Struggling to come up with a fresh idea for your child’s next party? Have no clue where to begin? Think theme! A theme can help give the event some structure, define the decor and give guests some gift-giving direction. You don’t need to have a theme to have a good party, but a clever theme will make the event all the more memorable. Here are some ideas to get you started:

ART. Get those creative juices flowing! Think crayons, playdough and lots of white spaces where little guests can create. Set up an inexpensive plastic table cloth stapled to a large board and let the kids paint away – genius! For older kids, a make-and-take fabric painting party is fun: Guests can use fabric paint and/or markers to decorate T-shirts, hats, socks, canvas tote bags, and even sneakers.

BOWLING. Fun for all ages, you’ll be sure to roll a strike with a bowling party. Book a couple of lanes, order some pizza, then let the friendly competition begin! Young party-goers can score every time with bumper bowling, while teens can enjoy some glow-in-the-dark fun. On-site food allows parents to relax — just bring the cake to celebrate the big day.

CAMPING. A camping-themed party is fun for both boys and girls. A khaki color palette, a couple of tents, fun camp signs, and a campfire could set the mood. Activities could include a fishing game, a few nature scavenger hunts, camp songs and charades. The food? S’mores, trail-mix, and hot dogs cooked over the fire, of course!

CARNIVAL. This theme sets the stage for all kinds of fun games and activities for kids of all ages. Think: Ring toss, face painting, ping pong games, knock the cans over, a simple bowling game, dance party, three-legged races, or a photo booth. Renting a cotton candy machine or popcorn machine would be a fun extra.

CULINARY. Decorate mini pizzas, cupcakes, cookies – you name it! Set out different toppings and watch what crafty creations they whip up. For bonus fun: Let them decorate their own aprons and even wear chef hats.

LUAU. Make paper leis, eat pineapple and serve fruit punch with tiny umbrellas in the drinks. Create “grass skirts” out of raffia (readily available at craft stores) for each of the tables and/or chairs. Have a hula hoop contest, limbo stick and pinata. Invite your guests to attend in beach-wear and flip flops.

FIRE! Upon request, many fire departments allow birthday party groups to tour the fire station. Young party goers can talk with firefighters, try out equipment, and even hop aboard the truck. But beware, if the fire bell rings, the party is over!

GET WILD. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! For a jungle-themed party, decorate cupcakes with cute plastic animals. Fill a drink dispenser with fruit punch or lemonade and label it “Jungle Juice” (for a green color, try adding a splash of food coloring or mix in lime sherbet). Set up a treasure hunt in your yard where kids can find small plastic hidden animals.

OBSTACLE COURSE. For an action-packed event to remember, get creative in your backyard with hula hoops, pool noodles, old cardboard boxes, benches and anything else you have lying around. Kids can climb, jump and crawl over, under and around. Time their circuit as part of a friendly competition. For added fun, dress up in costume as superheros (with masks and capes) or firefighters.

NATURE. Plan a garden or nature party where kids decorate their own plant pot, paint a birdhouse, make a bug hotel or plant some flowers. Play the “I Spy” game as you go on a nature walk – it’s another variation on a scavenger hunt. See who’s the first to spy a flower, a squirrel or a bird’s nest. For food, have a summer picnic. For favors, the kids can bring home what they made, so no need for a party bag!

WATER WORLD. Create a big splash by hosting a water party. Children can come in their swimsuits and bring spare clothes and a towel. You can have a beach theme with inflatable palm trees, a paddling pool, deck chairs, beach towels, shovels and buckets, etc. Games can include slip and slide, water balloon dodgeball, water bucket relay races. Play musical sprinkler freeze: Have a dance party under the sprinklers with everyone freezing where they are when the music is turned off.