Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Check out these low-stress, big-fun birthday party ideas

Photo: Sarah Alisdairi


We’ve had our fill of extravagant birthday parties for our kids, and those bags of plastic party-favor junk their friends have come to expect. We asked Sarah Alisdairi — a Tacoma stylist, mother of two little boys and blogger — for some fresh party ideas. Check out her low-stress, low-waste, big-fun ideas for summer parties.


Woodland party

When planning your child’s birthday celebration, why not let nature do the heavy lifting?

Organize a woodland-themed party that will inspire curious minds.

Photo: Sarah Alisdairi


Find a wooded enclave. It could be a cozy spot in your backyard or local park, an hour’s drive from home or a few potted plants in your living room. How far you want to venture is up to you.

Make felt crowns, because little heads in crowns are the cutest and it’s a foolproof do-it-yourself. A little cutting and gluing and you’ve got party hats and favors all in one. Use ribbon to make the sizing adjustable.

Plan a scavenger hunt. You or your little one can draw up a lighthearted list of local plants to hunt for. It’s an easy way to encourage learning about what grows around us.

Bring blankets to sit on, and serve cupcakes to avoid needing utensils. The beautiful trees and luminescent moss are all the decoration you’ll need. If you have to stay inside, make garlands from foraged tree branches or draw evergreen trees on a chalkboard wall.


Circus party

Bringing the circus to town to celebrate your little one is easier than it seems.

The kids will do half the work; as for you, these few tips will keep things looking the part.

Balloons are everything for this theme. Head over to the dollar store and load up on as many as you can in blue, orange, yellow and red.

Follow that pattern of colors for all other décor. That gives you a lot of room for colored cake stands, cupcake holders and all the utensils. It also keeps things bright and fun. Stripes also are a classic circus theme.

I looked around the usual chain party stores, as well as on Etsy, spotting all things “circus-y,” down to the cupcake liners and popcorn and peanut sacks. I found simple party hats that followed the pattern of colors I had in mind, then added pom-pom tops to give them a clown-like feel.

Photo: Sarah Alisdairi


Get a few typical circus animals from a craft store and fasten miniature party hats to their heads. Use the animals on your cake or cupcakes. I also added a gold pipe-cleaner ring of fire, which our very brave elephant decided to jump through atop the cake.

Serve foods — popcorn, peanuts and caramel apples — you would normally eat at a fair or circus.

Photo: Sarah Alisdairi


Look around your child’s room and through his or her toys to see if anything fits with the theme. We borrowed a circus tent from friends and found little inflatable animals at the dollar store. Those were a hit, as they were more life-sized for the kids and brought the whole theme together.

Lastly, give Barnum’s Animal Crackers away as favors. The little boxes are so retro and perfectly sized for the little ones.

Sarah Alisdairi blogs about motherhood, parties and more at Lady Go Lightly:

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