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Bowling Party Ideas: retro & modern

These modern & retro bowling party ideas can easily be adapted to suit any age group, depending on whether you're planning a kid's, teen or adult birthday. Below are some tips and suggestions for bowling party food & drinks, bowling party invitations, decorations and party games.

A word of warning about retro bowling parties though. Although the style looks lovely—and I'm a big fan of it personally—retro bowling decorations and birthday party supplies are harder to come by. Which means you usually have to make things yourself or spend more money on vintage style items.

Regardless of whether you're going to do a modern or retro bowling party, the first thing to decide is if you're going to hold the birthday party at a bowling alley or at home. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options so you just need to weigh up what's more important to you.

 

bowling party ideas

 

 

Tips & Advice: Quick Links

Before jumping straight into the creative ideas, such as birthday invitations, food & drink and party decorations, take a minute to read my tips and advice section.

Click on the links below for information on the following:

Bowling Alley party: Pro's and Con's

A list of pro's and con's for holding your birthday party at a bowling alley.

party At Home: Pro's and Con's

A list of pro's and con's for holding your birthday party at home.

Bowling alley party: Things to Remember

Advice on how many lanes to book, reserving lanes until all guests have confirmed, food restrictions etc

Themed Bowling

Harry Potter bowling? Redneck bowling? Star Wars bowling? Retro Mad Men style bowling? Read this section for information on applying a theme to these bowling party ideas.

 

 

 

quick links: BOWLING Party Supplies

 

 

 

bowling party Invitations

 

matts tip

 

Bowling Pin party Invitations

For 3D birthday party invitations to tie in with these bowling party ideas, you could send a mini foam bowling pin through the mail as the invitation. You can pick these up for around a dollar each from supplier 5. Then just write or print all the birthday party details onto a small tag (see Using Tags on the Create Invitations page for examples) and tie it onto the bowling pin with ribbon. Pop into a padded envelope or small box and mail them out, or just hand deliver them on the school run.

foam bowling pins

 

 

 

Bowling pin Cookie Invitations

Another fun option that works well with these bowling party ideas is to go for edible birthday party invitations. Pick up a bowling pin cookie cutter from supplier 3 and make a batch of cookies. Wrap each one up in cellophane, including all the party details on a tag as described above, then send them out in a padded envelope or box.

If you're not really one for baking cookies, you can buy these ready made bowling pin cookies from supplier 4 for less than $3 each.

bowling pin cookie cutterbowling cookies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to make these even more special, lay them on some tissue paper in one of these decorative box mailers and tie up with ribbon.

box mailers

 

 

Personalized Bowling party Invitations

If you prefer to be more traditional, there are lots of birthday invitations available online that would fit well with these bowling party ideas, such as the ones below. Check out supplier's 4 and 7 for a full range.

bowling party invitationsbowling party invitations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Both suppliers 4 and 7 also have some great retro bowling invitations, such as the ones below.

retro bowling invitationsvintage bowling invitations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

retro bowling invitationsretro bowling invitations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supplier 4 also has some clever die cut (shaped) bowling invitations, such as this bowling bag and ball invitations, below left, or these bowling pin ones, below right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bowling Party Invitation Wording

If you're using one of the 3D birthday party invitations above, and need some wording to add to the tags, below are a few suggestions to go with these bowling party ideas. A word of warning though: use these sparingly, otherwise it can sound a bit cheesy.

  • Strike the date on your calendar......
  • Spare the time to join us.............
  • Roll on over to...........
  • Put on your bowling shoes for........
  • Don't be a turkey, reply to.......

 

 

 

Bowling Postage Stamps

A great way to add some extra embellishment to your bowling party invitations is to use these themed postage stamps (more designs available), some of which can be personalized to include the host's name. There are also some retro designs, such as the one below left. This is a cute and easy way to make your birthday party invitations stand out.

