15 Birthday Party Ideas for 5-Year-Olds

Trying to brainstorm fun and memorable 5-year-old birthday party ideas? Check out these unique themes, party favors, and activities for boys and girls.

Birthday Craft Hat Party Pizza Cone Hat
Photo: Ryan Liebe

Now that your child is in school, they'll almost certainly want a birthday celebration for friends—and maybe even the whole class. That's why the best 5-year-old birthday party ideas will suit a whole crowd of energetic youngsters. Check out our top picks for birthday party themes, with advice about logistics, activities, favors, and more.

Logistics for a 5-Year-Old Birthday Party

Guest List: There's usually not much gender divide between 5-year-old kids; that phenomenon will come in a year or two. Consider inviting your child's entire class to avoid hurt feelings. If you want to invite only a few select children, don't hand out invitations in class, and be prepared for some inquiries from other parents.

Planning Timeline: Follow this timeline to stay on track with your party planning.

One month before party day: Make guest list, plan menu, send invitations.

Two weeks before party day: Shop for party favors, paper goods, and items needed for games and activities. 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.

5-Year-Old Birthday Party Theme Ideas

Looking for a party theme to impress your 5-year-old guests? These ideas are fun, creative, and budget-friendly—what more could you ask for?

Art party

Inspire the birthday child and their guests with a party focused on creativity and expression! You can throw an "art party" inside or outside, but you should take precautions to cover furniture if you have young artists in your home. Include the party's theme on the invitation so parents will dress party guests accordingly.

Game: Art Stations. Set up three stations that can handle two or three kids at a time. Each station should focus on an art type, such as finger painting, clay, poster drawing, etc. Have the kids visit each station, enjoy the activities, and rotate every 10-15 minutes. Try having an adult monitor each station to prevent accidents!

Party favor: Edible jewelry or magnets to hang new creations on the fridge.

Wheel-y fun party

This party idea is best for the outdoor months. Have guests bring their favorite wheels—bikes, trikes, scooters, or skates—and head somewhere with space to ride, whether it's a neighborhood park or your driveway. Encourage all riders to wear helmets and be safe!

Game: Ride-on obstacle course. Set up obstacles in your driveway or in another flat open area. Orange cones are fun, but don't feel like that's your only option—chairs, garbage cans, and large stuffed animals can work too. Have a stopwatch handy to time your riders.

Party favor: Bike reflector decals.

Outer space party

Reach for the stars and inspire young astronomers with a space-themed birthday party. Youngsters find outer space fascinating, and you can brainstorm plenty of activities to help your party blast off. Your focus can either be educational space exploration or gooey grisly aliens—whichever appeals most to your guest of honor!

Game: Ring Around Saturn Ring Toss. This 5-year-old birthday party idea is basically musical chairs meets the ring toss. Each guest needs a ring (make them by cutting the ring from the outer edge of a paper plate and covering in tin foil). Write each child's name on their ring, and have them decorate with stickers. To make Saturn, cover a coffee can with foil and stickers and place a 6-inch ball on top. The ball is Saturn, without its rings.

To play the game: Stream music as the kids walk in a circle around Saturn. When the music stops, players must attempt to toss their rings around Saturn. Each successful ring tosser gets a point. The player with the most points after 10 rounds wins.

Party favor: Freeze-dried ice cream (astronaut food). Check stores that sell camping gear and other outdoorsy supplies. It's also available online, but order early to accommodate shipping time.

Bug out party

Prepare for squeals of mock horror at a bug-themed birthday party! You'll need plenty of fake rubber insects, and don't hesitate to get buggy with the menu. Celery stuffed with peanut butter or cream cheese and topped with raisins can be "Bugs on a Log." Fruit punch should be billed "Bug juice."

Game: Bug Relay Race. For this game, you'll need two tablespoons and four bowls—two empty and two full of rubber bugs. Have your guests divide into two teams and line up. The object of the game is to carry the bugs by spoon, one at a time, from one bowl to the other. The first team to successfully transfer all the bugs wins.

Party favor: Bug tattoos.

Puppet show party

For the theatrical crowd, a puppet show party offers the right combination of crafts and time in the spotlight. It may help to come up with a storyline that most everyone knows ahead of time—such as Frozen or Moana.

Game: Paper bag puppet making. Set out lunch-size paper bags, stickers, markers, yarn, and glue and let the puppet making begin. Have a few extra adults on hand to help out if necessary. When the puppets are finished, invite the guests to put on a puppet show for the adults.

Party favors: Markers and stickers for puppet decorating.

Firefighter party

Firefighters are neighborhood heroes, so throw a birthday party that celebrates the career. With school-age children, firefighter parties can include a range of games and even a lesson on fire safety. Check with your local firehouse about distributing fire safety information at the party, and don't forget to have some fun!

