10 Tips for Throwing a Kid's Birthday Party Adults Will Love (PHOTOS)

birthday party outdoorsHosting a kid’s birthday party doesn’t have to mean throwing a bash that appeals to the babes -- and feels like another dime-a-dozen weekend obligation for parents. Indeed, the grown folks should be rewarded and celebrated, too, for the hard work of parenting!

Having organized an array of kids' birthday parties for celebrity families, Los Angeles–based event planner and designer Sarah Granger-Twomey of PIE Productions is an expert at all-ages affairs that appeal to the whole crowd. 

Here are her top tips for creating an unforgettable kids' party that adults enjoy just as much -- along with photos of a party she recently threw for her two daughters in her Los Angeles backyard.

The Saturday night party had a celestial theme, with a sorcerer-style entertainer, a photo booth with a moon-shaped cutout and starry backdrop, a hand-painted cake designed and baked by the hostess, a Greek buffet and a separate kids' buffet -- and a champagne signature cocktail for adults. 


Image via Cindy Gold/Gold Photography

  • 1. Ditch the licensed characters.


    Cindy Gold/Gold Photography

    Many kids go nuts for the characters from their favorite movies or shows. But a party plastered with those likenesses not only alienates adults -- but also reads like a cookie-cutter affair interchangeable from one kid in the neighborhood to the next. “Nothing screams kids' party louder than the friendly faces from Nick Jr.,” Granger-Twomey says. “If your 3-year-old is obsessed with a certain explorer, think about how you would create a party for Dora.”

  • 2. Choose but don't overuse the details.


    Cindy Gold/Gold Photography

    A theme for a kid’s birthday party doesn’t have to mean one idea repeated in every detail ad nauseam. “Understatement is key to sophistication,” Granger-Twomey says. “Choose a focused color palette that evokes the look, and accent it with grown-up patterns.” 

  • 3. Broaden the guest list.


    Cindy Gold/Gold Photography

    While having young kids often means growing a community of families in similar stages of life, consider that a party can be much more fun when it includes a diverse range of guests. “Don't be afraid to celebrate your kids with your kid-free friends,” Granger-Twomey says. “Be sure to include ‘and family’ [on the invitation] when inviting your kid’s schoolmates. This way it's clear that parents and siblings are welcome, and parents aren't left to scramble for childcare [for] their other children.”

  • 4. Serve adult-friendly fare.


    Cindy Gold/Gold Photography

    "What would you serve the adults if they came without their children?" Granger-Twomey encourages hosts to ask themselves. "Think past the pizza, cupcakes, and juice boxes." 

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  • 5. Serve a kid-friendly option too!


    Cindy Gold/Gold Photography

    "If you're worried that the littles won't chow down on your Greek feast," says Granger-Tworney, "be sure to have a simple kid-pleasing option.”

  • 6. Serve booze, too!


    Cindy Gold/Gold Photography

    And sure, no one under the age of 21 will be drinking on your watch -- but why should grown-ups have to miss out on the chance to relax and indulge? “Please, please, please serve alcohol!” Granger-Twomey says. “Beers and a champagne cocktail will please the whole adult crowd.” 

  • 7. Hire entertainment for the kids.


    Cindy Gold/Gold Photography

    If the budget allows, consider an entertainer — one who’s actually good — to occupy the kids … and allow the parents a bit of hands-free time to enjoy the fete themselves with their friends. “I've always known that a good entertainer takes a party next level, but recently I learned the value first hand: At my daughters' last birthday party, the top-notch magician kept 15 four-year-olds engaged for over an hour! I looked around to see all of the parents of those kiddos enjoying either a drink or a plate of food or both. Priceless!” Unfortunately, of course, quality entertainers do actually come with a price. But it might be worth it to rearrange your budget to make it work.

  • 8. Think outside the (big) box for favors.


    Cindy Gold/Gold Photography

    When parents have school-aged kids, they may find every weekend seemingly occupied with a kid’s birthday party -- and that often means collecting endless trinkets as party favors. Sure, kids enjoy them -- but they’re a burden of clutter on parents, and they’re quickly forgotten anyway. “While cute erasers are fun, the plastic trinkets seem to multiply. Consider an experience such as [a gift certificate for] $5 to a local ice cream shop for a scoop, art supplies, or honey sticks for a forest- or bear-themed party,” Granger-Twomey suggests. “Recently we created custom artwork and had posters printed for under $2 a pop. They were a hit!”

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  • 9. Consider an evening affair.


    Cindy Gold/Gold Photography

    Of course, kids have early bedtimes, and that’s why their parties are traditionally around the lunch hour. That makes sense, but a birthday is a special occasion, and an evening bash can set it apart for all the guests. “While this can be a scandalous choice for guests accustomed to only having kids parties between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., there's something more magical in the evening,” Granger-Twomey says. “Inevitably you'll have a few concerned about cake so close to bedtime, so why not eat cake first?”

  • 10. Be Brave


    Cindy Gold/Gold Photography

    Summing up her attitude about kids’ parties overall, Granger-Twomey says: “Be brave [enough] to go against the kid mold. Remember that your kids will love any party that you throw them!”

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