Note: These stamps are only available in the USA

 

bowling postage stampsbowling stampsbowling postage stamps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bowling party Drinks

 

matts tip

 

There aren't any obvious themed drinks to associate with these bowling party ideas (unless you're going for a retro theme where you could serve root beer floats or milkshakes). So instead, I would suggest you focus on the presentation of the drinks.

 

Bowling Pin Milkshakes / cocktails

If your party is for kids, serve a white colored milkshake (such as this pineapple, banana and coconut milkshake recipe) in individual glass bottles and apply some strips of red tape to make them look like bowling pins. Then pop a bowling pin crazy straw (see below) in each bottle and arrange the bottles into a triangle shape to look more like pins.

You can pick up these vintage style glass bottles for around $1.50-$2 each from suppliers 2, 3 or 9.

You can adapt this ideas for an adult birthday party by using any white colored cocktail, such as White Russians.

bowling themed drinks

 

 

 

Bowling Ball Punch / cocktail

Pick up some of these mini plastic fish bowls from supplier 2 to use as glasses. Fill them with a black punch such as this recipe. Then just apply 3 dot stickers from supplier 3 on the side of the bowls to look like the holes.

You can also adapt this for an adult birthday party by using any cocktail with cola, such as Black Russians.

bowling drinksdot stickers

 

 

 

Bowling Pin Soda / Juice

Alternatively, if you're having your party at the bowling alley, just serves soda in these cute bowling pin sippers - kid's will love them and they make great party favors. You can pick up plain ones for less than $2 each from supplier 2, or supplier 4 will personalized them with your guest's name and a favor tag.

bowling pin sipperspersonalized bowling pin sippers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternatively, just fill these bowling themed party cups from supplier 4 with regular juice/soda and give them names such as 'Lucky Strike Punch' or 'All Star Soda'.

bowling party cups

 

You can also style them with these bowling themed straws from supplier 4, or make bowling ball shaped ice with these molds from supplier 3 (you could even add some natural food coloring to make them look more like bowling balls).

bowling strawsbowling ice mold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

water

You can also give regular water bottles a bowling themed makeover with these printable labels from supplier 4.

bowling water labelsprintable bowling labels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bowling party Food

 

matts tip

 

If you're holding your party at a bowling alley, bear in the mind it's mainly junk food on offer. So see if they'll let you bring in some of you own so you can add some healthy options (ie, fruit etc) to your bowling party food.

Here are some other food suggestions to go with these bowling party ideas.

 

  • Pick up a bowling pin cookie cutter from supplier 3, or a bowling ball one from supplier 4. There are so many ways you can use this to create themed bowling party food such as sandwiches, pizza, cookies, cheese and fruit slices (see some examples below).

bowling pin cookie cutterbowling ball cookie cutter

 

 

  • Use a bowling pin cookie cutter to shape white bread sandwiches (see below) into pins with red fruit leather to make the stripes. You can also use brown bread to create bowling balls with three olives as the holes (below right).

bowling party food bowling food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • You can also use the cookie cutters to make themed pizzas to go with your bowling party food. Either cut out shapes from a ready-made pizza (use a square / rectangular shaped pizza to minimize waste)—see below left, or make your own larger pizzas (see below right). Start by adding only the tomato puree to the base. Then use the cookie cutter as a stencil to arrange the cheese in the shape of the bowling pins (as many as you can fit onto the pizza). You can add the two red stripes to each pin by using slices of pepperoni or red pepper. Finally, add a bowling ball shape by using black olives.

bowling pizza bowling pizza

 

 

  • Of course you can also use them to make cookies or if you're not really the baking type, you can pick up ready-made ones from supplier 4—many of which can also be personalized.

bowling cookiesbowling cookies


 

 

  • If you want to add some healthy options to your bowling party food, you can also use the cookie cutters to shape slices of fruit such as pineapple, melon or watermelon.

