything shimmer. Hang flower garlands on the backs of chairs. Wrap the seat of a short stool or two with colorful fabric stuffed with fiberfill to look like mushrooms.
- Party Activities: Host the party outdoors. Face painting is a must -- use eyeliner to draw on swirly designs and body glitter for extra sparkle. Send guests on a hunt through the backyard for pretty jewels.
- Party Food: Make fudgy Fairy-Dust Wands cupcakes (see our recipe, below). Serve fairy juice (actually apple juice) in tiny colorful cups.
- Party Favors: Send the guests home with headbands or fairy wands they can decorate themselves with ribbons, artificial flowers, glitter, plastic jewels, and other embellishments.
Get the Fairy-Dust Wands cupcakes recipe.
Around the World Birthday Party
Send kids on a travel adventure. This birthday plane trip takes them around the world in an afternoon. Filled with fun and games, the party theme will have kids mapping out your next vacation.
- Party Invitation: Send the guests postcard invitations. Use airport lingo, like arrival and departure times, seat assignments, and flight numbers.
- Party Decorations: Have kids “board the plane” when they arrive. Line chairs up two by two, leaving an aisle down the center. Place a snack and juice box on each seat for takeoff. Decorate the room with maps and flags from around the world.
- Party Activities: Set up games for every stop on the world tour. In China, kids try to pick up jelly beans using chopsticks. With a layover in Tanzania, the kids play safari with a backyard scavenger hunt. When they arrive in France, each passenger can paint a Monet-inspired masterpiece.
- Party Food: Fuel the birthday travelers with quesadillas, pasta salad, crepes, and hummus with veggies. Then, serve a slice of globe cake! (Use a ball-shape pan and decorate with green and blue icing.)
- Party Favors: Pack “suitcases” of souvenirs for your guests. Attach handles to paper bags decorated with travel stickers. Fill the bags with travel goodies: a compass, travel journal, pencils, postcards, snacks, and stickers. Personalize luggage tags with guests’ names, and add one to each bag.
Dog Lover's Birthday Party Theme
When a dog is your kid's best friend, cater to that puppy love with a party focused on their furry friends. No need to invite the family pet. The kids will have plenty of fun pretending to be frisky, happy puppies.
- Party Invitation: Cut scrapbook or other heavy paper in the shape of dog tags, and write the party details on the cutouts. Punch a hole in one end, and loop a key ring or short beaded chain through the hole to mimic an ID tag.
- Party Decorations: Decorate your party space with new pet toys and stuffed animals. Serve party snacks in new pet bowls.
- Party Activities: Practice obedience training with a game of "Master Says." Follow the rules of "Simon Says," but ask all the participants to play on their hands and knees, pretending to be dogs. Set up an obstacle course with hoops to jump through and tunnels to crawl through while pretending to be a dog. Find pairs of dog pictures and set up your own memory match game.
- Party Food: Puppy-face cupcakes (see our recipe, below) are the perfect treat at this dog lover's party.
- Party Favors: Create take-home doggy bags. Use basic brown paper bags, and decorate with dog-theme stickers. Fill the bags with a plastic toy dog, snack bags of candy labeled "kibble," mini dog books or puzzles, and other pet-related trinkets.
Get the dog cupcake recipe.
Check out these animal-shape birthday cakes and cupcakes.
Bubbles & Balloons Party Theme
Bubbles and balloons won’t last forever, but these birthday party memories will. Set kids loose with lots of bubble-making tools for fun that won’t disappear when the bubbles pop. When kids tire of bubbles, they will be ready for party food that carries out the birthday party theme.
- Party Invitation: Inflate a plain balloon, but don’t knot it. Write the party details on the balloon’s surface with a soft-tip permanent marker, then carefully deflate. To read the invitation, guests must blow up the balloon.
- Party Decorations: Give balloons a little flair by attaching simple crepe-paper circles and stripes with double-stick tape. It’s easy to make dots and fun shapes using paper punches. Scatter helium-filled balloons in bunches around the party area. Keep them from flying away with weights made of bubble bottles.
- Party Activities: Premix bubble soap by combining 2/3 cup dishwashing soap, 1 gallon water, and 2 or 3 tablespoons of glycerin. Let the kids loose to blow bubbles in the backyard and have a contest for the biggest, the fastest flyer, and the longest lived.
- Party Food: Serve two-bite burgers on miniature rolls. For the birthday cake, create a tower of glazed doughnut holes. Pipe colored icing between carefully stacked layers as the tower’s “glue.” Add dots of icing to the top and finish with a dash of sprinkles.
- Party Favors: Send kids home with their very own balloons and bubbles. Attach a jar of bubbles to the balloon’s string and add a round name tag. Bubbles and balloons can be found at party supply stores and discount stores or online. Rent a helium tank to fill the balloons.
Explore these outdoor kids’ party games and activities.
Olympics Birthday Party Theme
Go for the gold. Celebrate your little sports star’s special birthday with an Olympics theme. Friendly competition will make this birthday party theme a real winner.
- Party Invitation: Send out a pennant-shape invite to get kids in the team spirit. Write the party details on a triangular piece of paper and glue to a chopstick. Mail in a letter-size envelope to all participating athletes.
- Party Decorations: Create the Olympic rings by attaching five Hula-Hoops together. Set up an awards-platform photo op by arranging kids on milk crates for gold, silver, and bronze.
- Party Activities: Organize three to five Summer Olympics events: A water-balloon shot put, shoe-box hurdles, Frisbee discus, badminton, and a somersault tumbling contest all make perfect backyard games.
