photographer: Jasmine Marie Photo | event planner & stylist: Jillian Nicole Events | venue: Whimsy Pasadena
The Best of | Birthdays

13 Kids’ Birthday Party Trends for 2021

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. 

We look forward to celebrating all of the events that slid quietly past this year.

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 Grow Up' 1st Birthday

photo courtesy of: iShine Events

Donut Forget Your Adorable Lunch Box

Miami, FL

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.

photo courtesy of & event planner: iShine Events | balloons: Maggie Creative Designs

photo courtesy of Events by Fran

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.

photo courtesy of, event planner & rentals: Events by Fran | balloon arch: Balloon Artist 805 | minecraft welcome sign: Navtaly Design | minecraft favor tags: Vcreateweb | video game truck: Gamez On Wheelz | caterers: Tony’s Pizza, Namaste Spiceland | cake & cupcakes: D’lectable D’lights

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).

Under the Sea First Birthday Party

photographer: Caitlin McNeil

Explore (Yummy) Coral Reefs Without a Tank

Dallas, TX

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?

photographer: Caitlin McNeil | event planner & prop rentals: Social Llama Events | cake: Sugar Spun | catering: Dock Local

Rookie of the Year 1st Birthday Party

photo courtesy of A Swoon Event

Baseball-Themed Cookies Are a Swing & a Hit

Houston, TX

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.

Levi's First Birthday

photo courtesy of Stunning and Brilliant Events

Partygoers Cheetah-ed on Their Diets

Myrtle Beach, SC

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

Disney Inspired Royal Celebration

photographer: Christy and Co

Cake Pop To-Go-Go

Orlando, FL

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.

photographer: Christy and Co | event planning: Jackie Ohh Events | décor and rentals: Bambini Soiree | venue: Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort | cake: ET Cakes

Pastel Pumpkin Themed 1st Birthday!

photographer: Maha Studios

Pastel Pumpkin (Cake) Pops are Seasonable Treats

Chicago, IL

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.

photographer: Maha Studios | planner & design: Details Chicago | floral: Taxa Floral | signage: Stemlime Creative | backdrop: Black Candy Design | calligraphy: Magnolia Letters Co.

photographer: Leandro DaSilva Photography

We All Scream for Ice Cream Cake Pops

Newark, NJ

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.

photographer: Leandro DaSilva Photography | event planner: JENNIEVENTI | florals: More Than A Gift
petite table and seats: Petite Seats
ice cream truck: Your Sweet Queen
pizza truck: Porto by Antonio
umbrella table & chairs: Content Party Rentals | cake & cookies: Sweets by Glennys | cake pops & cupcakes: Shea’s Sweet Shoppe LLC | ice cream mini cart stand: Tie A Bow Rentals | balloon garlands: Indee Bee Balloons | favor boxes: Yolenny’s Craft Creations | tutu: iloveplum

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.

A Beyoncé-Themed 4th Birthday Party

photographer: Afritina Coker

Girls in Cars Spilling Florals

Dallas, TX

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.

photographer: Afritina Coker | planner: RosesRntRed Events | florals: Rae Lawson | rentals: Big D Party Rentals | balloons: Pink on the weekend | cheetah cake: A Cake Maker | floral cake: Sweet Thangs. by Lo’ | graphics: Precious Lord | props: AliJo Events | tea party: Dallas Tea Party

#10FORTHEWIN NBA Draft themed 10th Birthday Dinner & After Party at La Table Restaurant Houston

photo courtesy of A Swoon Event

A #Winning Photo Spot

Houston, TX

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

Rubber Ducky Themed 1st Birthday Celebration

photographer: Karina Pires Photography

A Photo-Friendly Bubble Bath

Los Angeles, CA

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!

photographer: Karina Pires Photography | design: Clarissa Rezende | venue: Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills

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).

photographer: Afritina Coker

A Party Fit for Royalty

Dallas, TX

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.

photographer: Afritina Coker | planner: RosesRntRed Events | florals: Rae Lawson| balloons: Pink on the weekend | rentals: Big D Party Rentals | cheetah cake: A Cake Maker | floral cake: Sweet Thangs. by Lo’ | graphics: Precious Lord | props: AliJo Events | tea party: Dallas Tea Party

photographer: Bashful Captures

Time Flies (When You’re Having Fun)

New York, NY

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.

photographer: Bashful Captures | event planner: Twenty Three Layers (23 Layers)

photo courtesy of The Party Muse

Even Kids Want to Glamp

New York, NY

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.

photo courtesy of & event planner: The Party Muse | kids rentals: Petite Seats | cake designer: The Hudson Cakery

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.

photographer: Jasmine Marie Photo

Beauty at (Pastel) Rainbow’s End

Pasadena, CA

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.”

