It’s here! The ultimate list of party theme ideas to keep you inspired for your next event. Whether you’re looking for kids birthday party ideas, birthday invitations or something a little more mature, there’s something on the list for you. We’ve gathered 70 categories to get you started on choosing a theme, but most of them open up a whole bunch of sub-categories (Vintage? That could be any decade!).
We’ve chosen not to break the list up into kids and adults, because being age-appropriate is really more about how you apply the theme.
Kids birthday party ideas
For a kids party, take the themes literally and get really whimsical with your decorations and activities. Have everyone dress in costume and incorporate party games that fit the theme. Food can be themed as well as decorations. If you’re having a safari-themed party, for example, have kids come dressed for a safari, hand out toy binoculars and safari hats, and decorate with animal-themed everything. Consider a scavenger hunt to find hidden animals for prizes, and plan your other activities to fit the inspiration. This probably doesn’t need saying, but when you’re coming up with kids party ideas, remember to ask your kids! They’ve probably got a tonne of creative ideas and at least some of them might be doable. ;)
Adults Birthday party ideas
Whether you’re after 21st birthday ideas or a plan for mums 50th birthday, most of the themes on this list can be applied to an adult party just as well as they can for a younger crowd. Keep things sophisticated by taking a more interpretive approach. A safari theme might mean lots of animal print and khaki and a few animal features rather than a full safari set-up. A pirate theme might mean people dress up and you decorate in the style, but you don’t subject them to pirate games or themed activities. Of course, you can always embrace something whimsical and youthful, no matter what age you are! There’s no rule that says you can’t have all your guests dress as superheroes and compete in a tournament just because it’s not one of your first 10 birthdays.
So these themes are just to get you started. How you apply them is entirely up to your creativity! Ready? Let’s go!
- Pirates – For a kids party, walk the plank, have everyone dress up, and have a treasure hunt. For adults? Lots of rum.
- First letter of your name – if your name is Bridget, why not have your guests come dressed up as something starting with the letter ‘B’? Serve burgers, banana splits and beer, and listen to The Beach Boys?
- TV/Movie inspired – What’s your favourite TV show or movie? Whether it’s something like Mad Men or Game of Thrones, a reality show like Survivor or Project Runway, or something for the kids (Frozen? Ninjago?), why not base your party on something from the world of the screen?
- Book inspired – Whether it’s Harry Potter or Alice in Wonderland, a popular book or series can be all the inspiration you need for your next party.
- Video game inspired – If you’re a gamer, why not base your party on your favourite game? A Minecraft, Call of Duty or Candy Crush party can be a great way to celebrate.
- Superheroes – Pay respect to the famous existing superheroes, or have your guests get creative and invent their own.
- Animals – This works great for kids, and it’s super flexible! You can theme the party around all animals, or choose one particular animal. A dog party? Why not!
- Butterflies – Colourful, girly and great for decorating everything from walls to cakes.
- Circus or carnival – There’s nothing like the circus, but your party can be. Be inspired by the clowns, acrobats, ferris wheel and the lion tamer.
- Dinosaurs – Maybe your kid loves the T-Rex or the idea of digging up fossils? Maybe they’ve seen Jurassic Park at least a hundred times.
- Cars/Trucks – Classic vintage cars, sleek luxury rides or long-haul trucks, make a party special for the car-lover.
- Construction site – Diggers, tools, hard hats and caution tape. Easy materials to get creative with.
- Food item – Love donuts? Crazy for pizza? Make that the basis of your party and build around the food.
- Fairies – A great one for little girls, complete with fairy cakes and lots of glitter.
- Ninjas – Easy costumes for parents to throw together for their kids, just be ready to spend a lot of time making sure fights don’t get out of control.
- Farmyard – Animal-themed decorations, a few hay bales for seating and a picnic lunch are all you need for a farmyard bash!
- Fish – Whether it’s fishing as an activity or happy, alive goldfish, there’s plenty of inspiration to be found.
- Beach/Tropical – You don’t have to actually host your event on the beach to bring some beach vibes to the party.
- Ocean/Under the sea – Dip below the surface for some underwater inspiration. Coral, marine life and submarines galore.
- Mermaids – Jazz up the ocean theme with lots of shells, sparkles and pretty things!
- Occupations – What did you dream of being ‘when you grow up’? Why not have everyone dress as their dream job, or theme the party around different jobs.
- Sport – Sport in general, or something specific like a golf or soccer party. You could also go for Olympics-themed, especially if it’s around that time.
- Flowers – Again, make it a crazy world of florals or choose one particular flower to build the event around. Why not a rose party or a tulip party? Perfect for Spring.
- Science – Channel your inner mad scientist with beakers and test tubes, lab coats, a fog machine and lots of fun experiments.
- Magic – The fog machine might come in handy here too! It’s all about smoke and mirrors, top hats, sparkles and the use of invisible fishing wire.
- Around the world – Maps, globes and suitcases are perfect for a travel or geography-themed party.
- Stripes – This is pretty self-explanatory! Just choose everything in stripes to tie the whole event together. Stripey invitations, stripey decor, stripey food.
- Polka dots – Similar to stripes but a different motif. Polka dots everywhere, in one colour or in many. You could also opt for other pattern types as your unifying theme. Think chevron, plaid or paisley.
