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This year has been filled with postponements and bleak news, but we are nothing but hopeful for 2021. We look forward to celebrating all of the events that slid quietly past this year. Start planning now for your child’s 2021 parties (and don’t miss our 21 Party & Wedding Trends for 2021 for your own soirées).
Last year, we predicted grand entrances, healthier fare, and themes inspired by viral sensations. While some of those trends may continue, we’re here to fill you in on what’s new. Our list of kid’s birthday party trends for 2021 include the rise of the pastel rainbow and new takes on cake pops (yes, the confections can get even better).
For parents and hosts looking to plan an unforgettable kid’s birthday celebration, we’ve got 13 kids’ birthday party ideas that are sure to be the top trends of 2021. Scroll on to see our favorites, which include lots of ways to seamlessly keep guests of all ages safe while engaged in creative kids’ birthday party games. The future never looked so promising.
Kids’ Birthday Party Food Ideas for 2021
1. Individually-Packaged Meal Boxes
What’s better than party food? Party food neatly packaged in perfectly on-theme boxes — boxes perfect for each guest to enjoy. No more elbowing each other in a buffet line or eating chips that other guests’ hands have rifled through — individually-packaged meal boxes are ushering in a new era of personalization and safety. This is one of the kids’ birthday party food that ideas that we can really get behind.
Donut Forget Your Adorable Lunch Box
This “Donut Grow Up” themed birthday party incorporated donuts everywhere from décor on each chair and personalized juice boxes to the must-see cake. We long to open the lunch boxes and see what treats await pint-sized guests.
Minecraft-Theme Boxes Start Birthday Mode
Agoura Hills, CA
We love how pop-up parties are a surprise to the celebrant and guests alike. This pop-up birthday celebrated the the best-selling video game of all time, Minecraft — and one lucky birthday boy — with a green-hued balloon arch and an awesome, on-theme cake. Guest enjoyed individually-packed lunch boxes before getting their game on in a mobile game truck.
2. Elaborate Take-Home Cookies
Sure, a themed cake has become de rigueur for kids’ birthday parties, but we’re especially excited to see how dessert tables are including more sweets than ever. Not only are dessert tables boasting memorable backdrops, but they are also featuring elaborately-themed cookies. These iced confections are often individually-wrapped and perfect for pandemic-era parties (and as take-home treats).
Explore (Yummy) Coral Reefs Without a Tank
Usually “Under the Sea” themed parties are awash in blues and ocean creatures, but this little girl’s celebration took a more feminine approach with an ombré of pink and coral (of course!) hues. Guest enjoyed a picture-perfect photo spot, and we especially love the reef-themed cookies. They’re almost too pretty to eat. What’s not to like about coral-hued, coral-themed treats?
Baseball-Themed Cookies Are a Swing & a Hit
This first-birthday party hit it out of the park with its baseball theme. The little “Rookie of the Year” received a game ball signed by all his friends and wore a uniform inspired by his family “team” name. Pint-sized guests caught baseball mitt cookies that held frosted baseballs sporting signature red-stitching.
photo courtesy of & event planner: A Swoon Event
3. Themed Cake Pops
We know, cake pops aren’t new (in fact, the sweet fad has been going strong since blogger Bakerella invented them in 2008). But we’re inspired by the new ways that these confections are cleverly expressing themes at kids’ birthday parties. It turns out that those little magic orbs of cake crumbles and frosting are a single-serve creative-themed party favor and treat all-in-one.
Partygoers Cheetah-ed on Their Diets
This sweet safari gave guests glimpses of cheetahs, zebras, and giraffes, oh my — all on the cake pops, no less. Click through to see the three-tiered cake and its wild prints and even wilder backdrop with Mount Kilimanjaro prominently placed.
event planner: Stunning and Brilliant Events
Cake Pop To-Go-Go
This first birthday party, perfectly set in a luxurious setting at Walt Disney World, evoked all that is whimsical about being young. A chic black-and-white personal patisserie backdrop created the perfect space for a sweets-forward celebration. Don’t miss other trends being set at this party, like the incredible themed cookies.
