This is a complete guide to children’s birthday party themes. Tie your theme into every aspect of the day, for a birthday party your child will never forget.

Why have a Theme?

Having a theme can help turn your children’s birthday celebrations into something truly memorable. Themes can be a whole lot of fun, whether you decide to purchase everything required in a party pack delivered to your door, or make invitations and decorations yourself.

By using a theme, a child’s birthday party can reflect their interest of the time and can be an opportunity for them to become involved in the planning and preparation for the party.

Hosting a themed party can be as simple or complex as you like. For some, dressing to match the colour of the balloons and paper plates can be enough, while for others, the sky is the limit. The invitations, RSVPs, decorations, costumes, food, games, venue, cake and goody bags (if you choose to offer these) can all be connected by a single theme. You may discover previously untapped reservoirs of creativity!

At what age can you start having themed parties?

Whenever you want – it’s up to you. Granted, your one year old probably won’t notice (although an older sibling will) and will just be content with something tasty to eat. However, by about the age of three your child can appreciate the thrill of having a themed party, particularly if they have a favourite toy or TV/film character, or a favourite colour or interest. This section has great ideas for all ages.

As children age, at some point they may consider it ‘uncool’ to have a themed birthday party but don’t give up – this stage will pass!

Of course, not every year of your child’s life needs to be marked by a themed party – you may choose to mark milestone birthdays with particular themes and just have low-key parties in other years. Some families let siblings take turns with larger and smaller parties, or some children alternate between years, i.e., for their 7th birthday they had a Princess party with 10 friends, but for their 8th they are having two friends round for a tea party at home.

If you have a shy child who is reluctant to discuss their out-of-school interests with other people, a themed birthday party showcasing their interest (e.g. insects or dinosaurs) can be a great way to boost confidence.

How much will it cost to have a Theme Party?

As much or as little as you wish – it’s in your hands. You can scour craft and fabric stores, emporiums and $2 shops for off-cuts or interesting bits and bobs to get creative with (invitations, decorations, costumes, head-gear, masks, games and fillings for goody bags) or you can get on-line or on the phone and order the complete party pack.

The number of kids you have attending will obviously affect costs and you may choose to compromise on some things; i.e., ‘we’ll buy enough paint and fabric so each child can make their own butterfly wings, but we won’t be giving out goody bags.’ Or you may choose just to theme some elements of the party – the invitations and the table decorations – and leave the rest.

A clever way to cut costs is by recycling the same theme for a younger child, either the same year, or when they turn the same age as the birthday child is now (provided you have effective storage solutions and things won’t get ruined or lost). That way, you can also perfect your technique of transforming that sponge into a castle cake and the whole party will run more smoothly, as you’ve “been there, done that”.

Party themes for kids

How to choose your Party Theme

There is literally so much choice as to how to theme your party that it can be very confusing.

Some examples of themes:
Girls Party Themes Boys Party Themes Unisex Party Themes
BarbieCheerleadingDora the ExplorerEnchanted Forest

Extreme Makeover


Fairies and Elves

Lizzi McGuire

Mary Kate and Ashley

My Restaurant Rules

OSCARS – Red Carpet

Princess’ Ball


Project Runway

Secret Garden


That’s So Raven

The Little Mermaid


Grand Prix



Planes, Trains and Automobiles



SpongeBob SquarePants


Super heroes


Wild West


Animal AnticsAround the World – pick a countryBlues CluesCircus

Dr Suess

Dress Up Party

Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes

Harry Potter


NZ Idol

Pool Party

Shark Tale

Silly Science

Spys and Private Eyes

Teddy Bears Picnic

Under the Sea

Winnie the Pooh

Before deciding on a theme, it can be a good idea to set some limits, such as if the party will be at home or at a venue, exactly how many friends your child is allowed to invite, and an idea of your budget. Having at least these three boundaries in place will often influence the theme you choose. Your child’s age and gender will also help you to sift through ideas, as will their interests and, perhaps, after-school and sporting activities.

If you’ve decided on a particular theme, then doing any preparatory work well in advance of the party can be a big help. And if, on the big day the ‘theme’ didn’t work as well as you thought it would, then just remind yourself that as long as there’s party food, a birthday cake and a game or two, most children have all they need and will have great memories from this alone.

Reluctant guests

Depending upon the theme you choose, there may a guest who isn’t enjoying themselves or who doesn’t want to join in (for example, by wearing something yellow for the star party). Or who is genuinely frightened (they don’t want to the hold the rabbits or feed the lambs at the farmyard party).

Just remember the key thing is to make sure that each child feels safe and isn’t pushed or shamed into being involved in an activity they’re not comfortable with.

It’s also important to remember the main reason for having a party is to have fun. It doesn’t really matter if a guest is not in costume or not wearing something that ties in with your theme. You need to make sure your birthday child is relaxed about this as well and is not likely to use this as a launching point for a mini-tantrum (bear in mind the old adage that it’s not really a party until the birthday child has cried!).

0 0 votes
Article Rating

This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x