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Kids Summer Birthday Party Theme Ideas

Celebrate the big day with five cool concepts, including a backwards bash, superhero shebang or a Mexican fiesta, luau or food/cooking blowout

Summertime is the perfect excuse to have your child's friends over for a party. And luckily, as far as hot themes go, trends and traditions often overlap – meaning the planning is bound to be fun for parents and kids alike!

Take superheroes, a perennial favorite of all ages. During summer, blockbuster movies based on comic books are popular fare, and the larger-than-life characters make for a cool party theme. And really, whether your kid's obsessed with the Food Network or just loves being a goofball, there's a perfect way to spin his or her special day.

When brainstorming your child's next bash, use these five themes to get the ideas flowing. What are your child's interests? With that info in mind, tweak some of our concepts to make them your own. Or feel free to swipe one of these fun themes – and start sending out the invites!

Backwards party

Ready for some " enoyreve rof nuf" (that's "fun for everyone")? Tap into your child's mischievous side by planning a party – in reverse. Have your child think about some of her favorite party games and activities; then decide on ways to do them backwards.

Invitations: Write out the party details, backwards – just make sure to write at the bottom of the note that they'll need to translate the type to go forwards! (Or, include a translation on the back or in some smaller "fine print" at the bottom.) You might even ask partygoers to come with their clothes on backwards.

Food: Serve dessert first. Start with cake, followed by dinner, then top off the night with appetizers. Or, whatever food you choose to serve, make sure to reverse it. For example, you could serve hamburgers with the bun tucked between two hamburger patties.

Games: Try musical chairs – with a backwards twist. Instead of having players move when the songs are playing, have the children move in silence and then when they hear music they need to find a spot. Or try Simon Says with this change: The kids should only do those things that Simon doesn't say!

Superhero party

Comic books are big, and they've leapt onto the silver screen in droves. Whether your kid's into The Avengers or Spiderman, create a bit of movie magic at your house by using these heroes as your child's party theme.

Invitations: Attach a piece of paper with all the party info to a king-sized candy bar. Your child could come up with something clever to put on the invite, like "You're invited to a super-sized superhero bash." You might even help your child find a template online for a bat shape or Thor's hammer, so your child can cut out the invitation in that shape.

Food: For punch, mix green Gatorade with ginger ale that you can either label "gamma radiation juice" (for Hulk fans) or "liquid kryptonite" (for Superman followers). Have fun coming up with witty names for other party treats. For example, label cookies as Captain America shields or carrot sticks as Hawkeye's arrows.

Games: Plan a superhero/villain dodgeball duel. Instead of dodge balls, though, try this softer replacement – rolls of toilet paper. After playing several rounds, try a superhero scavenger hunt. Purchase small toys or candies at a party-supply store and hide them before the party starts. Then, either divide the kids into teams or have them individually look for each item. The person or team that finds all the items on the list first wins. (Just remember to write down exactly where you hid each item!)

Mexican fiesta party

Kids will love this south-of-the-border-themed party. Consider decorating your house or backyard with colorful streamers and a sign to announce to guests that they're entering "Casa de Ashley" (using your own child's name).

Invitations: Buy inexpensive jars of salsa. Print out the party details on a piece of paper, which your child can glue onto the bottle as the new label.

Food: Make a taco bar spread with shells, spicy ground beef, diced tomatoes, lettuce, shredded cheese, olives and whatever else your child would like to include. For dessert, bake a cake mix in two 8-inch round pans; then, place a sugar ice cream cone in the middle of each one before frosting to create sombrero (the traditional Mexican hat) cakes.

Games: Buy a pinata to fill with candy for the children to break apart. (You and your child could also make your own pinata.) Other fiesta-themed games could include hot chili pepper instead of hot potato and rojo-verde for red light-green light.

Luau limbo party

Channel the islands with this party idea. For decorations, you might help your child make tiki masks to put around your yard. Use cardboard boxes cut into tall rectangles; then have her use poster-board paint to create faces.

Invitations: Buy or make leis for each partygoer. With string, thread a paper listing the party details onto the leis. Make sure to tell guests to come wearing their lei.

Food: Keep it simple by ordering or making Hawaiian pizza with ham and pineapple to serve guests. Not a pizza fan? Tuck deli slices of ham and pineapple tidbits into mini pitas for an island treat. Create an easy ocean-themed cake by baking yellow cake mix in a bundt pan and then drizzling frosting tinted with blue food coloring over the cake. Have your child place Swedish fish onto the frosting to make it look like they're swimming.

Games: Use a yardstick or broom handle as a limbo stick and have partygoers see how low they can go while you play island music in the background. Have a hula-hoop contest to see how long each person can keep the hoop going. Change freeze tag to "shark tag" by making a shark fin with construction paper to tape onto a baseball cap for the "tagger."

Cooking throw-down party

Does your child enjoy watching cooking shows? If so, use that as the theme for his next get-together with friends. Even Nickelodeon's iCarly and Disney's Pair of Kings have done spoofs of popular TV food series, so why not your child?

Invitations: You can make or buy inexpensive aprons to give to each guest. Encourage your child to write something about the party on the apron, like "I'm going to Justin's Cooking Bash." Ask partygoers to wear their aprons when they come.

Food: Look online with your child to find creative cupcake recipes her friends might enjoy. For example, bacon is a popular ingredient these days – even in cupcakes. Make vanilla cupcakes with maple syrup-spiked frosting and top with a few bacon crumbles for something fun.

Activities: Hold a food throw down by dividing guests into two teams. Give each team several food ingredients and then a time limit for coming up with a treat. For example, you could give each team six plain cupcakes; then, provide frosting and toppings and see which team comes up with the most creatively decorated cupcake in 15 minutes. Think up other food-themed games with your child – from familiar games like an egg toss to a flavor-guessing game where blindfolded guests try different flavors of Jelly Belly jelly beans. The person who guesses the most flavors right wins.

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