Tips for Throwing an Awesome Kid Birthday Party for Any Age

Our incredible Ages & Stages Party-Saver Tips will have you planning awesome kid parties that are perfectly suited to your birthday kid’s age group. From toddler to teen. Get it right… first time, every time!

Each child is unique and develops at their own pace. So these tips are not meant to be rigid rules. Use them loosely, as guidelines, and they’ll keep you on track. If you’re planning a kid party for a mixed age group you’ll definitely want to keep all our Ages & Stages Party-Saver Tips close at hand!

Party-Saver Tips for Different Ages & Stages Party Saver Tips

1 Year Preteen (10-12)
Preschool (2-5) Teen (13+)
School Age (6-9) Mixed Age Groups

Three Essential Ingredients For Throwing Awesome Kid Parties

Kids grow up so fast (too fast if you ask me) and they’re constantly going through different developmental stages, learning new things and finding
new interests. And kid birthday party themes, favors, games and activities that were loads of fun last year may not cut it this year.

  1. Know what type of party themes, favors, games and activities are fun and exciting for your kid’s age group. (We’ve got you covered. It’s all right here!)
  2. Keep your party pantry well stocked with lots of creative ideas and enthusiasm. (We’ve got you covered, again. Just add your enthusiasm!)
  3. And most important of all – consider your kid’s personality and interests. (This one’s all yours. But than, who knows your kid better than you do?)

Keeping your child in mind is so critical to the success of your kid’s party! It doesn’t matter what other parents are doing or what the latest trends are. All that matters is what’s best for your birthday kid.

For example, if a circus theme parties happens to be all the rage these days then throwing a circus theme party and hiring a clown for your very outgoing, circus loving, six-year-old sounds like a great idea. But if your six-year-old is very shy, and doesn’t like to be the center of attention you’re probably heading for a birthday party disaster.

The First Birthday Milestone (1 Year)

Kid Party Tips for One-Year-Olds:

  • First birthday parties are really for you, your family and your friends to celebrate and reminisce about the first 12 months of your baby’s life. And if this is your first child, your first year as a parent.
  • Although your one-year-old is the guest of honor, your birthday girl
    or boy will not understand what a birthday party is.
  • One year olds aren’t going to remember anything about their party and may be overwhelmed by too much activity, excitement or unfamiliar faces. But a gathering of familiar faces in a party setting can still be an enjoyable and positive experience.
  • Many parents choose to keep things simple by celebrating this milestone with a gathering of close relatives and two or three friends who have babies the same age. It’s best to keep the party between 1-1 ½ hours.
  • Other families have long standing traditions of celebrating first birthdays with a big bash. These types of first birthday parties usually include lots of family and friends — which means many adults and a wide age range of kids. They also tend to last much longer.
  • This is the time when babies are discovering their new mobility. They are developing a sense of independence and an urge to explore their world with their hands. They are absolutely fascinated by action and reaction.
  • Suggested Activities: Set up a baby proof play area on the floor with blankets and lots of cushions. Babies don’t play well together so you’ll want to have separate toys for each baby so they can play alongside each other. Stock it with an assortment of stuffed toys, easy-to-grasp balls, rattles, soft building blocks, toys that open and close, and toys that fill-and-spill.
  • Board books with rhythmic, repetitive prose are also good for one-year-olds.
  • You may want to gather all the mommy’s (or daddy’s) for a couple of brief “mommy & me type activities like hide & seek with a favorite toy or a game of peek-a-boo. At this age that’s all you really need.

