Lesser-Known Birthday Party Themes

by Laura Jayne Martin

Is your birthday just around the corner? Are you worried about having the same clichéd theme you’ve always had? Tried and true themes like “luau,” “costume party,” and “casual drinks with a few friends” have become pretty stale. Why not liven up your party with some of these unique gems? These themes will have everyone talking about your extraordinary birthday celebration!

Pet Funeral

Not into uncouth behavior in raucous bars? This year celebrate your birthday with the solemnity and grace you’d use in parting with a beloved animal companion.

Shopping List:

  • Animal crackers
  • Pictures of cute animals (for the PowerPoint slideshow)
  • Black clothing
  • Streamers

Overheard at the party: “Wait so she doesn’t even have a dog? I don’t understand. Who are these presents for?”

Stomach Flu

This party takes the grand tradition of pampering the birthday boy or girl to another level! This birthday, why not dance feverishly until your friends cover you with blankets and make you go to bed at 9 p.m.?

Shopping List:

  • Chicken soup
  • Ginger Ale
  • Cookies made out of Ibuprofen
  • Ibuprofens made out of cookies
  • Party hats

Overheard at the party: “Don’t throw up in — oh no, sorry that’s fine. That’s the one we want people to throw up in.”


One time Oprah had four different birthday parties, with four different themes, in the same year. Why go through that hassle and expense when you can just have one birthday party where the theme is Oprah? She’s everything and anything you could look for in a theme, plus it’s the only way you’ll compete with your friend’s Ellen-themed baby shower.

Shopping List:

  • Cake
  • “Aha!” moments
  • Magazines with pictures of you taped onto every cover
  • Judith Ripka Eclipse Earrings
  • Ralph Lauren Cashmere Sweater & Cashmere Blanket
  • Lululemon relaxed fit pants
  • Every single other item on Oprah’s Favorite Things List. (Double croissants. She had “croissants” on there twice, y’all.)
  • Baaaaaalloooooooons!

Overheard at the party: “Free shots for anyone living their best life!”

A Hearty Breakfast

What’s the most important thing? Breakfast. So, what could be a better theme for the most important day of the year, otherwise known as your birthday? The breakfast theme is super fun, yet doesn’t lose sight of the gravity behind turning another year older, another year wiser. Too many birthday parties suffer from a lack of vitamin D, calcium, and iron — don’t let yours be one of them.

Shopping List:

  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • A full glass of milk AND a full glass of orange juice
  • Grapefruit spoons
  • An entire field of whole grains swaying in the breeze

Overheard at the party: “I just don’t understand; how can breakfast be a theme?”


Talk about an original birthday party theme! When was the last time you turned off the computer, walked outside, went to the park, picked up the phone, called a friend and had a really, really long conversation about canvas? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Shopping List:

  • Canvas chairs
  • Canvas tent
  • Canvas sneakers
  • Canvas painting
  • Canvas food
  • Canvas decorations

Overheard at the party: “I’m not coming to any more of your parties.”

Laura Jayne Martin lives and writes in New York City.