  • For bowling party ideas for teens, you could use the cookie cutters to mold white rice into individual portions then serve with big bowls of chilli or curry (see below). Tip: Stir some melted butter into the rice to help bind it when arranging in the cookie cutter. The red stripes are just slices of red pepper.

bowling party food

 

 

  • If you want to make bowling pin cupcakes, check out these (below left, from Berg Family 4 or below right, from Cut Out and Keep). They're made by placing a mini cupcake upside down on top of a regular one, followed by a donut hole on top of the mini cupcake—with all three components stuck together with frosting. Then let them firm up in the fridge or freezer before covering in melted frosting. The red details can be added by using fruit leather.

bowling pin cupcakesbowling cupcakes

 

 

  • Alternatively, you could make some bowling ball cupcakes like these to go with your bowling party food (below left, by 'new at this' via Cake Central or below right, by Lunch box Lane)

bowling ball cupcakes bowling cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • For a quick and easy option, supplier 4 has lots of great bowling themed cupcake toppers, such as these edible fondant ones (more designs available, some of which can be personalized).

edible bowling cake toppersfondant bowling cake toppers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Alternatively, supplier 4 also has some non-edible toppers such as the ones below.

bowling cupcake toppersbowling cupcake toppers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • My favorites though, are these personalized photo cupcake toppers where you can add the birthday boy or girl's face to a bowling shirt. Also from supplier 4.

personalized bowling cupcake topperspersonalized bowling cupcake toppers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • These Rice Krispie football shirts (below, from Rice Krispie) could easily be adapted to make bowling shirts. Just add a wide vertical stripe down the center of the shirt (see below right).

bowling shirt cookies bowling shirts

 

 

  • Similarly, for a quick alternative to cupcakes or cookies, adapt these Rice Krispie sports ball treats (below, from Rice Krispie) using black frosting to make bowling balls (don't forget to add the three holes in a lighter color frosting to add some definition). Or, make a sheet of Rice Krispies and use the bowling pin cookie cutter to cut them into bowling pin shapes, then add white and red frosting to decorate.

bowling ball cookies

 

 

  • Alternatively, you can buy ready-made bowling themed cake pops from supplier 4.

bowling cake popsbowling cake pops

 

 

  • Another good way to fill out a dessert table is with these personalized bowling ball lollipops from supplier 1, or these personalized candy bar wrappers from supplier 4 (more designs avaible).

bowling lollipopsbowling candy wrappers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Suppliers 1 and 8 both sells candy by the color if you want to tie everything in with a bowling themed color scheme.

red candyblack candyblue candy

 

  • Check out my page of Baseball party ideas, there are lots of concession stand inspired dishes such as these hot dog shaped cakes (below left) and this cheesecake that looks like nachos! (below right) which you could also use for bowling party food.

hot dog cakesnacho cheesecake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIRTHDAY CAKE

  • If you want to make your own birthday cake to compliment these bowling party ideas, use this sports ball cake pan from supplier 3. It's a generic ball pan so can be decorated to look like all different types of balls (ex, tennis, basketball etc).

bowling ball cake panbasketball caketennis ball cake

 

  • I'd recommend rolling out fondant icing and using this to cover the ball as it will give it a smoother, more realistic appearance (such as this example by see-through-silence at deviant art). You can then add some small black fondant circles and push these in slightly to look like the holes.

bowling ball cake

 

  • Check out this professionally made bowling cake by Cakegirls that I came across on the sweetiecakesandpies blog). This gave me some ideas for how you could enhance the presentation of your bowling ball birthday cake (see below).

bowling cake

 

  • What I'd suggest is displaying the cake on a strip of this wood contact paper from supplier 3 to resemble a bowling lane (you can add some red arrows using card stock for extra detail). Then arrange some of these foam bowling pin stress-balls from supplier 5 or cheap plastic bowling pins from supplier 3 in a triangle at one end. Alternatively, if you want the pins to look as if they've just been struck by the ball, like in the photo, just apply the contact paper to a Styrofoam block and secure the pins in place at angles with skewers.

wood effect paperfoam bowling pinswood contact paper

 

  • If you don't want to bake your own birthday cake you can use these bowling themed cake toppers from suppliers 3 and 4 to decorate a cake.

bowling cake toppersbowling cake decorations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Alternatively, you could use these personalized edible image cake toppers from supplier 4 (more designs available).

bowling edible cake imagebowling edible cake image

 

 

  • Supplier 4 also has some great non-edible personalized cake toppers, including this personalized bowling bobblehead which can be made from a photo of the birthday boy or girl.

personalized bowling bobbleheadpersonalized bowling cake topperpersonalized bowling cake topper

 

 

 

 

Food & Drink Styling

 

matts tip

 

Below are some tips and suggestions for how to style these bowling party ideas.