Game: Pin the Spot on the Dalmatian, which gives a firefighter twist to a party favorite. Draw a large outline of a dog and have kids place "spots" (circular stickers) on his body. Let kids take multiple turns until Fido looks nice and spotty! You can raise the stakes by using a blindfold too.

Party favors: Fire hats, fire safety coloring books, or other age-appropriate teaching tools.

Breakfast party

Mix it up and throw a party at the beginning rather than the end of the day. Or, throw the party during dinnertime, but serve up breakfast foods. Pancakes and waffles can get fancy with various fruit toppings, syrups, and whipped cream!

Game: Egg and spoon relay race. To play, divide into teams. Each team gets an an egg (or ping pong ball for less mess) on a spoon. Each child must go around a designated spot and back to the starting line. The first team to complete the race without dropping their egg wins!

Party favors: Single-serving cereal boxes.

Royal party

Give your kid a chance to be king or queen for the day! Make them a crown, decorate their chair like a throne, and invite guests to dress as royals.

Game: Freeze dance—royal ball style. Turn on music and have the kids dance. The catch? When the music stops, they must freeze. No laughing, moving, or talking or they're out until the next song. The last person standing wins!

Party favors: Plastic tiaras, candy rings and bracelets, and goblets.

Monster party

If your 5-year-old loves monsters, this may be the perfect party idea for them! This could be an especially good theme if your little one's birthday falls near Halloween. Make masks or invite guests to come in masks or costumes, and make creepy treats like skull cupcakes and cookies decorated as monsters.

Game: Monster bean bag toss. Decorate a large box to look like a monster. Cut a hole for the mouth and toss bean bags through the monster's mouth.

Party favors: Monster pens, finger puppets, and small toys.

Pirate party

Argh, matey! Don your eye patches, pirate hats, and plastic swords for a pirate-themed adventure. Stripes and loot dominate this party theme. Serve cut up fruit with mini sword skewers, and draw faces (complete with eye patches) on unpeeled bananas.

Game: Walk the plank. Draw an imaginary plank on a driveway or sidewalk. Have the kids draw alligators around the outside of it. Then take turns trying to stay in the lines of the "plank" while blindfolded.

Party favors: Plastic eye patches, chocolate coins, and little treasure bags filled with treats.

Farm party

Does your 5-year-old love farm animals? Then try out this farm-themed party idea that you can take to the farm or recreate at home! A local petting zoo is a great location for a farm party. If it's fall, maybe they'll even serve up cider and donuts. To have a farm party at home, set out some hay bales in the yard for seating and lay out a checkered picnic blanket.

Game: Duck-duck-goose is a great farm-themed party game. And the great news? It's simple and almost everyone knows how to play.

Party favors: Plastic farm animals, tiny terra cotta pots and a packet of seeds.

Superhero party

Is your 5-year-old a budding Marvel or DC fan? Well, then pick their favorite superhero and theme the party around them. Or, make it a general superhero theme and invite everyone to come as their favorite Avenger or Guardian of the Galaxy. For a food centerpiece, arrange strawberries, blueberries, and marshmallows on a platter to resemble Captain America's shield.

Game: Catch the villain. Have an adult agree to be the villain. Next, have the little superheroes try to catch the villain by ringing them with a hula hoop. Once captured, the villain must throw out treats to be released. The game ends when all the treats are gone.

Party favors: Comic books, masks, superhero-themed pencils.

Pool or beach party

If you have enough chaperones on hand and your child's birthday is during a warmer month, you may want to consider a water-themed party idea for your 5-year-old. You could swim for a party in this theme, but you don't need to. This theme stands on its own with water games, shark decorations, and watermelon.

Game: Water balloon toss. Divide kids into two groups with the teams standing in two lines facing each other. Every person should have a partner directly across from them. Start them out standing only a couple of feet apart. With every successful toss, have them take one step back. The pair that makes it the longest without breaking their balloon wins!

Party favors: Beach balls, sunglasses, and small sand buckets.

Sports party

Is your 5-year-old a soccer fanatic, baseball fan, or just a general sports-lover? Then consider a sports-themed birthday party! Decorate with blow-up balls, bats, green tablecloths, and a birthday cake decorated as the sports ball of your choice. Guests can come dressed in their favorite jerseys.

Game: Football ring toss. Hang a hula hoop from a tree and have the kids take turns trying to toss the football through the ring.

Party favors: Whistles, hacky sacks, and super balls.

Unicorn party

Rainbows and pastels dominate this 5-year-old party theme. If your child loves fantasy, this party idea may be the way to their heart. Go all out with balloons and unicorn horns for decorations. White tablecloths round out the theme. Finally, confetti cake is the perfect dessert for a unicorn party.

Game: Unicorn ring toss. Many party stores carry inflatable unicorn ring toss games, which consist of a unicorn horn that either lays on a table or sits on the top of someone's head. Guests then try to toss the rings over the unicorn's horns.

Party favors: Plastic wands, headbands with unicorn horns, reusable straws.

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

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