Throwing an outrageous theme birthday party for your child can spell D-E-B-T. And yet you want your child to feel special on his or her special day. Don’t you wish there was a way to put together a fun, exciting theme birthday bash without severely denting your budget? Well don’t make reservations at that loud, expensive, overrated pizza place just yet. Check out these tried-and-true theme birthday party ideas that are long on amusement but short on expense.
Create faux parchment paper invitations by dipping plain sheets of paper in tea and tearing the edges. The invites might read: “See if you can survive Jimmy’s Birthday Party!” along with details of when and where. Decorate with dollar store tiki torches and yard sale- or thrift shop-found tropical objects. Divide guests into 2 teams (let them choose their tribal names) and have them tackle an obstacle course, a scavenger hunt, tug-of-war, and water balloon toss in the back yard. See which team will sample the grossest food (nothing questionable, just weird combinations – think cereal with ketchup, or spaghetti with chocolate sauce). Give points appropriately to each team for all challenges. At the end of the party provide the winning team with t-shirts saying “I Outwitted, Outplayed and Outlasted Jimmy’s Birthday Party!” Buy plain t-shirts at an outlet or discount store and purchase transfer paper for your printer to create your own iron-ons. Burn plain paper lunch bags a bit around the edges, and fill with goodies. Look here for a great, easy to make island birthday cake!
Danielle Mares, mom of four boys ages 5-16, has planned many birthday parties! A favorite of hers (and her sons) is a dinosaur themed party. Make homemade invitations on your computer (you can print some cute ones for free here). Decorate the party area with dino-footprints cut out from brown paper grocery bags, and brown and green balloons and streamers. Danielle has the boys help her cover a large balloon in paper mache and paint with spots and speckles for a homemade dinosaur egg pinata.
“The kids always love digging in the ‘excavation site’,” Danielle says. “We bury treasures such as small plastic dinosaurs, coins, and other trinkets in the backyard sandbox and give each child a small plastic shovel as well as a 2 inch paintbrush for dusting off their finds. I look for multi-packs of sandbox toys at the dollar store. The paintbrushes can be found for about 50 cents apiece at your neighborhood hardware store.”
The prizes the kids dig up, the sandbox toys, and the candy from the pinata will fill their goody bags (plain paper sandwich bags with dinosaur cutouts glued on). Let the little ones munch on bone- and dinosaur-foot-shaped finger sandwiches before devouring a ferociously cute dinosaur cake you made yourself (find a great recipe here)!
Becky Scarem, mom of 13-year-old Caden, got this creepy, crawly idea from her local Audubon center.
“Our area Audubon center throws birthday parties with a bug theme,” Becky shares. “They serve dirt cake (Oreo cookies crushed up and mixed with chocolate pudding with some gummy worms tossed in) in plastic cups set inside flower pots and make bug crafts that the kids can take home.”
Play insect-inspired games: Pin the Spider on the Web; make craft bugs that the kids can take home using pipe cleaners, clothes pins, paper towel rolls and such; and a fly swatter race where the kids place a plastic bug on a new, clean fly swatter and race, trying not to drop their bug. Serve treats like ants on a log (celery stuffed with peanut butter or cheese and topped with raisins), bug wings with dip (peanut butter or cream cheese with sliced apples), and bug juice (red punch).
Send guests home with a buggy goody bag filled with plastic spider rings, insect stickers, and gummy worms.
Teddy Bear Tea Party
Send invitations stating “Someone Beary Special is Having a Birthday and You and Your Teddy are Invited!” Decorate the table with linens and china, and serve the guests tea or lemonade along with fancy finger foods (crustless sandwiches cut into triangles, fruit slices and wedges, and delicate cookies). Play musical bears, where everyone walks around a circle of teddies and grabs one when the music stops, and find plain white teacups at a thrift store that guests can paint and take home.
Serve guests an adorable teddy bear cake (find an abundance of ideas here) and give goody bags with teddy stickers and dollar store beanies.
What little girl doesn’t want to feel like a princess on her birthday? AC Content Producer Kim Ray, mom of 5 kids ages 5-21, believes that a princess themed birthday party will provide your little girl and her guests memories that will last a lifetime!
Kim says, “Little girls can enjoy making princess wands that are as fun to make as they are to eat. Provide party goers with pretzel rods, ready-to-spread pink strawberry frosting, and a variety of sprinkles and edible decorations. Have the kids spread the frosting on two-thirds of their pretzel, and have them add sprinkles and toppings of their choice to create a fun and magical wand that’s worthy of any little princess.”
“Little girls love jewelry,” Kim adds, “and you can add a considerable amount of magic and fun to your little girl’s princess party by supplying party goers with muffin tins filled with all sorts of beads and other materials for making beautiful necklaces. Provide each little girl with a section of stretchy cord, and encourage the kids to make their very own necklaces. Help the kids tie the knots to complete their necklaces. This is a fun activity that doubles as a party favor that can be kept and cherished for years to come.”
Print invitations on your computer announcing “Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Princess Suzy Requests Your Presence at her Royal Birthday Party”. Roll into a scroll and tie with a pretty pink ribbon. Play princess-worthy games such as Pin the Kiss on the Frog and Send a Message to the Prince, where guests sit in a circle and the birthday girl whispers a message to the girl next to her, and she whispers it to the next guest, and so on, until the last girl has heard the message (which will probably be quite different and very silly). Thrill the birthday girl and guests alike with a beautiful castle cake (find a great recipe here). Send the other princesses home with fanciful goody bags filled with dollar store jewelry, glittery stickers, and candy rings.