If one of your children has a summer birthday, you know that it can be a bit disappointing for them to celebrate their special day during a time of year when they are on summer break from school. It's one of the great joys of childhood to celebrate the act of turning another year older with a class party, or in some way with your school friends.

In the summer it is extra important to plan a celebration that really makes your child feel special… but that doesn't mean that it needs to break the bank. Plan a fantastic summer birthday celebration will these tips. You will create a magical day for your child without costing you a lot of money.

There are 4 keys to planning a successful birthday party:

Today we are going to cover how to pick the right theme for your summer birthday party.

Picking the Theme

A theme for a birthday party should define what it is you are going to do at the party. A baseball party is a theme; a Batman party… is usually more about the paper goods than the activities. When deciding upon a theme, consider what kinds of things your child loves the most. Is he or she into sports? Then a party that involves a sport or games is sure to be hit. Is your child into a certain book series or TV show? Parties can be constructed around that theme, incorporating treasure hunts and games using a storyline from the TV show or books. Is your child more the creative type? Then a party theme where the kids work on crafts could be a perfect fit for your child. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Great Outdoor Party Themes

Baseball / Basketball / Soccer Party

Before the guests arrive, divide the kids into teams (try to even out the abilities of each) and develop a list of game-day rules. Keep in mind that some of the guests may already know how to play the sport and for others this could be a first chance, so you may want to make a few silly rules to ensure that the game is fun for everyone. For example, after three strikes the batter has to do a silly dance to earn three more pitches. And don't worry about having all of the equipment.Use plastic cones if you don't have soccer goals, ask the kids to bring their own mitts and favorite bat, etc.

It's always fun to start off one of these sports parties with a "parade" of teams followed by the playing of the National Anthem (played on a boom box while one child holds an American flag). Just remember that your goal is to make the party fun for everyone and play down the competitive aspect of the game — so silliness helps!

Olympics Party

This is a great theme for almost every age because you can tailor your "Olympic events" to their abilities. Possible events are: relay races, Frisbee toss, standing long jump, obstacle course, three-legged race, water balloon toss, and wrap the mummy (toilet paper unrolled onto a teammate). It's really fun to start this party with the running of the Olympic torch (made from tissue paper and a paper towel tube) while Olympic-themed music is played on a boom box. And end your Olympics party with a medal ceremony (awarding everyone the same medal).

Water Play Party

If you happen to be blessed with a swimming pool, a pool party can be a great party theme. Just be sure to hire a professional lifeguard for safety reasons! But you can have a great water play party even without access to a pool. Ideas include setting up an obstacle course that leads the guests through a set of sprinklers, water balloon toss, or even renting (or buying) an inflatable water slide and hooking up the outdoor hose to it can be tons of fun! Just have a few back up games or crafts to use in case you happen to have a slightly cool day and the appeal of water play doesn't last long!

Great Themes That Can Be Held Indoors or Outdoors

Minute to Win It

This hit game show is a fantastic launching point for birthday party games. We have thrown two of these parties in the last year (all indoors) and they have been the most fun for the guests and the birthday boy! You can see a list of games used on NBC's Minute To Win It. Most of the games can be played by kids exactly as designed or you can make modifications where needed to simplify the game. Rather than playing towards team elimination, you can play the games to earn points and offer different prizes to all teams based on the number of points earned.

Some of the best "blueprints" (games) to play at a party are: Bite Me, Face the Cookie, Junk In the Trunk, Johnny Applestack, Nose Dive, and Suck It Up. Trust me: You will laugh until your sides hurt and your child's friends will be talking about this party for weeks!

Tea Party

Many little girls love tea parties and there are so many ways to use this theme. The kids can make their own tea sandwiches using cookie cutters, decorate cookies or cupcakes, and create some great crafts. We've made beaded bracelets, folded origami hearts, and even decoupaged picture frames at some of our tea parties.

Tie Dye Party

Nothing says summer like a brightly-colored groovy-looking tie dye shirt, right? And this is a great project to do with kids during the summer. The kids can be shown how to shape and wrap the twists to achieve different tie dyed results, and then can take turns (carefully) adding sections of their shirts to the dyes, or you can put the dyes in squirt bottles and have the kids squirt them on the shirts over plastic tubs. The shirts can then be sent home with the kids in plastic bags (it is better to allow the dye to sit on the shirt overnight) along with information for the parents on how to rinse and wash the shirt. Simple instructions can be found on the Family Fun website.

In our next post we will talk about how to put together the schedule of activities, games and crafts for your celebration.

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