Looks aren't really everything
But you may want some decorating ideas anyway. We've got some themes, too.

Come one, come all
A few interesting ways to invite the gang.

Celebrating on the run?
Make a temporary cooler to haul stuff in.

Who are you, anyway?
Once your guests have arrived, how can you tell them apart? Name tags, of course.

Some off-the-wall drinks that have something to do with birthdays (who knows why). And if you're feeling brave, take a peek at the Punch Page.

Helpful Party Links
Other places on the web that will help make this party the best one ever (why do we always say that?).

Book Recommendations
Check out our hand-picked titles to help you with your party needs (in association with amazon.com).


See our new Hot Birthday Picks page for the best of new trends and ideas in birthday gifts and gifts for other occasions.

Decorating and Themes

Giant props are always fun. For some reason, when things are ten times bigger than they should be, people laugh.

For summer fun, fasten beachballs together in groups of three or more (use wire or tape or whatever), and hang wherever.

Want to know how to embarrass someone? No, we don't mean like that. How about a "This Is Your Life" party? Aside from all the obvious stuff you can do for this, blow up lots of their baby pictures to hang all over.

Try a one-color theme. Have the guests show up in the birthday recipient's favorite (or least favorite) color. Decorate with balloons, streamers and paper in that color. Serve food and drinks that match the color scheme.

Does your friend watch way too much TV? How about a Couch Potato party? Guests can show up wearing their pajamas or dressed like slobs (for some, this will be the same outfit). Have televisions scattered throughout the house (borrow some). Serve junk food all night (put in your own comment). Give guests pillowcases or TV Guides to take home.

Have a limit-the-present-price party. Set a strict, low limit on what each guest may spend on a gift ($2.98 is a good number). This is great, inexpensive fun for everyone involved.

Is your friend unavailable on Sunday afternoons? Or do they know the ERA of pitchers on teams that are a thousand miles away? They must be a sports fan. So, make the invitation to the party look like an admission ticket, have everyone dress like a jock or a fan, and serve concession food. By the way, it's "buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack" not Jacks. Sorry. We couldn't control ourselves.

Something we've have lots of fun with is making a topic-specific trivia game. Go to a place like AbsoluteTrivia.com "The Totally Trivia Search Engine". Search for information on your topic of choice (depending on the birthday-er's interests). Write down the questions and answers, then play on and off throughout the evening (works best if one or two people control all the asking). If someone guesses correctly, they keep the card. At the end of the night, whoever has the most cards gets a small (or large) prize.

Virtual Surprise Birthday Party
Take the recipient out for lunch or dinner, then get someone to sneak back into their place and decorate. Scatter empty pizza boxes and soda or beer cans around to make it look like a wild party had taken place. Call a bunch of friends/relatives - use your phone, not theirs :) - and ask them to leave phone messages or send email thanking the recipient for a wonderful party (and congratulating them on their birthday). You can even leave opened gifts lying around. It'll be fun to see how long it takes your recipient to figure out what's going on when you bring them home. This is a great way to surprise someone special without embarrassing them too much.

Feel Like a Kid Again
For a 40-50-60 plus birthday, think young. What did your friend love when they were a kid? Toy cars, cowboys, Barbies? Ask the guests to dress in theme, decorate as if for a child's party (including the cake). Play games where guests try and guess things about your friend's childhood. Oh, and the gifts? Toys, of course!


Write them on cheap, cork beer coasters.

Create tiny gift-wrapped packages. Write the info on the outside, or on a slip of paper inside (you know they'll open it no matter what).

Here's an old one that still works. Blow up a balloon. Write the invitation on it. Deflate the balloon. Mail it. (Ooops! We should have told you not to tie the end in a knot. Pays to read ahead, doesn't it?)

Is the party at the beach? How about an invitation shaped like a life preserver? Now you can invite the Baywatch gang properly.

Is this one of the "big" birthdays? If you'll be doing a lot of walking down memory lane, think about an invitation that looks like a photo album. Just one piece of paper, folded in half. Use your imagination.

Make a Temporary Cooler

  • Wash out empty half-gallon or gallon plastic milk containers. Fill them about 3/4 full of water, close tightly and freeze.
  • Line bottom of a brown paper grocery bag with several layers of newspaper, folded up (at least 1" thick).
  • Place two half-gallon or one gallon container of the frozen water on top of the newspaper in the bag.
  • Put more folded newspaper around all four sides of the bag.Arrange cold canned drinks and chilled containers full of food in the bag.
  • Fold over the top of the bag and close it tightly with a stapler.
  • Take the bag to your party. If outdoors, place the bag in a shady spot. It should keep the contents chilly all day.
  • When the party's over, recycle the components, of course!

Name tags

Have them write one interesting thing on their tag (besides their interesting name). Like "I'm a Merchandiser from Magnolia." Or "I've been to the Tri-Cities three times."

The name tag can be in the shape of something to go with a theme. Like footballs for the sports fan. Toilets for the plumber. Etc.


The Birthday Party
Blend at medium speed 1-1/2 oz. banana liqueur, half a fresh banana, and 3 scoops vanilla ice cream. Pour into large wine glass or brandy snifter. Top with sliced banana.

Birthday Cooler
Pour into mixing glass 1-1/2 oz. gin and 2 oz. Pernod or Ricard. Stir. Strain into rocks glass filled with cracked ice.

Helpful Party Links

Kool Karaoke Turn your PC into your own recording studio with Kool Karaoke Studio. Perfect for your next party. Provides hours of hilarious fun for all ages!

Party, Retro & Motion Lighting at discount prices! Check out their awesome retro, motion and party lighting. They will illuminate your space and amaze your friends.

On-This-Day Find out all the good (and bad) things that happened the day the party guy (or gal) was born, then bring it up at an inappropriate time during the party.

Anagram Genius Server Rearranging the letters of 'Madonna Louise Ciccone' gives 'Occasional nude income'?! Find out for FREE what is hidden within YOUR name (or your birthday celebrant's)! Make a list of people coming to the party and their anagrams. We love this stuff!

Best Recipes from the world's greatest home cooks.

USAOPOLY Specialized Monopoly games. How about Astronomy Monopoly, where you buy, sell and trade comets, planets, star clusters, and even galaxies? Other Monopoly versions available include Chicago, Las Vegas, golf, NHL, Star Trek and Scooby Doo!

AreYouGame.com games and puzzles Games and puzzles. Fast-loading, easy-to-navigate site with a "jaw-dropping selection" (we're still sore).

Book Recommendations

Games for Parties

52 Fun Party Activities for Grown-Ups

Great Party Games for Grown-Ups

50 Of the Finest Adult Party Games

Games People Play: The Biggest and Best Book on Party Games and Activities

Outrageous Party Games

Great Games for Great Parties: How to Throw a Perfect Party 

Ideas, Themes, Planning, Food & Drink for Parties

Party! Food: Essential Guide to Menus, Drinks and Planning

Great Parties: The Best of Martha Stewart Living: Recipes, Menus and Ideas for Perfect Gatherings

Party Fare: Irresistible Nibbles for Every Occasion

Modern Parties

The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook: Secrets from the East Hampton Specialty Food Store for Simple Food and Party Platters You Can Make at Home

Absolutely Unforgettable Parties: Great Ideas for Party People

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