For more ideas for throwing awesome one-year-old kid parties see our section on:

First Birthday Party Ideas

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Preschool (Ages 2-5)

Kid Party Tips for Two-Year-Olds:

  • Two-year-olds still don’t fully understand the concept of a birthday party and probably won’t remember it. But they do love being the center of attention.
  • Lots of toys and decorations can help make the occasion special and add to the fun and excitement. Just be careful not to overwhelm by too much activity, excitement or unfamiliar faces.
  • Invite four or five kids with parents. It’s best to keep the party between 1-1 ½ hours.
  • Toddlers are actively learning about themselves and the world around them. They enjoy being around other toddlers but still haven’t learned how to play together. They can be demanding, possessive and grabby.
  • They frequently get panicky when Mommy (or daddy) is not by their side. At this stage always request that Mommies and/or Daddies attend the party with their little ones.
  • Since your guest list will include parents too, most of the party preparation may still be geared towards entertaining your adult party guests.
  • Be aware the whistles, noise makers, popping balloons and masks may frighten some toddlers.
  • This is the age when pretend play really swings into action. Two-year-olds are fascinated by everything that mommy and daddy do and they want in on the action. This is the “me do it” age.
  • Suggested Activities: Toddlers tire easily and can get cranky very quickly so keep all organized games and activities short and simple. Sing-a-longs, dancing, coloring (extra chunky crayons!), circle games like Musical Bumps, and very simple hunts like Tiny Tot Treasure Hunt work well.
  • But don’t be disappointed if they don’t want to cooperate. Just in case, set up a toddler activity area with lots of toys for supervised parallel play. At this age, some of the best times are had just playing side by side.

For more ideas for throwing awesome two-year-old kid parties see our section on:

Terrific Preschool Birthday Party Themes

Great Preschool Birthday Party Games

Awesome Birthday Party Activities for Preschool Kids

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Kid Party Tips for Three-Year-Olds:

  • By the time kids are three they’re beginning to understand what parties are all about. My friends (yes, by this time they’ve learned that other kids are actually fun to play with!),… presents for me, … and a special cake with candles.
  • They’re starting to enjoy games and may already be developing a love of parties.
  • A good rule to follow is invite no more than will fit around your table. Six is usually an ideal number for a third birthday party. It’s best to keep the party between 1-2 hours.
  • At this stage their social skills will depend on how much previous exposure they’ve had in preschool and other social settings.
  • Depending on your child’s personality, an entertainer could be either welcome or overwhelming. Especially if your child doesn’t like to be the center of attention. Think carefully about what would best suit your child. Consider talking to other parents and party professionals about their experience too.
  • At this age kids are usually ready to attend a birthday party on their own. Three-year-olds are often better behaved when their parents aren’t around. If a child is extremely shy child or tends to be somewhat rowdy it’s probably best if the parent attends the party. You’ll have to use your best judgment here. If you’re not sure it’s best to request that the parent attend.
  • Be prepared to act quickly if a squabble arises. But remember a birthday party isn’t the place to discipline a child. Just separate the kids or remove the source of the problem.
  • Suggested Activities: Three-year-olds enjoy rhymes, simple musical games like Musical Shapes, dress-up, easy guessing games like Guess the Sound, and tossing games like Feed the Lion. For crafts Play-Doh (make your own) and washable paints (make your own) are great.
  • They love themes that explore the world around them like farm animals, transportation, and the seashore.
  • Plan about four short games and activities. They can also be temperamental and may not want to join in organized games and activities. So set up an activity center with plenty of toys suited for three-year-olds.

For more ideas for throwing awesome three-year-old kid parties see our section on:

Terrific Preschool Birthday Party Themes

Great Preschool Birthday Party Games

Awesome Birthday Party Activities for Preschool Kids

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Kid Parties for Four-Year-Olds:

  • This is the age when kids really understand what birthday parties are all about. And they love parties that all totally focused on them.
  • Most four-year-olds will be happy to leave their parents and spend a couple of hours being entertained with their friends.
  • The birthday kid will enjoy helping you plan the festivities so get her involved early on.
  • Invite six or ten kids. Ask your child which friends she’d like to invite. And only ask relatives whom your child is comfortable. You can ask parents to drop their kids off and pick them up in 2 hours. You may have some children that want their parents to stay. That’s OK, you can always recruit them as additional helping hands.
  • Since parents aren’t expect to stay for the party make sure you’ve arranged to have enough parental supervision in addition to a couple of “extra helping hands”.
  • Four-year-olds will be open and enthusiastic for just about anything you present. They love to express themselves through elaborate pretend play. So let your imagination run wild and have fun! Make sure you plan enough suitable entertainment to keep these young restless children from becoming bored.
  • Suggested Activities: At this age kids really love to play games. Explain the rules and be prepared the help them. Plan up to eight games that will last five minutes each.
  • Play non-competitive games for fun or where everyone wins a treat or small prize. It’s also a good idea to prepare a few more games than you think you need, just in case things go faster than you anticipated.
  • Musical Bumps, Mystery Packages, and Chain Reaction are all great games for four-year-olds.
  • Set up a quiet play area with books and jigsaw puzzles for shy guests who don’t want to join in the organized games and activities.
  • If the kids get to wild have them play a really quite game like sleeping lions. Then play a copying game like Simon Says. Once they have quieted down you can continue with your party plans.

For more ideas for throwing awesome four-year-old kid parties see our section on:

Terrific Preschool Birthday Party Themes

Great Preschool Birthday Party Games

Awesome Birthday Party Activities for Preschool Kids

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Kid Party Tips for Five-Year-Olds:

  • One year can make a big difference. In many ways, five-year-olds are much more grown-up than four year olds. They can really appreciate a well though out party theme and a wide variety of games and activities.
  • At this they’re starting to develop specific interests. These interests may only last for a month or so before they move or they may also stick with something for a while longer. Don’t miss a perfect opportunity for a kid party theme!
  • Like four-year-olds they love parties that are totally focused on them. They will even look forward to a birthday party for weeks in advance.
  • By now your child may even be somewhat of a party expert and will be happy to act as a party planning consultant for their own party.
  • Now that your child is in school, she may want to invite the whole class to her party. Unless you have plenty of help or are going to a party place it’s best to keep the number of guests to 10. And the keep the party between 2-2 ½ hours. If the party goes any longer your guests will wear themselves out and become cranky. And you can’t expect a cranky five-year-old to behave in a sociable manner.
  • If you’re planning on keeping the party small, don’t ask the teacher to distribute the invitations at school – it can be devastating for those children who are not invited.
  • At this age your child may start to express the desire for a same-gender party.
  • Five-year-olds are less interactive with each other than four-year-olds. Some tend to be more self-conscious, while others tend to hang out with a single friend. You’ll probably have to put a little more effort into drawing this age group into group activities.
  • It’s very important for five-year-old to keep track of newly acquired stuff. So to avoid any unpleasant scenes give each kid a shopping bag with her name on it to carry her party treasure home.
  • You’ll be entertaining an energetic group of kids so plan enough activities to keep them all busy. And keep the momentum of the party going. To avoid slow spots between games and activities prepare as much as you can the before hand.
  • Supervise all games and activities. Team games are still tricky at this age and you may have to play referee (tactfully of course) if tempers start to fray.
  • Stay on the lookout for bossy kids. Recruit them to help you referee so they don’t take over the games.
  • It’s important to let the birthday kid start off as many games as possible.
  • Suggested Activities: Plan 10-12 games. Use popular theme for party games. Mix it up with a variety of energetic and quiet games, team games and memory or brainteaser games. The games should last no longer than 7-10 minutes each or you may lose them.
  • Old Man in the Sea, Dinosaur Dig, and Snatch are all great party games for five-year-olds. This is a good age to ask kids to wear costumes, and it’s usually pretty safe to hire an entertainer like a clown or magician.

