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Kids Birthday Party Ideas (Ages 8-12)

By an Award-Winning Professional Party Planner

Get ideas for Kid's Birthday Parties

About This Site

If this is the first page you've landed on, let me give you a quick introduction. I'm Matt James, a professional party planner, and the purpose of this site is to show you the most creative way you can use regular, shop-bought party supplies that can be found in most stores. Not everyone has the craft skills of Martha Stewart or the time to spend several days with a glue gun making things from scratch. It's fine to use shop-bought decorations and supplies—as long as you choose them carefully and know the best way to put them all together. So I'll share a few simple tips and trade secrets that anyone can use to add some creative touches to your party—whatever your budget.

Note: This site contains affiliate links to products. We may recieve a small commission on any sales (at no extra cost to you).

matt james

Kids Birthday Party Ideas (Ages 8-12)

This age group is sometimes the most tricky to plan parties for as they often feel they've outgrown traditional kids party themes, but you know they're not quite ready for teenage ones. The best thing to do is get them more involved in the planning. Perhaps discuss a list of possible party themes with them so they can choose their favorite.

Let them feel like they have plenty of input into all the ideas and decisions and get them to help you with the planning. They'll be the best judge of what will and won't work for their friends. The trick is to make them feel like they're making all the decisions.

Don't be offended if they don't want you around too much on the day—children at this age want to feel independent and have fun with their friends without the parents watching over them. Obviously you'll want to be around to supervise, but make sure there are plenty of activities and games for them to do on their own.

girl with karaoke machine

girls cooking party

They'll probably want to do things that allow them to feel a bit more grown up such as have slumber parties or camp out overnight in the garden. Themes that might seem more suited to adults or teens can easily be watered down to make them more appropriate as kids birthday party ideas.

For example you can allow girls to feel more grown up by letting them have fashion show / spa / make-over parties while still keeping it girly and age-appropriate. Or let them have Karaoke / dance competitions by calling it a Glee / American Idol party.

Parties where kids make or do things are also popular for this age group so things like a pizza party can be fun. You can make the dough up in advance so they can just roll it out and get creative with the toppings.

Or maybe a group bake where they can make and decorate their own weird and wonderful cakes and cookies.

Kids Birthday Party Invitations (ages 8-12)

Check out my seperate page of Kids Birthday Party Invitations for tips and suggestions.

nail party invitation
laser tag invitation
roller boot illustrated invitation
personalized photo skateboard invitation

Kids Birthday Party Drinks

Check out my other page of Party Drink Ideas which includes simple styling & presentation tips to make your party drinks look more professional.

party drink in milk bottles
fruit name party drink stirrers
party drinks
personalized drinks straws

Kids Birthday Dessert Table Ideas

I always think it’s a good idea to concentrate the majority of your party decorations around a dessert/buffet table/food station. This will create a focal point in the room. Decorations often have to compete with existing room decor so they can get a bit lost if spread too thinly. I think you’re far better off creating one really well themed feature wall—with great food presentation & styling—that everyone’s eye will be drawn to. You can then use a few general decorations around the rest of the room to tie everything together. Check out my other page of Dessert Table Ideas which has lots of different ideas for backdrops, along with tips and suggestions for how best to construct, support, display, or hang them.

1st birthday dessert table
balloon dessert buffet table backdrop
baby shower dessert table
balloon dessert  buffet table backdro

Kids Birthday Party Themes

Click on any of the 1st birthday party themes below for complete party plans including ideas for invitations, food & drink, decorations, and party favors.

alice in wonderland party theme
baseball party theme
bowling party theme
carnival party theme
dinosaur party theme
elmo party theme
hello kitty party theme
princess party theme
sesame street party theme
star wars party theme
superheros party theme
pirate party theme

Check out more kids birthday party themes here, such as the ones below.

circus theme
lumberjack party theme
hollywood movie theme
rustic floral party theme
Paris party theme
Fiesta party theme
pink mustache bash party theme
football party theme
skullitude boys party theme
emoji poop theme
flamingo party theme
best day ever party theme
basketball party theme
skullicious girl party theme
luau party theme
cherry blossom party theme
soccer party theme
leopard party theme

Check out more kids birthday party themes here, such as the ones below.

ice cream party theme
harry potter theme
basketball party theme
bonjour bebe party theme
pop star party theme
emoji party theme
disco mirrorball theme
candy srinkles party theme
lights camera action party theme
volleyball party theme
music party theme
camp glam party theme
movie party theme
glow party theme
paris party theme

Kids Birthday Party Food

Check out my Pinterest boards for birthday party food ideas and recipes, including sweet and savory ideas both hot and cold. Remember, for a 1st birthday party you'll be catering mainly to adult friends and family.

chicken & waffle sliders
taco cups
strawberry shortcake dessert on sticks

Food Presentation & Styling

Ever wonder why your own party food never ends up looking anything like the inspiration you found on Pinterest? Check out my Buffet Table Ideas page for a few simple food styling and presentation tips to give party food a professional look.

party food presentation ideas
buffet table styling & presentation
dessert table food display
buffet table styling & presentation

Kids Birthday Cake Toppers

These silhouette style cake toppers are a easy way to personalize a birthday cake. There are lots of different styles and designs available, including ones that incorporate the birthday boy / girls's name with their favorite sports or hobbies, or you can go for a more general topper. See the full range here. Alternatively, I love these large face cake toppers (below far right), that are made from a photo of the birthday boy / girl. Check out other examples here.

custom name birthday cake topper
custom name cake topper
custom name birthday cake topper
custom photo cake topper

Alternatively, you can easily create a beautiful photo cake, like the one below left, by using these custom edible picture icing sheets which you can then apply to any cake. Alternatively, apply them to cupcakes, cookies, or cake pops, as in the example below center. Check out the icing sheets here — just upload your photos and they'll be mailed to you.

photo birthday cake
Photo: Cake Decor
edible photo icing sheets
custom edible picture icing sheets

Cupcake Toppers

Alternatively, you can use these smaller photo face cupcake toppers. Check them out here.

baby photo cupcake toppers
1st birthday party photo cupcake toppers
baby photo cupcake toppers
little man tophat photo cupcake toppers

Custom Cookies & Cutters

What better way to add a cute personal touch to a 1st birthday party than with these custom face cookie cutters made from a photo of the birthday boy or girl! As well as baking a batch of cookies, you could also try using them on sandwiches, cheese slices, or fruits such as watermelon. Alternatively, pop them into celophane bags and give them out as party favors. Check them out here.

custom face cookie cutters
custom face cookie cutters

Alternatively, if you're not one for baking you can buy these cartoon-style cookies made from a photo of the birthday boy / girl. Check them out here.

custom cartoon face portrait cookies
custom cartoon face portrait cookies
custom cartoon face portrait cookies

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Many thanks


kids party ideas collage

About Matt James

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. Matt is the author of the book Become an Event Planner: Secrets for Getting Hired from Employers, Recruiters, and Event Professionals.

matt james


  • kids birthday party ideas

    by an award-winning professional party planner