Do you remember how much you looked forward to your birthday when you were a kid? And how a year in kid time felt like an eternity? (If only time moved that slowly in adulthood.) As a parent, this can make planning a birthday feel like a high-pressure situation. (That and the fact that over-the-top, Pinterest-worthy parties seem to be the new normal—so. many. balloon. garlands.) So what do kids, specifically girls, really want in a birthday? Well, for starters, that DIY banner or balloon installation you put your heart and soul into? She really doesn't know the difference between that and something you ordered online for a few bucks. If it's her favorite color and on theme, chances are she'll probably love it. So while you should certainly pepper in some special things if that will make you happy, you don't want to go so overboard on DIYs that you spend the day of the party—and the weeks before it—in stress mode. You deserve to enjoy her special day with her. At the end of the day, what kids really want in a birthday is to spend time with friends and family who make them feel special and loved—and they also want a say in the day's theme. With that in mind, we rounded up a bunch of ideas (and reasonable tips for how to execute them) to help you get the party conversation started.
You can pull off the mad-scientist theme any time, but it would be especially cute around Halloween. (And probably easier to shop for.) Think self-serve drink dispensers topped with dry ice for an extra spooky effect and grab-and-go treats, like the "monster guts" seen here.
Get the recipe at .
Have a Trolls movie fan in your life? Luckily, it's a pretty easy birthday party theme to pull off. Go with a rainbow color palette and pepper in themed details, like this hair-raisingly good DIY headband.
Get the tutorial at
Ready to party prehistorically? Dinosaurs are a hit with girls and boys alike and make for an easy-to-execute party idea. This DIY floral dino would make an adorable table decoration. Craft enough of them and you can send them home as party favors.
Get the tutorial at
A safari soirée is the perfect theme for the animal-loving gal in your life. Stick to simple decorations in a neutral palette of browns, tans, and greens, then pepper in DIY elements, like the paper party hats seen here, which you don't actually have to DIY. (WIN!)
Throw a party as bright and cheery as your little one! From decorations to food, a rainbow theme is super easy to execute. To make the table runner see here, all you need is a pack of multi-colored balloons, a few beads, and some white thread. The creator, Cristina of , even made a video to show you exactly how it's done.
Get the tutorial at .
Her birthday doesn't have to fall in December to throw a Nutcracker-themed bash, but it certainly would make it easier since your regular holiday decor could double as party decorations.
Kids love pampering, too! Instead of carting the kiddos to the salon, bring the salon experience to them. Greet guests with matching robes that they can take home as a party favor. Wrangle a friend or two to come help you with manis/pedis while the kiddos relax with face masks (don't forget the cucumber eye patches). If you're having a large party, consider hiring a few pros to come in for the day.
Celebrate the little Picasso in your life with an art-themed party. Best of all? You won't have to break the bank to pull it off. A mix of simple, colorful decorations and foods (fruit skewers, veggies and dip, cupcakes) and a few special touches, like these mini canvases the kiddos can paint as an activity, are all you need to make a masterpiece of a party.
Toot your little one's horn with a magical, unicorn-themed party she won't soon forget. For decorations, you can't go wrong with a simple pastel or rainbow color palette. Rely on a few statement-making elements, like the cake seen here, to drive the theme home.
Celebrate your leading lady with a backyard movie night! Whether it's the main event or part of a birthday slumber party, kids—especially the pre-teen crowd—will love the chance to break away from the grownups and catch a flick outdoors.
To create your home theater you'll need a blank wall or sheet and a (you'll hook it up to your laptop or another device). Set up comfy seating and a concession stand offering classic theater fare, like popcorn, nachos, and boxed candies.
If there's one party theme that will never go out of style, it's a slumber party! Have party goers bring over their sleeping bags, then put on a movie and bring out the pizza and junk food.
Your little gal will be tickled pink by a flamingo-themed fête! Pink should be the main color, of course, but it doesn't have to be the only color. Try mixing shades of pink—from pale to neon—with white, gold, and green. Pile on the sweets (think pink candy buffet, pink macaroons and, of course, a pink cake or cupcakes) and plan a few activities (who can hop on one foot the longest?) and you've got yourself a party!
With its bright colors and uplifting soundtrack, Moana is a natural fit for a birthday party theme. Go with a general Hawaiian theme and pepper in movie references and imagery and you're pretty much good to go.
Want to keep dessert simple? A homemade stencil and some colored sugar crystals are all you need to make the "Heart of Te Fiti" design on the cupcakes seen here.
Get the tutorial at .
An ice cream-themed gathering is perfect for summer, but you can pull this theme off any time of year. Decorate your space with candy-colored decorations and set up a build-your-own sundae bar with all the toppings. How cute would the birthday girl be in this cone-printed dress?
What kid wouldn't want a bounce party? If the weather's warm enough—and if you have the space—host the party in your own backyard. Instead of renting a bouncy house for the event, buy an affordable one like this retro-style castle and it can double as a gift for the birthday girl.
Planning a circus party doesn't have to feel like a circus. One statement-making element, like a bunch of hanging signs, can do most of the heavy lifting in terms of decorating. Smaller items, like "tent" party hats, can drive the look home.
Show the birthday girl a whale of a good time with an ocean-themed party she won't soon forget. Set the mood (and your table) with shades of blue and a sprinkling of sand, shells and starfish, like the table seen here. On-theme bites, like these adorable oyster cookies, take it to the next level.
Get the recipe at .
Is the little lady in your life obsessed with slime? (Aren't all kids?) Celebrate her big day with a party that'll have her (and guests!) oozing smiles. For food, serve up a buffet of all things green (think smoothies, veggies trays, and pesto pasta cups) and cut into a drippy-looking cake for dessert. (Oh, and don't forget the edible slime! Yes, it exists.) The big event, of course, is making the slime, so prepare a kit for each guest with everything they'll need and stash it in a tote like the one seen here.
You can never go wrong with a Mickey-themed birthday party. For something a little different, branch out from the classic red, black, and yellow color palette and instead stick to a simple black-and-white scheme. Not only is it chic, but you'll have an easier time finding party supplies. And don't be afraid to experiment with unexpected patterns. We love how incorporated a black-and-white grid pattern into her Mickey decor.
See more of this party at
Pinkies up! Is your little one always playing tea party? Why not throw her a real one for her birthday complete with cucumber sandwiches and scones? (Fancy hats are a must!) These 3-D party favor boxes can do double duty as table decor.