Lauryn's First Birthday (Dohl)

photo courtesy of Mars Production

Lucky Little ONE

Fullerton, CA

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 Twin Baby Shower at PENTHOUSE at Riverside Wharf in Miami, FL

photographer: Imagery by Jules Photography

Tropical With a Twin Twist

Miami, FL

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.

photographer: Imagery by Jules Photography | event planner: KeAira Chantell Events | floral design: The Simon Design | venue: PENTHOUSE at Riverside Wharf | catering: Sensory Delights Catering | balloon art: M & S Balloon Decor | stationery: Papered Wonders | custom decor: Elf’s Prop Shop | photo prop sticks: Ten23 Designs | cake + desserts: Deja vu Sweets | cinematography: Bricks Group Media | dj: DJ Lucky C

A Wild 1st Birthday Party

Wild & ONEderful

Houston, TX

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.

photo courtesy of & event planner: Belle Of The Ball | décor and rentals: Johanna Terry Events | décor: Revelry Goods | venue: The Grove Houston


RELATED: 14 Birthday Balloon Ideas to Make Every Milestone Memorable


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.

Brilliant Circus Themed 1st Birthday Party in Brewster, New York

photographer: Anika Fatouros Photography

Life is a Circus

Brewster, NY

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.

Call of Duty Themed Bar Mitzvah at Sherwood Country Club in Ventura, California

photographer & photobooth: Elice Boone Photography

First-Person Party

Ventura, CA

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.

photographer & photobooth: Elice Boone Photography | event planner: Bluebell Events | florals: Unique Florals | rental furniture: Revelry Event Designers | chairs: Chiavari Chair Rentals | rentals: Town & Country Rentals | location: Sherwood Country Club | dj: Good Times Entertainment | school bus: Jump On The School Bus | draping & napkins: BAM Special Event Draping | gaming truck & actors: Fortune Entertainment | linens: Resource One | invitations & paper goods, sweatpants & sweatshirts: Occasion to Celebrate | dog tag wall: Pop Ink

RELATED: 15 Fantastic & Fun Kids Birthday Party Themes


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!)

Grant's 5th Birthday Party

photo courtesy of T4S Productions

Stamford, CT

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.

Beautiful Swan-Theme First Birthday Celebration at 1718 Studio in Birmingham, Alabama

photographer: Mo Davis Photography

Graceful as a Swan, Sweet as a Soirée

Birmingham, AL

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).

photographer: Mo Davis Photography | planning & design: Valia Rose Events | venue: 1718 Studio | rentals: Georgia Party Rentals; Event Rentals Unlimited; Fun Source

RELATED: 5 Birthday Gift Box & Invitation Box Ideas for Guests [Photos]


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.

Mason's Social Distanced Fish Camp Birthday Party in New York

photographer: Andreas & Nico

New York, NY

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.

photographer: Andreas & Nico

This Party Got In-Tents

New York, NY

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.

photographer: Andreas & Nico | design & event branding, watercolor art, blankets: Ceci New York | décor: Aramat Events | balloon art: Balloon Design Studio | catering & cake: Personal Touch Catering Experience
 | outdoor movie screen: Hollywood POP Gallery | picnic tables: Smith Party Rentals | signage cut-outs: Bombshell Graphics | photo booth: Shake and Share Media |  furniture: RentQuest | fish donuts: Glaze Artisan | linen & masks: Cake Power NYC | popcorn: Kettlecorn Capital District | virtual video: VidHug | camp bags: Love Reusable Bags | wristbands: Boundary Bracelets | lighting & mc: Jacobco Creative

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.

Mother- Daughter Fusion Birthday Princess + Elegance

photographer: Miranda Rose Photography

Happy Everything

San Diego, CA

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.

photographer: Miranda Rose Photography | event planner: Talia Eliana Events | décor: Bright Event Rentalsflorals: Sun Flor Co | venue: The Point at Mission Bay

photographer: Hello Blue Photo

Moms & the Ones Who Made Them Moms

Temecula, CA

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.

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.