Looking for an easy birthday theme that's also a ton of fun? Throw a bowling party for your child.
Here are some suggestions for a bowling birthday party that isn't stuck in the gutter.
The Nitty Gritty
Call your local bowling alley well in advance of the birthday party. You’ll likely need to reserve the lanes for your group. Ideally, you’ll want one lane for every four bowlers. Some bowling alleys will allow you to have more than that, but the kids might get restless waiting long for their turn to come up.
Tip: Some bowling alleys have discount nights for families, and that rate is sometimes less expensive than a group party rate. This might mean hosting the party on a Tuesday instead of a weekend, but if that works for you, you could save a chunk of money by taking advantage of that.
Also find out whether you can bring a cake, drinks and snacks and other items you might want or need. More than likely, you’ll be able to bring a cake but you’ll have to order snacks and drinks from the venue. Depending on the time of day of the party, you could plan to serve French fries and other small bites or order pizza, burgers or other dinner fare if the party is held during the lunch or dinner hours. Ask about any group rates they offer to make the food more affordable.
Before purchasing or making decorations, also inquire about the rules regarding those. The bowling alley might say balloons are OK, for example, but confetti is not.
Another important piece of information to gather ahead of time: do the kids need to bring their own bowling shoes or is renting them part of the package? That’s especially important if the party is for very young children or if younger siblings will attend since some bowling alleys don’t have shoes in small sizes. If that’s the case, you’ll want to warn those parents to bring sturdy sneakers for the young children to wear.
On the invitations, also advise everyone to wear or bring socks.
Bowling Party Invitations
Speaking of invitations, set the tone for the party with bowling-themed invites. You could purchase them in party stores or online. I adore these bowling shoe invitations from Meri Meri.
Don’t forget to check out the bowling-themed invitations for sale on Etsy, including:
- Bowling party invitations from Girl*in*Gear Studio
- Bowling party invitations from Honeyprint Etsy Shop (pictured here)
- And Bowling party invitations from Jonah Bonah.
Interested in making your own invitations? They could be as simple as these bowling pin invites from Time to Craft.
Here’s a DIY invitation idea you could use with any birthday party theme:
Ask your child to draw a picture related to bowling. Scan the image and add the text that explains the party details next to the picture using a page design program on your computer. Then, print as many copies of the invitation as you need onto card stock.
We had my daughter do that for her sixth birthday, and the results were adorable. She drew some bowling-related pictures and wrote, “I love boleing” at the top. We ended up using the images to make iron-on transfers for tank tops, which we gave out as party favors at the end of the day.
Bowling Party Decorations
The first step when planning the decorations for any party is to choose a color scheme.
Many families give bowling parties a retro or 1950s feel. If so, choose pink and black or turquoise in black. Otherwise, go with the birthday kid’s favorite colors or find inspiration in a pair of bowling shoes.
But, again, before you dive too deep into decorations for a bowling party, ask your contact at the bowling alley what is permissible and what isn’t. You’d hate to waste hours making homemade details or spend a bunch of money on store-bought decorations only to find out you’re not allowed to use them at the venue.
If you get the OK, consider these ideas for brightening up the party space in the bowling alley:
- Tissue paper flowers or pompoms in the party’s color scheme.
- Party garland of dangling bowling shoes, balls and shirts cut from construction paper.
- Marbelized balloons with three black “holes” drawn on them to resemble bowling balls.
- An arrangement of white and red balloons that resembles a bowling pin.
- When it comes to party supplies, use items with 50s-era touches, like striped paper straws.
- Since bowling alleys are usually a bit dark, ask if you can hang some strings of Christmas lights in the party space (but not near the bowling lanes, where the cords could create a tripping hazard).
- Ask guests to come to the party wearing bowling shirts or 1950s attire. You could also provide a trunk full of clothes and props to wear, including cat’s eyes glasses, scarves to tie around their necks and argyle sweater vests (many of which you could probably find at a thrift store).