From the day I began planning my daughter’s first birthday party, the idea of coming up with just one theme has been difficult, to say the least. As my children grew older, the challenge of choosing a party theme became theirs, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

My daughter chose her first birthday party theme when she was six years old. It just so happened she was really into Monster High that year and was looking forward to hosting a sleep-over party for her two best friends. Before that lucky day, asking her what kind of party she wanted resulted in either a definitive, “I don’t know, Mommy,” or too many ideas and not enough decision-making.

Now that she’s older, she’s much easier to reason with (party planning-wise, of course). I have a system I use to approach the subject of the birthday party theme well in advance of the proposed party date…like 6-7 months in advance. Seriously. You have to make them commit. Otherwise, you’ll be pulling your hair out for months as they bounce around from the current favorite thing to the next favorite thing.

The Plan of Attack

My daughter’s birthday is in late July, so I usually make sure to start poking her a bit right after the new year. It goes something like this:

MomHey, kiddo, it’s time to start thinking about your birthday party.

ChildUgghhhhhhh, that’s soooooo far away, Mooooommmmm.

MomI know, but you really like the parties I throw for you, right? You know I need a little extra planning time to put it all together. Remember last year…(remind her how awesome I am at party planning by bringing up a few highlights of last year’s party)

ChildYea, that was pretty cool. (Pretty cool?! It was epic! I designed a comic book just for you…it took me weeks…pretty cool…sheesh)

MomOk, well, why don’t you come up with a list of three or four possible ideas for your party this year. It can be whatever you want – it’s your birthday. Once you’ve got a few ideas, we can narrow it down to your favorite one.

ChildOk. (Yea, she’s not really going to think about it)

Choosing the Perfect Party Theme – It’s a Process

That initial “planning session” is typically followed by silence, but I don’t let it last long. I keep prodding until she comes up with a short list of possibilities which will eventually be narrowed down to two remaining options.

Once we have only two themes to choose from, I give her a little break…like maybe two weeks…to think about both ideas and let things percolate for a while. And yes, before we take that break, I do ask her which is her favorite, knowing full well her answer can and probably will change. This is most definitely a process

A couple weeks later, it’s time to make the final decision. We talk about both options, addressing the positives and negatives (there usually aren’t any in her mind). Then I ask her to make a choice. Usually it sticks, but sometimes she throws a wrench in my plans by coming to me a few weeks later wondering if “we can do the other idea instead.” Again, it’s a process.

However you go about choosing a theme for your child’s birthday parties, it’s good to remember these key points:

Early Bird Gets the Worm!

Start planning early…seriously, the earlier the better! You’ll be so much more relaxed during the planning process once you have your theme nailed down.

Be persistent!

Persistence pays off. Don’t let your child go too long without providing an answer. You’ll thank yourself for harassing them in the end. If you need further convincing, refer to the early bird key point above.

Narrow It Down

Once you have a few ideas to choose from, start narrowing it down… step by step. Give them a little time to make a decision, but not too much.

Patience, Patience

Patience is important, especially with younger kids. This is a major decision for a 5 year-old, you know!

Double Check

Double check a week or so later once you’ve reached a decision on the party theme…just to make sure you child hasn’t changed their mind.

Make It Fun!

The most important thing to remember is that parties are fun…I think. Yes! Yes, of course they are. With the right theme choice (meaning one your child is happy with), you and your family will look forward to the event (as opposed to being annoyed, stressed, and overwhelmed). 

Some Helpful Thoughts

I know my process sounds like a ridiculous game of cat and mouse, but I honestly do want to ensure I’m planning a party my daughter will enjoy. For me, it’s both a hobby and commitment to my family. I admit I want my children to remember all the fun they had during their birthday parties and how much time and effort their mother put into planning them. However, it’s not just about me…it’s about the love too. I love them both dearly and want nothing more than to see them happy. This is just one little way I can accomplish that.

If you have trouble cornering your little “mouse” for a birthday theme this year, here are a few prying questions you might consider:

  • What’s your favorite toy?
  • What’s your favorite movie?
  • What’s your favorite song?
  • What’s your favorite game?
  • What’s your favorite subject in school?
  • What’s your favorite color?
  • What’s your favorite tv show?
  • What’s your favorite cartoon?
  • What’s your favorite doll/action figure?
  • What’s your favorite food?

Don’t Forget That Whole “Fun” Thing…

Party planning is a fun process for most, but not everyone. Any of these subjects can lead to awesome and imaginative party themes. All it takes is a little time and some elbow grease. If you find yourself totally stuck and the questions above don’t help, check out my Pinterest boards for more ideas! You may also want to visit my party themes pages as well. They provide lots of great ideas on everything from decorations to food to party favors (and all the fun stuff in between).

If you’re a bit overwhelmed by all those party details, consider my forthcoming digital party planner to help you plan a party from scratch to completion in 8 weeks flat. Leave a comment below to register to win a FREE copy!

Let the party planning begin!