How to Plan a Themed Birthday Party


Birthdays are a great way to celebrate life with your friends and family, but don’t you wish there was a way to do it with more style? Luckily, theming your party only takes a few extra steps and adds a lot more pizzazz and excitement for your guests. If you’ve never thrown a themed birthday before, don’t worry because we’ve got you covered! We’ll start with some basic considerations for making your party thematic and move on to some basic party-planning advice!


[Edit]Choose a theme that matches the person’s interests.

  1. Add a personal touch by picking a theme the birthday person loves. If you’re not the one throwing a party, talk with the person who’s celebrating and ask them about things they like. Find out their favorite movies, TV shows, places, or time periods so you can work a theme around it. Try to find a theme that you can easily manage before the party.[1]
    Plan a Themed Birthday Party Step 1 Version 3.jpg
    • For example, it might be too hard to plan a full Victorian party with costumes and decor, but a nautical-themed party could be easier.

[Edit]Pick a few colors coordinated your theme.

  1. Coordinate your decor so your theme comes across easier. Once you settle on a theme, try and pick out a few key colors that you want to stand out. When you’re getting decor and setting up the party, stick with colors in your palette to make your theme impactful and more memorable.[2]
    Plan a Themed Birthday Party Step 2 Version 3.jpg
    • For example, for a nautical-themed party, you may choose light blue, tan, and dark blue.
    • As another example, if you’re having a Halloween party, stick with colors like orange, purple, and black.

[Edit]Find a venue that fits the aesthetic and guestlist.

  1. Give everyone enough space for activities and mingling. While you can usually decorate an apartment for a small get-together, a bigger themed party might take up more space. Consider if the theme you’re working with works better in a more intimate space or if you should find somewhere larger. You may even host the party outside if it fits with your theme.[3]
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    • For example, if you’re throwing a sports-themed party, you may choose to host your party outdoors or in a large rec room so people have space to play games.
    • As another example, if you’re hosting a wine and art party with a couple of friends, you might want to find a place where you don’t mind it getting a little messy with all the supplies.

[Edit]Send your guests fun invitations.

  1. Let your guests know the party’s theme early so they know what to expect. You can buy pre-made invitations from the store or get crafty and make your own.[4] Make a list of everyone you want to invite so you know how many people to prepare for. Fill out an invitation for every guest that you want at the party and send it at least 3–5 weeks ahead of time so your guests have time to respond and plan around it.[5]
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    • For example, if you’re doing a dinosaur-themed party, you may fold up the invitation into a plastic egg with a toy dinosaur. The invite could say something like, “Are you ready to DIG IN at Anthony’s 8th birthday?”
    • As another example, for a Vegas-themed party, you could include pictures of dice and casino games with the line, “What happens at Megan’s 40th, stays at Megan’s 40th.”
    • If you’re doing digital invites, use clip art and pictures that match your theme in the invitation.
    • Schedule your party for a weekend so most of your guests are available.

[Edit]Make it a costume party.

  1. Request everyone to wear a themed costume if you want people to dress up. Depending on the theme, you can ask your guests to dress up ahead of time. Include the dress code or costume ideas in the invitations so your guests have time to put something together.[6]
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    • For example, for a pirate-themed party, you could tell people to wear fake eyepatches, hats, and striped clothing.
    • As another example, for a Great Gatsby-themed party, you may ask men to dress in suits and women to wear 20s flapper dresses.
    • Let your guests know it’s okay if they’re not able to get a costume together in time.

[Edit]Put out decor for your motif.

  1. Spruce up the walls and tables so your guests are immersed in the theme. Balloons and streamers are really common at birthday parties, but your theme gives you a chance to try something new. Look up imagery associated with your theme and write down a few ideas for decorations you could include. For easy decor, cutting shapes out of paper and taping them to the walls is great, but you can always run to the party store and pick up supplies you don’t have.[7]
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    • For example, for a nautical-themed party, you may include paper cutouts of anchors, sailboats, lighthouses, seagulls, and treasure chests.
    • As another example, a party based on the dinosaurs could have small plastic toys, fake bones and fossils, pictures of your favorite ancient animals, and toy shovels.
    • Think about things that your guests can wear during the party. For example, for a pirate-themed party, you could include captain hats, fake hook hands, or fake beards.

[Edit]Prepare a thematic menu.

  1. Food and drinks that match your theme tie your whole party together. Look up your theme on idea boards like Pinterest to see what types of food you can include on your menu. Try to stick with some easy finger food so your guests can munch on them throughout the night. Give a few different options to ensure that everyone is able to happily enjoy something while they’re at the party.[8]
    Plan a Themed Birthday Party Step 7.jpg
    • For example, if you want to have a British-themed party, you may offer scones, tea, sausages, lemon cakes, and fruit trifle.
    • As another example, put out some gummy worms, dipped pretzel sticks that look like fingers, and green punch for a witch-themed party.
    • Remember to get plates, silverware, and napkins that match your theme as well.

[Edit]Decorate a cake.

  1. Customize the cake with some fun and thematic toppers or decorations. Ask the person celebrating what their favorite cake is so you can buy or make it for them. Use icing or fondant to add touches of your theme to the design. Then, look at a party decoration store to see if they have any fun decorations that match your theme to stick into the cake.[9]
    Plan a Themed Birthday Party Step 8.jpg
    • For example, for a Disney-themed party, find a cake topper of their favorite Disney character to put on top of the cake.
    • As another example, a nature-themed cake could have green frosting, ice cream cone trees, and a small animal topper.
    • Don’t forget about the candles! Use a number of candles equal to the person’s age, or get the candles that are already shaped like numbers to save space.

[Edit]Plan some related games and activities.

  1. Games and activities spice up your party and keep your guests involved with the theme. Brainstorm a few activities that are associated with the theme of your party and can easily be done at home. Offer a few different types of activities for different age groups so everyone at the party has a chance to have some fun.[10]
    Plan a Themed Birthday Party Step 9.jpg
    • For example, if you’re having a Harry Potter-themed party, you could make slime for “potions” class, play a game of quidditch, or have a scavenger hunt for a golden snitch.
    • As another example, for a luau-style party, you could make leis, have a hula hoop competition, and limbo.

[Edit]Hand out fun party favors.

  1. Give your party-goers something to remind them of the fun they just had. Look for a few cheap items that match the theme of your party at the dollar store and get enough for every guest. When your guests leave the party, give them a bag of party favors to take home with them.[11]
    Plan a Themed Birthday Party Step 10.jpg
    • For example, if you threw an art-themed party, you may give colored pencils, erasers, a sketchbook, and a customized drawing.
    • As another example, if you had a carnival-themed party, you could hand out home versions of carnival games, plush circus animals, and snacks, like popcorn and candy peanuts.


  • Take a lot of pictures of your party so it’s a day that you never forget!
  • Give your attention to the person celebrating their birthday if it’s not you. Make their day special and memorable.

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