Ideas and Themes for Birthday Parties

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When deciding what to do to celebrate your child’s birthday, what is most important is doing something your child will enjoy.

If your child is easily overwhelmed, consider doing a family-only party or limiting the guest list to one or two friends. Remember that a birthday party doesn’t have to involve a large group. Maybe a family trip to your child’s favorite park is the best way to celebrate. Or celebrate with an evening at home, serving your child’s favorite dinner and dessert with the immediate family.

If you decide a children’s party is the way to go, you should find an activity that your child will enjoy AND that your child is willing to do with others. What is a great party for one child might be a disaster for another. Think about your child’s likes and dislikes, age and development level, and who you will be inviting when deciding where to celebrate.

Below are a few ideas to consider:

  • Swim parties: Call your local YMCA or other community recreation center to see if you can rent the space and hire a lifeguard for a party.
  • Bowling: Lanes at bowling alleys are often available for rent for birthday parties. (Consider how your child might respond to the lights and sounds in a bowling alley. Will he be over stimulated?)
  • Little Gym™, Gymboree™, etc.: These facilities designed specifically for young children often rent their space and provide instructors to lead your party activities.
  • Local Museums: If your child has an interest in something in particular (for example, dinosaurs), rent party space at the local museum and have a guided tour of a room in the museum with a local expert — perhaps your child!
  • Church or synagogue halls: These can be rented for private functions (sometimes even by families who are not members). Rent a moonbounce or hire a music or movement therapist to provide organized activity.
  • Your home: Rent a moonbounce for your backyard and have picnic tables set up to serve snack. A quick hose down makes for an easy clean-up when the party is over. Or invite your music/movement therapist to have a session in your home with your child’s friends.

You know your child best and you are the best person to know what celebration would be best for him or her. Choose what will be fun for your child and your family.

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Last Updated: June 4, 2020

The Center for Autism Research and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia do not endorse or recommend any specific person or organization or form of treatment. The information included within the CAR Autism Roadmap™ and CAR Resource Directory™ should not be considered medical advice and should serve only as a guide to resources publicly and privately available. Choosing a treatment, course of action, and/or a resource is a personal decision, which should take into account each individual's and family's particular circumstances.


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