The biggest birthday party trends of the year

No matter how many times we vow that this year we will throw a low-key, more-affordable birthday party for our little one, it’s way too easy to get sucked in that black hole of Pinterest. Take it from the mom who spent countless hours bringing the “Bubble Guppies” theme to life with homemade clam shell cookies served in actual fishbowls, on a bed of coral reef rock candy.

Because we know you’ll probably give in, too, here’s a glimpse of what’s trending in birthday parties this year. Whether you’re throwing a first birthday party or one for an older kiddo, these are all fairly attainable ideas that’ll make their celebrations even more memorable.

Balloon backdrops

No matter what type of event you are planning, nothing says “party” like mounds of balloons in different colors and shapes. But now, rather than simply serving as background décor at parties, balloons are taking center stage by adding a more upscale aesthetic to parties. Primarily used as photo booth backdrops, we’re seeing a new trend blowing up with balloon arches, garlands, DIY balloon numbers and Mylar letter balloons.

Doughnut theme

Cupcakes, move over. Doughnuts are the latest frosted pastry in the spotlight. Parents are putting a hole (pun intended) lot of thought into the “Donut grow up” theme, complete with doughnut walls, lavish spreads of breakfast foods, doughnut games (Twister, Pin the sprinkles on the doughnut, doughnut decorating contests) and – you guessed it – giant doughnut cakes.

Enchanted forest parties

Blame it on Blue Ivy for starting the trend of enchanted forest parties when mom Beyonce and dad Jay-Z left no stone unturned in their reported $200K bash, where each child received a makeover and personal archery lessons. Modern day parents are having fun with the idea without breaking the bank by hosting whimsical backyard parties with fun woodsy décor. Popular activities for this theme include paint your own fairy house, make-your-own felt flower wreath and brown rabbit sack races.

Fiver parties

Have you ever come home from your child’s birthday party, overwhelmed with the endless pile of gifts and wondered where to store them and if they’d ever get played with? You aren’t alone. The new Fiver party concept is solving those woes by asking guests to bring $5 for the birthday child instead of a gift. The pooled money quickly adds up and is used toward one big gift on the birthday child’s wishlist.

Messages with neon signs

Gone are the days of writing birthday sentiments in chalkboards and felt boards. Now, simplicity is shining in popularity with neon signs that add a pop of color and personality to every party. Whether it’s the birthday child’s name, age or favorite emoji, more and more parents are using these signs as photo backdrops.

Number shaped cakes

Parents, rejoice! If you are tired of keeping up with the Joneses when it comes to birthday cakes, purchasing or making a custom number shaped cake for your little one is as easy as it gets!

Scavenger hunt birthday parties

Adults-only scavenger hunts have been a thing for some time now, and more kids are requesting this theme for their big day. While it seems to be a lot of planning for the host parents, the theme is a pretty proven way to tire out the kids.

Toy-sharing subscriptions as gifts

When my kids get a new toy, it becomes the shining star for a few days, and then it goes in the back of the closet to die and never be played with again. The toy sharing subscription model lets families eliminate the clutter by borrowing toys and then returning them. While only a handful of companies cater to this need, Toy Library is the most popular.

Trying out any of these ideas? Share them to our Facebook and Instagram @ChicagoParent #sharechicagoparent!

This article originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of Chicago Parent. Read the rest of the issue.   

Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky is an award-winning journalist and bestselling children's book author. She is the mom of three little ladies who keep her on her toes.
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