- Colour – Build your party around one key colour, or a couple. A white party? A green and gold party? Whatever you choose, the results will be striking.
- Space – Stars, planets, rocket ships and astronauts.
- Royalty – be a princess or prince for the day, and let all your guests join in. Create your palace and make sure everything is fit for nobility.
- Sports team – If you follow a team, why not use that as inspiration for your day? You can keep it simple by borrowing the colour scheme or go all out with the branding.
- Camping or explorer – Tents, rope, nature and a good map. Perfect! Bring that experience to life with your party.
- Season – Work with the time of year you’re hosting the party. Winter wonderland? All-out orange Autumn extravaganza?
- Art – Paint splotches, easels and a dash of creativity. Be inspired by an art studio with paint swatch cookies and jars of pink champagne.
- Airplanes or boats – Bring the travel vibe to the party. Clouds, waves, portholes and lifesaver rings.
- Wild West – Cowboys hats and boots, horses, cacti and sheriff’s stars.
- Chef/baking – Be inspired by the kitchen, and incorporate fun things like whisks, scales, and other kitchen implements (and food of course!) into the decor.
- Safari – Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Khaki, animal prints, and greenery are a must.
- Numbers or letters – The entire alphabet, numbers in general, or both. Or you could opt for a specific letter or number (say, the number of years you have been alive).
- Place-inspired – Love London, nostalgic for Normandy or missing Manhattan? Bring your favourite place to you.
- Nautical – Like all good nautical fashion, think stripes, blues, netting and rope.
- Books – Be inspired by the physical object of a book and go library chic for your next party. Guests could dress as a favourite book character, give you a copy of their favourite book, or just party with bookish decor around them.
- Music – Got a music genre, band, artist or song that you love? Build your party around it!
- Knights – Travel back to medieval times with a knight-inspired party. Lots of metallics, wood, stone and weaponry.
- Glitter – Glitter balloons, sparkly invitations and a disco ball. You can even rock a sequined dress with glitter heels and nail polish to really stand out.
- Beauty salon – Seek inspiration in the salon and make your party pretty.
- Tea party – Get girly with delicate teacups and teapots, iced biscuits, lacy dresses and whimsy.
- Forest – Whether you hold your party outdoors or bring branches and other greenery indoors, embrace the forest with rich natural colours and forest critters.
- Spy – Live out your secret agent or detective fantasies with a spy party. The key to this is in the games and activities: there are so many fun options.
- Spooky – If you love Halloween, make it happen twice in one year with a spooky birthday party!
- Vintage/retro – You might go for a descriptive word like ‘hippies’, ‘mod’, ‘flappers’ or even just ‘retro’, or pick a specific decade for your inspiration.
- Black and white – Have everyone dress in black and white and decorate in a black and white colour scheme. Then, to really stand out, dress the guest of honour in red or another bright colour.
- Speakeasy – A more specific vintage option, definitely for grown-ups only.
- Hollywood – Old Hollywood glamour or new Hollywood stardom, channel some celebrity for a truly memorable occasion. Don’t forget the red carpet!
- Masquerade – There’s nothing quite as intriguing as a masquerade, with identities obscured for a night.
- Casino – Another one for the grown-ups, a casino party gives you a fun aesthetic as well as endless entertainment options.
- Gothic – Be inspired by all things dark and macabre.
- Steampunk – Gears, cogs, pulleys, clocks and metal abound at a good steampunk party. A fun mix of Victorian-era historical and futuristic fantasy.
- Vampires – Dark meets glam for a vampire party. You’ll need lots of candles, black and red, and lush velvet fabric.
- Black light/Neon – Have guests dress in Neon and decorate in fluro colours. For bonus points, get hold of some black lights to really make the colour pop.
- Age-bender – For a fun costume party, guests can dress as themselves…but as children or senior citizens.
- Seven deadly sins – The seven deadly sins are gluttony, lust, greed, pride, sloth, wrath and envy. Get creative and have different parts of your party reflect each of the sins.
- Black tie – When you’re having a full black tie event, the dress code really becomes the theme. Go for full decadence to make sure everything matches the outfits.
- City – Think skyscrapers, lights and traffic: a city-themed party will bring the hustle and bustle of the big smoke to your event.
- Fairytale – Channel Hans Christian Andersen and The Brothers Grimm into your party to transport your guests to “Once upon a time” .
- History – Got a fascination with the Ancient Greeks or the courtiers of Russia in the 1800s? All of history is inspiration for a great party theme, just take your pick.
- Kids party for grown-ups – At some point we grow out of pass-the-parcel and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, but there’s no reason you can’t have a grown-up version of a kids party, complete with goodie bags.
- Metallic – There’s always something luxurious about metal, so bring a little shine to your big day with a metallic-themed birthday party.
- Arabian Nights – Enjoy the exotic with a Moroccan-themed party. Think lanterns, rich tapestries and a shisha lounge.
Hopefully at least one of the concepts on this list strikes your fancy and gives you some ideas for your next birthday party! Whether it’s a first birthday party, a twenty-first or a one hundred and first, these themes will help you create an unforgettable event for everyone involved.