Here’s hoping your birthday kid finally gets over Frozen this year—especially since there are so many other amazing themes and ideas to explore! Want to know what’s going to be huge in 2015? Check out our list and start planning your next bash!
The Trend: Paris parties
All things French are très chic these days, says party planning expert Laura Himmelein, founder and owner of Party Cake Party Cake in Maplewood. “It’s been a popular theme for proms for a while, but now we’re seeing it in fashion, so little girls are getting into it.”
Amy Shey Jacobs, founder of event planning company Chandelier Events, agrees, saying that makes it really easy to find what you need to make the theme come alive. “Home stores have tons of great props like Eiffel Towers, frames, mirrors, linens, chalkboards, cake plates and tea sets,” she says.
Jacobs suggests using decorative Eiffel Towers and frilly French-inspired frames as centerpieces or favors; mirrors and chalkboards can help transform the party space into a French café. Set tables with cake plates, tea sets and cups with French phrases on them to keep the theme going.
For snacks, Himmelein suggests serving Parisian-themed edibles, like macarons, fancy chocolates, bubbly grape juice and the pièce de résistance—an Eiffel Tower cake. Think easy DIY for the cake: A simple rectangle decorated with pink icing and a purchased Eiffel Tower cake topper.
For activities, try hosting a fashion show where the girls play dress-up and then walk the “runway” (take lots of photos to use as thank yous!), play games like “pin the Eiffel Tower on the map of Paris” or make French-inspired crafts, like sweet charm bracelets.
The Trend: Truck for Hire
Food trucks have become nationally recognized sources of gourmet food—and this year they’re going to crash the birthday party scene. “It’s like a party on a hitch where the meal becomes part of the entertainment,” says Jacobs.
Parents pay to rent the truck and its edible contents—kids line up outside the window to pick from gourmet pizza slices, tacos or sliders, whatever the theme may be. Just imagine the happiness when the ice cream truck from the park pulls up to the house!
For big kid celebrations, you can skip the food and hire an entertainment truck with a bay full of video games or a beauty bar with manicure, hair and makeup stations. Whatever you can dream, there’s a truck for that!
The Trend: Crowd-funded Gifts
This next-gen “group gift” concept gets a little help from technology and is catching on like wildfire. “It’s a chance for the kid of honor to get something big he really wants, like a new bike, Xbox or iPad, rather than a bunch of smaller toys,” says Jacobs.
Sites like Plum Fund, Amazon’s Birthday Gift and Best Buy’s Pitch in Card all make it super easy to organize. Keep the gift contributions family-only and send the link to grandparents, aunts and uncles, or let guests get involved and email the link when people ask what the birthday kid really wants this year.
The Trend: S'mores Bar
The newest birthday treat bar involves marshmallows and a Sterno. “The s’mores bar is the new candy bar—you can even print your own Instagram photos on your marshmallows!” says Jacobs.
Toppings can range from different flavors of Hershey bars like milk, dark and cookies and cream to mini Ghirardelli chocolate bars (which are already perfectly s’mores sized) to free-for-alls of sprinkles, gummies and nuts. Parents or other helpers can help smaller partygoers roast their marshmallows over camping stoves, or you can nuke them in the microwave.
The Trend: The DIY Photo Booth
In this age of selfies, it’s no surprise that homemade photo booths are the next big thing. “I haven’t done a kids’ party without a photo booth in the last year,” says Jacobs. “It’s really fun and it’s so easy to DIY.”
Here’s how: Get a colorful sheet or tablecloth and pin it against a wall for kids to pose in front of. You could also do a backdrop of balloons or tissue flowers taped into rows, or create one using sheets of wrapping paper, crepe paper streamers or craft paper. The options are endless. Leave out fun wigs, hats and costumes for kids to use for dress-up and have an adult take the pictures. Photo booths work with any theme—if you’re throwing a sports bash, give kids baseball hats, bats and foam fingers to try on; for princess parties, use tiaras, ball gowns, boas and pearls. For a rainbow party, make your backdrop using the colors of the rainbow.