Birthday Party Ideas



Great birthday party ideas can help you create the birthday party of your child's dreams.

We've all been to kids' birthday parties that seem like disorganized chaos, with the birthday child looking more distressed than happy. A well planned party can make your child's birthday an event to remember, for themselves and their guests...and definitely you (for all the right reasons).

Birthday parties aren't hard to throw; it's all in the planning. Give yourself enough time to get a few ideas together and see what you and your child like the best. Take into consideration the ages of the birthday child and attendees, the place it will be held, and definitely your budget.

Our birthday party ideas will give you a springboard for getting started and can help you completely avoid those hushed whispers weeks after the party that clearly say "remember that time at her kids party when..." and they refer to an incident (possibly involving medical personnel).

Also check out the birthday party themes section for theme specific parties complete with game and food ideas, and the birthday party games section to keep every child happy, involved, and remembering the great time they had at your child's birthday party.


First Birthday Party Ideas

For that magical first birthday, these are party ideas that will keep you sane and your guests entertained.


Toddler Birthday Party Ideas

A birthday party during the toddler years calls for different ideas or you could have total meltdown at any time. Let the good times roll for everyone with these great ideas.


Birthday Party Ideas for 5-7 Year Olds

This is a great age for birthday parties. Children love participating and truly enjoy every aspect of their special day. We've got ideas to help make this party incredible.


Birthday Party Ideas for 8-10 Year Olds

Older children love birthday parties as much as younger ones do, but will need a few more activities to keep them from getting bored. Far from just cake and ice cream, these ideas will keep things moving.


Birthday Party Ideas for 11-12 Year Olds

The 'tween years are a great time to keep kids connected, and what better way than a cool birthday party to let them hang out with friends and have fun while feeling just a bit grown up?


Teen Birthday Party Ideas

Teen birthday parties can be extra fun because their boundaries have expanded. From sleepovers to scavenger hunts, the best birthday party ideas for teens are here!




First Birthday Party Ideas

A child’s first birthday party is a very special time.

Their birth has certainly made the world a better place, and you want to celebrate that. But how do you make it special without going overboard? We've gathered birthday party ideas just for first birthdays. You’ll learn how to handle presents, guests, and your schedule to make this a fuss-free day for your baby.

Keep the party fairly short; an hour is about right.

If you over-schedule your one year old's party with activities, games, and guests, your child may have an early and unhappy exit. You may have out-of-town guests that wish to have more time with your child. In that case, keep the formal parts of the party to a minimum, and let your child to have less structured time with extended family. Allow others in the house to go to different rooms for a while so your baby isn’t crowded.

Work around naps to help your baby stay fresh and happy for visitors.

A late-morning or mid-afternoon gathering allows for daytime napping. Do everything possible to keep your baby’s regular schedule for that day. Try to spread out your errands and preparation over a few days so the party day isn’t overwhelming for everyone. Your child will read your frazzled mood and may pick it up themselves.

It is fine to have a few other babies or small children around (with at least a few other parents). However, the first birthday is too early for a children-only party. One-year olds don’t appreciate extended social time like older children. Be considerate of anything that could be too overwhelming to your baby.

Instead of one enormous party, have just the immediate family and the grandparents.

Make individual visits to other family members (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) so the group stays small. This may not be popular with people expecting one large party. However, a small party is going to be easier for your baby to handle.

Usually, a birthday party includes a big session of opening presents. This is confusing and overwhelming to a one-year-old child. There is a lot of information to process, and they often get pushed along to get more new information with each present. Instead, allow each guest to have a few private moments with the baby to open their present. This could be spread throughout your child's first birthday party, or it could be done as each guest arrives.

Have a memory page for guests to write on sometime during the party. This is the party when memories of the child as a tiny baby will be the freshest. Encourage guests to add their memories so the guest page can be a keepsake for the child. Have a “dream box” with pieces of paper nearby. Each guest can write a dream or wish they have for your child’s future.

There is no birthday like a child’s first birthday. The memories of babyhood are strong in the minds of each guest. It’s also hard to find another year where a child’s growth is so obvious. When you celebrate your baby's 1st birthday party, the idea is that you help your baby have fun and stay happy for your whole celebration.

