Whatever the theme, you can usually purchase complementary paper plates, colorful streamers and balloons.
Extend the fun to the front yard with a sign announcing the birthday person's big event.
Pick up some posters from a novelty store or museum with vintage airplanes and hang model airplanes from the ceiling. Visit your local Army Navy surplus store and use an old silk parachute to create a "shelter" under which the kids can do their activities.
Visit your local magic and novelty shop for unique novelty magic tricks that can set the scene, like a top hat, black cape, or red velvet covered table top. Decorate the table with cards, beads, disappearing coins, whoopee cushions, or silky scarves tied together in a continuous line.
Create assorted Superhero breastplates from simple materials and polyester padding (your local fabric shop can help) and Superhero shields out of cardboard. Hang them on the wall for decoration, and during the party each child can "earn" his/her plate and shield with good behavior. They make great take-home party favors, too.
Create a mini fire station with yellow hats and yellow ponchos hung along the wall. Transform the kitchen table into a fire truck with a long red table cloth, wheels placed on four corners, a grill at the front, ladders on the sides (made from cardboard spray-painted silver with black) and a large stuffed Dalmatian dog as the centerpiece.
Teens will love anything bold, bright and loud. Music or gaming posters (from local gaming or video rental or media stores), or neon signs are popular.
For little girls, hang arts and craft supplies from the ceiling over the art table (beads, feathers, flowers, paper, plastic jewels). When they are ready for their activity, you can cut what they need from what is hanging.
Here are a few theme suggestions that have been big hits:
- Aviator Theme. Young boys or girls can build and decorate their own airplane or kites from a kit. With enough space they can race to see who can go the farthest, longest, or highest. Each child can earn aviator "wings" by participating.
- Make some Hocus Pocus Fun. Hire a magician or create the fun yourself with party store favorite tricks. Add a cape, hat, card games and lots of magic tricks for the kids to try. It's great fun when the kids get involved and assist in a trick.
- Action Figure. Pick a favorite character and create a mini set where kids can act out the action scenes, complete with homemade accessories or purchased costumes for role-playing.
- Firefighter theme. As a community service, your local Fire Department may come to the neighborhood party with a fire truck that the kids can experience "up close and personal." Plastic firefighter hats, inexpensive yellow ponchos and squirt guns can provide the backdrop for a water fight.
- Teens love to play video games, so power up by renting extra video game systems and the top games. Then, plug it though a projector to super-size the fun. Create a tournament bracket board with trophies and prizes. The fun may last all night, so plan ahead for a sleepover.
- Little girls love making arts and crafts. Provide a supply of beads, buttons, paper, scrapbook accessories, paint, glitter, feathers, empty boxes, string, colorful stones, and glue. With a little supervision, your guests can create wonderful little take home projects. Their creativity could produce jewelry boxes, frames, cards, necklaces, bracelets, window hangings, and dream catchers.
Assortments of pizzas, hot dogs and simple snack items are the usual favorites of all kids. Take it up a notch with Magic Cookie Bars. Make them ahead of time, or let the kids make them at the party.
Themed goodie bags filled with trinkets, party favors and candy can be purchased at a local party store.
Party favors could be theme-specific, such as a model airplane, magic trick, small stuffed Dalmatian, an action figure, video accessories, or jewels and beads.
Make an extra batch or two of Magic Cookie Bars and cut into small pieces. Place in decorative bags for a very special take-home treat.