DIY Favors and Decorations for Kids' Birthday Parties

Make your own simple, creative decorations and party favors for your child's next birthday to create an extravagant party without the cost.

Flavorful Gumball Party

Colorful and bright are the first words that come to mind when you think of a child's birthday party. Kara Allen of Kara's Party Ideas chose red and aqua for the two main accent colors and combined them with all the colors of the rainbow.

She printed patterned paper and sewed crepe paper as fringe for the party hats, and she embellished the miniature gumball machines by tying polka-dot ribbons around them. The vanilla-frosted cupcakes are topped with red gumballs that resemble cherries, and many of the sweets, including the gumball machine cookies by batches and the polka-dot Oreo cookies by Sweeties by Kim, were online purchases. Photo by Lyndsey Fagerlund Imagery

Vintage Inspiration

The gumball party wouldn't be vintage-inspired without some soda. "I used mason jars with stamped lids for drinking glasses," says Kara Allen. "The straws were made out of paper; a perfect vintage-inspired touch."

To add to the theme, Kara made "gumball" ice cubes by freezing red punch in a ball-shaped ice tray found at a bargain price online. Aside from the decor, Kara suggests including a theme-oriented activity for guests. "I thought that ribbon wands would be so fun for little guests to play with and they were also easy to make," she says. She attached colorful polka-dot ribbons to the tops of painted wooden dowel rods and placed them in a large mason jar filled with gumballs to fit in with the theme. Photo by Lyndsey Fagerlund Imagery

Miniature Gumball Machines

These gumball machine party favors are easy to make and useful. Painted, upside-down terra-cotta pots make up the base of the machine and round glass jars were glued on top of the pots. The top part is a removable lid so guests can later use the machine as a cookie jar or other storage container. To complete the look, Kara Allen painted and glued wooden doll stands to look like machine dispensers. Stick with the party's theme while giving something practical for a perfect party favor. Photo by Lyndsey Fagerlund Imagery

Campfire Treat

Celebrate a summer birthday with a camping party. Set up tents in the backyard, organize an outdoor scavenger hunt and tell ghost stories around a campfire. As party favors, Erika Barnes of Tiny Prints suggests filling clear, cellophane bags with s'mores kits. That way guests can make their own s'mores when they go home.

Mystical Mermaid Party

Kate Landers of Kate Landers Events created an underwater wonderland any girl would adore. She used a white ruffle shower curtain as a backdrop for the dessert table, which "adds a perfect shabby chic element and looks like white ruffled waves — perfect for an under-the-sea celebration," she says.

She believes repurposing items is a must when it comes to decorating your child's birthday party. In this case, she used a chandelier from the bedroom to hang over the dessert table. The addition has a sparkling appearance without any extra cost. Photo by Open Shade Studios

Seashell Souvenir

To keep with the underwater theme, Kate Landers suggests seashells as party favors. To personalize the seashells, she added name tags with velvet ribbon and put the shells in a bucket filled with sand. The seashells can be used as paperweights or simply as memorabilia. Photo by Open Shade Studios

Sand in Your Toes

A mermaid party wouldn't be complete without a little sand. Kate Landers used a tarp and sandbox from a home improvement store as the ocean floor. She set the coffee table on top and placed cushions around the table for the guests. Seashells and other ocean-inspired objects make guests feel as if they're dining under the sea. Photo by Open Shade Studios

Baby's Sunshine Party

A sunshine-themed birthday party is fitting for any cheerful, bright child. Katie Henry of Katie Grace Designs "wanted the dessert table to look like a bright ray of sunshine." She suggests making a yellow lantern garland by tying lanterns with clear fishing line and hanging them above the table to resemble sunrays. All the desserts are bright yellow, including yellow chocolate-dipped pretzels and yellow cupcakes with sun-shaped toppers. Hold the party outside on a sunny day, so the yellow stands out even more against the blue sky.

Spreading the Sunshine

For memorable and creative centerpieces, Katie Henry used a cutting machine to create 12 suns and glued them on dowel rods. She then glued a picture on each of the 12 suns of the child's first 12 months and stuck them in Styrofoam hidden by grass slabs. These centerpieces are easy-to-create and sentimental while allowing the child to be center of attention on his or her special day.

