No matter if you’re planning your child’s first birthday or your parent’s retirement party, it’s helpful to have some information beforehand. For example, when planning for these types of parties, you’ll find there are dozens of themes and ideas from which you can choose.
Unless you already have an idea of the kind of party you’d like to host, the process can become overwhelming. That’s where guides like this one come into play. We’re highlighting the top three types of parties and providing examples of each. That way, your party planning will be less of a challenge.
Types of Parties for Birthdays
When researching party ideas for various types of parties, you’ll find the time of year dictates what theme is appropriate or not. For example, it’s challenging to host a pool birthday party during the winter unless you find a recreational center. Or, you can’t throw a pumpkin picking fall-themed birthday party in the summer. Here are some ideas to help get those inspirational fires burning.
A Storybook 1st Birthday
There’s something magical about reading fairy tales and other stories to your child as they grow and develop. So, why not capture that magic when planning their first birthday? These types of parties are an excellent way of embracing your child’s passion for hearing stories and yours for storytelling.
Depending on where you’re hosting this party, your plans can involve substantial fixtures, like a faux carousel, for example, or something low-key. For instance, you could download free images of storybooks to frame and hang throughout your venue. Then, take that theme a bit further by using storybooks as props and decorations.
Creating your menu could include hiring a baker to decorate a storybook-themed cake. Or, you can find a tutorial online with instructions to make one in your home. Menu planning can involve creating fruit and vegetable platters in the shape of “The Hungry Caterpillar,” fruit kabobs that look like Dr. Suess, and jars of cookies in keeping with “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”
Take these plans a step further by placing a “book” box on the gift table for guests to add books to when they arrive. Help your guests understand the theme and that you’re building a library for your child by including this information on storybook-themed invitations. Decorations can include focusing on one particular storybook, like your child’s favorite, for example, or a variety of stories they enjoy.
18th Birthday Pizza Party
Another monumental moment in your child’s life is when they cross that bridge into adulthood—their eighteenth birthday. There are so many opportunities for creating the best memories during these types of parties. For example, you could feature a slideshow projection featuring favorite memories over the past eighteen years.
For this party, the focus is on pizza. It’s a favorite for many teens and adults alike. Instead of ordering a stack of the guest of honor’s favorite pies, this party idea has a twist. This party is all about having fun with food and all the guests making a small pizza. It’s a lot like a cooking class, except everything is already prepared and ready to go.
Start by prepping all the toppings you think the guest will love. Examples include slices of pepperoni, sausages, and ham, as well as crumbled ground beef. Then, chop up green pepper, mushrooms, onions, and so on. Don’t forget bowls of sauce and cheese. Set up each “pizza making station” so it includes a pre-stretched piece of dough, and small containers of all the toppings they’ll need.
Decorating for this 18th birthday party idea can include making your kitchen, dining room, or another venue, so it looks like a pizza parlor. If it’s in your budget, hand out aprons and chef’s hats to everyone as soon as they arrive. Then, take pictures of the creation process and then of what everyone’s pizzas look like when they come out of the oven.
Don’t forget the birthday cake! While the temptation might be to have a cake decorated to look like a pizza, consider thinking outside of the box. Like, using the pizza box as inspiration for the guest of honor’s cake. Or focusing on the ingredients when you hire a bakery to decorate this themed birthday cake.
40th Birthday–Hollywood Style
Do you someone who’s about to turn forty, and they also love Hollywood movies? If so, why not consider throwing them a celebration featuring that theme? It’s an excellent way of showing them you know what they love while simultaneously creating a memorable event.
It doesn’t matter if you decide to host this as an outdoor party featuring an outdoor movie projection screen or renting a private cinema room–the guest of honor will love your efforts. If you’re hosting this event at home or a party venue, consider featuring a movie from the year of their birth.
Put a spin on this Hollywood-style fortieth birthday by encouraging guests to arrive dressed as their favorite movie character. Make the dress-up idea a bit more creative by asking guests to wear costumes of characters who are at least forty-years-old or older. That way, it’s all in keeping with the party’s theme.
If the weather is warm to host the party outside, make sure you have enough lawn chairs and blankets for everyone to enjoy the movies you’re projecting. Decorations can include hanging movie reels, adding director’s chairs, and placing Oscar statues throughout the venue.