Toddler Birthday Party Ideas

Toddlers (ages 2-4) are at a great age to start enjoying birthday parties with little friends. But where do you start? It can be overwhelming trying to get just the right kind of party for your precious child. You don’t want it to go unnoticed, but can there be too much? Relax and get ready to enjoy your party with the following tips.

Trying to have the “perfect” birthday party for your toddler can stress out a parent before it even begins.

Remember that your child will be happy with food, fun things to do, and having you nearby. If you go much beyond that, you may be pushing it too far for yourself or your child. Toddlers aren’t highly structured creatures, so doing something with a lot of flexibility will be right up their alley.

Little ones are starting to get opinions of their own at this age, involve them in choosing the theme. Whether it be a favorite character or activity, make the party about them.

For young children, too much can be too overwhelming, keep it simple.

For the guest list, invite two or three children to keep the chaos at a minimum. Siblings of close age will usually be involved in the festivities, so count them in your total number. If siblings are much older, they can be a helper instead of one of the kids.

A one hour party planned around nap time will help minimize any meltdowns. Toddlers can be clingy one moment and stretching their independence the next. Making the party short and sweet will keep them enjoying the activity without burning out.

Be sure to have efficient seating for little ones, maybe a small picnic table or child-sized table and chairs. Keep little ones entertained by covering the table in a white paper table cloth with plenty of crayons to go around. Child-sized plates, cups, and utensils will also keep less mess off the floor.

For the most part, avoid hiring entertainers for this age. Clowns, superheroes, and even cheerleaders could be frightening to children. They are strangers, they are dressed in unusual clothing, and some may be wearing masks.

If you have a relative or family friend that is a storyteller or a musician, this may be a good option. Be sure they come dressed normally and only with objects that would seem OK to a toddler. Also, be sure your child is already familiar with this person.

Hand plays or games with clear directions are good. Duck Duck Goose, Ring Around the Rosie, or Simon Says are good games for this crowd. Have some music playing in the background that they can dance to if they want.

A birthday party for a toddler at home is a great idea. Your toddler will feel comfortable with all his or her belongings and familiar surroundings nearby. An alternative could be the home of grandparents or other relatives they have visited many times.

A children’s museum or other indoor play area is also an excellent idea.

You can worry less about cleaning your house and focus more on the guests. Children’s museums usually have reasonable fees, and indoor play areas are in many parts of the country. Some don’t even charge extra for the party; you are just responsible for a snack that is easy to clean up and keeping track of the kids.

Having your toddler's birthday party outdoors opens up other possibilities. This could include building sand castles, digging in the dirt, water-play activities, etc. Activity stations are also an age-appropriate way to give toddlers something fun to do. They are not likely to do a lot of cooperative play – it is mostly side-by-side play at this age.

Food should be easy and colorful. For a short party at this age, all you need is cupcakes and drinks.

Anything the kids can do to make their own goodies counts as an activity and keeps your to-do list shorter. Have them decorate their own cupcakes. Provide a few small dishes of icing, sprinkles, some spoons, and let them go at it. If you plan to make mini-pizzas, let them choose their toppings and sprinkle them on.

Toddlers tend to be most comfortable with their parents, and most parents at this age are going to stay at the party.

To lessen the threat of a meltdown or jealousy, you might want to have your toddler open each gift as the guests arrive. They’ll be able to associate who the gift came from easier this way.

Birthday party ideas for toddlers can be simple and fun – just don’t over think them. Less is more in this case. Too much activity or stimulation can make it less enjoyable for everyone. Short, sweet, and easy is the way to go.


Birthday Party Ideas for 5, 6, and 7 year Olds

The key for a successful birthday party for young children is to keep it simple. You don’t need to slave over every detail like you may think. Kids that are five, six, and seven years old are mostly interested in having fun and playing with their friends.

It won’t matter if your house isn’t perfectly decorated or if you don’t have an all-out “bash.” There can be too much of a good thing sometimes!

Below you'll find some great birthday party ideas for keeping your time fun and stress free.

The first few years of elementary school are special.

During this time, your child will begin to develop their first consistent friendships. He or she may want to invite everyone they have ever played with. However, think twice about inviting your child’s entire class.

Everything is a trade-off.

Does your child want to have a “bigger experience” with fewer chances to spend time with each individual? Or do they want a close-knit experience with more time to spend with each guest? If you have many of parents available for supervision, a large party may be feasible. It can certainly be exciting to have a large party.