A Bright Idea

For a simple party favor that represents the sunshine theme, Katie Henry packed Lemonheads candy in clear cellophane bags. To personalize them, she printed tags from her computer and used a circle punch to cut them out. This is a delicious way for guests to take some sunshine home.

Recycled Invitations

Don't throw away leftover invitations next time you send out invites for your kid's birthday party. Erika Barnes of Tiny Prints used extra invitations to create patterned bunting. The cardstock makes for a colorful banner and matches the invitations to carry through the theme of the party.

Get the Show on the Road

For the kid on the go, throw a transportation-themed party filled with planes, trains and automobiles. Instead of purchasing themed tableware, Chris Nease of Celebrations at Home suggests using solid, neutral tableware paired with colorful charger plates to add some color to the party table. To complete the look, print a simple, theme-friendly birthday banner from your computer. The guests will be on the road to a fun, memorable day.

Going in the Right Direction

These transportation cupcake toppers are budget-friendly and easy to make. Chris Nease printed the transportation graphics from her computer, glued the signs on wooden sticks and placed them on top of the cupcakes. Adding simple yet creative decor like this will set the right tone for the party.

Sipping in Style

Don't leave out even the smallest of details when decorating for a birthday party. "Juice boxes are a birthday party staple for young children," says Chris Nease. She dressed up the guests' juice boxes with construction paper and monogram stickers that match the party's theme colors. Adding monogram stickers helps kids know which drink is theirs while adding a personal touch.

On the Go

"Adorable favors can be made to coordinate with the party design by filling takeout boxes with treats and activities," says Chris Nease. Add simple treats like cotton candy which resembles clouds and toy planes and helicopters so guests can enjoy their favors for months to come.

Pink Nutcracker Party

A nutcracker party theme is perfect for a little princess. Kate Landers of Kate Landers Events suggests filling the table with many DIY projects. Create an easy, eye-catching tablescape with clear glass shallow bowls and some tulle fabric. Kate also uses the tulle fabric to make tulle flower poms. "These hang like frothy delights from clear fishing line, creating a whimsical and magical experience for all who encounter them," she says.

To make the festive trees, wrap Styrofoam cones with tinsel, tulle fringe and other favorite decorative trim from a local fabric store. To add to the theme, dress the birthday girl in ballet attire and have all the guests wear shades of pink so they match with the theme color. Photo by Liza Voll Photography

Ceramic Plate Party Favor

To make a one-of-a-kind party favor, Kate Landers personalized ceramic plates. The plates can be used in place of name cards and for eating the desserts. Once the party is over, clean the plates and box it so the child can keep it for years to come. Make the dessert stand out by setting it on a pedestal. Kate turned silver candle votives upside down and placed the dessert on top to draw the eye upward. Photo by Liza Voll Photography

Fabric Party Favor

For another great party favor idea, Kate Landers cut cardboard wrapping paper tubes into six-inch sections. She wrapped it with pink paper, filled it with treats and rolled it up with tulle fabric. "Tie the ends with pretty ribbons and attach a personalized tag," says Kate. "These are inexpensive yet striking party favors." Choose fabrics in different shades of pink to match the theme color. Photo by Liza Voll Photography

Woodland Wonderland

Katie Henry of Katie Grace Designs created a rustic dessert table for this woodland wonderland birthday party. Nature-inspired colors accentuate the outdoorsy-themed desserts. A real wood log holds the tree cake and s'more kabobs made from marshmallows, melted chocolate and crushed graham crackers stick out of grass slabs. Katie made tree cupcakes by simply using pretzel sticks as tree trunks and green melted chocolate as leaves. Everything about the dessert table makes guests feel as if they're enjoying a day in the woods.

Backyard Inspiration

Go to your own backyard to find decor for a nature-themed party. "The mantel had natural cut wood stumps from our backyard with pictures poking out of the wood stumps of the baby's first year," says Katie Henry. To make the tree decor, she cut several circles from green scrapbook paper and taped them together in a tree shape. Cut shapes from wood-grain scrapbook paper to create a woodland "Happy Birthday" banner. Complete the look by incorporating grass slabs and critter-inspired decor.

