Party Decor Ideas for Birthdays & Other Celebrations

Once we are old enough to understand what the word party means (usually around age three to five), we also think that a party means different kinds of decorations. From balloons and streamers to colorful tablecloths and all kinds of favors, it’s never long before we have our own personalized vision of parties. It is why we should also keep this in mind when thinking of birthday decoration ideas for our kids’ parties.

Offer Inspired Party Decor

Take a moment to think back on any birthday party you had or attended when you felt fully immersed in the theme. For example, you might have been totally enamored by a particular movie as you reached one age and asked for your party to be about that movie. You might have been in love with a particular sport and asked for the party to be based on that. No matter what, it is likely that you have memories of your personal reality overlapping with that particular theme, and you may have really felt like you were in that world.


This is what good party décor can achieve, and though you (as the parent about to foot the bill and do the work) might groan over the complexities of it, you should know it is not that difficult to do. In fact, you need only do a quick search for images of inspired birthday party décor and you would see that lots of parents just use loads of colorful items like balloons, streamers and paper items to make a really powerful look.


Of course, some of the most unforgettable party decoration ideas integrate with the theme and take it way over the top. Not all themes are suited to that, however, and so we have a bit of a formula to help you develop some great birthday decorations ideas.

Top Notch Birthday Decorations Ideas

While most experts will tell you that birthday parties for one- to three-year-olds can be more about the adults than the kids, you still want to follow the formulas we’ll develop in a moment. Once a child reaches an age when they understand the whole concept of their birthday party, you need to bring them in on the decision-making process. Now, that does not mean getting approval on every choice, but instead on the theme.

Over time, you’ll see if your child has an interest in helping with the party decoration ideas or if they just savor the actual event. If they are interested, allow them to have a say and even take a bit of responsibility. After all, we are going to heavily advocate that you make a lot of your décor rather than always purchasing pre-printed materials. This is especially true if you don’t have a huge budget. A child is the perfect candidate to help with some of the tasks used in making décor or setting up a party.

Developing Party Decoration Ideas

Okay, so that formula that all parents or guardians will want to use to ensure they are on the right track with their party decoration ideas is as follows:

  • What is the theme? This has so many potential answers that we could do hundreds of articles on them. However, once the theme is chosen, you can streamline your party decoration ideas and ensure they work best by selecting your palette (try to go with no more than two to three main colors) from that theme, and some basic decorating concepts.

What do we mean by this? Let’s say that your child has opted for a pirate theme. That is going to mean black is one color you’ll probably use in the décor, but probably a bit of red and white, too. Yes, there will be a lot of gold and even sea blue and brown. However, start with that palette to make your life easier.

Then, what is the image or images you will use to depict that pirate theme? Will it be the skull and crossbones? Will you use pirate’s hats? What sort of imagery do you think of as the main concepts? Lots of parents use the spooky skull and crossbones because they can so easily find flags and banners with it. You can then just use black and white dotted balloons, decorate a cake in red and white, print out any number of flags and decorating items, and create sea chests full of snacks or prizes, even make the table look like a ship with a sail. The point is that you’ve got that dominant palette and the ideas for the main decorating themes.

Can you do this with any party decoration ideas? Absolutely. Farmyard themes can be mostly gold and green with specific animals or images (red barns) used to inspire the décor. Movies like Frozen or Moana have very obvious palettes and themes. Sports are the same, as are almost any themes you can think of.

Take the palette and concepts of the theme and use them for the rest of the party décor. What we mean by this is to shift those colors to the food and then use the images or theme to inspire the food.

As an example, a four-year-old may want an Elmo party. That means loads of red, white and black. Start with the invitations that could be cookies designed to look like Elmo or lanyards imprinted with him that the kids wear to the party.

Maybe do some red and white paper lanterns and décor from the ceiling, a cake all dolled up with white icing and bold red decorations. The signage should be done in bright red, and the tablecloths could be black and white. You don’t need to buy all kinds of Elmo printed items, but instead make sure the birthday girl is wearing a t-shirt with Elmo and that paper Elmo (and other Sesame Street character) masks are around. Serve cookies and pops decorated with his distinct face and remember that personal pizzas can be an activity with kids making Elmo faces on their pizza pies. Goody bags can be decorated with printouts of Elmo and other characters and full of colorful items inspired by his activities.

The games could then be Elmo-inspired such as “Pin the Nose on Elmo” and Elmo piñatas (both of which you can make on your own).

Is that it? Just use the colors and a few basic ideas? No, that is not where your party decoration ideas end.

Know How to Use Your Party Decorations Ideas

We have looked at the colors and some basic ideas. We mentioned things like food and goodie bags, but lots of parents really trip up with party decoration ideas because they are not sure just what elements of the party need to depict the theme. Here is where you must be sure the theme and the party decoration ideas align:

  • Invitations – Introduce the birthday decoration ideas here. Whether it is a sport, color, character, movie or other concept, be sure your guests are clear about it with the invite. Remember that these can be edible, part of the party (i.e. t-shirts, visors, sunglasses, etc.), and personalized. You can buy them from vendors or make them.
  • Food and drink – Think of how creative you can get when you implement party decoration ideas through the food and drink. For example, a Harry Potter theme can have butter beer and any number of bizarre foods right out of the movies and books. You can decorate with funny ice cubes, oddly colored beverages, and even decorate the vessels that food is served in and on. A cauldron rather than a punch bowl, or reusable mugs or cups decorated with the theme can be great ways to use those creative ideas. Don’t forget that the cake can be a decorating centerpiece.
  • Table styling – One professional says that he always tries to “concentrate the majority of decorations around the buffet/dessert table. This will create a focal point…[and] creating one really well themed feature wall” is also suggested. You can also use those pre-made and pre-printed napkins, plates and so on. However, it can be much more fun to make your own based on the colors and general themes you chose. Integrate goodie bags into the table décor to ensure the theme is really on display.

  • Overhead – Decorating gets super creative when you use color-coordinated balloons, lanterns, bunting, streamers and so on. Handmade or store-bought signs bring lots of visual impact and you can easily find any number of themed or boldly-colored items to intersperse with the décor. For example, a pirate party can have flags and even a sail hanging behind or above the table. That Mad Hatter’s party can have an array of wildly colored paper lanterns dangling from the trees. The point is to let your party decoration ideas appear everywhere and not just on the table or wrapping paper.

If you take the time to figure out these basic details and the places best used to depict your chosen party decorations ideas, you’ll be able to create an unforgettable event.

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