Planning the menu must include buckets of popcorn or renting a popcorn machine. Put out an assortment of “movie-theater” candy, as well as bottles of soda and sparkling water. Hire a bakery to bake a movie-reel style cake, or you can try making a Hollywood-themed cake in your home.
Take that theme a bit further by including delectable party foods. These can consist of champagne Jell-O shots, triangles of brie on crackers decorated to look like tuxedo shirts, and chocolate fondue. Think about what the guest of honor’s favorite foods are, and try making them bite-sized for this event.
Types of Parties for Graduation
No matter if the guest of honor is graduating from high school or college, it’s a time for celebration. These types of parties involve gathering your child’s friends and family to cheer them on toward their next phase of life. Because graduations tend to happen in the spring, you can also host many of these types of parties outside. Here are several ideas for creating a memorable occasion.
School Colors Graduation Theme
Every school has “colors” they use on sports jerseys, banners, and other decorative elements. As a way of celebrating your child’s graduation, make their school colors the focus of their party’s theme. There’s a lot of opportunities to have fun and get creative with this idea.
When sending out invitations featuring the school’s colors, encourage all the party guests to arrive in clothing, costumes, or sports apparel featuring them. Then, set up an “Instagram” photo booth to capture memories with your child and their guests all dressed in their school’s colors.
Decorating opportunities are endless regarding hanging clusters of helium balloons, streamers, and banners featuring the school’s colors. Consider creating an elaborate backdrop for the party food table or photography area featuring metallic streamers, balloons, and large numbers for the year of the guest of honor’s graduation.
Planning for the menu can include serving foods and drinks featuring the school’s colors. For example, if you’re working with blue and gold, serve gold ginger ale, sparkling gold cider, blue-coated popcorn, blue cotton candy, and cupcakes with blue and gold decorations. If you’re working with maroon and black, then you could serve chocolate cupcakes with white frosting in a maroon wrapper, frosted sugar cookies, pepperoni pizza bites, and Oreo cookies half-dipped in maroon icing.
There are many ways you can create a graduation cake for this party. For example, you hire a baker to create a cake that looks like the cover of the school’s yearbook. Another option is to use the school colors to create a layered cake. If you’d prefer not to work with a bakery, you could build a cupcake tower featuring the school’s colors.
“Through the Years” Graduation Party
Celebrating graduation also includes looking back on the guest of honor’s fondest memories. These memories could be of their time in high school, college, or earlier years. Take this “through the years” theme and create an occasion everyone will remember.
Pick up a few mason jars, strips of paper, and markers to place on each dining table or a separate table. Encourage every guest to write their favorite memories of the guest of honor on the strips of paper and put them in the jars. Then, give the jars to the guest of honor after the party.
Enlarge pictures of the guest of honor “through the years” and frame them as decorations. Use them to line the head table or sprinkle them throughout the venue. These pictures can be from when they were younger, or pictures guest send to you that would make a great memory.
Other decorations can include swag from their school, balloons, and streamers featuring their favorite color, and a photo collage tapestry to hang behind the guest of honor’s seat at the table. Consider projecting a slideshow presentation featuring other photos from throughout the years.
Menu planning for this event can include setting out ring pops on cake stands that are “edible class rings,” cupcake stands, and cups of treats with a graduation cap on top. Feature the guest of honor’s favorite foods from “throughout the years,” except in bite-sized form.
Throughout the party, go around and talk to each guest about what their favorite memories are of the guest of honor. Capture each of these memories on a video to give to the guest of honor after the party. Don’t forget to compile all the pictures you take and the ones you used as decorations into a photo album or scrapbook.
Degree or Occupation Theme
These types of parties work well, no matter if the guest of honor is graduating from high school or college. For example, if they’re graduating from high school, you could focus on the party’s theme around what they’re studying in college.
You have so much creative freedom with this party idea. Like, if they’re pursuing or just earned a degree in architecture, you can use faux blueprints for luminaries, the invitation’s design, gift bags, and party food wrappers. Take the idea a step further by decorating cupcakes with architectural tools.
If the guest of honor is pursuing or just earned their degree in the culinary field, you can have even more fun with that theme. Create a culinary kitchen or restaurant atmosphere at the venue. Then, pick up aprons, chef’s hats, and cooking utensils for guests to use during a cooking class.
When decorating for a degree or occupation themed graduation party, you can add the traditional graduation cap and their graduation date banner. Then, sprinkle in what their degree or occupation is to round things out.
