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Most kids love theme parties, but it's time to think beyond princesses and ponies.
Kids with summer birthdays sometimes miss out on the classroom celebrations that their classmates get to enjoy, so if you've got a youngster's birthday coming up, make it extra special by choosing one of the following themes.
1. Under the sea
Children are fascinated by fish, sharks and other creatures that lurk in the deep. Instead of taking the whole party out to the beach – where you'll no doubt need to make extra efforts to keep track of the little ones – feature sea-themed foods and decorations at your party. Instead of a cake, you could make this adorable Waves-of-Fun Cookie, and send guests home with Gelatin-Gummy Fish Bags.
2. Going to the zoo
What kid doesn't like the zoo? Even if you don't feel like going all out and renting petting zoo animals (which is an option, keep in mind) you can still surround your guests with wild things. For example, these Silly Snake Dogs, Apple Butterflies and Stuffed Turtle Rolls are just a few animalistic dishes that kids will love.
3. Outer space
Got a kid who's super into stars and rocket ships? A NASA- or alien-themed party may be right up his or her alley. Whip up this Space Shuttle Cake, and the kiddies will think you're out of this world.
4. Plants n' bugs
Children can get obsessed with rooting around in the grass looking for creepy crawlies. Rather than discouraging the habit, encourage it with a bug-centric party. You can sneak in some educational materials, like posting diagrams on the wall and dropping fun insect facts here and there. These Bug Cupcakes and Bugs in a Blanket are the perfect treats for the kiddos.
There's nothing quite like a little tongue-in-cheek humor, so throw your mini-you a miniature-themed party. You can find tiny top hats, bow ties and other accessories at party stores, so buy a variety of these and let your little guests go all out. The possibilities for food are almost endless, and include these Mini Burger Cookies and Mini Tex-Mex Chicken and Cheese Pies.
Got a girly girl on your hand, or even a floral-obsessed young lad? Embrace the buds and blooms by decorating the house in a variety of fresh and faux flowers, perhaps even making your own garland to stream across doorways. Then, decorate a plain or store-bought cake with these super pretty Pineapple Flowers and an array of real sugared flowers. You could also send your tiny guests home with a small cellophane bag of these Rainbow Pretzel Butterflies.
7. Beach time
Beach themes are classic for a reason – because everyone loves sun and sand! In your backyard, consider filling one kiddie pool with water (duh) and the other with sand and toys so that the kids can make their own sand castles. Instead of a cake, you can serve up these totes adorbs Teddy-at-the-Beach Cupcakes.
8. Woodland gnomes
Even if your kids don't remember David the Gnome, he probably still holds a special place in your heart. Plus, gnomes are super trendy right now. Let your little guests dress up in red pointed hats and faux beards, and serve woodland treats like Black Forest Muffin Cakes.
9. Little Mexico
Tiny guests will flip once they see a pinata hanging in the yard, and things may get even more out of control when they step inside to see sombreros, maracas and tons of yummy Mexican food. For an entrée, you could make this Mexican Lasagna, and follow it up with a classic Tres Leches Cake.
Due to a popular game in which users fling agitated feathered friends into targets, kids really seem to be into birds these days. Run with it, using the same educational tactics given for bug-themed parties. Also, go all out and make these cute Baby Bird Nest Cookies, and set up a craft table so your guests can make For-the-Birds Feeders.