- Party Food: Fuel contestants with fish and chips or bangers and mash (sausages and potatoes). Then serve ring-shape cookies, iced with blue, yellow, black, green, and red frosting.
- Party Favors: Congratulate kids with homemade trophies. Fill a small box with chocolate coins and seal it with a gold-medal sticker. Glue a plastic athlete figurine on top and hand out at the closing ceremony.
Encourage party guests to get creative with a birthday party theme that explores creativity. Whether your birthday party focuses on dancing, cooking, performing, or producing, kids will come home with birthday memories that jump-start their imaginations.
Disco Birthday Dance Party
Everybody dance now! No sitting around at this party. This party theme gets everyone groovin’ to the music. Help kids show their cool moves, and celebrate your child’s birthday with lots of energy.
- Party Invitation: Type details on pink cardstock no wider than 3 inches. Trace a soup can around the text and cut. Glue to a small black paper plate for a vintage-record invitation.
- Party Decorations: Cut paper starbursts from patterned and solid papers. Sandwich each between two compact discs and hang them from the ceiling. You can also dangle them from a doorway, tape them to a wall, or create a garland. Add a glittering disco ball for even more fun.
- Party Activities: Keep the party guests movin’ and groovin’ with fun games, such as freeze dance, silly karaoke, the limbo, and a Hula-Hoop contest. Hire a local dance teacher to teach new dance moves.
- Party Food: Give your dancers fun snacks like popcorn disco balls and “do the twist” pizza breadsticks. Prepare a tray of bling-bling cupcakes, decorated with oversize nonpareils and rock candy.
- Party Favors: Your performers will be psyched to take home colorful slap bracelets, star-shape candies, glittery yo-yos, dance stickers, light-up pens, or glitter nail polish. Pack the prizes in clear plastic containers decorated with adhesive jewels to make cute swag bags.
Top Chef Birthday Party
Give your little kitchen helper top billing with this birthday party theme. Party guests will have as much fun creating their own party treats as they will eating them. It may get a little messy, but the giggles will be worth the cleanup. And the kids can help with that, too!
- Party Invitation: Send an invite in the form of a recipe card to inspire your guests to get into the cooking mood. The ingredients for this party are a bunch of friends, three cups of fun, and a pinch of creativity! Add a few party details and you have a recipe for success.
- Party Decorations: Write a welcome on a chalkboard easel. Cover the tabletops with Italian restaurant-style red-and-white-checked tablecloths, and hang a kid-size apron over each chair.
- Party Activities: Give each little chef a premade pizza crusts and wooden spoon. Arrange bowls with sauce and various toppings on the tables within easy reach of the kids. After the partygoers assemble their pizzas, give them fabric markers to decorate their aprons while the food bakes.
- Party Food: In addition to individual pizzas, serve sugar cookies frosted to look like miniature pizzas. Let cookies cool, then spread on a circle of red icing as tomato sauce, a few squiggles of green icing as peppers, and lots of dashes of white icing as cheese.
- Party Favors: Personalize a chef’s hat for each guest with iron-on letters. Make letters with fabric and iron-on adhesive or buy them premade.
Check out our birthday party favor ideas.
Puppet Show Birthday Party
It's story time. Kids will clamor for a chance to perform in this birthday party puppet theater. Encourage their creativity with extra puppets and small props they can use as they perform for the other birthday party guests.
- Party Invitation: Turn a brown paper bag into a puppet-face invitation. Cut eyes, nose, and a mouth from construction paper; write a party detail on each piece, making sure all the details are included with each set. Tuck a set of facial features inside each bag. To read the invite, guests must assemble the face of the puppet.
- Party Decorations: Welcome the party guests with a sign that announces the time of the show. Construct a simple puppet theater from a large cardboard box. Add fabric swags with decorative ribbon tiebacks as curtains.
- Party Activities: Instead of sock puppets, create wooden spoon characters. Dress up wooden spoons with felt, googly eyes, and other crafts supplies. Let each party guest put on an improv puppet show and record it. Later, send the files to parents to see.
- Party Food: Top open-face mini bagels with cold cuts and veggies cut in shapes to make faces. For dessert, serve Rice Krispies treats on sticks. Use icing to attach candy or sprinkles for a face and licorice laces as hair.
- Party Favors: Don't let the performance end here. Give a few inexpensive finger puppets in little bags; tie them up with a ribbon for each guest. Send the kids off with a round of applause for their performances.
Blockbuster Movie Birthday Party
Create a star-studded birthday celebration with your birthday kid and all the party guests in award-winning roles. With a few props, dress-up clothes, and a video camera, you’ll produce a party that deserves a standing ovation.
- Party Invitation: Send out movie ticket invitations to this world premiere party. Use movie terms to tell guests when and where they’ll be making and starring in the movie.
- Party Decorations: Create a movie set with director’s chairs, racks of costumes, and boxes of props. Use favorite movie posters to create atmosphere.
- Party Activities: Make this bash a full production. Let the party crew make up their own script and choose props and costumes. Capture their performances on video and host a screening complete with bowls of popcorn and an awards ceremony.
- Party Food: A blockbuster movie demands movie food. Feed your moviegoers with the classics: popcorn, hot dogs, cheesy nacho chips, and candy.
- Party Favors: Make or buy DVD holders. Have guests embellish the holders, including their movie name. Send kids home with copies of their movie and mini awards for their movie success.
Try these movie night popcorn recipes.