Create a delightful birthday party for adults by combining whimsical elements of childhood memories with lots of color. Whether you are planning dinner, cocktails and/or dessert, this birthday theme is a hit for anyone that was once a kid. 

whim·si·cal - (wim'zi-kul), adjective 

1. playfully quaint or fanciful, especially in an appealing and amusing way.

2. tending toward odd, erratic or unpredictable behavior; acting on a sudden wish or desire.

With this definition in mind, we've used a variety of shapes, colors, patterns and fun motifs. And, although we have combined ideas for a dinner table setting, you can easily apply them to all aspects of your décor including a serving table, party area, bar and bathroom.



Add substance and interest to your event with unique elements that are fun and engaging. First, choose a direction or general focus to guide your selection of motifs. The possibilities are endless, but some ideas for a whimsical theme include: 
  • Sweets
  • Farm/Barnyard
  • Shoes
  • Food
  • Fish
  • Plants
  • Tools
  • Wrapped Gifts
  • Birds
  • Fairytale
  • Jewels
  • Jungle
  • Travel
  • Bugs
  • Drinks
  • Carnival/Circus
  • Weather
  • Hats
  • Flowers
We’ve selected a gender-neutral kid & carnival angle with a popcorn cart, cupcake spreaders, balloon dog picks, gumballs, lollipop candles, cluster balloon picks and train placecard holders.


Regardless of your theme, a wide variety of random color is playful, fanciful, appealing, amusing, erratic and unpredictable, i.e. whimsical. It still helps to plan your colors and placemat (okay, not so random), separating similar colors and working to achieve a balance. Too much pink, becomes feminine, too many dark colors are less playful, and earth tones are not so fanciful.

Don't forget about white space! When going for an explosion of color, white is your best friend. The secret to colors that pop is contrast; surround them with white, or at least, another neutral color. For example:
  • The white wall accentuates the color tulle stripes
  • The white cake stand highlights the cake
  • White dinner napkins show off the party bead napkin rings 
  • White gumballs add depth to the display 
  • White dinner plates draw attention to the napkin 
  • White sour cream distinguishes the balloon dog pick
Compare the difference between the colorful train placecard holder, without white, and the snippets of color in the cake stand. Which colors stand out most?


You can establish a whimsical effect with the erratic use of a variety of colors, however, at the same time, you can repeat aspects of your decor to provide cohesion. We've used circles and spheres as a predominant shape to unify our presentation. Our round elements include:
  • Gumballs
  • Balloon picks
  • Paper lanterns
  • Lollipop candles
  • Popcorn cart wheels
  • Glitterball sprays
  • Cake & stand
  • Hors d'oeuvres
  • Rolled napkins
In addition, we've positioned napkins in a diamond shape at each place setting to connect with the lozenge tablecover. 


Patterns are a subtle technique to reinforce a theme, such as stripes for a beach party, gingham for a country western event and fleur-de-lis for Mardi gras. 

For our theme, the red & yellow stripes on the popcorn cart, the harlequin pattern of a jester as the tablecover, and swirls in the lollipops, straws and cake stand ribbon all serve to support a whimsical, carnival-like theme.


Whether you are planning a dinner party for eight or cocktail party for 200, consider your guests' viewpoints for maximum impact. Naturally, your greatest effort will be where guests will spend most of their time, but also plan vignettes where many guests will visit, such as the entrance and bathroom. 

In addition, visualize different potential angles and perspectives, such as entering a room, sitting, or from a mezzanine.


Transform the atmosphere of any room to playful with a rainbow wall of color. This simple trick uses tulle fabric to create a dramatic effect for little cost or effort. 

What you need: 
  • Tulle fabric for each color strip: 
    • You will need twice the height that you wish to cover and 48 inches wide. For example, for a 7.5 foot height, we bought 15 feet (5 yards x 48 inches). 
    • Decide the width of each color strip and spacing between, then calculate how many strips of tulle you need. We made each strip 10 inches wide with 10-inch spacing between; our 8 colors covered a wall 14 feet wide. 
  • Self-adhesive 3/4" Velcro tape, the length of the wall width to cover. 
  • Painter's or masking tape for drywall; duct tape for concrete. 
How to do it:

  1. Apply the painter's tape along the top of the wall or area to cover. 
  2. Apply the hook side of self-adhesive Velcro tape in the center of the painter's tape. 
  3. Press the short side of the tulle onto the Velcro; tulle is super-lightweight and very easy to handle. The tulle will stick to the Velcro hooks, without using the Velcro loop (fuzzy) side. The easiest way to do this is: 
    1.  Attach the right corner of the tulle's short side to the Velcro's right starting point of your strip width. 
    2. Attach the left corner of the tulle's short side to the Velcro's left ending point of your strip width. 
    3. Find the center of the tulle between the two attached ends, then attach to the center of the Velcro, between the starting and ending points. Attaching the center will ensure a more even distribution of fabric across the strip width.
    4. Find the corresponding start, end and center on the other end of the tulle and attach them to the Velcro in the same positions. 
    5. At this point, the short ends of the tulle will be parallel, so you can attach them at the same time. 
    6. Create ruffles by letting out small lengths of fabric then attach, moving down the length of Velcro. 
  4. Repeat for each strip.
  5. That's it, done!
You can change the impact with different color combinations:  
  • Dark blue, light blue and teal for water
  • Red and yellow or red and white for circus
  • Black and gold for magic
  • Red, orange and yellow for sunshine
  • Dark green, light green and brown for nature
  • Red and black for pirate and western
Obviously, consider your wall color if you are leaving spaces between the tulle.