Feed the Babies Too

Birthday parties have plenty of delicious food for adults. For a first birthday party, make something the babies can enjoy too. Katie Henry filled nature-inspired baby food packs with homemade pureed sweet potatoes and baby trail mix, which consists of fruit puffs, Cheerios and yogurt melts. Attach stickers and woodland creature labels to the box and include baby spoons for them to enjoy immediately.

A Day at the Circus

A circus-themed birthday party is a great idea for kids of all ages. Transform your home into a day at the circus with bold hues of red and yellow and circus activities like face painting. Serve circus snacks like popcorn in striped containers you can find at any crafts store. Guests will feel they're enjoying a day at the circus. Photo by Laura Fenton

The Greatest Party Favor on Earth

What represents a circus better than a box of animal crackers? This party favor is a healthier option than candy-filled party favor bags. Laura Fenton suggests decorating the boxes with some ribbon and name tags.

Rustic Ribbon Party

Centering birthday party decor on a theme makes a huge impact. For a soft, sweet look, adorn the dessert table with pastel-colored ribbons. Becca Gorski of Birthday Girl Blog chose a variety of ribbons and wrapped them around toothpicks and skewers to add some flair to the desserts made by Michele of Cakewalk Baking.

To make the birthday girl feel special, Becca dressed a simple garden chair with knotted, satin ribbons in shades of blue. "Loop one ribbon at a time around the top of a garden chair into a pattern. Knot each ribbon in the center around the frame, so several feet of ribbon fall loose from each end of the knot," she says. Make a rustic, ribbon garland from the excess ribbon by tying the ribbon into bows on a long strand of twine.

Homemade Ribbon Wands

Once the fun is over at the party, give guests ribbon wands to take the fun home. Becca Gorski selected three variations of ribbon for each wooden dowel rod and tied the ribbons one at a time. This party favor represents the theme and is a fun activity for guests.

Wizard of Oz Party

For this Wizard of Oz birthday party, Kate Landers of Kate Landers Events spruced up the desserts with party printables by Kim of The TomKat Studio. Lay the printables on top of the cake, cupcakes, party favors and dessert table. "This is a cost-effective way to personalize your party and implement the theme in every detail," says Kate. Embellish the printables with glitter, ribbon and scalloped edges to make them your own. Photo by Open Shade Studios

Dorothy Aprons

For an extraordinary look to the party table, Kate Landers tied blue-and-white gingham aprons, resembling Dorothy's dress, to the back of the chairs, which created decor that gave the space a festive look. Instead of placing name cards on the table, Kate tied personalized favor tags to each apron, so guests could look for their names to find their seats. "The best part? The apron serves as a perfect take-home favor, to use again and again as they help Mom bake goodies in the kitchen," she says.

Implement fun activities, such as a craft section for guests to make their own Dorothy-style red heels, or set up a yellow brick road treasure hunt with different treats and activities. Guests will truly feel as if they're off to see the wizard. Photo by Open Shade Studios

Peach Perfect

You don't need to wait until the end of the party to give favors to guests. "The guests were greeted with custom water bottles and koozies to take home," says Haley of Little E and Company. For a practical and peach-themed party favor, Haley used her embroidery machine to embroider peaches onto chocolate-brown koozies, and she printed personalized water bottle labels honoring the birthday girl. The koozies came in handy for guests during the party and are useful afterwards.

Take Them Out to the Ballpark

A baseball-themed party is great for a child in the Little Leagues. Hold the party at the ballpark and pack a picnic lunch for the guests. To honor the theme, Laura Fenton suggests decorating baseball cupcakes by placing red licorice candy on vanilla-frosted cupcakes. Also include ballpark food items like hot dogs, cut orange slices and sports drinks for the full effect.

A Home Run Idea

As take-home treats, give guests ballgame items like bubble gum, peanuts and baseball cards. Laura Fenton taped miniature team pennants to treat-filled bags to represent the baseball theme. Guests can hang the pennants in their rooms as decor.

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