Dinosaurs make a great birthday theme for all ages—but remember to tailor these dinosaur party ideas to suit the age of your child. Toddlers and younger kids up to five years old will probably prefer colourful dinosaurs that are less frightening, whereas older kids will want them to be as realistic as possible.
Small plastic dinosaurs are relatively cheap to pick up nowadays so you can use these as 3D invitations for your dinosaur party ideas
I'd suggest creating a small 'tag' style birthday party invitations (Read Using Tags on the Create Invitations page) with all the party details on. Then tie each tag with ribbon to the neck of a small plastic dinosaur and mail out in a padded envelope. For an extra embellishment, you could take a photo of your child dressed up in a dinosaur costume and use this as the photo on the back of the invitation.
You could also apply the same principle to these foam dinosaur masks - which would make great 3D birthday invitations to compliment these dinosaur party ideas.
Personalized Dinosaur Invitations
There are lots of really nice birthday invitations available online that fit well with these dinosaur party ideas. These can be personalized to add your child's name and some even let you upload a photo. See a full range here.
These personalized postage stamps are a really great way to embellish your birthday invitations. They're such as nice touch and show a real attention to detail.
Note: These stamps are only available in the USA
Here are some themed drinks in keeping with the dinosaur party ideas.
Make Volcano Punch by combining 3 quarts of pineapple juice and 2 x 6 ounce cans of frozen limeade concentrate in a punch bowl. When the kids are gathered around the table add 2 quarts of ginger ale to the punch bowl and a scoop of fruit sherbet to each glass for some extra fizz.
I love this recipe from Disney Family Fun for Swamp Juice. It was intended for Halloween but it's also perfect for dinosaur party ideas.
Try this recipe for Sparkling Strawberry-Lemonade Slush from Betty Crocker or use any red berry juice and call it Volcanic Lava Juice. Freeze some gummi dinosaurs into ice cubes the night before and add to each glass. When the lava melts the ice the dinosaurs will float to the top of their drink.
Dinosaur Ice Cubes
Make your party drinks more interesting by using these dinosaur bone ice cube trays. Alternatively, these chocolate molds can also be used to make ice cubes shaped like dinosaurs. See here for both.
Here are some cute recipes I came across to give you some inspiration for your dinosaur party ideas:
A lot of food markets sell dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets but go the extra mile and arrange them on a platter like this dinosaur foodscape created by Michelle at Muffin Tin Mom. It's a great way to make the dish a bit more healthy by sneaking in some veggies.
She used broccoli as 'low lying indigenous vegetation', string cheese and spinach for 'the tree', grapes as 'coconuts', cheddar cheese as 'the sun', and dinosaur chicken nuggets as 'nuggetus dinosaurus'. Don't forget ketchup as 'hot lava'.
Check out this recipe for cute baked potato dinosaurs (below left, from Love Potatoes). If you don't want to serve these to eat, you could still make one or two as decoration to arrange on the corner of food trays and serving platters.
Another cool recipe is for these mashed potato volcanoes (above right, by BumblingB's on food.com) which are the type of things you can get them involved in making. Have them sculpt their mash potato volcanoes and arrange their veggies while you make the lava sauce to pour over.
If you want a more substantial main course along a similar line, try these potato volcanoes with meatball sauce (left, from Love Potatoes)—or swap the meatballs sauce for chilli to make it more like lava.
Serve chicken wings renamed Pterodactyl Wings
Coat Pretzel sticks with white chocolate and call them dinosaur bones.
Alternatively, check out this recipe for Tomato Soup with Boney Grissini (below, by Susan at Diamonds for Dessert) which could easily be renamed Molten Lava Soup with Dinosaur Bones.
You can also use the cookie cutters to make pizzas (see the examples below by Tonij.net). Or shape burger patties with them then add small triangles of cucumber along the back to resemble a Stegosaurus.
If you've got a steady hand use the cookie cutters to make dinosaur shaped cookies, fill a parchment cone with run sugar, cut a small hole in the tip and pipe a skeleton onto each dinosaur like these (below, by Cookie Decorating).
You can also shape bagels into dinosaur shapes like this one, below right from Funky Lunch. (Technically this is supposed to be the Loch Ness Monster but you could easily pass it off as a Plesiosaur—a large aquatic dinosaur—to fit in with the dinosaur party ideas).
Here are a couple of recipes for creating dinosaur eggs. The first uses hard boiled eggs to create these amazing colored eggs with veins (below left, from Sara at Our Best Bites) whereas the other is for sweet dinosaur eggs using vanilla pudding and lime gelatin (below right, by Robin Werner on Taste of Home).
