Party planning; it seems to get harder and harder every year. This year, instead of spending countless hours scouring the interweb for the perfect theme, venue, and decor, take inspiration from the great state we call home. From Rocky Mountain adventures to Mile High City culture, we created three fun party themes for young Coloradans. From tiny tot to tween, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to throw a Colorado-inspired bash: decorations, food, fun, and favors. So go ahead, turn the page and let the party planning begin.
Festival Birthday Party
Celebrate All Your Child’s Favorites
Take inspiration from Denver’s forthcoming Grandoozy music festival and transform your backyard into a festival scene fit for tots. Dub the fest after your kiddo with clever wordplay such as Lisapalooza, Carriechella, or Adamfest. Print invitations to look like VIP passes with details of the day’s “lineup” and hang them on lanyards for guests to wear to gain entrance into the party.
- Color is the name of the game for this outdoor fête. Set the stage with colorful balloons, banners, streamers, pinwheels, and paper flowers; create a backdrop for your “festival stage,” which can either showcase live entertainment or serve as an Insta-worthy photo booth backdrop. In lieu of traditional seating, add a bit of bohemian flair by laying out patterned blankets and pillows for guests to sit on, using wooden pallets as ground-level tables.
- Keep the menu simple with festival fare that’s easy for little fingers to grab: think mini corn dogs, tater tots, mac and cheese bites, fruit skewers, fresh veggies, and popcorn, all served in food boat trays. Set up a lemonade station with fun straws for the kids. For dessert, hand out cake pops, ice cream sandwiches, or popsicles.
- Enlist the help of a musically-inclined family member, neighbor, or friend to play the guitar or sing a few tunes; or simply play party jams on a Bluetooth speaker. Set out hula hoops for little ones as they dance along to the music, and include sidewalk chalk, beach balls, and bubbles for added fun. Kids can get festival-ready with face painting, temporary flash tattoos, flower crowns, sunglasses, and a hair braiding station.
- Flower crowns and sunglasses double as party costumes and favors for guests. For a little something extra, send everyone home with a goodie bag of chalk and bubbles with a simple “Thanks for popping by!” note attached.
Backcountry Campout Birthday
Take the Party to the Great Outdoors
When your little one is ready for a sleepover party, take a cue from one of Colorado’s most popular hobbies—camping. No need to take ten elementary-schoolers into the wild, though. Your backyard will do just fine. Bonus: the party mess stays outside. Not ready for a sleepover? Plan an evening party with the same ideas, and set a late pick-up time. Staying up a little later with friends will be a treat on its own!
- Set up a campsite in your yard with tents and camping lanterns, nature will provide the rest of the decorations. Every campsite needs a fire pit, so create a campfire (real or fake) and surround it with bales of straw, typically available at ranch supply stores, such as Murdoch’s. Drape plaid camping blankets over the straw bales to make them comfortable to sit on.
- For dinner, serve up traditional camping fare like hot dogs, baked beans, chips, and carrot and celery sticks. For an evening snack, light up the fire pit to roast marshmallows for s’mores. In the morning, wake sleepy campers with cute and clever pancake skewers made by dropping tablespoons of pancake batter on the griddle and setting out thick slices of strawberry and banana, and pieces of bacon that campers can stack to their liking.
“You’re killin’ me Smalls! These are s’mores stuff, OK? Now pay attention. First, you take the graham. You stick the chocolate on the graham. Then, you roast the mallow. When the mallow’s flaming, you stick it on the chocolate. Then, you cover it with the other end. And then you stuff it.”
–Hamilton “Ham” Porter, The Sandlot
- Every backcountry camper has a backpack filled with stuff. Turn packing and unpacking into a relay race. Fill two or three backpacks with oversize clothing and wearable gear (sunglasses, hats, and toy binoculars). Divide the party group into teams (one backpack per team). When you sound the elk or duck call, the first player runs to a backpack 10 feet away. They must then put on every item in the backpack, take it off, and stuff it back in the backpack; then run back to tag the next team member who does the same. Continue until all team members have finished. The first team to finish wins. For an alternative activity, put together a nature scavenger hunt or google ideas for nature crafts. Finish out the evening with an outdoor movie projected onto a bed sheet draped on the fence. Fun movie ideas: The Sandlot, The Parent Trap (1961), Camp Rock, The Goonies.
- Send each of your guests home with their very own s’mores kit. Stuff two graham crackers, four marshmallows, and a chocolate bar in a cellophane favor bag. Tie off the bag with twine and add a note that invites them to have “s’more fun” when they get home.
A Photo Extravaganza for Tweens
Colorado is one big photo-worthy backdrop from the purple mountains to vibrant street art and sleek cityscapes—which means, Colorado kids love to snap photos. Tap into the selfie-fun by inviting your tween’s besties for a hip and creative photo party. Get this party started by making your home the perfect Instagram setting with make-your-own murals, props, and photo-touches that inspire all the hashtags. #BestTweenBirthdayEver
- Take inspiration from Denver’s outdoor patios by hanging up string lights, along with a garland of Polaroid-like photos of the birthday tween, taken using a Fuji Instax camera. Set up selfie spots around the party labeled with hashtags displayed on chalkboard signs (#NomNomNom, #BirthdayHatHairDon’tCare). To go the extra mile, set up “food trucks”—tables with themed signs where guests can enjoy different small plates and catch another selfie.
- Craft a collection of bite-size savory snacks including fancy toasts. Toast up slices of artisan bread and top with avocado, cream cheese and cucumbers, ricotta and jam, or simply peanut butter and jelly, or set out the toppings and let the guests build their own. Instead of, or in addition to, a birthday cake, prop up a photo-worthy doughnut wall, made with pegboard and dowels. Spray paint the pegboard, then cut a dowel into 3-inch “pegs” (we used a 2’ x 2’ pegboard, and two ¼” diameter dowels cut into 25 pegs). Push the pegs into the peg board holes. Add small round doilies behind the doughnuts or keep it simple and let the creative doughnuts be the focus. The obvious choice for donuts is Voodoo Doughnuts, so pick up a box (or two) of the wackiest doughnuts they’re serving up that day, and let the kids pick their favorite.
- Invite guests to contribute to a wall mural made from rolls of white paper and markers. Hang the finished design and let kids pose in front of it with fun props—think oversize glasses, fake mustaches, hats, and crowns on a stick. Print Polaroid-style photos during the party using an Instax camera, or print them from a smartphone using an Instax printer. While tweens are making their best duck face, the other guests can try their hand at lawn games like giant Jenga and cornhole.
- Send each guest home with party photos and an old-fashioned “mix tape” filled with the birthday child’s favorite songs. Enlist the birthday kid to decorate the CDs.