It’s Party Time With These Age-Appropriate Themes
African-american girl looking at birthday cake, having party with friends

Are you planning your child’s birthday bash? Here is a list of easy-to-organise, fabulously fun party activities for children of all ages.

Birthdays are always a fun celebration no matter the age – nothing beats seeing your child’s face light up with excitement. This year, make your child’s birthday better than ever with one of these unique party themes and ideas.

READ MORE: How to Host a Memorable Party During a Pandemic

Age 2–3 years

Bike, trike and scooter rally

Ready Children will need to bring along their pushbikes, trikes or scooters, so remember to send out a request with the invitations. Borrow a couple of bikes and have these as backup for those who forget theirs. You’ll need to chalk up a course on your driveway with a few obstacles and road signs.

Get set Map out a track and include a stop street or two and a traffic light (enlist a parent’s help – green plate for go, red for stop).

Go Children can scoot around the course at leisure, or parents can help them along. A talking stop sign (Grandpa might like this job), chatty traffic lights (perhaps Dad has the sense of humour for this one?) and a human tunnel will add to the fun.

Age 4–6 years

What’s potting

Ready You’ll need a couple of punnets of seedlings (try herbs like basil or flowers such as pansies or marigolds), potting soil, small terracotta pots, a watering can or two and  spoons that can be used as little spades. Then something for decorating the pots – for younger children: ear buds, acrylic paint and strips of ribbon; for older children: sequins, mosaic tiles, craft glue, beads and raffia. Ask children to bring an apron, otherwise you will need to provide something to protect their clothing.

Get set Arrange the equipment outside, or in your family room with lots of newspaper on the table and floor – somewhere you don’t mind mess.

Go Children can decorate their pots. Little ones can use an ear bud to create a polka-dot design on the body of the pot and then, with help, tie a piece of ribbon of their choice round the neck. Older children can stick mosaic tiles round the rim, or decorate with sequins, or thread beads onto raffia and wind round the pot. When they are done they can select a seedling and plant it, which they then get to take home with them.

Age 5–8 years

Racing car relay

Ready You’ll need some large cardboard boxes (ask your local supermarket if they have any packaging you could recycle), paint, brushes, scissors, glue, colourful paper, plastic packaging for decorating, red-and-white danger tape, tent pegs, and a few cycling helmets. Ask children to bring an apron or old shirt to work in, otherwise you’ll need to provide something to protect their clothing.

Get set Use danger tape secured in place with tent pegs and make lanes (to match the number of teams) in your garden or the neighbourhood park.

Go Divide the children into teams and get them to build and decorate their “racing cars”. It’s probably a good idea to serve the food once the cars are built (this’ll allow time for the glue to dry – and you can add the odd staple to secure things before the race). This is also a good time to take a photo of each car – they probably won’t look quite their best after the relay! Then arrange half the team at the one end of a lane, the rest at the other. In turn, each team member must first put on and fasten the helmet, jump into the car and carry it along with them down the lane. When they reach the end, the driver hops out, hands over the helmet and the next driver continues. Award prizes for best-looking car, most sturdy vehicle and winning team.

Age 3–8 years

Create a cupcake

Ready You’ll need sufficient un-iced cupcakes (if you’d prefer to avoid the hassle of baking your own, store-bought chocolate or blueberry muffins will work just as well); ingredients for making a few colours of icing; and sprinkles, chocolate buttons and other bits for decorating the cupcakes.

Get set Prepare the icing and set up a table with all the goodies for decorating, plus some palette knives or sucker sticks for applying the icing.

Go The children can decorate their own cupcakes. You could get them to vote for their favourites or just take a photo of each (to send with the thank-you note) and allow them to munch on their creations.

Age 7–10 years

Photo trail

Ready This is the techno take on the nature/treasure hunt. Instead of bringing back the item, teams must return with a photo of each object or activity on the list. You’ll need a few fairly indestructible point-and-shoot digital cameras. (Perhaps some of the children are able to bring their own. Chat to parents when you hand out the invitations).

Get set Visit the venue to familiarise yourself with what’s there. Make a list of the things the guests will need to capture on their cameras and print out a copy for each team. If you are having the party at your local botanical garden, for instance, include a particular tree, a sculpture, a bird that’s a common resident, and so on. At your own home you might include a close-up shot of an ant, something purple, five round items of different colours or a funny face. You can also get the children to snap themselves making a human pyramid, for example. For safety sake, if you are in a public place, you’ll need an adult to dash round with each team. At your home you might want to stipulate no-go areas. You probably don’t want your wardrobe unpacked in search of that feather boa your son saw you wear to a fancy dress last year …

Go Divide the children into groups and send them off to find the things on the list and photograph them. Give prizes for the best photo, first to complete the assignment or funniest picture. If you’re at home you could show the children each other’s images by loading them all onto a memory stick and playing it through your music system on the TV.

READ MORE: Treasure Hunts Are Fun For the Whole Family

Age 8–10 years

Backwards bonanza

Ready You’ll need a few old rice bags for sack races (try your hardware store), sticky tape in a dispenser, as many sheets of wrapping paper as there are guests, and a small gift wrapped in tissue paper.

Get set Set out the party food on the tablecloth under the table. Have a music system with an appropriate CD at the ready.

Go Greet children with “goodbye”; start by eating the food under the table, sing happy birthday backwards – you can stick the words underneath the tabletop: “You to birthday happy, you to birthday happy,” and so on. Play the birthday child’s favourite party games backwards and reward the “losers” as the winners. Hop sack-race relays in reverse. Play pass the parcel, getting the children to each wrap the gift in a layer of paper when it’s their turn, the child left with the last sheet of wrapping paper gets to keep the gift. Play musical statues, but the children need to dance when the music is off and freeze when the music is on. Send them all home with a cheerful “hello”.

Age 8–13 years

Pretty pamper

Ready You’ll need a few large plastic bowls; nail-polish remover; bubble bath; cotton wool; towels; nail files; foot cream; and a variety of nail-polish colours. You’ll also need to enlist the help of a few moms (“beauty therapists”) and hire a DVD that the children will enjoy.

Get set Fill the baths with warm water and mix in some bubble bath.

Go Put on the movie and let the girls soak their feet as they watch. The beauty therapists can then dry off the guests’ feet, tidy up their nails with a file, apply foot cream and paint their nails in the colour of their choice.

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Age 8–13 years

Music mania

Ready You’ll need a music system that can take a microphone and a CD of the birthday child’s favourite songs (or consider hiring a karaoke machine). Come up with a list of song titles and write these on little slips of paper. You could also find someone to teach the partygoers some cool new hip-hop moves, for instance.

Get set Make sure the music system is working and set it up in the room where you are having the party.

Go Let the guests take turns singing along through the mic, the less outgoing can sing in pairs. Run a game of charades with the song titles you have prepared and get them to try out a few dance moves with the help of your guest hip-hop “star” or a current music video. 

Group of children dancing in choreography class