Developing a Party Theme
If you've decided to host a birthday party but don't know where to begin, start with a theme! With a child's imagination and your guidance, the planning can be fun for both of you. Consider an off-the-wall idea or your child's favorite:
- TV Show
- Movie Character
Planning Around Your Theme
Once you've chosen a theme, start planning the party around it by looking for related paper goods and favors. If you can't find a paper pattern that complements the theme, consider buying solid-colored cups and tablecloths that children can decorate with markers or stickers at the party. Or, create large stickers of your own using a color printer, clip art and 81/2" x 11" sheets of laser printer labels. Usually, the more challenging part of planning is developing games and crafts that go with your theme. If you aren't using an entertainer, you'll want to prepare at least six activities for a two-hour party, and have a few back-ups prepared. Consider adapting well known games such as Hot Potato, Simon Says, Twenty Questions, Pin the Tail on the Donkey, or Tag to fit your theme. Here's a great example from the founder of Birthday in a Box, Laurie Wrigley:
"I once had a request for an Eyeball Party. After overcoming my repulsion, I decided the party had great possibilities, especially for eight-year-old boys. To adapt Hot Potato for the Eyeball theme, we found a large rubber eyeball which guests passed around the circle as music played. Pin the Tail on the Donkey was one of the easiest to adapt. In our case, the tail became an eyeball and the donkey became a monster . . . Pin the Eyeball on the Monster!"
Transitional activities, such as a Cake Hunt, will help buy you time to set up for the next activity.
"We had a mystery I [eye] Spy Hunt in which the children found eyeball-shaped clues that led them to their stolen cake. By leading them away from the cake table, we were able to bring the cake out and get the table set while they were running from clue to clue."
Bouncing ideas back and forth is a good way to invent or adapt other games.
"We played Who Is It? Which involves cutting eye holes in an old sheet. One team went in front of the sheet, and one behind. The team behind the sheet took turns putting their eyes up to the holes and the other team guessed their identities, earning a point for each correct guess. The boys made slime and played a picture word game with words that started with I [eye], such as Iran, Ice Cream, Iceland, and Island. They had drinks with eyeball ice cubes (grapes frozen in cranberry juice cubes)."
The experience of planning a birthday with your child is often full of unexpected joys and surprises, and it's a wonderful way to show your child how unique and important he or she is. We hope you'll give it a try!
Planning Your Party
How do I choose a theme for the party?
The best ideas for a party theme come from your child's favorite character, toy, or activity. Does he love Elmo on Sesame Street? Is she crazy about kittens? Do princess dolls, trains, or construction trucks overrun your home? Is soccer or dance class your child's favorite activity? Any of these things can make a great theme for your child's party.
Still stumped? You can also look through our selection of party themes
for ideas, and narrow the choices down to two or three. Then, talk them over with your child, and let him/her make the final decision.
Just be sure to include your child in the decision before ordering any partyware. We know one mom who was planning a precious tea party for her daughter's 8th birthday, only to be told by the birthday girl that she wanted a Harry Potter Party with boys and girls!