For some more sweet treats try these fossil cookies (below left, by Martha Stewart) or for a younger kids birthday, these cute green dinosaur cookies(below right, by Robin Werner on Taste of Home.
These molten lava volcano cakes (below left, by Debbie of Wants and Wishes) are really cool, or if you want a more healthy dessert create a fresh fruit Stegosaurus using watermelon, strawberries, banana, and orange (below right by WGBH Educational Foundation).
This baking sheet contains 8 dinosaur shaped baking cups (below left) which are perfect for making Dino treats. Alternatively, you can use these cute fossil baking cups (below right). Each one has a different 3D dinosaur 'fossil' at the bottom just waiting to be excavated. See here for both.
If you prefer to just decorate regular cupcakes, there are lots of different toppers available such as cake picks (below left & right and mini plastic dinosaurs (below center).
There's also lots of dinosaur candy available which is an easy way to fill out a dessert table with extra treats. These include gummy dinosaurs (below left), dinosaur suckers (below center) and edible dinosaur eggs (below right).
Finally, if you haven't already got Clare Crespo's excellent book The Secret Life of Food then I highly recommend it. It's packed with lots of kooky recipes for kids from someone who regularly plays with her food. This dinosaur dip (below) —carved out of an acorn squash, zucchini, okra, and pickling cucumbers and served with vege palm trees (see video below)—is a sure fire way to get kids eating their vegetables.
If you want to bake your own birthday cake, there are a couple of different pans available that would work well with these dinosaur party ideas. See a full range here.
Below are food styling and presentation tips to help you decorate in keeping with these dinosaur party ideas:
Buffet / Dessert Table
To create a dinosaur dessert table like this one, follow the steps below.
Create a backdrop using dark brown burlap by the yard (below left), then hang a section of reed fencing (below right) in the center to add some texture. You can buy quite large sections of reed fencing here for under $20. If you're on a budget and cant afford to use both, just choose one or the other. Then positional some potted kentia palms at each end of the table to add some tropical foliage.
Dress the table with clusters of small garden rocks and lots of ferns and other house plants to create a pre-historic landscape.
Use a mixture of square and rectangular white plates to present food on. I recommend these disposable Premium Plastic Plates (below left and center), they're great value and look really stylish. Then line each plate with one of these plastic tropical leaves and arrange some small plastic dinosaurs around the plates and over the tabletop.
For a centerpiece, use one of these large inflatable dinosaurs, there are lots of different types available and they range from approx 2 - 3ft tall so they'll make an impressive centerpiece.
Frame the scene by hanging a personalized banner, such as the ones below, above the dessert table. Some of these can even be personalized by adding a photo of your child.
Alternatively, for a budget option you could use one of these jointed banners.
If your budget permits, there are a couple of huge 6ft T-Rex stand ups would add a really dramatic element to your decorations. I would position one of these to the side of your dessert table, along with these dinosaur danglers at each end. If your budget doesn't stretch to one of these large cut outs, just use some more of the inflatable dinosaurs mentioned above (there's a nice inflatable Pteranodon - a flying dinosaur - which would look great hanging down from the ceiling).
Here are a few food styling and presentation tips.
These veggie palm trees are a perfect fit for these dinosaur party ideas. Position them on the corner of serving dishes as tray decoration. See the video below for how to carve these.
Alternatively, if you're not using some the recipes above such as the mashed potato volcanoes or the baked potato dinosaurs, consider making a few up to use as tray decorations.
When labelling each of the dishes put them into groups such as Carnivore, Herbivore, and Candivore (ok so that last one's made up) depending on whether they are meat, vegetable, or candy.
To dress the table in keeping with these dinosaur party ideas, I would suggest creating a simple pre-historical landscape that runs down the centre of the table. Keep everything earthy and natural by using a palate of sandy beige, green, and browns.
Start with a stone /sandy beige colored tablecloth. You could use something like burlap (below left) which has a nice rustic texture. If you want to add some contrast, lay a dark brown table runner over the top of this so you have a darker section running down the middle of the table. If you can, use a runner with some texture such as wicker or bamboo, otherwise you could just use some dark brown burlap (below center) - the same suggested for the dessert table above. Then arrange a few potted ferns running down the center of the table and sprinkle some scatter grass and garden rocks.