 

bowling dessert table / buffet table

  • If you're holding your birthday party at a bowling alley where there is no separate party room (ie, they just set up a food table behind the lanes) definitely make sure you spend a bit of time dressing a small food / dessert table to make it a bit more special—otherwise it can seem a bit impersonal for a birthday party. You can adapt some of the bowling dessert table ideas below depending on how much space you have available to decorate.
  • Below are step by step instructions for how to decorate a retro bowling dessert table / buffet table.

retro bowling dessert table

 

  • I've given this bowling dessert table a retro feel, so start by creating a backdrop by hanging some fabric. There are lots of different retro style fabrics available here by the yard such as "sprinkles" (below left), "argyle" (below center) and "hop dot sky" (below right) plus lots of others.

retro fabricretro fabricsretro argyle fabric

 

  • Alternatively, there are a few bowling themed fabrics from supplier 3 you could use, such as the ones below, including some which have a retro design.

retro bowling fabricbowling fabricretro bowling fabric

 

  • You can make your own retro bowling sign to hang above your bowling dessert table using some free fonts available to download. The first retro font is called Fontdinerdotcom Sparky (below, by fontdiner on fontspace). Just download, unzip (using winzip or another free unzip program) then drag the font files into your font folder on your computer. The upper case version is what I used to create the "Bradley's" part of the bowling dessert table illustration above. Just print each letter off on individual pieces of card then arrange on the wall (either use colored cardstock or just add a colored rectangle in Word, Powerpoint or whatever software you're using). The lower case version is what I used to create the "All Star Lanes" part of the bowling dessert table illustration above. The lower case version also includes the little star symbol which gives it a really retro feel.

retro font

 

  • The second retro font, called Bowlorama (below, also by fontdiner on fontspace) is what I used for the "Bowl-a-rama" part of the bowling dessert table illustration above. The great thing about this retro font is that you can print off each letter individually and just arrange them on the wall.

retro bowling font

 

  • If you don't want to fiddle around making the sign yourself, you can buy a a bowling birthday sign from supplier 4 which is in a similar style. It can be personalized and is available either as a printed poster or a downloadable file that you can print yourself.

bowling dessert table backdrop

 

  • Use bunches of bowling ball shaped balloons at either end to frame the table.

    Update: the bowling ball shaped balloons featured in the design above have been discontinued, however you can make something similar yourself using these huge 17" round balloons from supplier 4 and adding these black dot labels from supplier 3 to represent the holes.

huge round balloonsdot stickers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • For a centerpiece, arrange some plastic bowling pins in a triangle shape and raise them up on a covered box / cake stand. You can pick up cheap plastic kid's bowling sets for around $7 from supplier 3 which come with 12 pins and 2 balls. They're fairly cheap quality so may not last very long if used for actual bowling but they're a great cheap option to use as a centerpiece for a bowling dessert table.

plastic bowling pins

 


  • You could also add another tier above the pins with a bowling trophy on, so that the triangle of bowling pins are arranged in such a way to hide the box / tier supporting the trophy. This way the trophy looks like its supported by the bowling pins. These plastic trophies are available individually or in packs of 12 from supplier 1 or 5 so you can use them as prizes for bowling games (see Games section below) and just keep one back for your centerpiece.

bowling trophies

 

 

 

Alternative bowling dessert Table

Below is another option for a dessert / buffet table to go with these bowling party ideas:

bowling dessert table

 

  • For the backdrop, I've used the signage created with the free fonts as described above. Beneath this I've used a bowling themed wall decal from supplier 3 (different colors available). These are fairly cheap and look great against a plain wall. Also, they peel and re-stick easily so you can always use to it to decorate a kid's bedroom after the party.

bowling wall decal

bowling wall decalbowling wall decal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Either side of the buffet / dessert table I've used bowling ball cut outs to create hanging decorations Just stick them onto strips of ribbon or colored string and hang vertically from the ceiling. This would be a great way to enclose the food / dessert table area if set up behind the bowling lanes at a bowling alley (assuming they'll let you hang things).

