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Parenting

Planning your child’s next birthday party but unsure of what to do? Don’t know which theme to take or how to entertain party guests? First, take a hint from your child.

“Find out what they like, where their interests lie, and build off of that,” suggests DeShauna Thornton, owner of Partytique Event Design, an event planning company in Fredericksburg.

The Internet, especially DIY sites like Pinterest, is a great place to start for a host of ideas for planning the perfect shindig for children of any age.

Toddlers

Depending on the season, a picnic in the park with a playground is a good choice to celebrate a 1- or 2-year-old. You can also plan a party at a petting zoo or a children’s museum. Popular themes for toddler parties include Minions, Disney (Frozen is still big), Star Wars, farm animals (ties in well with a petting zoo), cars and trucks, and dinosaurs. As for entertainment, kids this age are easily entertained by bubbles, balloons or a ball pit.

Thornton advises to keep the age of the child in mind. “You don’t want to plan a four- hour party for a toddler, or plan a party around their naptime,” she says.

Pre-schoolers

clown wig

For this set, you can opt for a carnival theme with clowns, a dunk tank, a silly photo booth, and a cotton candy or popcorn machine. Or, go for a Dr. Seuss theme with Cat In The Hat-inspired games, crafts and treats. You can also plan entertainment around Legos, board games, such as Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders, or throw a tea party or princess party for girls.

“A dress up party is always a hit with this age,” says Thornton.

You also can’t go wrong with a piñata.

Elementary Age

Children this age want to be involved in activity during a party. Try bowling, skating, swimming, laser tag, the movies, or a bounce house or indoor trampoline establishment. Karaoke parties, magic parties, arts and crafts parties, or science parties with hands-on experiments work well for at-home fetes.

“Anything that is active is popular with kids in this age group, anything that allows them to be social with their friends,” says Thornton.

Middle School

Sleepovers are big for this age group. You can do a spa theme with manicures, pedicures, facials, and makeup and hair styling for girls.

“They like to have fun being pampered,” says Thornton.

For boys, try Minute to Win It challenges with fun prizes, scavenger hunts or spy games.

Birthday party ideas for a child turning 13 with a summer birthday include a pool party, mini golfing or visiting an amusement park. A child with a winter birthday may like sledding or ice skating with friends (bowling and laser tag are also still good choices at this age).

High School

climbing wall

Have a child turning the Sweet 16? Try an experience party such as zip lining, rock climbing, camping or whitewater rafting during the summer, or skiing during the winter.

High school students will also get a kick out of attending a dance club, comedy club, a concert, a pro sports game or the beach. At-home party ideas include a Mexican fiesta, outdoor movie party with a projector, an obstacle challenge party, a casino game night, blacklight dance party, or chocolate fondue party.

“For kids this age, you want it to be glamorous,” says Thornton. “There are so many things you can do for kids this age based on their personalities.”

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