Insanely Easy Birthday Party Ideas

Whether you’re planning a bash for dozens of kids or just a small celebration with family, these out-of-the-box ideas are totally cool – and effortlessly easy – for kids at any age.
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Updated January 30, 2017
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Image: Grant Mill / The Bump
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Movie party

Pop in a movie, heat up some theater treats and press play! There’s nothing to it — but the kids will love it.

How to plan it
-Find a few favorite movies that are age appropriate (we recommend having three choices, just in case).
-Shop for theater treats. Think: movie popcorn, finger foods, juice, water and if you’re okay with it, some candy. Put them in personal to-go boxes to really make your party-goers feel like they’re sitting front row for the film. *_Note, make sure you’re serving age-appropriate snacks. Popcorn can be a choking hazard, so for little kids, replace popcorn with puffs. The popcorn can be for the adults!
_-Print admission tickets as invitations. Each guest will bring his for free admission (and a piece of birthday cake!).
-Before the movie starts, let the kids run around or do an activity. After the movie, they’ll need to burn some energy too.
-Wrap up the party with some cupcakes, cake or cookies.

Image: Danielle Huggins / The Bump

Buggy celebration

Creepy crawlers and critters — a bug-themed party is an inexpensive (and good for the kid who loves gross stuff!).

How to plan it
-Shop for lots of bugs at a party store or a local dollar store. Hang (and hide) bugs all over the house for party guests to find.
-Make a Bug Fact Sheet and hand it out to kids. They’ll spend all afternoon searching for the bugs on the list. Added bonus? They’ll learn a little bit about each one, too.
-For snacks, think animal-themed. Gummy worms, strawberries with eyes (to look like ladybugs!), bananas with twist pretzels (to look like butterflies!), and ants on a log.

Image: Grant Mill / The Bump

Under-the-sea extravaganza

If you’ve got a little adventurer, he’ll love a sea-theme bash.

How to plan it
-Start with your child’s favorite underwater animals and designate a room in your house to host the deep sea dive.
-Print decorative cut-outs and hang them all over.
-Decorate with blue and green streamers to resemble water and seaweed. 
-Hide cool new “species” of fish all over the room, and arm your adventurers with a top secret map! They’ll have to work together to find and identify these new animals to earn a treat once they’re done.
—Serve goldfish, Swedish fish, and fish-shaped sandwiches (use a cookie cutter).

Image: Caroline Wong / The Bump

Superhero-themed celebration

Whether they’re into Batman, Wonder Woman or totally Team Superman, everyone will love spending an afternoon of crime fighting and cake eating.

How to plan it
-Print out lots of “pow!”, “bam!”, “wham!”, and “kerplow!” signs and hang them all over the room.
-Make superhero masks for guests to wear — we recommend having enough so each guest has at least two choices, plus extras (in case they break).
-Or instead of doing all the DIY work, have guests show up wearing their favorite crime-fighting costume (it’s a good way to reuse those Halloween costumes!).
-Have an action hero coloring station and plenty of crayons to color with.
-“Tie up” lots of party treats and prizes, and have your superheroes spend the afternoon saving these delicious snacks before it’s too late!

Image: Pam Smerker / The Bump

Dino-themed bash

For the dino-obsessed kid, this is the perfect theme.

How to plan it
-Hosting indoors? Fill the room with lots of prehistoric stuffed animals and action figures to keep kids busy.
-If the party’s taking place “in the wild,” you may be able to find cheap (but sturdy) playground equipment in the shape of dinosaurs.
-Set aside a sandbox and fill it with fake bones, sweet treats and party prizes!
-Give your guests “safari hats” and binoculars for some true outdoor exploring.
-For snacks, think about foods explorers would encounter in the wild: Trail mix (but only if the kids are old enough not to choke and there are no nut allergies!), blueberries, strawberries and other fruits. When it comes time to eat the meal, make them use their fingers! There was no silverware in the prehistoric area (and they’ll think it’s pretty silly!).

Image: Matthew Richmond / The Bump

Crazy carnival

Skip the rides and head straight to the carnival games! Tattoos, stickers and tons of balloons will make this a party your kids will never forget.

How to plan it
-Make sure you’ve got plenty of snacks to serve for guests: popcorn, cotton candy, cupcakes, cookies and other (not-so-good-for-you) carnival fare.
-For younger guests, keep the menu simple: A blender stand (for baby food), or even a bottle stand (for moms’ still bottle-feeding) or a Puffs stand (for babes just starting on solids) work great, too!
-Create a “fun house” and designate a room for your guests to go in and get silly. Buy some cheap mirrors and cover them in crazy-colored cellophane.
-Have plenty of clown wigs and decorative makeup ready. Face-painting is a must.
-Make every guest a winner by coming up with tons of age-appropriate carnival games – have a cup-stacking station (who can stack the fastest?), a can-demolishing station (who can knock them over the fast?), as well as other boxed kids games.
-We recommend: Hungry, Hungry Hippo; Candyland; and Let’s Go Fishin’.
-Party favors can include lots of temporary tattoos and other carnival-themed treats.

Image: Claire Pickering / The Bump

"Look whoooo" party

Look who’s turning 1! Look who’s turning 3! No matter the age, kids will have fun celebrating how big they’re getting.

How to plan it
-Since the theme is owls, shop for lots of owl-inspired goodies.
-Print paper cut-outs of owls and hide them in high places all over, for little guests to find. If the birthday kid is older, use photos of them from different ages, and have everyone guess the age for each one.
-Serve Chex-Mix as a party snack, but rename it “Owl Niblets.”
-If you want to get really silly, sing “Happy Birthday” only by “hoo-hoo-ing!”

Image: Shannon Guyton / The Bump

Surfing safari

A sandbox, some boogie boards and a little sunshine go a long way! If you’ve got a pool, even better — but if you don’t, a Slip’N Slide is just as fun.

How to plan it
-For a summer-themed bash, keep the kids outside. Make sure you’ve got plenty of floaties, noodles, pool-appropriate toys and boogie boards to keep them entertained (and having fun!) in the sun. (Plus, plenty of adults to supervise!)
-For a winter-themed party, bring the sun inside. A sun-shaped balloon and lots of bright lights work perfectly. Even if there’s no chance to swim, having guests show up in their bathing suits will still be fun!
-Plan summer-themed snack. Serve hot dogs and hamburgers and chips (or Puffs) to keep it simple. Juice (or water) with umbrella straws and sunglass party favors will keep it feeling like June — even in January!

Image: Rachel Buckley / The Bump

Royal ball

Turn your home into a castle fit for little prince and princesses.

How to plan it
-You can go the Disney prince and princess route by filling your party space with tons of activities, games and pictures from your favorite age-appropriate flicks, or just make your guests feel like royalty with a crown (or tiara!) for every royal head.
-Serve mini-snacks for your mini-guests. Think: mini-cupcakes, mini-cakes, mini-sandwiches and more! For royal babies, stick to age-appropriate foods.
-Create a fantasy play area with lots of toys, dolls and make-believe ideas.

Plus, more from The Bump:

How to Plan Baby’s First Birthday Party

50 Best Birthday Cake Ideas for Tots

Hilarious Baby’s First Birthday Photos

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