    Update: These bowling ball cut outs have now been discontinued, however you can make something similar using paper party plates from supplier 1 and adding these dot labels from supplier 3.

red party platesdot stickers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternative Bowling Dessert Table

Below is one final example of a bowling dessert table:

bowling dessert table

 

  • The homemade bowling ball plates can also be used to create an entire backdrop for a bowling dessert table, as shown above.
  • Frame your bowling dessert table by hanging a personalized banner above it. There are lots of different designs available and they're pretty inexpensive. This one below is from supplier 3:

bowling party banner

bowling banner

bowling party banner

bowling banner

kids bowling banner

bowling party banner

 

  • Either side of the dessert table, I've positioned two bowling pin balloon structures. See the Decorations section below for more information on these.
  • One final idea for a bowling themed backdrop would be to use a printed shower curtain. There are lots of different bowling themed designs available from supplier 3, but I particuarly like this 1950's bowling style one (below left).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • You could probably just pin the shower curtin in place, but it might also be worth investing in a cheap photography backdrop support frame (from supplier 3) which you can pick up for around $30. The great thing about these support frames is that you can use them again and again to create different backgrounds for dessert tables by hanging fabric, tissue pom poms, or streamers (as shown below using a backdrop support frame).

backdrop framedessert table backdrop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Presentation

Here are some food presentation tips to go with these bowling party ideas:

  • Supplier 4 has a range of different bowling themed printable labels, such as the ones below, that can be used to identify different foods on a dessert / buffet table.

bowling food label tents

bowling trophies


  • If you're serving lollies, cake pops or any other foods on sticks, you can present these sticking out of homemade bowling balls. Just pick up some Styrofoam balls from supplier 3 and paint them black, with 3 indents to represent the finger holes (or use the dot stickets mentioned previously). Then secure the Styrofoam balls to a base with a nail (you could use a rectangular piece of Styrofoam or wood covered in decorative paper for the base). A row of these, say 3 or 4 balls, on one long base would look good. You could even cover the base with a beige colored / wood patterned paper to resemble the bowling lane.

    Update: Check out this picture from Janet at Kookie Krums who did this for her daughter's birthday:

styrofoam bowling balls


  • If you're having soda / water bottles on the table, re-label them and arrange them in a triangle shape like a set of bowling pins. Alternatively, you could wrap the entire bottle in white paper and add red stripes using ribbon like in this picture I came across (below, by The Wilsons). Just don't forget to identify what's in each bottle, perhaps with a label on the reverse.

bowling party drinks

  • For an adult party, you'll probably be using less decorations, but you might want to think about getting some personalized paper napkins made. It's the little personalized touches that make a party special. See supplier 7 for a full range.

personalized bowling napkinspersonalized bowling napkins

 

 

 

 

Table Styling

 

matts tip

 

Below are some table styling tips to go with these bowling party ideas (these can be used at home or in the party room at a bowling alley).

