While it might not seem an enormous endeavour, sometimes providing something for your guests to do, especially children, can be a challenge. That’s where hiring a professional might come in handy, someone to take some of the work off of your shoulders and keep your guests occupied during the festivities.
To start with, you will need to decide on a theme because this will often inform your decision on entertainment. Having a backyard party – a bouncy castle might be in order? Throwing a princess theme party, a professional Princess will fit the bill? Doing an animal or zoo theme, a face painter or petting zoo would be suitable entertainment?
- Consider the age of your party-goers. Babies and tots might not respond well to clowns or a life-sized mascot. It might be best to find an activity that’s more age-appropriate. A musical entertainer or puppeteer might be more suitable for children under three. If you’re unsure, ask the entertainer their ideal age range.
- Decide if your party will be indoors or out. Some entertainers, like clowns and illusionists, work best inside, while carnival attractions, like popcorn and cotton candy machines, work best outside. Balloonists and face painters, meanwhile, will work well both in and out of doors. Just make sure to provide ample shade. Also plan a rain day alternative, just in case.
- One of the best places to search out entertainment is on the internet.
Keep these things in mind when looking:
How long have they been in business?
Is their website in order?
Do they offer pictures or a portfolio of their work and testimonials from past clients?
Do they have a favourable rating on social media?
The answers to these questions will provide good clues into how professional the entertainer is. Also, feel free to ask for references.
- Ask if the entertainer carries their own insurance. While an independent performer might not, a reputable business should have this.
- Get a quote ahead of time so that there are no unexpected surprises. Get payment terms from your entertainer; is there a deposit required and what types of payment will they accept?
- Make sure to discuss with entertainer the time they will arrive, what, if anything they will need you to provide. For instance, a face painter will usually require a table and two chairs, plus access to water, a magician will likely need a table and some quiet time before hand to set up.
- In most situations, tipping is optional, although most entertainers will always appreciate it.
Kids love loot bags! You know, those little bags filled with toys and treats that they receive at the end of the party. Only trouble is, many of the keepsakes are dollar store items that just end up in the garbage. Loot bags can also be expensive and stressful for parents when planning a birthday celebration. Here are some loot bag alternatives that will keep costs down but still create a memorable experience for the kids.
- Hire an entertainer
Balloonists, face painters, or nail artists are all great options. This form of entertainment is fun or kids of all ages. Not only will your guests experience a one-of-a-kind experience, they’ll have a short-term souvenir from the party which can be captured long-term in pictures.
- Offer a T-shirt
Offering t-shirts that are themed or colour printed with the birthday child’s name is a great reusable alternative to loot bags. Not only can they wear the item at the party, but they’ll be able to wear it again and again. Check out these customised t-shirt options here.
- Make a keepsake craft
Work your craft around a theme
These adorable popsicle stick Minion or monster crafts,
superhero popsicle heroes or these paper bag monsters puppets. In a fun craft for preschoolers, use fruit loop cereal to craft a necklace or rainbow, or create a great eco-craft like these two versions of bird seed ornaments using cookie cutters or oranges. Or get messy with one of these paintable options: woodland birdhouse craft or monogram letter art.
- Rent something cool
Renting from a party rental supplier, like a bouncy castle for younger kids, an arcade game or pinball machine, or photo booth for older kids, or a popcorn machine or cotton candy maker for an outdoor event or carnival themed party. Local companies offer delivery and set up too!
- Host a treasure or scavenger hunt
Set up a fun activity with an ultimate prize. Not only is searching for the treasure through a series of clues a fun-filled activity, but the prize can include edible items like wrapped candies, chocolate coins (doubloons!) and small packages of chips or cookies. Depending on the age you can also offer keepsake items like colouring books and crayons, Play-doh (for the younger set), baseball, Star Wars or Pokeman cards, dollar store gift certificates, and drugstore products like lip gloss and nail polish (for tweens and teens).
- Donate to a charity
Donate to a charity on behalf of the birthday child and give each guest a thank you note telling them a little about the charity and what difference their donation made. Check this site out for free party invitations and ideas.
Need some help coming up with ideas for your child’s next birthday party? Happy Faces Party has curated our top 20 kids’ birthday party themes to get you started. You don’t have to break the budget; you’ll find many do-it-yourself theme ideas on Pinterest for décor, food, party games and more or check out the party section of your local dollar store.
- Disney Princesses
Have all of your guests dress as their favourite Disney princess. Offer up tiaras to your little guests (or make it a craft!), play their favourite Disney theme songs (like Frozen or Beauty and the Beast) and have a face painting station complete with glitter and gems or Sparkle tattoos.
- Pirate/Jake the Pirate
Include a treasure hunt into your theme party using a pirate map that includes a “buried” treasure. Keep them going with loot bags filled with pirate patches and telescope and have a balloon twister on hand to make swords.
- Super Heroes
With Marvel being more popular than ever, Batman, Superman, Spiderman and Captain America are always a hit with the kids. Face painting works in great with this theme.
- Star Wars / space
There’s no shortage of Star Wars party theme ideas. Complement your party with lightsaber balloons.
- Ninjas / Mutant Ninja Turtles
Decorate with the room with colourful patio lanterns and balloons (or use a red/black Ninja colour theme), serve snacks like candy “Sushi” and fortune cookies in Chinese take-out containers with chop-sticks, and offer Ninja bandanas, toy nunchucks and ninja daggers in their loot bags.
