Birthday Party Planner

Pinterest has really taken the art of birthday party planning to a whole new level. From choosing the right theme, to decorations, snack ideas, desserts, party favors, trendy local venues and more— we’ve got some ideas to make planning your child’s next birthday a breeze. 

By Amy Gordy Photography by Brian Chilson

Sports themed party ideas!

Sometimes the hardest part of planning a party is finding the right theme, but once you can settle on a central idea everything seems to fall into place. Your child may know exactly what he wants—maybe he has seen every episode of “Paw Patrol’’ a gazillion times, or maybe he knows every word of the “Moana’’ soundtrack by heart (lucky you, luaus are fun!). If your kid is having some trouble settling on something, offer a few broad ideas that can allow for some wiggle room and creativity. 

Get Sporty! 

Sports-themed parties are an easy way to get kids involved in an activity and having fun. Whether it’s setting up at a local soccer field, renting a basketball gym or scoring a few touchdowns at War Memorial Stadium, sports activities are a great way to get the whole party involved and playing together. 

Talk ahead of time with the birthday boy or girl to form teams and ask those guest to wear opposing colors, or pick teams the day of and bring colored sweatbands to help keep the teams straight. 

Everyone is a winner at a birthday party! Grab some plastic trophies, like these we snagged at Party City, and a few other sports-themed prizes to create a take-home goodie bag to make all party-goers feel like champs!

Rainbows and unicorns birthday party idea

Rainbows & Unicorns 

This theme can get pretty magical as it basically just involves glitter, rainbows and that mystical horned creature every child loves. Decorations are easy—just grab anything shiny and colorful. Rainbow confetti is an excellent touch! A unicorn piñata or a handcrafted pin‒the‒horn‒on‒the‒unicorn game provides an activity. Rock candy is an excellent party favor, and glitter candles on the cake are a must! Order some unicorn cookies from the local Anne Potter Baking, or make your own sweet treat! Rainbow Jell-O “cake’’ is fun, pretty and easy enough that the birthday girl or boy could help prepare it. 

Rainbow Jell-O Recipe

Rainbow Jell-O
(Adapted from 

5 3-ounce packages of Jell-O in different colors
    (Remember Roy G. Biv!) 
4 envelopes of unflavored gelatin
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Use a clear container so you can see the colors of the Jell-O. We grabbed this sturdy, plastic trifle container at Party City. Wash it and make sure it has room to sit level in the fridge. Measure the height of your container (subtract an inch or so for the white layers) and divide that by the number of colors you are using to determine how thick to pour the colored layers—you want to be sure it comes out even, and you have room for all the colors of the rainbow! 

Reverse your rainbow and begin with the last color in the spectrum. Boil one cup of water, then add in contents of colored Jell-O packet and stir gently (if you stir too hard you’ll get bubbles) until dissolved. Then add in half an envelope of unflavored gelatin and stir until dissolved. Pour in up to 1 cup of cold water, depending on how thick your layers need to be. The more water you use, the thinner the Jell-O will be, and the longer it will take to set. Pour into dish and pop it in the fridge to set. Do not pour the next layer until the previous layer is set. 

To make the white layer, mix 1 envelope of unflavored gelatin with a ½ cup of hot water. Stir until dissolved and add ½ the can of sweetened condensed milk and another ½ cup of hot water. Pour just enough into container to cover the layer of Jell-O below. Pop it back in the fridge and let it set. 

Repeat these steps until all layers are made. Setting time will move much faster if you pre-make the Jell-O and allow it to cool on the countertop before pouring.

Camp out theme birthday party ideas

Camp Out! 

This theme is great for a sleepover or nighttime shindig. Setting up tents or homemade forts in the den is a fun option if you don’t have enough beds for everyone, and an outdoor scavenger hunt is a great activity to get everyone moving. Make a fake campfire with flameless candles and a bundle of sticks, then let everyone build a story together with Story Stones. 

Food options can be super fun and easy. Hot dogs are always a winner! Give everyone a metal pie plate and let them load it up with camp snacks like Ants on a Log (made with Twix bars, drops of peanut butter and raisins!), popcorn and a S’mores Cup. 

Send your happy campers home with a party favor knapsack! Just grab an assortment of rubber creepy crawlers and campy toys at Party City, then wrap them up in a bandana and tie them to a stick. 

S'mores cup recipe

S'mores Cup 

Chocolate pudding
Graham cracker crumbles
Teddy Grahams and Hershey’s chocolate for topping 

This treat is an easy crowd pleaser. Layer a clear plastic cup with graham cracker crumbles, chocolate pudding and marshmallows, and garnish with Teddy Grahams or Hershey’s chocolate bar pieces. No fire needed, and no sticky marshmallow hands to clean up afterward!