However, also consider a smaller gathering of special friends.

This allows for more options with your budget, location, food, and activities. You may be able to take a smaller group to a place you couldn’t afford with a larger group. Does your child have a tight bunch of friends? Your child may end up spending the most time with the same small group of friends regardless of the size of the party.

Kids aged five through seven can handle a little more time together before they wear out. Keep your party between 1 ½ – 2 hours. If your party is small, you might away with extra play time after the official party activities end.

Kids who are in early elementary school are usually comfortable going to different venues for a party.

You can go simple by using your backyard or basement, or you can rent a social hall in your area. Children’s museums and indoor play areas are a great option. Young kids are still interested in the kind of active free-play they can do in these places. For girls, another option may be a dance or gymnastics school. For boys, consider a martial arts studio. The venue is the entertainment here.

You will also need to think about a few things before deciding on your location. Would you rather spend a little money on a separate place to avoid the extra cleaning and work in your house? Or do you have plenty of space and help to take care of the work in your home? This can make a big difference for your stress will you going to have time to take pictures? Or would you prefer to have your house as the backdrop of your child’s party memories?

There is really no right or wrong answer to any of the questions posed in this article. It is simply a matter of options. What would be the most enjoyable for everyone involved (including you)? Birthday party ideas are endless for kids at age five, six, and seven. Make it a time to remember and enjoy for all.

8-10 year Old Birthday Party Ideas

Are you getting tired of too many toys coming into your house from birthday parties?

Do you cringe when you see a massive pile of gifts?

It is easy to get overwhelmed by birthday gifts coming from all directions. The focus seems to be “It’s all about me.” Instead, why not make the party something meaningful? Here is a great collection of birthday party ideas for eight, nine, and ten year olds. Teach them how to have fun without focusing on the “stuff.”

Animal theme – On the invitations, state that the presents will not be for the birthday kid. Instead, the guests are to bring presents for the dogs and cats at the local animal shelter. Carry the animal theme throughout the party with the food (puppy chow snack), plates and napkins, and even games. A trip to the zoo would be a nice activity for this party.

Book exchange – State clearly on the invitations that each guest is to bring a book to exchange. If the birthday kid wants a theme for the book (animals, trains, dinosaurs, etc), mention that in the invitation as well. Instead of just one person receiving, everyone gets to receive.

Special request gift theme – If your child has a collection, tell guests to bring a gift to fit that category. Most likely, your child would want to get some of these items anyway. It also helps their collection grow quickly. There is some surprise, but the birthday kid knows they will like every gift from the start.

Gift exchange – This would be similar to the book exchange. You could set a low price limit and encourage the guests to be creative with their money. Another option is to leave it open so each child has a larger gift. The birthday child gets the party in their name, but the gifts are shared by everyone.

Two special choices – You could offer your child one of two options - a larger special event, such as an amusement park, with an invitation for one friend to come along; or a smaller sleepover party with a handful of friends. You provide two options you can live with, and the final choice is up to your child.

Memory book page – Instead of traditional gifts, the birthday child has a birthday memory book. It doesn’t matter if this is their first year with the memory book or if they’ve had one for several years. Each guest creates their own memory page with decorations, drawings, pictures, comments, or whatever they want. After the birthday kid opens them all up, put them in the memory book and pass it around. These memory pages will last longer and mean more to your child than any toy.

Kids in late elementary school get excited about helping others and sharing. Show your child that you are celebrating relationships and time spent doing good things. Kids can have fun whether there is a pile of presents or not.

Teach your eight to ten year old a different way to celebrate their birthday – by honoring their good character.

Birthday Party Ideas for 11-12 Year Olds

Your ‘tween has a birthday and you have a dilemma. Your child has totally outgrown Barney and My Little Pony. But a teen co-ed party doesn’t sound right either. So how do you plan a party for this spunky young age group? It can be easier than you think. This article provides some helpful general suggestions and some specific birthday party ideas for ‘tweens. Sit down with your birthday boy or girl and get planning!

Be considerate of who is invited. Know your kid’s friends and steer clear of known trouble makers. Although a highly structured party can feel stiff, a general schedule of activities and time can keep things from getting too wild. You’ll want to keep any potential “loose cannons” from having time to get themselves in trouble. Getting everyone engaged in something fun and interesting will keep it positive.

