I remember being seven and my mom threw me my very first themed birthday party. My friends were asked to simply wear their cutest, silliest or favorite hats, and that’s where the theme ended. My cake was in the shape of the family dog, we bobbed for apples and our hats returned home dirty.
Fast forward to 2018 and it seems like it’s against the laws of parenthood to throw a party without a theme. The modern invite not only clarifies time and location, it also builds anticipation and asks guests to participate in a unified dress code. After all, the party ambiance is created by every guest and each decorative detail in the view of a camera lens. These photos will end up being pinned, inspiring spinoffs everywhere, and made legendary on every social media feed in your social circle.
Let’s give them something to hashtag, shall we? Here are the six birthday themes you are about to see everywhere this year:
Babies & toddlers
We first spied this trend last summer, when it was leaps and bounds ahead of its time. Spring and summer concerts are huge in Chicago, and the kids’ attractions like Kidzapalooza at Lollapalooza make festival season exciting for the whole family. Music makes everyone dance, bright colors are everywhere and there’s nothing better than festival foods!
Name it: Lukapalooza, Courtchella, Ronnaroo, etc.
Eat: Lobster corndogs and fruit on a stick.
Wear: Bohemian dresses, fun prints, bandanas and bright neon colors.
Decorate: Colorful balloons, stereo piñata, flower crowns and DIY beaded necklace or sunglass station.
Concert theme inspo: Corri McFadden of Glitter and Bubbles’ “Zelchella” after Zelda and Coachella for a third birthday party.
Favorite things themes
Balloons & Confetti were all over the Pinterest boards last year and show no signs of slowing down. Plus, is there anything cuter than little ones crawling or running around with oversized balloons?
Eat: Since this is a favorite things theme, this should be on theme with your little’s favorites! Mini hotdogs “Chicago Style” are always on trend, and you can’t go wrong with a taco station. A company called Packed Party makes disco ball drink containers that will be the perfect party accessory for this theme.
Wear: When confetti is present, you dream in color, sequins and metallics. Your guests will add to the decor by wearing anything that pops and sparkles.
Decorate: Get oversized clear balloons filled with confetti. You can DIY or find a local balloon retailer like Paris312 or Luft Balloon to do it for you. Round string lights will set the ambiance, and all things glitter and metallics are essential. The more gold and silver you can use for utensils, vases and other décor, the better.
Balloon & Confetti theme inspo: Jansyn Morgan of Pony and Co Etsy shop.
The Greatest Showman made sure circus themes aren’t just for babies anymore. P.T. Barnum said, “No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.” This is a theme we can all get #trending. The crowd will go crazy for magicians, mini horses, face painters, fire breathers and/or contortionists, so pick your favorite circus acts and prepare to be amazed!
Eat: Popcorn, cotton candy and a lemonade stand will be crowd pleasers. Grill hamburgers and hotdogs and you will be on your way to The Greatest Party.
Wear: Black and white stripes, and red comes to mind when I think of a circus, but patrons should wear whatever they feel most comfortable in for The Greatest Show On Earth.
Decorate: A tent isn’t completely necessary, but concession stands will set the scene. A cotton candy machine, nacho stand, lemonade stand and someone passing out popcorn will make sure this act is visually astounding.
Spring Break theme
Spring break is everyone’s favorite pastime. From the time we’re little, we look forward to a break from the school year and fun in the sun. Why not theme an entire party to recreate these memories? Turn up the music, warm up the kiddie pool(s), blow-up beach balls, flamingos and other fun pool floats for a party they won’t soon forget.
Eat: Spring break is all about fruity drinks and comfort food. Order Hawaiian pizzas and make refreshing strawberry smoothies for your mini Spring Breakers.
Wear: A colorful swimsuit, cool shades and their favorite beach coverup.
Decorate: Bright pool floats, beach towels and beach balls will make the memories last and the photos pop.
Jet-setters and trendsetters theme
Trends aren’t fabricated by advertising companies anymore, they are started by the kids who pave their own path. Overalls and concert tees are back, and it’s because these kids have said so. The big city is calling you, so pack your bags for a mini jet-setting experience. Book an Airbnb in Bucktown or grab a hotel off the Mag Mile and explore Chicago like a true jet-setter.
Eat: Pop in a hip coffee house and fuel up for sightseeing. Hop on the Red Line or Uber (depending on group size) to Millennium Park, or Navy Pier for the ultimate city experience.
Wear: Hipsters and trendsetters don’t need to be told what to wear, and probably won’t listen to what society says anyways. Here, anything this crowd wears is cool.
Decorate: The city is your backdrop.
Boho garden theme
Do it for the ‘gram. Your middle schoolers are so over the kiddie scene and want to solve the world’s problems over tea and macaroons. A boho-themed DIY project like making dream-catchers or flower crowns are fun, social and are even better than your Snapchat filter.Eat: Charcuterie boards, macaroons and tea sandwiches.
Wear: Anything from whimsical dresses to bohemian tops and denim.
Decorate: Layer rugs in the backyard, picnic style. Throw some pillows with tassels on top of the rugs for seating and use wooden boxes for tables. Cotton teepees are right on theme, and can be used as added seating, dessert tents or simply great photo ops, especially when strewn with lights. Pick some wildflowers, vase them and put them literally everywhere. Hang flowers on fishing lines from the trees or from the string lights for a whimsical ambiance.
Boho garden theme inspo: Jen from Girl Meets Party.