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Birthday party themes for adults of all ages

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

Party themes for adults

No matter how old you are chronologically, you're still as young as you feel. Cut loose with some friends and have the time of your lives with these adult birthday party ideas.
Retro party

Whether you're at your place or you rent a room, add your own creative touches to make the night a shining success.

Blast-from-the-past party

Bring back the styles and fashions of years gone by. Either ask the guests to dress in their favorite gear from the decade of the birthday-boy's birth or dress as they were at the age he is now. As a bonus gift, have each guest send you the name of their favorite song from the year he was born (or their favorite song when they were his age), download them all from iTunes and burn them to a CD to present as a special gift at the end of the evening.

Just for fun, buy a silly prize for the man of the evening to award to the person he thinks has the best costume. If you're his mom (and feeling extra ornery sentimental), you can even break out his baby album!

Cocktail party

A cocktail party is an elegant and laid-back way to celebrate someone's big day without all the stress of a full-blown party. Cook or purchase appetizers and invest in a few quality bottles of wine. You could also serve a special cocktail (or three) as the drink of the evening and let guests BYOB on the rest.

No matter what type of cocktail party you want to have (casual or elegant, quiet or heart-thumping), you should also stick to these tips.

  • Choose a theme. Not all cocktail parties have to be formal affairs. Yours can be a little bit country or a little bit rock and roll. No matter what, make sure your decorations, apps and drinks go with your theme.
  • Tell your guests what the dress code is on the invitation -- some people see "cocktail party" and automatically think of a cocktail dress, which may not be appropriate for your Calvin Klein-esque theme.
  • Clear out a space for dancing (if applicable) and/or set up special seating arrangements to facilitate mingling.
  • Have music! Whether you hire a DJ or use your mp3 or CD player, music should be going at the right level to keep guests from feeling uncomfortable during those lulls in conversation, especially if your guests don't all know one another.

No matter what, don't forget that the reason you're all there is to celebrate someone's birthday. Even though this is a casual event, plan for a toast or two and set aside a table for gifts.

Love Harry Potter? Try these cocktails for your Hogwarts-themed cocktail party >>

Friends playing pokerCasino night party

Create a big-spenders atmosphere with a few simple decorations and a few rented props. You'll just need a larger room and some of the following fun games and items.

  • Poker chips
  • Decks of cards
  • Dice
  • Poker tables, roulette wheels, slot machines, craps tables (can be rented)
  • Fun music (whether that's an mp3 player with pre-selected music hooked to a stereo or a DJ you hire)
  • Appetizers and fun cocktails served on or in red and black paper or plasticware
Quick tip: Glue the Jack through Ace of each suit on the glasses to give guests an easy way to identify their drinks all night long. If it makes sense, you can even assign each guest their own card or suit to dress as for the evening. Dressing as the Queen of Hearts could be a simple as wearing a red dress with a pair of heart earrings!
Each guest at your party should receive a certain number of poker chips as they come in during the evening. When they run out, they can "buy" more by doing fun party tasks like singing a song on the karaoke machine or sitting out and playing dealer for a round.

Guests can even literally purchase more chips by putting money in a tip jar that will later go to your birthday girl or her charity of choice. If the party is for you, you can even ask guests to bring items for you to auction off on eBay to support your nonprofit of choice.

Check out some of the great charities SheKnows found >>

At the end of the night, you should have a prize for the guest who ends with the most chips (or the guest of honor). It can be something gambling-themed like a batch of lottery scratch-offs, a nice bottle of vino or having the entire charitable donation you've collected be made in their name.

Guest bartender night

Send out invitations asking each guest to bring a bottle of his or her fave new (or newly discovered) liquor and a mixer like soda, juice, tonic, etc. The night of your soiree, set up a bar with a host of tumblers, shot glasses, rocks glasses and other cocktail glassware (don't forget to have plenty of ice available!).

Allow each guest to take a turn behind the bar, explaining their new liquor and showing everyone how to make their signature drink. Give a prize, like a special bottle of wine, to the winner as chosen by the guest of honor. Then allow the winner to give the official birthday toast.

More about throwing parties for adults

Throw a chocolate-themed party
Sports-themed parties for adults
Harry Potter cocktail party for fans over 21 

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