Food and utensils do not have to be fancy to be enjoyed. Have something simple like take-out or hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill. Take some stress off yourself by either picking up some treats at the grocery store or making a cake from a box at home. Better yet, have your party-goers make the treats themselves.

A “group bake” can add some anticipation for the final result. Who cares if you have cake at 10pm, or with lumps, or with bare patches in the frosting? It’s all in good fun and the kids will enjoy eating something they create.

Give them something they can take home besides a bag of candy. This could be something they created at the party, pictures you took of them printed from your computer before they go home, or a memento of their activity (scorecard, team roster, “ticket,” winner’s certificate, etc).

Here are some other ideas to run with when you have your next ‘tween birthday party.

Slumber party with movie marathon – Carefully consider your movie choices. The kids may be a bit past “kiddie” movies, but many ‘tweens are still below the PG-13 range. Also, just because it says PG-13 doesn’t mean all 13 year olds would be ready for the content in those movies. There are several websites that rate movies based on content and theme. Pick a couple of approved favorites, pop some popcorn, and casually check in now and then.

Traditional scavenger hunt – The scavenger hunt is a good team activity that you can do with as few as four kids with two teams. Send them around your neighborhood or have a couple adults drive if necessary.

Mall scavenger hunt - Be sure you go to a mall that you and the kids are familiar with. Most items can be inexpensive or even free depending on your list. Free items could include old hangers, a coupon book, a business card, etc. Create a theme based on color, holes or “dings” in the merchandise, items from certain stores, etc.

Party around an activity – Go to a place that offers a sporting activity like the following: batting cages, climbing walls, indoor laser tag, miniature golf, pool, bowling, roller skating, go-karts. Some of these activities can be found in groups at family activity centers, others might be independent locations. Visit ones you think you’d consider before purchasing tickets or a party package.

Teen Birthday Party Ideas

Your child has grown up before your eyes, and now they are salivating over their next “ultimate” birthday party. Feeling the pressure? Sit down and relax – you can have a safe and memorable party with less fuss than you might imagine. A birthday party idea for teens doesn’t have to be over-the-top to be a lot of fun. This article will provide some general suggestions as well as a few ideas to get you going. Grab your teen a start creating their next great birthday party.

Keep in mind who will be invited and why. Are you inviting Julie just because she’s popular, or will she be a good fit with the rest of the group? Is there someone in the group that tends to get others in trouble? Do you have a big gossiper or “clique queen” on the list? Be sure the group is easy going and shows good respect for adults.

Have your teen do much of the legwork for their own party. If you become their “go-fer” person, your teen may see themselves as being in charge instead of you. If they do a lot of the work themselves, they will be more willing to help you keep the party under control. Use the natural peer pressure at this age to your advantage.

Decide on a size for your group. A larger party will require more parents to chaperone. Just because you may trust your child doesn’t mean you can trust everyone. Don’t skimp on the supervision because they are older. Instead, find ways to be subtle about it.

Retire to your bedroom or TV room for a while, and then come out now and then to refill your glass of water, check the thermostat, refill snacks, etc. Consider activities that need adults as referees or “assistants” so you can keep your eyeballs on the kids without appearing too snoopy.

Check out the ideas below to make your teen’s party memorable and fun.

Back-to-Childhood Party - Have a nostalgic trip to childhood. Play pin-the-tail on the donkey, have cupcakes, musical chairs, etc. Have your teens make the cupcakes, eat M&M’s, graham crackers with frosting, dry cereal in a bowl, and other fun “kid” snacks. Gather some of your child’s favorite animated or live-action movies from their childhood. Have everyone bring a stuffed animal and their own sleeping bag.

Decade Party – Encourage the guests to borrow from their parents or hit the thrift store for “period clothing.” Better yet, start the party at the thrift store. Give everyone $10-$15 to create a costume in one hour. Pick a decade or allow your guests to choose their own look. Long before the party, collect some decade-specific lighting such as strobe lights, lava lamps, and mini-disco balls (or prisms to create a disco ball effect) to use as mood lighting.

Sleepover party for boys – Try an action movie night (watch the ratings) with plenty of popcorn, pop, and movie theatre candy. Or, chose a day when a popular sporting event is on and plan a party around it.

Sleepover party for girls – Do a “girls' night” with glamour (hair and make-up) and fun movies. Again watch ratings and chose themes that emphasize good endings.