Pastel Pumpkin (Cake) Pops are Seasonable Treats
This first-birthday party evoked fall with an ombré of chic pink pumpkin details. We love this gathering’s elegant photo moment with its muted rose-hued floral and greenery surround — as well as its oh-so-sweet pumpkin-shaped cake pops. Don’t miss the elaborate cake backdrop.
We All Scream for Ice Cream Cake Pops
Is a cake pop still a cake pop if it looks like an ice cream cone? Yes. And it’s every bit as delicious. This lucky two year old celebrated her birthday in a pastel paradise with a heaping scoop of delectable theming that included the world’s cutest ice cream cake — not a cake made of ice cream, but marzipan art of an ice cream truck décor and dancing cones.
RELATED: Quick! It’s Food on the Move: Conveyor Belts, Slip ’N Slides, and Other Creative Catering Displays
Kids’ Birthday Party Ideas for 2021 Steal Grown-Up Party Details
4. Picture-Perfect Photo Spots
People have been “doin’ it for the ‘gram” for years. As such, curated photo spots have become standard issue at events from weddings and milestone-birthday parties to anniversaries and corporate gatherings. We love seeing the creative ways that event designers express themes and personality in carefully-curated photo spots — and now their design energy is benefitting the tiniest of clients.
Girls in Cars Spilling Florals
Back in 2018, BizBash trend-spotted “floral installations in cars.” Now we’re excited to share a new trend: those chic displays writ small. In fact, we’ve never loved florals in cars more than in this picture-perfect scene at a Beyoncé-inspired photo spot. Two adorable little girls, plus one perky dog, posed atop a cheetah-printed car spilling red roses for a special fourth-birthday celebration.
A #Winning Photo Spot
This #10forthewin NBA-draft-themed tenth-birthday party merged gold and basketball for glamorous results. We adore the gold basketballs and, frankly, can never get enough neon in this photo spot. Don’t miss the hip glowing neon lounge area and an NBA star visit that made this swanky celebration a winner.
photo courtesy of & event planner: A Swoon Event | venue: La Table Restaurant
A Photo-Friendly Bubble Bath
This glorious rubber ducky-themed first birthday party boast creative details galore — including bright yellow ducks constructed from balloons, a wow-worthy “splish-splash” birthday cake, and more. We also can’t get enough of the bathtub floating florals and balloons as not only the best backdrop, but the perfect photo op. Say bubbles!
5. Party Themes That Adults Will Envy
We’ve seen 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th, and 70th birthday parties with creative themes. We’ve been wowed by golden Gatsby-esque glam, put in a musical mood by Mardi Gras-themed celebrations, and inspired to reassess our closets by fashion-themed events. But now it’s kids’ birthday parties that are surprising us with themes that we never dreamed of (and that we plan to steal).
A Party Fit for Royalty
This birthday party was inspired by Beyoncé’s musical film and visual album “Black is King“. Two scenes delighted guests: a tea party and a cheetah-filled, gold-hued extravaganza. Add four cakes, interactive installations, and toddler-friendly activities — and you have one very lucky birthday girl. Pandemic-safe additions included personal hand sanitizers and individually-boxed pizzas.
The family also enjoyed a styled shoot that would’ve made the Queen B herself envious. We adore the strong, positive messaging in this inspiring and beautiful theme.
Time Flies (When You’re Having Fun)
This “Time Flies” themed party celebrated a child’s birthday (when it’s adults who can fully appreciate how quickly time goes). This party makes us long for more hours to explore every perfect detail.
The “In-Flight Meals” were a major upgrade over airplane fare, as were the seats — chic ghost chairs personalized with each “passenger’s” name. Don’t miss other perfectly themed moments like the passport photo spot and “baggage claim” with take-home treats.
Even Kids Want to Glamp
Forbes declared “glamping” (a combo of glamorous and camping) “2020’s Hottest Travel Trend,” so why shouldn’t it be the hottest party theme too?
We love how every chic detail appeals to a kid’s sense of adventure and an adult’s sense of style. Furry pillows, tents filled with balloons, a greenery wall, and (of course) tabletop s’mores make for an elevated experience in an elegant all-white space.