Hanging paper lanterns is a great way to get the effervescent effect of balloons, but with a grown-up twist. Use a variety of colors and shapes at different heights for that touch of whimsy. We clustered 2 sizes (9.5" and 14") in five different colors. 

Use fishing line to create the fantastical effect of colorful orbs floating in air. We used party beads to tie-in with the party bead napkin rings for an added carnival hint. Other festive options for hanging, include ceiling swirls and tulle fluff balls.

Focal Points

In addition to expanding your theme, design or choose focal points that tell their own story. Beyond composition, color and contrast, you can create interest and distinction when you incorporate deeper meaning into your centerpieces and vignettes.  

We've created one centerpiece and 2 vignettes for our tablescape, any of which could easily be used as a focal point elsewhere. 

Vintage Cake: In the center, we have threaded the holes of a white traditional, scallop-edge cake stand with multi-colored rick rack (zigzag) trim to complement the rainbow swirls of a large round lollipop candle in the center of the cake. We've also included 3 smaller round swirl lollipops in blue, yellow and pink for emphasis. 

The vintage style of the stand, variety of colors, swirls, and cake along with the lollipop symbols of adolescence are reminiscent of the thrill and wonder of a birthday party as a kid. 

Note: For a dinner party, you may want to start with hors d'oeuvres and balloon picks on the cake stand, then present the cake for dessert.

Gumball Machine: Fill a large curved-glass vase with vibrant multi-colored jumbo balls of bubblegum for an elegant recreation of the childhood fascination and magnetism of a gumball machine. Tip: Place a tall glass upside down in the center to make your gumballs go farther. 

Nostalgic Popcorn Cart: Featuring a red & yellow striped top, the old-fashioned metal ice cream and popcorn cart embodies the nostalgic excitement, smells and tastes of visiting a carnival as a child back in the good ol' days.

Height and Symmetry: Add height to a table setting or vignette with a floral composition or spray display. You can also provide symmetry and balance by including a matching or similar arrangement. We’ve selected the fairytale effect of glitterball sprays in 6 shades, anchored with 2 wine bottles in vibrant orange and blue. This is also an effective way to dramatically fill a small space, such as a bathroom counter.

Bar & Food

For the ultimate in detail, use food, garnishes, hor d’oeuvres, beverages and condiments to develop your theme.

Beverages: Consider your selected beverage color as another element of your presentation, then accentuate your colors and theme with accessories and garnishes. We’ve chosen pale yellow lemonade as a base for bright red & white straws with colorful cluster balloon picks inserted. 

Condiments: Add interest with charming condiment containers, serving dishes, utensils and salt & pepper shakers. We’ve added two enamel wheelbarrows in hot pink and red with cupcake handled spreaders to our birthday parade. 

Hors d’euvres: Often with a little more thought, you can find just the right appetizer or hors d’oeuvre to capture the spirit of your event. We’ve chosen savory Chili Corn Cupcakes as the quintessential morsel to start our celebration. 

Chili in corn cups with sour cream frosting looks just like a mini cupcake, and we’ve topped it with a balloon dog pick for a carnival twist. Find recipes for chili corn cupcakes, lollipop sausage balls, cream cheesy gifts and party pizza hats here.

Dinner Place Setting

Naturally, you will coordinate the overall look of your tablescape when placing elements, pattern and color, but we also like to consider each guest’s point of view. When serving dinner, the small details at each place setting will go a long way to creating a memorable experience for everyone.

We've individualized each of our place settings with different color combinations of napkins, napkin rings, balloon dog picks and printed placecard names. Some details to consider: 
  • Use a charger, dinner plate or placemat as a frame
  • Add a theme or color beverage napkin in the center
  • Center an hors d'oeuvre or apertif
  • Party beads as napkin rings are a subtle surprise to wear at dinner
  • Placecard holders (even if you don't use them, you should have a seating plan, see here)
    • Print names in theme-related font and color
    • Use border, shape and color where appropriate; we cut our placecards with scallop-edge borders to match the cake stand

Get your guests and birthday boy or girl excited with anticipation with a lively front entrance greeting. It doesn't take much, and a festive detail out front will go a long way to setting the atmosphere. Some ideas for the entry include: 
  • Criss-cross colored or chevron patterned pennants 
  • Dangle ceiling swirls 
  • Hang a Happy Birthday banner 
  • At night, string popsicle or cupcake string lights 
  • Add birthday greetings to a Ferris Wheel yard spinner 
Find these and more birthday decorations at Birthday Decorations.

Add Comment

0 Items