“When I Grow Up”: Theme Party Ideas

    August 14, 2013

    Finding theme party ideas can be challenging, especially if you've already gone with classic ideas, like an 80s theme party or something a little more niche, like a Mad Men theme party. If you're having a hard time brainstorming theme party ideas, dig a little deeper. All through your childhood you’ve been asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And while most of us change course at some point in our lives, ending up in a completely different profession than the one we wanted as kids, it’s still a question that sparks lively conversations as you get older. What you wanted to be when you grew up says something about your personality and passions. Did you want to be a veterinarian saving puppies or a police officer arresting bad guys? This is why a "When I Grow Up" party is a great theme party idea for all ages!


    Invitations are the perfect opportunity to start creating the look of your theme party. First decide how you will be inviting your party guests. Do you want to go the Evite route, use Facebook, or go old school with printed invitations sent in the mail? Whatever you decide, make sure you tell people how to dress for the party theme, and include all the important information such as the date, time, and location of your party. Incorporate the theme into the invitation in some way so that your guests can start thinking of ideas and get excited for your big soirée. If you're having an adult birthday party for instance, throw in pictures of people dressed as a certain profession, like an astronaut.


    Most children want to be doctors, teachers, firemen, police officers, nurses, movie stars, and rock stars. Even veterinarians and astronauts make the list of stereotypical careers children strive for. So think of all these when decorating your event space. For example, decorate one corner of your space with classic hospital instruments for the doctors and nurses at your party, then turn another area into a pseudo-court for those would-be lawyers and judges or have a blackboard for teachers. You could also transform one room into the Hollywood Walk of Fame for all the movie stars and rock stars in the house.

    Don’t spend too much time on your theme decorations since the costumes are really going to be the center focus of the party. Instead, just pick a few of your favorite colors to coordinate all your tablecloths, chairs, dining ware, and other party supplies so that your event venue looks classy and pulled together.


    If you're having an adult "When I Grow Up" theme party, the #1 song on your playlist should be the Pussycat Doll’s “When I Grow Up.” Here are some other great songs you can add to your playlist to go with the party theme:

    • 'When I Grow Up' by Garbage

    • 'Cat's in the Cradle' by Harry Chapin

    • 'Changes' by David Bowie

    • 'Glory Days' by Bruce Springsteen

    • ‘We're Going to be Friends' by The White Stripes

    • ‘What's my Age Again?' by Blink 182

    • 'Bittersweet Symphony' by The Verve

    • 'Forever Young' by Rod Stewart

    • 'Growin' Up' by Bruce Springsteen

    • 'Wild One' by Faith Hill

    • 'Forever Young' by Bob Dylan



    Have a brainstorming session with a couple of close friends to come up with unique twists on classic drinks to tailor them to your party theme. For example, you can make drinks with Blue Curacao liqueur for those that want to be astronauts, put bacon in Bloody Mary’s for those that wanted to be chefs, and so on.

    What to Wear

    The main point of this theme is to come dressed as what you wanted to be when you grew up. How elaborate you want to get with your costume is up to you, but you should definitely celebrate your guests who put forth a lot of effort into their costumes by doing a costume contest with little prizes at some point during your party. You could determine the winner through a panel of judges, or have everyone vote on a piece of paper. Keep the award prizes reasonable; you could give the winner a restaurant gift card and the other runner-ups an iTunes gift card for a small amount as an example.


    If you do not want to tailor the food to the theme of the party, just serve popular party favorites like burgers, pizza, chips and salsa, and cookies. However if you’re in the mood to get a little creative, there are ways you can make career-specific theme foods. You could make cookies with police badge decorations on them, for example. You could also make cupcakes with red crosses on them for the doctors and nurses of the group. For the aspiring astronauts in the house, you could serve a rocket ship shaped cake!

    As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Share with us by leaving a comment below, on Facebook or Twitter!

    Looking for more theme party ideas? Check out our other articles on 90s theme parties, Rock Star theme parties, and Zombie theme parties.