Birthday Party Decoration Ideas

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The big party is just around the corner. If you are tired of boring streamers and balloons, but stumped when you try to think of something else, here are some examples of ways to think outside the box for creative, fun birthday party decoration ideas for all ages.

Personality Matters

  • Instead of trying to impress guests with the fanciest decorations, first consider the personality of the person for whom the party is being thrown. The decorations should please him/her most of all and should fit his/her personality. As author Gabrielle Glaser writes, "Birthday parties are about letting someone else have their moment: choosing a thoughtful present, or making a card, saying thank you."

    If the guest of honor is shy about giving hints about what kind of themes he/she would like for the party, you can still come up with great decorations. Think of hobbies or activities he/she enjoys or special accomplishments. For example, even if it is not baseball season, your 12-year-old son would still appreciate a party decorated in the colors of his favorite team.

    If you are worried about the birthday person not being pleased with your decorations, just ask. Maybe he/she can even help give you ideas.

Spanning the Ages

  • Go with a theme. For a child, something as simple as a favorite book, like Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," could be a starting point. Cover a table or floor in the playroom with green paper to create a garden atmosphere. Use eye-catching materials like glitter and pipe cleaners to create caterpillars and butterflies the kids can take home with them. Small balloons could serve as the bodies for caterpillars and butterflies, another decoration the kids can take home. Just like the caterpillar, the kids will be very hungry, so incorporate the theme into snack ideas. Individual "dirt cakes"--Oreos and whipped cream with gummy worms in little flower pots--are especially yummy.

    For a successful party for a teenager, let him/her help with ideas and planning in order to avoid the very real possibility of him/her being embarrassed at the parents' well-intentioned party ideas. Even if the teen chooses a party themed after a favorite punk rock band, you know he will have a good time and appreciate the independence. To make a rock-and-roll party, use what your teenager has. Use posters of favorite bands and LP covers of favorite albums, and if they do not have these, perhaps they could be part of the birthday gift.

    For an older person, whether adult or senior citizen, think about what he does with his free time. Maybe he plays golf every weekend. Maybe she gardens or belongs to a book club. For a gardener, have her favorite plants displayed (if hard to find, photographs or artwork of favorite plants). Seed packets could serve as party favors or even balloon weights. A poem about the joys of gardening could be printed on elegant paper and placed on each plate.

    If you are truly stuck and cannot think of a theme, one idea that works for all ages is a "favorite things" party. Make a list of the person's favorite things, and enlist her family and friends to help. Incorporate all of these things---whether foods, colors, bands, songs, sports teams, celebrities or seasons---in various ways through decorations. She will appreciate the personal touches, and chances are you will end up with a quirky, eclectic party the guests will remember.

    Whatever theme you choose for the birthday party, be confident and have fun! Nothing kills the mood of a party like an uneasy host. Once guests see you relaxed and having fun, they will loosen up, too.

The Materials

  • Now that you have an idea, it is time for the hands-on work. A few weeks before the party or as soon as possible, start carrying around a notepad to jot down ideas or objects that inspire you.

    Start with things you have around the house. Items you throw away every day, from disposable food containers to newspapers, can be resurrected for creative decorations or favors. Do you have young children? What creative uses can you think of for baby food jars?

    When you want one-of-a-kind decorations or favors but do not have time to hunker down with an exact-o knife for hours, shop craft fairs or websites, such as Etsy.com, for the perfect handmade bits. For brave crafters, these websites can also serve as inspiration.

    Garage sales and consignment stores can be the perfect place to find an hilarious gag gift or even a unique, beautiful piece.

    When you find something that catches your eye, think of how it could be used for any of these decoration essentials: welcome or directions signage outdoors, favors, gift bags, centerpieces, place settings, guest sign-in books or signs, games, murals, or wall and ceiling decorations.

    Keep an open mind, do not demand perfection from yourself, and focus on celebrating another year of life with a loved one.

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