Nothing says, "Birthday, this way!" like a balloon tied to a street sign or mailbox. But what about the birthday decor at the event itself? Decorations might range from small and simple to over-the-top and elaborate, and there's no right or wrong way to set the scene.
Read on to see a sampling of ideas from HowStuffWorks.com and TLC!
Budget-friendly Birthday Ideas
A lot of us are budget conscious these days and throwing an extravagant birthday party is just not on the books. One of the first rules of keeping the party budget in check is to throw the birthday bash at home and skip rental costs. Make invitations yourself or use online invites (which will also save you the cost of stamps!). You can typically skip a lot of the paper decorations in lieu of making your own, too -- either draw them or print them out on the computer.
Also consider saving money by keeping the menu simple and baking the cake (or cupcakes) yourself. So what if you're not a cake decorating expert? All that matters is how it tastes and that the birthday boy or girl is happy!
Seasonal Birthday Decor
Sometimes the season itself can make the best birthday theme.
Summer birthday parties offer flexibility because school's out. Take the party outdoors with a celebration at the pool. No pool? Turn your backyard into a luau with inflatable wading pools, palm trees, sand and island music.
When planning spring and autumn birthdays rely on the bounty of the season to provide your decoration. Spring party themes can easily take advantage of fresh flowers while autumn celebrations might add pumpkin decorating and cider sipping to the event.
Winter birthdays can seem tough because they fall near the holidays. Instead of piggybacking a birthday party with New Year's Eve or Thanksgiving, give it its own special touch. Think sledding and snowmen, hot chocolate and a coconut blizzard birthday cake. And bring the season indoors with winter wonderland decorations, including white garland, white fluffy pillows and plastic icicles.
First Birthday Parties
When choosing a theme for your baby's first birthday, simple is best. First birthday parties are really more for parents to celebrate the birth of their child rather than the child to actively get in on the birthday action. Think about throwing a weekend party for friends and family, with baby-friendly finger foods of course. Or consider taking after Hollywood mom Tori Spelling, who threw a ladybug themed first birthday luncheon for her daughter, Stella.
Here's another fun idea: Decorate a scrapbook or shoebox where guests can leave notes for your birthday baby to read when he or she is older -- maybe break it out for some embarrassing fun at the Sweet 16 party
No matter what, be sure to have a camera ready to capture the fun!
Eco-friendly Birthday Ideas
Eco-friendly birthday parties require no more planning than any other birthday bash -- it's just a different flavor. Rethink the party from the invitations and the decorations to the foods you serve.
The easiest way to turn a birthday party "green" is to replace the paper items with those that are sustainable (think reusable or recyclable) instead of disposable. For example, think about your tablecloth. Sure, the $5 tablecloth from the party store is easy to dispose of, but instead, consider using a reusable, washable sheet or other fun fabric.
Also, skip all the crepe paper and balloons. Hang up Japanese paper lanterns instead (they're reusable!) or assemble homemade decorations made from recycled paper.
Throwing a themed birthday party can take the pressure off figuring out how to decorate. Whatever theme you decide -- Hit movie characters, cowboys or NASCAR -- there are party supplies waiting on the shelves of your local party supply store or discount retailer. And it's also pretty easy to figure out exactly what theme the birthday kid is going to go crazy for -- the hint is in the most-loved toys or interest.
For anyone looking for the quick and easy way to put together a themed birthday party, whether it's for a five-year-old's circus party party or a teenager's movie night, look for party kits. These packages often include banners, streamers, centerpieces and all sorts of other spot-on decorations and goodies for your bash.