When it comes to little boys and birthdays, anything loud -- with options for running, climbing, playing and laughing -- is sure to be a hit! These three boy birthday themes are not only a blast, but can also be adapted to different age groups. Take advantage of these crowd-pleasing party themes from the experts: parents and party planners.
Have a daughter? Check out our article with party ideas for her: Great Birthday Party Ideas for Girls »
A Dinosaur Birthday Party
It seems like all little boys go through a dinosaur stage. Grace Hage, of Portland, Oregon, held a fun Dino party for her 4-year-old son Dylan that was big hit with the birthday boy and all of his guests.
- Decorations: Dylan chose a happy dinosaur for his paper products and decorations, but older kiddos may go for the more realistic version. Giant dinosaur prints led the way from the driveway to the party where the dino fans donned safari hats and headed into the "jungle". Hage decorated the patio with vines, ferns and giant dinosaur cut outs. Dozens of Dylan's dinosaur toys were placed around the patio and play areas.
- Activities: Bury plastic dinosaurs in the sandbox so kids can dig them up like real archeologists. Do a dino-mite egg relay in which the kids race with plastic "dinosaur eggs" in a ladle, or put little dinosaurs in balloons and blow them up. Instruct kids to run to the nest, pop the balloons with their bottoms, and race back with the hatchling. For older kids, make erupting volcanoes or plan a fossil dig to add a little bit of science. Don't forget the T-rex piñata filled with little dinosaurs and dinosaur "treats"!
- Snacks: Hage's cake was a smiling Styracosaurus. She made ordinary sandwiches special with dinosaur-shaped cookie cutters, and served them with fresh fruit, carrots and apple slices. Hage said, "The boys had fun giving names to the dinosaur sandwiches and biting their heads off!" The boys drank red lava juice and ate Jell-O jigglers with plastic dinosaurs inside, while they frosted and decorated dino-shaped sugar cookies to eat and take home.
- Goodie bags: As the guests arrived, they were given a plastic beach pail and shovel to use as goodie bags. Hage wrote each child's name on his pail and the boys could decorating it at a craft table set up with markers, stamps, glitter and dinosaur-themed foam cut outs and stickers.
Searching for treasure and playing with swords is sure make being a pirate seem fun! "Kids love to dress up," says Cathy Stewart, a Miami, Florida party planner of Cathy's Parties. "That's why wearing pirate garb needs to be part of the fun." One of the greatest things about a pirate party is that it lets kids use their imaginations to really have fun and pretend they are a character.
- Decorations: Every pirate party needs a large Jolly Roger flag: white skull and crossbones displayed over a black background. A large treasure chest with candy jewelry, chocolate coins and Mardi Gras beads that kids can help themselves to is a nice mood setter. Stewart likes to use crumbled butcher paper to fill the bottom section before adding all the loot. Make small treasure boxes out of shoe boxes covered with butcher paper, then add some treasures and stash them around the party area. Hang fishing nets from ceiling corners, add realistic-looking parrots and decorate the area with black and red streamers.
- Activities: Kids love to dress up and getting dressed up in pirate garb is all part of the fun. Stewart suggests having kids come in either a striped or solid colored T-shirt and provide pirate hats, bandanas, waist sashes, skull rings and eye patches to wear. Have an adult apply temporary tattoos and add mustaches and beard stubble with eyeliner. Pirates can top off their outfits with a plastic sword, hand hook or clip-on hoop earrings. Take individual photos, as well as a group photo, and include them in thank you notes.
Games can consist of hidden treasure (in a sandbox or as a scavenger hunt, depending on the pirates' ages), walking the plank, a fishing booth or cannon ball pop (tie a a black balloon to the party goer's leg and they must try to pop all of the other balloons while avoid getting theirs popped). If you have room, Stewart suggests having a swab-the-deck contest using brooms and ping pong or beach balls. The pirates (all together or in groups) swab the deck by getting their two balls from one point to another and back again.
- Snacks: Continue the theme into the food by giving items fun names like "shark blood" for red punch, "ocean water" for blue punch, "cannon balls" for grapes or cherry tomatoes, "captain's hook" for twisted pretzels and "shark bait" for goldfish crackers. "For extra fun, put the pretzels in a big bowl and let kids wear a plastic pirate hook to fish them out," Stewart suggests.
- Goodie bags: Along with their new pirate gear, send guests home with bags of chocolate gold coins, pirate stickers, tattoos and all of the treasures they found or won during the games.
Sport-themed parties are a great choice for boys' parties because they're easily adapted for age groups and may concentrate on one or many sports. Max spent his first three years going to his two older brothers' sporting events, wishing he were old enough to be on their teams. So his mom, Caitlyn Boone from Raleigh, North Carolina, knew a sports party was the perfect choice for his fourth birthday.
- Decorations: Boone set up a t-ball station, soccer and hockey goals, a basketball hoop, a football target (out of a hula-hoop), a bowling game and a small obstacle course. When guests arrived, they were given a kid-sized sport bag to decorate with fabric markers while the other guests arrived.
- Activities: Kids went to the different activities and, after completing the tasks, got a small sports-related prize, such as Nerf balls, hockey-goal shaped cars or soccer water bottles. The adult running each station also marked every child's program with a sticker next to the sport they finished, along with a positive note like "Jacob got a basket on his first try!"
"It was very important to me that the kids would be able to look back through the book and read encouraging words about themselves," says Boone. The kids could do the sports in any order, but needed to finish them all. Once they had their cards filled, they took them to the coach's table, turned it in and received their all-star trophy.
- Snacks: Food was standard stadium fare: hot dogs, chips and popcorn, along with sports-oriented cupcakes and ice cream cones. Don't be afraid to branch out though, such as using glass storage containers to bake individual ball cakes for each kiddo. Or make little "footballs" out of pigs in a blanket -- add a little brown food coloring to the dough and re-roll it before baking and using a little cream cheese or sour cream (mustard and ketchup are just as good for picky kids) to make the laces.
- Goodie bags: Every boy went home a tired, trophy-winning athlete! Inside of the goody bag was a personalized program Boone had made for each child with their name and stats on the front and a list of each activity inside. Boone's sister took pictures while the kids played the games and snapped one of each child with their trophies. These pictures were sent back to each party guest with a thank you note from the birthday boy.
Kristy Stevens-Young is a freelance writer in Seattle. Her work can be found here.