Top 5 Birthday Themes and How to Make Them Happen

Birthday themes are perfect for adding that little something extra to your celebration, but it can be difficult to know how to approach them as an adult. At a kids’ party, everyone can throw on a homemade costume. And once you add some paper plates and cups with the right pictures, that’s most of the theme covered. If you’re looking for a classy, sophisticated soiree, it takes a bit more inspiration to get things right.

We’ve gathered five of the most popular birthday themes, so we can give you hints about how to get the decor, invitations, food and party favours right.


tropical birthday theme


Possibilities are endless for tropical theme invitations. You could draw inspiration from nature: the ocean, palm trees, or tropical birds. You might be inspired by tropical food and drinks, like cocktails, or types of fruit. For a more abstract interpretation of the theme, you could just incorporate bright tropical colours to tie in with the rest of the party decor.


For tropical decorations, think about things like:

  • Pineapples
  • Bananas
  • Coconuts
  • Flamingos
  • Palm trees and palm fronds
  • Beach umbrellas
  • Hibiscus flowers

All these things could be real, cut from paper for decoration, or incorporated as part of a pattern or as pictures on things. Switch on some calypso music and the mood is set instantly. Bonus points  if you can get a beach venue, ocean views or a pool.


The tropics are the perfect place for good Summer food and drinks. Bring this to your party with a great tropical punch recipe and plenty of cocktails on offer. Garnish with cocktail umbrellas and fruit. Serve hot finger food, cookies and cupcakes decorated to match the birthday theme, and giant platters of fresh fruit.


If you want to go the route of traditional lolly bags, make sure they’re bright and stocked with fruity gummies and lolly bananas. If lollies aren’t your thing, consider making your guests leis out of paper flowers, or give them small trinkets to take home like flamingo or pineapple keyrings.


floral birthday themes


Floral birthday theme invitations are among the most popular, even for parties that are not themed. Flowers can be incorporated into a design in so many different ways: a large illustration, border garland, intricate pattern, or flowers blind letterpressed into paper to add a little something extra to a simple invitation. They can be bright and in-your-face, or subtle white flowers that don’t draw attention to themselves: it’s entirely up to you and how you want your birthday theme carried out.


Flowers are so easy to decorate with! You can incorporate a variety of different flowers, be they real or fabric, crepe paper or card. Flowers can be propped in bowls or vases, glued tightly together to create a flower wall to use as a photo booth background, tied to wire and stuck in the lawn, or strung together into garlands. How far you take this depends on your style and on the venue you have chosen. If you are hosting your party in a garden or other outdoor venue where there are going to be flowers, half the work is already done for you!


Did you know there are tonnes of edible flowers? Real, grown-in-the-ground flowers that are perfectly safe for human consumption and may even taste delicious? These are perfect for a flower-theme birthday party. Garnish everything with edible flowers. Freeze them into ice cubes, use them to decorate cupcakes, and sprinkle them in salads. If that’s not your thing, have your cupcakes decorated to look like they have flowers on top of them., or just cook them in floral cupcake liners.


One of the most simple favours you can give guests of a flower-themed birthday party is a bouquet of flowers. Whether they’re real or made from paper, everyone appreciates the opportunity to brighten up their home with some flowers. If you want something a little different, consider giving your guests flower crowns to wear at the party and take home with them. Another option is to send guests home with seed packets so they can grow their own little garden of flowers. Just make sure the seeds you give them are easy to grow and compatible with the area you live in.

Around the World

wanderlust birthday theme


For a travel-themed birthday party, go for invitations that inspire you to roam the world. You might incorporate a map motif, an illustration of a globe, suitcases or modes of transport (planes, trains, boats, buses), or be inspired by landmarks or your favourite places to go on holiday. The birthday theme can be as central or subtle as you like.


Decorate your travel-themed party with props like suitcases, globes, cameras, steamer trunks and crossroad signs. You can cover walls with world maps, posters advertising travel destinations, and garlands made with map paper or with pictures of travel-related bits and pieces. You can dangle planes and ‘clouds’ made with paper or cotton wool from the ceiling with fishing wire. Styled tents can also be a great decoration choice, especially if you can set them up outside as extra entertainment space.


Offer a buffet with food from different places, arranged geographically and with maps as labels. If that’s a bit much,  just decorate your food with cake toppers or wrappers that match the theme.


Luggage tags are a perfect party favour for a ‘round the world’ themed birthday party. Personalise them for your guests and use them as  place tags if you’re having a sit-down meal.


pattern birthday theme


Whatever pattern style you are using  as the theme for your birthday party - stripes, polka dots, chevron, paisley, checks or something else -  carry that through to the invitation. You might use the pattern as a border, as a way of filling text, or as the entire background for the invite. Try to think about the colours you are planning to use in the party decorations and make sure you use similar colours in the invitation to really tie everything together.


Decorating with a pattern is all about the accents: striped or polka dotted beach umbrellas, or fabric hung up along a wall are great ways of covering larger amounts of space, along with garlands and bunting. Patterned balloons may also be  available, or for a simple pattern you could paint plain balloons.


Decorate your food with the pattern of your choice, using edible stickers and edible paper, fondant and icing. You can also use cake toppers, cupcake liners, straws and napkins to add that little extra piece of the theme to your buffet or tablescape.


Pretty much anything patterned works as an on-theme favour when the pattern is the theme, but this is a great opportunity to channel the traditional lolly bag. Use a pretty, patterned bag and try to choose things that match to include inside it. Striped lifesavers or candy canes can work if stripes is your theme, or speckled eggs if you’re rocking polka dots.

1920s Vintage

gadsby theme birthday


Art deco invitations are the standard choice for 1920s parties or speakeasies, and for good reason. These have become crazy popular in the years since Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 version of The Great Gatsby. Think foil stamping, intricate geometric patterns and decorative fonts. The more opulent, the better!


1920s parties are easy to decorate. Start with the venue: a luxe bar is perfect, even better if it’s underground. Hire a jazz band if possible, or at least put together an awesome electro swing playlist. For the details, think black and gold everything, feathers, garlands with fringe and tassels, candles, mason jars, pearls, empty champagne bottles, twinkle lights, and martini glasses. For extra entertainment and to set the mood, consider projecting a silent movie on a wall or projector screen.


Think 1920s opulence for food and drink as well as decorations. Consider offering food like deviled eggs, prawns, oysters, cheese platters and antipasto. When it comes to drinks, consider gin, champagne and a contemporary form of moonshine.


1920s favours can be as fancy as small bottles of champagne or as simple as mason jars, feather headdresses or dress jewelry. Any of these can be personalised for your guests to give them something really special that shows you are grateful for their attendance and will help bring back great memories of a fabulous night.

Whatever theme you land on, a great venue, quality invitations and thoughtful decorations will create an atmosphere that your guests will love. Happy planning!

This was a guest post by Maddison Wallace from Paperlust. Maddison is head of content at Paperlust. She is a communications professional who loves words and drinking cups of tea.





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