- Summer Fun
Why not turn your backyard into an ultimate fun zone. Include an inflatable like a bouncy castle and a water feature like an outdoor sprinkler or slip and slide. Pack loot bags with sidewalk chalk, skipping rope and bubbles for the ultimate in outdoor fun.
As your guests arrive, offer each a backpack full of useful items and a map of a planned adventure. Complete the theme with a volcano birthday cake.
- Disney’s Airplane/Cars
Complete theme with easy to find décor items and loot bags.
- Thomas the Tank Engine/Trains
Calling all engineers. Decorate your little one’s party with easy to find décor: plates and cups, banners and balloons. Offer each child an engineer hat, red bandana and train whistle and have an adult dress up like Mr. Conductor. All aboard!
- Dinosaur/Jurassic Park
Using a sand table (or sandbox if outdoors), have a dinosaur dig with plastic shovels and tools, coloured play sand and assorted plastic dinosaurs and bones.
- Yo Gabba Gabba
Have the kids dress as their favourite character. In the theme, have a dance party with a DJ, play statues and offer up prizes.
- Spongebob Squarepants
Decorate the party like Bikini Bottom with a Tiki theme decor. Serve crabby patties and drinks in plastic coconut glasses with paper umbrellas along with Patrick and Spongebob cupcakes.
- Video game theme
(Super Mario Bros/Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong) – Rent and arcade game or host your party at a kid-friendly arcade. Create food and décor around the theme: Pac Man Birthday cake, game console ice cream sandwiches or cookies and Creeper fruit punch.
- Scavenger Hunt/Easter egg Hunt
All kids love a hunt inside or out! Make clues to keep the game challenging and offer up an ultimate “prize” that everyone can share.
There are so many options for décor including party hats, banners, plates and cups and table cloths (or create your own!). Offer a balloon twister to create fun, keepsake animals or hire a professional face painter to paint lively monkeys, tigers or giraffes.
Offer your junior guests a spa feel by including sparkle tattoos and a “Mani/Pedi” nail painting station.
there are tons of NHL ideas (or other sports leagues for that matter) that can inspire your theme party: from hockey pennants and Stanley Cup centre-piece decor to hockey puck cupcakes or hockey jersey cookies, or an ice rink theme cake, you’re sure to create a memorable party for your little league player.
For the biggest impact and for a memorable party for kids and adults alike, set up a “big top” tent, rent a real popcorn or cotton candy machine, and serve hotdog or corn dogs and corn on the cob. Have a balloon twister on hand for added entertainment.
Create a detective mystery and have all of the kids involved in solving the clues. Offer the kids walkie-talkies and other spy gadgets to play with.
Have your little guests come dressed as fairies or have on hand fairy wings, tutus, and sparkly wands for quick dress-up. Set a delightful table for a fairy tea party with little sandwiches, cupcakes and, pink punch. Decorate the table with flowers, butterflies and fairy dust, for a magical meal.
Here are some helpful suggestions of birthday party themes:
With so many birthday party themes to choose from, you may feel overwhelmed. Keep an eye on the shows your child watches or the games they play to pick a theme that best fits them.
Having a party? Why not make it into an event by creating a theme party. It’s great for all ages and it will be a change from the norm.
- Decide on a theme
Ideas can come from brainstorming with friends and family, the internet, books and magazines or pop culture such as movies and television. Be as creative as you like.
- Decide on a date for your themed event
Make sure that it doesn’t conflict with any important family or work event or holiday (unless the theme is tied to the Holiday)
- Create invitations
Mail or hand deliver the invites – it creates more excitement than a phone call or email. Allow at least two weeks before the party for mailing and ask that everyone RSVP so you know they received the invitation. Sometimes they get lost in the mail.
- Make a list of all of the things that need to be accomplished before the party date
This might include food and drinks that you want to serve as well as music, decorations, party games and entertainment (like a face painter!), prizes, etc. You will feel less overwhelmed if you have written everything down.
- The party doesn’t have to cost you a bundle
Ask guests to bring one item that you select for them that ties into the theme. This could be a food dish or a beverage. Include this in their invitation.
- Hold a Costume Party
To encourage guests to dress in costumes, offer incentives such as door prizes (that can be purchased at the dollar store) or lottery tickets.
- Ask friends ahead of time to help
Get your guests to bring music and equipment or help serve food and drinks. This will make you job as the host/hostess less stressful and you will be able to mingle with guests.
- Make sure Everyone stays hydrated.
Have plenty of bottled water and non-alcoholic beverages available for guests
- Set an end time if you don’t want guests to overstay their welcome
You don’t want them to have too much fun! Don’t forget to have some cash on hand for taxis.
These tips will help you get started:
Some popular theme party ideas are:
- Great Gatsby/Prohibition/Roaring 20’s
- Colour theme: pink, blue, etc.
- Titanic Era
- Mods and Rockers
- Mexican Fiesta
- Vicars and Vixens
- Screen Heroes and Heroines
- Medieval Knights/Lord of the Rings
- Agatha Christie/Murder Mystery
- Wizards/Harry Potter
Major events that make great themes:
- Showers (Bridal and Baby)
- Stag and Does
- Fundraisers (church and school)
- St. Patrick’s Day
- Mardi Gras