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What mom among us wouldn’t love to throw a Disney Cars-themed birthday bash at an actual racetrack, festoon a field with bouncy castles or bring in a brigade of ponies for a Wild West-themed extravaganza? But for anyone with a budget (or, you know, a sense of restraint), take heart: There are plenty of ways to be hugely creative when celebrating your little one. Read on for inspo.



Mismatched china teacups and saucers from your (and your mom’s and your neighbor’s) collection, plus finger sandwiches, fresh-cut flowers and wacky headwear… Did someone say Mad Hatterrific?


A Spa Party

Ok, so yeah, we totally stole this idea from Tori Spelling. But that doesn’t make it any less doable. Provide nail polish for all the parents/pedicurists, cucumber slices and DIY face masks for relaxation, and make the dress code bathrobes and flip-flops.

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As any TMNT fan knows, those dudes are into pizza. Simply pick up enough dough from your local pizzeria, provide bowls of sauce, cheese and toppings, and let your little guests do the rest (keep adults on hand to supervise oven time). Who’s the hero in a halfshell now?


“The Voice” Karaoke Party

Tap a few willing grown-ups to be the judges, set them up in swivel chairs and let each kid karaoke her heart out--to entirely glowing reviews of course.


Broadway Babies

Write a simple play starring the birthday boy or girl, with roles for all of his or her guests. They practice before cake, then perform for their parents upon arrival.

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Psychic Vibes

Get a fabulous crystal ball and dress up as a mysterious psychic (or beg a more theatrical friend to do the honors). In advance of the party, ask each kid’s parents what they want to be when they grow up, then prophecy futures accordingly. (Totally fine if you have 16 future ballerinas.)

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Hollywood Red Carpet Premiere Party

Invite everyone to bring their most glam dress-up gear, set up a velvet rope, a selfie booth, provide movie popcorn, a “screening” (of, you know, Frozen), then unleash the parental paparazzi.


Arty Party

The idea here is to get messy—ideally outdoors. Set out finger paints (washable, obvi), brushes, silly string, paper tablecloth “canvases” and let the kids channel their inner Jackson Pollocks. Dress code? Smocks, nach.


Water World

Attention moms: There have been major advancements in Slip'N Slide technology since you cut your foot in cousin Stephen’s backyard in 1994. (Ditto sprinklers and inflatable pools--which we recommend filling with water balloons.) For those with summer birthdays and outdoor space, getting wet is where it’s at. Stuff goody bags with Swedish fish and decorate the table in a mermaid or nautical theme if you want to go the extra mile.  

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