Cincinnati Family Magazine

Your # 1 Hometown Family Resource

July 16, 2024

DIY Parties!

Every year my kids look forward to picking their own birthday party theme and planning their bash. Crafting, decorating and cooking are great ways to bond with them before they turn another year older. A DIY party doesn’t have to be expensive: visit your favorite dollar stores, hit up yard sales, revamp items you already own, make simple foods, and get ready to make memories with these five unique DIY birthday party themes.


chef party

Calling all cooks for a tasty party!

DECOR: Hang up a clothesline with children’s aprons, ( and a birthday banner made of cut and tied strips of checkered print fabric or tablecloth. Fresh fruit bowls or a tray of vegetables adds a pop of color while tying in with the theme. Hit up a local party store and purchase some food-themed balloons.

ACTIVITIES & FOOD: Remember those apron decorations? Take them down and let kids personalize them with permanent markers by

writing their names or drawing their favorite foods. Have your pint-sized cooks get to work at the pizzeria. Pita pizzas are easy, healthy and fun to make when you have a variety of toppings to choose from. While you wait for your pizzas to cook, play a game of Pin the Cherry on the Sundae. And of course, once it’s actually time for dessert, encourage your chefs to put a real cherry on a sundae with an ice cream buffet with lots of toppings, or have your guests decorate their own cupcake.

GOODY BAG: Leading up to the party, have the birthday child help you measure cookie mix ingredients and layer them in mason jars. All your party guests have to do at home is add eggs, water, oil, bake and enjoy.


fairy party

What little lady wouldn’t love to be swept away to a whimsical woodland world of fairies?

DECOR: Stock up on inexpensive artificial flowers and get to work with your hot glue gun. Dress up wooden letters and numbers to display your child’s initials and age, or glitz up picture frames to display photos of your sweet fairy throughout the years. Adorn doorways with festive streamers, and hang up vibrant tissue paper flowers and butterflies.

ACTIVITIES: Transform party guests into fairies with inexpensive fairy wings that can be ordered for $1 each online. Complete the look with a fun craft — personalized fairy wands. Purchase dowel rods from your local hardware store, and ask for them to be cut down to eight-inch “wands.” During your party, have the fairies-in-training customize their wands with paint pens, stickers, pompoms and glitter.

FOOD: Enjoy magical fruit kebabs. Alternate various fruits on a skewer and top it with a star watermelon. You can also cut sandwiches into stars or butterflies with a cookie cutter.

GOODY BAG: Fill sandwich baggies with treats (goldfish, grapes, candies) and place a clothespin in the middle. Dress up the clothespin with googly eyes and pipe-cleaner antennae — your guests will adore their butterfly snack bag.


secret agent party

Budding detectives would love a super sleuth party, filled with disguises and clues.

DECOR: Cut out footprints to lead your guests into the party, and outline the perimeter of your room with yellow caution tape. Add some balloons and it’s a party!

ACTIVITIES: Transform your guests into secret agents. Print out detective badges with guests’ names and photos, and place fake mustaches on your agents. We have a mystery to solve. A special treat has been stolen and hidden. Can your gumshoes solve the clues? Instruct agents to carry out tasks such as decoding (symbols corresponding to letters), unveiling secret messages (white crayon on white paper, painted with watercolors) and finally, slinking through a laser maze without touching the beams (colorful streamers taped to the wall).

FOOD: Your sleuths are sure to work up an appetite. Serve up some detective hot dogs and some “hot on the trail” trail mix.

GOODY BAG: Solving mysteries is hard work — the reward is a detective’s bag filled “explosives” (pop rocks), mini magnifying glasses, a notebook, and pencil so guests can continue solving crimes when they go home.


space party

This party is out of this world.

DECOR: Create a star stencil with a large piece of cardboard, and use spray paint to make your lawn festive. Decorate the party room with simple cut-out planets taped to the walls and dress doorways with a strand of strung together stars. Add an extraterrestrial touch with green helium balloons with drawn-on alien eyes.

ACTIVITIES: Help the kids blend in with their new slimy interplanetary friends by creating gak. There are tons of recipes, but my favorite is simple — equal parts of liquid glue (gel or white both work) and liquid starch. Add texture with beads, or make it sparkle with glitter. Do you have access to a bounce house? Your astronauts would love pretend like they’re jumping on the moon. Bounce houses are available for rent locally, or take the plunge and buy a small one for under $200 as your child’s birthday present (they’re a good investment — you can use them for any party you throw, or if the bounce house fits in your garage or basement you can use it on rainy days).

FOOD: Label your drinks as “rocket fuel.” Serve stellar burgers with toppings like “Saturn Rings” (onions), “Cosmic Ketchup,” “Pluto Pickles,” etc.

GOODY BAG: Freeze-dried space ice cream would be a huge hit, but so would a simple treat bag filled with Milky Ways and Starbursts.


tricycle party

This theme is wheelie cool!

DECOR: Use a bike wheel to display your little one’s memories throughout the years, by clipping photos to the wheel spokes. Tie balloons to a vintage trike. Bike parking signs also make a cute addition.

ACTIVITIES: Gather up all of your trikes and helmets for an exciting obstacle course. Line up parking cones, nail down some stakes to a wooden board for a bumpy ride, and have your little speedsters add to the scene by drawing a chalk street with houses, people and stop signs.

FOOD: Wheel shaped pasta with sauce would be a great way to load the kids up on carbs before burning off energy. Serve up a stop light snack tray with plates of red, yellow and green fruits or veggies. I love the idea of serving donut “wheels” for dessert.

GOODY BAG: All that bike riding means your guests are going to need to hydrate. Gift them a cool reusable water bottle with the child-of-honor’s favorite snack or candies inside.



  1. Send free birthday party e-vites to save trees and money.
  2. Create major ambiance for any party by using easy-to-remove vinyl wall stickers. Tons of styles are available online, and they make great photo backgrounds.
  3. Looking to entertain the kiddos while you wait on everyone to arrive? Print free themed coloring pages and lay them out with crayons.
  4. If you’d like to give out party favors, consider what your child would enjoy receiving. Some mom and kid approved ideas include play-doh, temporary tattoos, bubbles, snacks, sidewalk chalk, coloring books and crayons.

About the Author

Amanda Ciani

Amanda Ciani lives in Northern Kentucky with her husband and their three terrific sons. She enjoys writing haiku parenting poems for her Instagram account (@cinciciani), and Twitter account (@haikuciani).