For more ideas for throwing awesome five-year-old kid parties see our section on:

Terrific Preschool Birthday Party Themes

Great Preschool Birthday Party Games

Awesome Birthday Party Activities for Preschool Kids

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School Age Kid Parties (Ages 6-9)

Kid Party Tips for Six-Year-Olds:

  • Six-year-olds will want to become more actively involved in planning and preparing for their birthday parties. They’ve probably been to quite a few different types of parties by now.
  • Have them help you develop the guest list, prepare invitations, pick out prizes, and choose games and other activities. Don’t forget to recruit your little helper when it’s time to make props and prepare the food.
  • They are starting to form friendships so ask to make sure you don’t leave any import kids of the guest list. Keep the number of guest to 10 and don’t let the party exceed 3 hours. At this age 2-2 ½ hours is fine.
  • At this age your child may be expressing the desire for a same-gender party.
  • Parties away from home can work well for kids from six years old and up.
  • They also like to incorporate specific themes into their pretend play (i.e.: princes and princesses, cartoon super heroes, and roles model like doctors, nurses, astronauts, etc.). Sounds like a good opportunity to find a great kid party theme!
  • Six-year-olds are more agile and coordinated and love physical activity and playing outside. If the weather is right it’s a perfect time for an outdoor party.
  • At this age many kids are much more aggressive and destructive than they were a year ago. So plan enough activities to help them constructively burn up that seemingly endless source of energy.
  • By now many children have acquired a healthy sense of competition. So be prepared to appease their little egos by offering prizes for multiple winners.

For more ideas for throwing awesome six-year-old kid parties see our section on:

Terrific School Age Birthday Party Themes

Great Childrens Party Games

Awesome Birthday Party Activities for School Age Kids

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Kid Party Tips for Seven-Year-Olds:

  • By the time kids reach seven or eight, they usually have a distinct set of friends at school. This makes planning the guest list and getting those invitations out much easier.
  • Seven-year-olds are more willing to take turns and are more understanding of rules. They also have a tendency to become stuck in a rut.
  • This age group wants a lot of activity so don’t let games loose their momentum. If they start to drag on you may need to guide the group to a new activity before their behavior takes a turn for the worse.
  • At this age your child may be expressing the desire for a same-gender party.
  • You’ll probably start to see signs off competition starting around seven years of age so you may want to plan a few competitive games where one person or team winner a prize for the best performance.
  • You can also start adding a couple of kid craft activities. Children love to make things!
  • They have a longer attention span and often enjoy dividing into teams to play games.
  • This also make it a perfect age to incorporate some fun crafts into your birthday games and activities program
  • This age group tends to follow a group leader. Be on the look out for the emergence of a leader. Depending on the personality of the child who surfaces as the leader you may have your hands full. You may need to intervene to keep things from getting out of hand.

For more ideas for throwing awesome seven-year-old kid parties see our section on:

Terrific School Age Birthday Party Themes

Great Childrens Party Games

Awesome Birthday Party Activities for School Age Kids

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Kid Party Tips for Eight-Year-Olds:

  • At this age kids are more sophisticated and you’ll notice they’re also more skeptical. So from here on make sure you get them involved in planning all games and activities.
  • Planning a coed party is much more difficult by age eight.
  • Eight-year-olds will burn through all your planned games and activities very quickly. So plan many more activities than you think you could possibly need.
  • You may want to plan an outing (a movie, roller skating, or the zoo) as the main event. Then you can bring the gang back home for food, cake and the opening of the presents.
  • The age group is much more interested in the party experience. They’re not that impressed with party prizes and favors.

For more ideas for throwing awesome eight-year-old kid parties see our section on:

Terrific School Age Birthday Party Themes

Great Childrens Party Games

Awesome Birthday Party Activities for School Age Kids

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Kid Party Tips for Nine-Year-Olds:

  • “Been there, done that” sums it with nine-year-olds. You’ll need to impress them because at the ripe old age of nine they think they’ve seen it all. Look for unique and unusual games and activities, food, and décor to win them over.
  • Get the birthday kid involved in planning her party. You can make suggestions but let her decide what the party theme should be, what food the will be served, and what games and entertainment she wants.
  • Boredom sets in quickly too!
  • Boys and girls of this age usually don’t play together anymore, so chances are you’ll be planning a same-gender party.
  • This age group is very competitive. They enjoy showing off and have a real need to demonstrate physical or mental skills.
  • When playing competitive group games make sure you constantly shuffle the groups around so that a one child doesn’t get singled out for making the team lose.