Instead of the usual approach of having a centerpiece, think of this as a 'long and low' arrangement so add lots of plastic dinosaurs to the landscape running down the middle of the table. If budget permits you could buy a large volcano craft kit (below center, look for the 'mega' volcanos which are large size) and use this as a centerpiece. Most of them come with an empty vessel for you to add baking soda and vinegar to simulate an eruption. Alternatively, for a budget option you could use these small dinosaur stand ups (below right) for a centerpiece in an among the ferns and rocks.
There's also lots of other dinosaur theme tableware available, such as the ones below, which includes 'Dinosaur Train' (below center) and 'Little Dino (below right) which might be more suitable for a younger child's birthday.
For a full range of decorations and supplies to compliment these dinosaur party ideas, including many dinosaur themed products that I didn't have space to feature, see the links below. These are the best suppliers I've found and have a range of products suitable for all budgets.
I always think it's important to create a good entrance to a birthday party—it's the first thing your guests will see so it will set the tone for all your other dinosaur party ideas. It doesn't have to be anything too elaborate—these dinosaur footprints leading up the path to the front door should be enough to get everyone excited.
If you do want to make something a bit more special use a camping tent or play tunnel (below left, you can pick these up for around $15) to create your own dinosaur cave. Line it with brown butchers paper and draw on some cave paintings, scatter some sand across the floor, and arrange some rocks, bones, and house plants along each side. Then stick some of these glow in the dark dinosaur stickers on the inside of the tent / tunnel. If you don't have a tent or play tunnel I'm sure you could make something similar using large cardboard boxes or by draping some cheap brown fabric. If the tent you have opens at each end, position it near the entrance to the party so guests have to crawl through the cave to get inside.
You could also download some dinosaur sound effects from the web, connect a small speaker to your iPod, hide it behind a plant inside the cave and leave on repeat. Alternatively, use one of the motion-activated voice recorders mentioned in the next paragraph to record your own dinosaur sounds.
Another fun way to great people near the entrance to your party is to print a life-size cut out (below left) of your child dressed in a dinosaur costume. These are surprisingly cheap at around $20, and you can add a motion-activated voice recorder (USA only) for around $10 which means your child can pre-record a short welcome message which plays automatically every time someone walks past the cut out. Alternatively, use the voice recorder with a large inflatable dinosaur (below right) at your front door.
Make your own dinosaur eggs by covering balloons with papier-mâché (like the ones below filled with treats, by Leslie from The Gingerbread Mom). When dry, pop the balloon inside then cut in half in a zig zag pattern so it looks like they've cracked open. Paint them in light green colors and use a marker pen to draw veins on the outside. Then arrange them on small beds of straw and dot them around the party. For older kids fill them with some green slimy goo and leave a trail of dinosaur footprints walking away from the egg so they appear to be freshly hatched.
Dog treats are an easy way to leave clusters of dinosaur bones lying around, alternatively use the recipe for bread bones from the food section above (pictured below).
If your budget permits there are some great dinosaur stand ups available (or use inflatable dinosaurs if your on a budget) to dress the party. Kids will love these and play with them long after the party—or you can use them to decorate their bedrooms. When arranging stand ups, these work best when blended in with some plants or poking out of bushes if your party is in the garden.
These dinosaur wall decals are another example of decorations that have a life after your party. You can peel and re-stick them easily so you can use them to decorate your child's bedroom afterwards.
To decorate large areas use bunches of balloons but stick to a palette of brown, green and sandy beige (use metallic gold) to keep everything looking natural. Bunches of solid color balloons always look best when use in groups of 3 different colors.
Likewise, crepe paper streamers in the same colors are a cheap and easy way to fill in larger areas and tie the whole room together with the same color palette. Hang them from a light fitting in the center of the room and then extend out to the perimeter wall working your way around the room. Again, alternate 3 colors when using these otherwise you end up with a candy stripe effect.
There are some really cute dinosaur costumes available to fit with your dinosaur party ideas, but if you're on a budget then just provide dinosaur masks for all the kids to wear.
Also, if you have a family pet check out some of the really great dinosaur costumes for dogs. Invest in one of these and your kids will have their very own dinosaur running around their birthday party.
For birthday party favors, you can buy pre-filled favor boxes which often work out cheaper than buying lots of different things separately. There are lots of different dinosaur themed favor boxes available to suit different ages, such as the ones below. Alternatively, if you want to fill your own these empty pres historic favor boxes (below right) are pretty cute. See here for these.
Don't forget to follow up after your birthday party with thank you notes. There are plenty of ready-made fill-in style ones available which are cheap, alternatively you can have them personalized with your child's photo.
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Matt James is a professional party planner and owner of event agency DNA 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, DNA has won 24 industry awards for excellence including Production Company of the Year.