  • Decorate the dining table to resemble a bowling lane by using a roll of wood contact paper (below left, from supplier 3). Alternatively, you can pick up a pack of self-stick wood effect vinyl floor tiles here (below center) for under $20 which you can lay over the top of a cheap paper table cover to transform a rectangular table into an impressive looking bowling lane (plus you can use the tiles to create a flat surface in your basement / backyard if you're holding the birthday party at home). Then add a few arrowhead markings using red tape.

wood effect paperbowling lane tablewood floor tiles

  • Below is an illustration to show how this might look. The styling in the illustration below, with the use of a table runner, votives and a floral centerpiece (see below for more info), is more suited to an adult birthday party. However you can still adapt the basic idea of a bowling lane table for a kid's birthday part - just swap the floral centerpiece for the Styrofoam bowling balls suggested below. For information on the bowling ball paper lanterns in the picture, see the decorations section below.

bowling party decorations

 

  • At one end of the table arrange a set of plastic bowling pins (again, you can use these for the actual bowling too) or use the smaller foam bowling pins suggested for the 3D invitations.

plastic bowling pinsfoam bowling pins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  • For a centerpiece, paint Styrofoam balls from supplier 3 to look like bowling balls (see Food Presentation section above) and arrange 3 or 4 running down the middle of the table.

  • To adapt this idea for an adult birthday party, you might want to create the bowling balls centerpieces out of flowers. Carnations are perfect for modelling into balls (see our Facebook page for photos of when I used these for a party for Sarah Jessica Parker in Cannes, France) and it's really quite simple to do. You just insert Carnation stems into a Styrofoam ball. See a full description for how to create Carnation balls like these (below left, from Delish, photo by Charles Schiller). Once you've created the ball don't forget to create 3 holes in each to make them instantly identifiable as bowling balls (below right). I'd suggest inserting 3 sewing thimbles into the Carnations to achieve this look.

carnation centerpiecebowling ball plates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • You can soften this look even more by scattering some votive candles around the centerpiece I'd suggest creating a rectangle of votive candles to contain the centerpiece as the straight lines will fit in nicely with the bowling lane effect.
  • Alternatively, another quick and easy centerpiece would be to use bowling pin sippers from supplier 2 as vases with a single stem in each. See these examples below (below left, from Intimate Weddings, and below right, from Couronne Company) for how simple, yet effective, single stem centerpieces can be.

bowling centerpiece bowling centerpiecebowling pin cups

 

  • For tableware, I'd suggest making your own bowling ball plates by taking regular paper plates from supplier 1 and adding these dot stickers from supplier 3 to represent the holes. These will look great on the wood effect table and tie in well with the 'table as a bowling lane' approach. Alternatively, you can buy professionally printed ones (below right) from supplier 7.

red party platesbowling ball party platesdot stickers

 

  • Alternatively, supplier 7 has a number of other bowling themed paper plates, such as the ones below (more designs available), some of which can also be personalized.

personalized bowling party platespersonalized bowling party platesbowling party plates

 

  • Or supplier's 1 and 3 have a number of different designs, including this sophisticated one (below right from supplier 3) which would be good for an adult / teen party.

bowling party platesbowling party platesbowling party plates

 

  • Supplier 4 also has some nice bowling themed cardstock napkin rings, which tie everything together nicely.

bowling napkin ringsbowling napkin rings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dont forget

 

 

 

bowling party Decorations

Below are some decoration tips to complement these bowling party ideas. You can use these for bowling parties at home, or adapt them to whatever space you have available at a bowling alley.

  • Always have some sort of decorations outside to mark out the entrance to your party and greet people as they arrive. One idea would be to use these huge 3' diameter round balloons from supplier 4 with these 2" dot stickers from supplier 3 attached to make them look like bowling balls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Alternatively, use a personalized bowling themed yard sign or this vertical banner on your front door, both from supplier 2.

bowling yard signbowling banner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • These balloon structures (below, from Cut Out and Keep) make great bowling party decorations. They're simple enough to make and would look really impressive either side of your dessert table - or use them at the entrance to your party. Just nail a tall wooden pole (something shaped like a broom handle) to a base plate to create a frame, then tie balloons around the pole working from the base up. Use larger balloons for the bottom half and slightly smaller ones on the top half to reproduce the shape of the pin, then complete with one large balloon at the very top.

    bowling party decorations

 

  • For inside, you can turn regular black paper lanterns from supplier 2 into bowling balls by just adding 3 small dot stickers from supplier 3 to represent the holes. These make great hanging decorations and look particularly good when hung above the table in a cluster (see the photos below for inspiration).