For more ideas for throwing awesome nine-year-old kid parties see our section on:

Terrific School Age Birthday Party Themes

Great Childrens Party Games

Awesome Birthday Party Activities for School Age Kids

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Preteen Kid Parties (Ages 10-12)

Kid Party Tips for Ten-Year-Olds:

  • What a difference a year makes! This can be a wonderful age group to plan a party for.
  • Ten-year-olds can be enthusiastic, responsive and much less critical than nine-year-olds.
  • Boys and girls of this age usually don’t play together anymore, so chances are you’ll be planning a same-gender party.
  • They are usually very receptive to new experiences and willing to work to make the party a big success. So put them to work. Leave some of the decorating for the birthday kid and a few friends.
  • This is the beginning of the preteen stage so keep the focus on getting together and having fun. Consider taking the group out to an event like a movie, or a sports event with dinner either before or after.
  • Although they appreciate all your hard work for some birthday parties just don’t seem to be as important as they used to be. So relax you didn’t do anything wrong! Your kid may even be anxious to combine his birthday party with another holiday or seasonal theme.

For more ideas for throwing awesome ten-year-old kid parties see our section on:

Terrific Preteen Birthday Party Themes

Great Birthday Party Games for Preteen Kids

Awesome Birthday Party Activities for Preteen Kids

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Kid Party Tips for Eleven-Year-Olds:

  • Growing stress between the genders makes planning parties for eleven-year-olds very difficult. Girls often want to include boys, but boys are often uncomfortable being around girls. This usually results in boys being unruly or insulting.
  • Eleven-year-old girls often best of friends or bitter enemies with little in between.
  • Adults Beware – kids are approaching the stage where you should be seen but not heard! At this age rebellion starts to rear its ugly head. Kids want to take control of their parties. So make them feel like they’re running the show while you quietly supervise from the sidelines.

For more ideas for throwing awesome eleven-year-old kid parties see our section on:

Terrific Preteen Birthday Party Themes

Great Birthday Party Games for Preteen Kids

Awesome Birthday Party Activities for Preteen Kids

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Kid Party Tips for Twelve-Year-Olds:

  • This is probably the last structured birthday party that you’ll plan for you kid
  • By age twelve most birthday parties will be unstructured gatherings like slumber parties, pizza parties with lots of CD’s playing in the background, or skating parties.
  • Boy-Girl parties are attempting to get off the ground.
  • Many twelve-year-olds still look forward to Holiday parties.

For more ideas for throwing awesome twelve-year-old kid parties see our section on:

Terrific Preteen Birthday Party Themes

Great Birthday Party Games for Preteen Kids

Awesome Birthday Party Activities for Preteen Kids

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“Teen” Kid Parties (Ages 13+)

Kid Party Tips for Teenagers:

  • As kids get older, their birthday parties will need less structure and direction from adults.
  • Parties can be more spontaneous.
  • The role of parents eventually evolves to providing the elements for a successful party. And then letting the kids take over.

For more ideas for throwing awesome “teen” kid parties see our section on:

Terrific Teen Birthday Party Themes

Great Birthday Party Games for Teens

Awesome Birthday Activities for Teens

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Kid Parties for Mixed Age Groups

Kid Party Tips for Mixed Ages & Stages:

  • Plan age-appropriate activities.
  • Don’t worry too much about games being too simple for older children. Kid’s like to “revisit” things from their past. With little or no effort you often find them teaching the younger children how to play games that used to be their favorites only a few short years ago.
  • If you’re concerned about having enough activities that will appeal to everyone include the ages of all your guests on your guest list. This way as soon as you receive all of your RSVP’s you’ll have a complete list of all your guests complete with their ages to work from.
  • Don’t forget about free play time. With a mixed group you may not be able to have organized events planned for all your guests.
  • If possible consider having different setups in adjoining areas such as an L-shaped room where everyone is still able to party together (this brings back fond members of the children’s table at our family gatherings).

For more ideas for throwing awesome kid parties see our section on:

Terrific Childrens Birthday Party Ideas

Great Kid Party Game Ideas

Awesome Birthday Activities

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