RELATED: The 5 Most Popular Party Themes on PartySlate — Plus, Real Event Examples to Inspire Your Own
Kids’ Birthday Party Décor for 2021
6. Rainbows Go Pastel
We never tire of the rainbow. It’s always there with its predictable, ordered colors, reassuring us that there’s something good at its end. Rainbows have been filling the skies of kids’ drawings ever since the invention of crayons.
But Crayola’s starter set hasn’t quite prepared us for the ROYGBIV of 2021. The new rainbow adorning kids’ parties boasts a more muted palette of chic pastels. New year, new hues.
Beauty at (Pastel) Rainbow’s End
Rainbows are generally vibrant affairs. As we head into 2021, we’re seeing ROYGBIV in a more muted palette — an explosion of orderly pastels that’s making us smile.
This first-birthday party expresses the theme with a perfectly-pastel menu, balloon installation, cake, welcome sign, and more. Even the menu followed suit with “rainbow grilled cheese” and “rainbow Jell-O.”
Lucky Little ONE
What’s whimsical and modern, yet traditional? This little girl’s Korean Dohl (first-birthday celebration). We love how this team used the colors of the rainbow (in proper order, of course) in the hand-painted acrylic elements, which included the career representations the birthday girl chose from to indicate her potential future interests, as is traditional at Dohl gatherings.
7. Balloon Centerpieces
Balloons have drifted down to tabletops, offering a colorful option for centerpiece décor. We’re thrilled to see this balloons-as-décor trend still going strong.
We’ve seen them flood ceilings like clouds, adorn arched entrances, and create happy photo ops. Now, we’re seeing them lining the center of tables — the centerpieces of our brightly-hued dreams.
Tropical With a Twin Twist
This baby shower celebrating the impending arrival of twins took its inspiration from the tropics. We adore tropical-themed parties and this one just jumped to the head of our list.
Pops of colorful balloons (pun intended) were mixed with fern and monstera leaves to create a chic centerpiece that flowed off the table ends. Click to see floral flamingos and a perfectly-posable photo spot.
Wild & ONEderful
This first birthday party took wee guests on safari — under balloon trees wearing mini pith helmets. We can’t get enough of the clever theming and especially love the mix of greenery (real and in balloon form) that evokes the natural world. Don’t miss the unique ceiling installation and its slithering surprise.
Birthday Party Games for Kids in 2021
8. Carnivals Make a Comeback
Carnivals are a perfect solution for parties during a pandemic. They offer games that can be spaced out in a backyard and fun theming for the dessert table. Plus, the red-and-white palette evokes nostalgia during a time when we all could use a little feelgood return to days past.
Life is a Circus
Step right up. Come for the cute clowns made from balloons at the entrance; stay for the cool carnival games. This circus theme is perfect for a party in the sprawling outdoors — with game stations, food trucks, and live performances from jugglers, magicians, tattoo paint artists, and more. Don’t miss the festive cake.
photographer: Anika Fatouros Photography | event planner: Lifetime Events By Jacqueline | draping: About the Details NYC | table & linen rental: Alperson Party Rentals | balloon sculptures: Rosannas Balloons | signs: Printable Party | zeppolle: Brooklyn Pizza Hudson Valley | carnival game & entertainment rental: PMA Special Event | food trucks: The Pizza Truck Company; Pippy’s Food Truck | ice cream: Mister Softee | face painting & balloon: Margie Nugent | popcorn & cotton candy: Costumes New York Rental
9. Video Games Come to Life
“Video games” and “active” are terms not often found in the same sentence. Ever since the first home gaming system debuted in 1972, couches have been dented courtesy of video games.
Now that the American Ninja Warrior craze and X Games have taken obstacle courses to the next level and the video game devotee numbers are rising, we’re seeing a new kind of party — and we are all for this amalgam of theme and activity.
This Call of Duty-themed party took the concept to the most fun extremes. The video game influenced everything from the menu to the boot camp challenge which tested kids’ real-life skills on a high-energy obstacle course. Don’t miss the camo décor and chocolate grenades.
9. Kids Find Fun on Scavenger Hunts
Scavenger hunts are age-old party fun, so how can they suddenly be a trend? Well, we can attribute their resurgence (the same as carnival games) to their relative safety during a pandemic — as well as nostalgia.
