Choosing a birthday party theme

Oct 12, 2009 at 8:40 p.m. ET

Theme birthday parties are fun for kids. If you have a child from three to ten years of age, the question is which theme to choose.

Race car cake

If your little darling hasn't already chosen his or her theme, consider one of these fun birthday party themes.

Star Wars

Jedi warriors of all ages will go for this theme. Start with your own cleverly worded invitation calling young padawans to attend a Jedi birthday celebration in a galaxy not so far away. For an asteroid hunt, purchase small treats, wrap them in aluminum foil and hide them in a sandbox, around the house or in the yard. Buy a set of face paints and give each guest a unique alien look. Play pin the saber on Yoda or Anakin may I? Older kids might enjoy a game of Star Wars trivia with prizes for the most knowledgeable fans. Whip up some Skywalker salsa and chips, galactic party punch, Yoda soda (green, of course!), oatmeal Wookiee cookies and sheet cake decorated with Star Wars action figures. May the force be with you!

Girls only: Hannah Montana

Your preteen daughter will love this theme and happily help you create the rockin' "hang-out" atmosphere with streamers, balloons and themed tableware. (Hint: If your budget won't support the full-on HM plates, napkins, cups, goody bags, decorations, etc., purchase one or two themed items and the rest in a complementary solid color.) Complete the mood with floor pillows and bean bag chairs where the girls can lounge as they listen to music, chat, giggle or conduct Miley-style makeovers with makeup, scarves, hats and jewelry. Provide plenty of chips and soda and let the guests make their own English muffin pizzas and decorate guitar- and music note-shaped cookies.

Boys only: NASCAR

Chances are your son already has a collection of posters, hats and other NASCAR-themed items. Put them to use as party decorations. Add checkered flags and seat your racers around a table covered by white butcher paper with a black construction paper track down the middle. For party favors, fill reusable NASCAR cups with treats, a mini car, plastic trophy and an inexpensive pair of racing goggles. Divide the kids into two or three teams and play Pit Row Race. Scatter traffic cones or other obstacles between the start and finish lines. Let guests — divided into teams - roll a tire from start to finish around the cones and pass the tire to the next player. Fastest team wins! Re-fuel hungry party goers with car-shaped PB&J or ham and cheese sandwiches made with a cookie-cutter.

Littlest Pet Shop

Little ones three to five won't be able to resist this theme. Ask each guest to bring his or her favorite stuffed animal pet and buy or make animal ears for each child. Enlist an older sibling or adult helper to face paint a simple nose and whiskers on each guest. Decorate with plenty of festive balloons and streamers and use poster board and butcher paper to create the Littlest Pet Shop village or forest. Let the kids add their "paw prints." Drape your furniture with bright fabric and fill the room with as many stuffed animals as you can find. Play pin the tail on the puppy, ear on the rabbit or wing on the penguin. Let guests decorate empty shoe boxes, cereal boxes, etc., with colorful paper, stickers and markers to craft their very own littlest pet house to take home. Serve your pet shop fans animal-shaped sandwiches, goldfish or other critter-shaped crackers.