bowling lanternspaper lanternsred paper lanterns

 

  • You could also do something similar with solid color beach balls from supplier 3. Again, just attach dot stickers to represent the holes. Then just scatter some beach balls around the party - kid's will love to play around with them.

bowling ball beach ballshomemade bowling ballsinflatable bowling balls


  • These are lots of posters you can use for bowling party decorations, including quite a few different ones for The Big Lebowski (below left) - which could be good for an adult birthday party. See supplier 3 and 7.

big lebowski posterbowling postersbowling posters


  • There are also some really cool vintage posters from supplier 3 if you're throwing a retro bowling party. Often these are quite small though (14" x 12")- so be sure to check the sizes as you might need to use quite a few in order to make an impression - which then might not be cost effective.

retro bowling postersretro bowling postersvintage bowling posters

 

  • Pick up a bowling themed stand-in from supplier 2 (below left) for guests to have their photo taken with their faces on the pins. These photos make great souvenirs and you could also incorporate them into thank you cards when you follow up after the party. Alternatively, use these printable photobooth props from supplier 4.

bowling stand inbowling photobooth props

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bowling Party Games / activities

For a list of games and activities, see my separate Bowling Party Games page. This page contains ideas for games that can be played either at a bowling alley or at home, such as:

  • Crazy Bowling

  • Truth or Dare Bowling

  • Race Against the Ball

  • Bingo Bowling

 

bowling pinatakids bowlingnintendo wii bowling

 

 

 

 

Bowling Costumes

  • If you want to get everybody involved in the theme and play in teams, the cheapest way to do costumes is to use these party costume style bowling shirts from supplier 1.

bowling costumeswomens bowling shirtsbowling shirts

 

  • Alternatively, if you're prepared to spend a bit more you can get some much more professional looking bowling shirts from supplier 3 or some fun 'team name' shirts. These are particularly good for a retro bowling party.

bowling shirtsbowling shirts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Another way to have team shirts made up is to get personalized bowling T shirts printed, such as the ones below, from supplier 7.

bowling t shirtsbowling t shirtsbowling t shirts

 

 

 

Bowling Party Favors

  • These mini bowling pin candy containers from supplier 3 would make perfect party favors. You can even get personalized printable labels from supplier 4.

bowling pin candy containersbowling favor tags

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Supplier 4 also has lots of great bowling favor boxes, such as these printable ones shaped like bowling lanes, pins, and balls.

bowling favor boxesbowling favor boxes

 

 

  • If you're using the printable favor boxes above, check out suppliers 1 and 5 for lots of bowling themed novelties that you can put in the boxes.

bowling buttonbowling pensbowling favors

 

 

 

 

Thank You Notes

  • Don't forget to follow up after the party with a thank you note. Suppliers 7 and 4 have a number of different designs available that compliment these bowling party ideas.

bowling thank you cardsbowling thank you cards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • This thank you card from supplier 4 is particularly impressive as the bowling ball on the back can be pulled up to strike the pins.

bowling thank you cardbowling thank you cardbowling thank you card

 

 

 

 

Tips & Advice

Below are tips and advice to help you decide whether to hold your birthday party at a bowling alley or at home. If you do decide to hold it at a bowling alley, I've put together a checklist of things to remember such as how many lanes to book, reserving lanes until a certain date once guests have replied etc.

Bowling Alley: Pro's and Con's

At Home: Pro's and Con's

Bowling alley: Things to remember

Themed Bowling

 

Bowling Alley: Pro's and Con's

  • Pro: More authentic bowling experience.
  • Pro: Pins automatically re-set between bowls, automatically keeps score, plus bumpers available for younger kids.
  • Pro: Less party set up / clean up required.
  • Pro: Space—can accommodate larger numbers.
  • Pro: A birthday party away from home might seem more 'grown up' for pre/younger teens.

