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Birthday Party Theme Ideas for Kids 9 and Up

Now that your birthday child is getting older, you'll need to be even more sensitive to what he or she wants to do on party day. Perhaps the birthday boy or girl will still want to get silly with friends. But there's also the possibility that your child will want to seem more sophisticated and break with the ways of the past. Offer suggestions and be supportive of his or her ideas.

This is a good pick for a child who wants to have a group party but perhaps wants to appear a bit more grown up. Be sure to pick a movie that won't have other parents complaining. In fact, if you can get your child to make a choice early, put the movie title on the invitation so there won't be any confusion about the entertainment. Serve popcorn and Junior Mints and enjoy the show.

Game: Movie Trivial Pursuit. Divide into two teams and stick with as many current movies as possible. Kids this age tend not to know the oldies.

Party favor: Video store coupons. Stop by your local rental store and see what they've got. Chances are good the store will have a promotion you can tap into.

Planning timeline

  • One month before party day: Make guest list, plan menu, send invitations.
  • Two weeks before party day: Shop for party favors, paper goods. Ask a friend or relative who has RSVP'd to act as your assistant on party day.
  • One week before party day: Shop for menu items.

This is a good outdoor party for soccer fans. It can be held in a backyard or a local park. Be sure to invite enough people for team play, and note on the invitation that there will be a party soccer game so that guests will dress accordingly.

Game: Have both a traditional soccer game and a set of soccer relay races. Be sure to have enough adults on hand to supervise. Give out prizes for a range of accomplishments from best dribbler to fastest time on the obstacle course.

Party favor: Soccer-theme school supplies.

Planning timeline

  • One month before party day: Make guest list, plan menu, send invitations.
  • Two weeks before party day: Shop for party favors, paper goods. If you're planning to use a public park, be sure there's no competing event scheduled for your party day. Ask a friend or relative who has RSVP'd to act as your assistant on party day.
  • One week before party day: Shop for menu items.

Ahoy there, mateys. Pirate parties provide a great backdrop for fun costumes and creative games. This theme works well indoors or out, and it's also a good one for multi-age parties since pirate fun cuts across many age lines. Use your computer to generate treasure map invitations to the bash.

Game: Treasure Hunt. Set up a traditional scavenger hunt under the guise of searching for buried treasure. This can take place in a backyard or inside. Divide your guests into small teams of two or three each and have them hunt for a variety of items. Set a time limit. The team to find the most items wins.

Party favor: Eye patches.

Planning timeline

  • One month before party day: Make guest list, plan menu, send invitations.
  • Two weeks before party day: Shop for party favors, paper goods. Ask a friend or relative who has RSVP'd to act as your assistant on party day.
  • One week before party day: Shop for menu items.

As your child grows up, you can arrange for more complicated and exciting art projects. A group of girls might enjoy jewelry making. A party with boys and girls might gravitate to a more open-ended artistic endeavor. You can arrange to have the kids create a group banner or individual projects, depending on your guest list. Note on the invitation that this is an art party so that guests will be dressed appropriately.

Game: Pictionary. Have your guests show off their drawing skills by having them break up into teams and play this game of artful charades. Be sure to pick very basic clues so that the young artists won't be too stumped.

Party favor: Paint or pencil sets.

Planning timeline

  • One month before party day: Make guest list, plan menu, send invitations.
  • Two weeks before party day: Shop for party favors, paper goods, plan for Pictionary game. Ask a friend or relative who has RSVP'd to act as your assistant on party day.
  • One week before party day: Shop for menu items.

You don't need a beach to have a blast of a luau. This party is easily converted from actual island splendor into the confines of your living room. Just be creative with the decor and be sure to have hula music on hand -- the mood will be complete.

Game: Hula Hoop contests. Be creative with your tasks. Mix the traditional "who can hula hoop the longest" with some other goals. Who can sing "Happy Birthday" the longest? Who can recite the alphabet? Be sure to start off the game playing with a hula lesson for those who may not have the hang of it just yet.

Party favor: Leis.

Planning timeline

  • One month before party day: Make guest list, plan menu, send invitations.
  • Two weeks before party day: Shop for party favors, paper goods, and a copy of Elvis in Hawaii. Ask a friend or relative who has RSVP'd to act as your assistant on party day.
  • One week before party day: Shop for menu items.

Since this party will take place primarily in your kitchen, you might want to limit the guest list to those who can fit comfortably around your kitchen table. Also, be sure to note on the invitation that this will be a cooking party so that guests will come dressed appropriately.

Game: Make your own pizzas. With prepared dough already in place, let your chefs loose to knead, shape, sauce, and decorate their own pizza creations. Have topping out in small bowls for easy access and preheat your oven so there's no waiting around.

Party favor: Chef hats or personalized aprons.

Planning timeline

  • One month before party day: Make guest list, plan menu, send invitations.
  • Two weeks before party day: Shop for party favors, paper goods; find prepared dough or a recipe you like. Ask a friend or relative who has RSVP'd to act as your assistant on party day.
  • One week before party day: Shop for menu items.

Sources: The Best Birthday Parties Ever! A Kid's Do-It-Yourself Guide (The Millbrook Press) by Kathy Ross; Great Parties for Kids (Williamson Publishing Co.) by Nancy Fyke; Pin the Tail on the Donkey, and Other Party Games (Morrow Junior Books/New York) by Joanna Cole and Stephanie Calmenson; Rainy Days and Saturdays (Workman Publishing Co.) by Linda Hetzer.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.