Planning the menu can involve including themed food like if, for example, the graduate just earned their medical degree, treats can evolve around medical terminology or the field — for instance, labeling jars of candy as cotton balls, antibiotics, and using fake syringes. Then, add fake medicine bottles full of candy, bottles of soda labeled as cough syrup, and jugs of water labeled as IV fluids. If you want to plan a medical-themed party, this guide may help you.
Don’t forget to hire a bakery to decorate a cake featuring the degree or occupation theme. Surround it with towers of cupcakes featuring graduation caps. Add platters of sugar cookies that look like graduation caps, scrolls, and the guest of honor’s degree or occupation.
Types of Parties for Retirement
Do you know someone who’s about to retire from their profession? If so, it shouldn’t pass without throwing a party. Retirement is a significant achievement and milestone in this individual’s life. While they might be sad about leaving what’s familiar, it’s worth celebrating what lies ahead in their future.
Retirement Party Focusing on Hobbies
What is the guest of honor’s favorite passions? Throughout their career, did the retiree often speak about not having time to pursue or enjoy them? If so, these types of parties are an excellent way of showing the retiree the fantastic adventures they have waiting.
For example, if the retiree has a penchant for golfing, use that as the party’s theme. Consider hosting an amateur golf tournament at a local club and use their bar area for serving drinks and food. Then, hire a bakery to decorate a golf-themed cake and other pastries. If you’d prefer not to host something that extravagant, then consider setting up a mini-golf course at your home or a different venue.
Using the theme of their hobbies, decorate the venue, so it emphasizes that in conjunction with the retirement theme. For example, if the guest of honor’s hobby is scrapbooking, then you can serve a scrapbook-themed cake, set up scrapbooking stations, have an “Instagram” booth for scrapbook picture opportunities, and so on.
As far as planning the menu is concerned, choose the guest of honor’s favorite foods. What do you see them eating in restaurants or hear them talking about when they’re craving something delicious? Take those ideas and create hors d’oeuvres, party platters, and main dishes.
If the guest of honor has several hobbies and passions, then put a creative spin on their retirement party. Instead of focusing on one, create a showcase featuring all the things they can enjoy when they retire. For example, if they love to camp, go scuba diving, and take pictures, then add those elements throughout your party planning. Those elements can include giving everyone disposable cameras to take memorable photos during the party, setting up a party tent for the venue, and creating desserts that look like scuba gear.
Geographic Retirement Party
You can approach these types of parties in several ways. Does the guest of honor plan to retire in a new location? Or, following retirement, do they have plans to travel for an extended period? If so, make that the theme of their party.
For example, if the guest of honor plans to travel or move to a warmer climate, consider hosting a luau, pig roast, or beach-themed retirement party? Or, if they’re planning to travel throughout the country or internationally, host a costume party featuring their destination.
When decorating, use maps, and luggage. For example, each sign can say things like, “In-flight Beverages,” “Passport Photo,” and “Check-in Area.” Serve the “in-flight beverages” in miniature cans or cups similar to what you find on a plane. In the “Passport Photo” area, set it up so people can take photos of themselves or in groups. In the “Check-in Area,” put out party favors and a guest book.
If you’re using luggage as part of your décor, line their interiors with plastic to prevent leaking or other damage when displaying drinks, bags of treats, and party favors. Consider having a trunk full of costume pieces available in the photo area you set up.
Planning for the menu involves decorating sugar cookies to look like suitcases and airplanes. Then, take that theme idea a step further by incorporating foods from the destination. For example, if they’re traveling to New England, focus on seafood. Or, if they’re going to Italy, focus on authentic Italian cuisine instead of pizzas.
Don’t forget the small details that matter the most—like paper airplane garland you can make from maps, or you can simply buy an airplane garland. Add other touches, including sunglasses inside favor bags, if the retiree plans to head to a warm location.
There is no shortage of ideas when you’re trying to coming up with and planning for these types of parties. The trick is determining what the guest of honor’s interests, hobbies, or passions are and using that as your starting point. Then, move forward with cultivating that idea into a memorable event for the guest of honor and everyone else attending. When planning for these types of parties, don’t forget to include themed cakes, confections, and bite-sized foods.
If you are also thinking about throwing a bachelorette party, you may check out our Guide to Picking Fun Games for Bachelorette Parties for the best tips and recommendations.