 

  • Con: Probably more expensive.
  • Con: Limited to 'junk' food.
  • Con: Not suited to younger kids (say, under 7).
  • Con: Need to coordinate number of guests with number of lanes to reserve (might be some drop outs).
  • Con: Less personal (some alleys don't have a separate party room) so you might need to make more effort to customize some of the bowing party ideas below.

 

bowling alley party

     

At Home: Pro's and Con's

  • Pro: Probably cheaper.
  • Pro: You can provide better / healthier food.
  • Pro: Home bowling sets from supplier 3 more suited to younger kids (plastic balls, no gutters to worry about etc). Alternatively, you could make it a Nintendo / Playstation / Xbox bowling party.
  • Pro: More space to personalize, decorate and incorporate your own bowling party ideas.

  • Con: Less authentic bowling.
  • Con: Have to re-set pins after each bowl / keep score.
  • Con: Space—to accommodate number of guests and also a flat surface (in backyard / basement) to bowl.

 

home bowling set inflatable bowling set

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whichever option you choose for your birthday party, you can adapt most of the bowling party ideas above to suit the venue.

 

 

Things to Remember

If you decide to hold your birthday party at a bowling alley, here are a few useful tips to go with these bowling party ideas:

  • Have no more than 4 kids per lane, otherwise they'll get bored waiting for their turn.

  • Talk to the bowling alley to see if you can reserve a certain number of lanes (before you plan your invitations). Then agree a cut-off date to confirm the final number of people / lanes you actually want to book and pay for.

  • Ask guests to reply by a certain date (chase them up beforehand if need be) so you can confirm final numbers with the bowling alley and increase or decrease the number of lanes on hold accordingly.

  • Check if there are any special bowling options available on certain days (ie black light bowling, extreme bowling, disco nights) incase you want to include these in your bowling party ideas.

  • Check to see if they can add bumpers to some or all of the lanes for younger kids (if required).

  • Some lanes offer a party room for food after the bowling, others just set up a table behind your lanes. Check what's on offer so you know whether you can bring your own decorations / table dressing.

  • If food is included in your package, check to see if you can supplement with some of your own in order to add some healthy options and/or a birthday cake.

bowling parties

 

 

 

Themed bowling

The bowling party ideas above are designed for a birthday where bowling is the actual theme of the party. But there's no reason why you can't add a theme on top. This can often make a party more unique (which is particularly relevant for pre/younger teens who usually want to do something different).

  • For example, for a kid's birthday you could make it a Harry Potter bowling party where the guests come in costume and are sorted into teams such as Slytherin, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw. Or, a Star Wars theme where they are split into Jedi v Sith.

See my list of Kids Party Themes and Teen Party Themes for an A-Z list of themes that you could add to these bowling party ideas.

  • With a themed bowling party held at home you can also decorate the bowling pins, in keeping with whatever theme you choose. Check out these Thanksgiving themed bowling pins (below left, from Makes and Takes) or these Halloween themed ones (below right by Luv2craft from Thrifty Fun) for inspiration.

bowling themes themed bowling pins

 

 

 

 

 



  • You could easily create something similar by just cutting out pictures of different characters related to your chosen theme and sticking them onto bowling pins or soda bottles. Alternatively, there are lots of themed bowling sets for kids that you can buy from supplier 3 for between $10 - $20 such as Disney Princess (below left), Spiderman, Toy Story, Hello Kitty, Spongebob Squarepants, Monsters (below center) and Farm Friends (below right).

disney princess bowling setkids bowling setskids bowling

  • For an adult birthday you could apply a vintage / retro styling to these bowling party ideas and ask guests to come in 50's / 60's costumes (think Mad Men for a sophisticated take on this era). Or have a bit of fun with it and make it a Redneck themed bowling party.

See my list of Adult Party Themes for other ideas.

 

 

 

 

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Thanks,

Matt

 

matt james
is a professional event planner and owner of event agency Left Field Productions, which has produced events for Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kevin Spacey, Stella McCartney, David LaChapelle, John Waters, and Elvis Costello & Diana Krall. Since 2004, Left Field Productions has won 30 industry awards for excellence including Production Company of the Year.





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