We know we’re talking about kids’ parties here, but solving clues and running around to gather prizes sounds like a pretty fun time for adults as well. Can someone host an adult scavenger hunt, please? (Oh wait — that’s geocaching!)
This Paw Patrol-themed party featured the cute characters everywhere from the photo spot to the adorable cake. But our favorite appearance is on the scavenger hunt clues which led kids on an active adventure of their own.
photo courtesy of & event planner: T4S Productions
Kids’ Birthday Party Ideas for Keeping it Safe in 2021
10. Birthday Boxes for All
We already mentioned the trend of meal boxes at kids’ parties — but that’s not the beginning and end of the birthday box story. Birthday boxes filled with activities (and often snacks) are like a gift for your guests. Plus, they keep activities separate and safe.
Graceful as a Swan, Sweet as a Soirée
Graceful. Beautiful. Thoughtful. These adjectives aptly describe this sweet swan-themed first-birthday party. The swans brought the grace, the birthday girl and her party’s décor provided the beauty, and the thoughtfulness came courtesy of clear birthday boxes pre-filled with activities and snacks for partygoers.
Click to see the lavender and gold theming, and don’t miss the individual cakes that made every guest feel like the guest of honor. (Also see the beautiful cookie at left — another trend).
11. Custom Masks for Staying Safe (& On-Theme)
Pandemic parties necessarily involve extraordinary efforts to keep everyone safe. Masks have become the go-to way to minimize the virus’ spread. We are delighted to see this essential element upgraded with customizations that include matching a party’s hue, theme, and/or prints.
This Fish Camp-themed birthday party was a safety — and fun — trend-setter (hint: you’ll see it again on this list). The custom watercolor theming created a cohesive celebration with the chic design carried through to the face masks and the cozy blankets given to each guest.
The décor color story picked up the blues and greens of the beautiful art with balloon installations and an amazing cake featuring a bear holding a colorful trout (click to explore every rich detail of this party).
The Family That Parties Together, Stays Together at Kids’ Birthday Parties in 2021
12. Keep it “All in the Family” with Tents
Thank heavens for “glamping” — the magical combo of camping and glamour that has us willing to consider going into the woods. Kids need no such prompting; they delight in exploring the natural world. This trend offers us the best of both worlds: luxe family tents.
This solution to social distancing while still celebrating keeps families who’ve been sheltering together intact while also folding them into the larger group. We adore the creativity that pandemic circumstances have given rise to.
This Party Got In-Tents
See, we didn’t keep you away from the perfection of the Fish Camp-themed party for too long. We’re revisiting the celebration to ooh and aah over the clever pandemic solution to party-while-social-distancing: family tents.
Each family invited to this gathering was provided their own glamorous tent. Each mini campsite boasted bean bag chairs, plush blankets, a fully-stocked cooler, perfectly themed tackle boxes filled with appetizers — and a view of the movie screen. We would actually go camping if it looked even a little like this dreamy scene.
13. Shared Parties Celebrate Multiple Family Members at Once
Sharing is caring. Especially when it multiplies the joy by celebrating multiple occasions at once. We adore this trend that brings families together for a myriad of good reasons.
We just adore this elegant princess party. The mother-and-daughter birthday celebration boasted gorgeous florals in geometric gold vessels on the adult tables and glittering gold crowns and castles on the kids’ tables for a cohesive vibe.
A chic greenery-filled ceiling installation and askew shelves filled with succulents (that we adore) brought nature in for this lovely joint affair.
Moms & the Ones Who Made Them Moms
This Mother’s Day brunch celebrated moms — and their little ones. It was a party with the mammoth task of making mothers feel pampered while engaging their little ones. The pink palette provided a perfect backdrop to the outdoor soirée.
Sweets included rose gelatin, parfaits, pastries, and a donut charcuterie (yeah, you read that right) — sugar high all around. In an inspired touch, each child had their own personalized mini cake at their seat where they were able to dive in and “cake smash” to their hearts content.
Next Steps on PartySlate
Explore PartySlate to find the perfect venue for your child’s party, hire a top event planner, secure a décor team, and more. Use the “heart” icons to save your favorite venues and vendors as well as the parties and details that inspire you. Then you can share these “Idea Slates” with your party team.