Step away from the SpongeBob SquarePants piñata. There are plenty of birthday themes for 5, 6 and 7 year olds that allow your children—and you!—to flex your creative muscle.
Consider these ideas:
For a cheerleading birthday theme, make invitations shaped like megaphones or pennants with the birthday girl’s name spelled out in block letters. Have the kids follow instructions to make pompoms, and hire cheerleaders from a local high school’s squad to teach everyone some moves.
Decorate a table to look like a concession stand and serve hot dogs, popcorn, nachos or anything else you’d typically eat at a game. The cake could be shaped like a megaphone or cupcakes could be decorated with jumping cheerleaders.
If your child is too young for a real slumber party, hold a mock one instead. Ask everyone to wear pajamas and bring sleeping bags. Push your couches aside and have the kids cozy up on the floor and watch a movie. Serve pancakes and other breakfast fare, even if it’s dinnertime, and make a bed-shaped cake.
Rock 'n' Roll
Send invitations that look like concert tickets or backstage passes. Punk out the kids’ hair with some strong-holding goop and temporary spray-on dye when they arrive (with parents’ permission, of course).
Borrow some kid-friendly musical instruments from friends and have the kids break into small groups and put together an act for the rest of the crowd. Or, set up a karaoke machine.
Beforehand, make one plain cape for each guest (Creative Kismet has an easy tutorial) or buy several pre-made ones. During the party, have the children create their own names and super powers and let them decorate the capes to their liking with felt lightning bolts, stars and other shapes you’ve already cut. The capes serve double duty: fun activity and party favor.
For decorations, laminate pages from vintage comic books and use them as placemats and cut strips from them to use as napkin rings. Decorate the house with red and blue streamers, tablecloths, plates and napkins.
If your little one can’t decide which hero he wants on his cake, stack all his favorites on top of each other.
If the birthday boy or girl is a budding environmentalist, build the theme around going green.
Activities could include playing old-fashioned games, such as kick the can, or making a craft, like wind chimes, out of items from nature, old silverware and trinkets found at secondhand shops.
The food should be natural and healthy, like cut fruits and vegetables and homemade family favorites. You’ll likely want to use cloth napkins and washable dinnerware. Even the party hats could be reusable, and the cake can have an eco theme, too.
For favors, send each child home with a sapling to plant.
Pirate parties are one of the most popular themes for this age group. Set the tone for yours by sending message-in-a-bottle invitations.
Decorate tables and doorways with fishing nets, red and black streamers and Jolly Roger pennant banners. Make pirate eye patches ahead of time for everyone or have the kids do it themselves as a party activity.
For young children, cakes and cupcakes can scream “pirate” without being too dark or gory.
Disney’s Tinker Bell is all the rage, so it’s no surprise that fairy-themed parties are growing more popular.
Hold the event in a park or woodsy backyard, and run a battery-operated machine that blows bubbles throughout the party to set a magical mood.
Where the Wild Things Are
Maurice Sendak’s classic book is as popular as ever, and photos of Wild Things birthday parties are popping up all over the Web.
Whether you make your own invitations using a scanned image from the book or buy a commercial product, somewhere on the card you’ll need to tell guests when the “wild rumpus” will begin.
Hang green streamers and jungle leaves from the ceiling and put trees made from empty carpet tubes around the room’s perimeter.