Category Archives: Kiddo Parties

Best Music for an Awesome Kid’s Dance Party!

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NOTE: This list was originally compiled in 2011, but it has been seeing a lot of hits lately so I thought it would be fun to repost with some new 2013 updates! Be sure to check the comments in the original post for more suggestions!

Recently I’ve gotten a handful of emails asking me, “What would be fun, “non-kid” music to play at a birthday party??” Music that is still kid-friendly and appropriate, of course! I thought it would be fun to compile a Master List of some tunes that are super rockin’ for party go-ers of all ages. Our mission? Get the kids AND parents dancing! Here were our guidelines:

1. Kiddo-friendly. Nothing overly dour, slow or with inappropriate lyrics.

2. Upbeat! Silly! Fun! High energy music that is great for boppin’ around to.

3. Sing-a-long factor! If it has an easy chorus, bonus points!

4. Parent pleasing. I love a good round of Farmer in the Dell as much as the next gal, but it’s kind of nice to rock out to grown up tunes, no?

5. Recognizable. Nothing super obscure or too indie. Your child may love Yoshimi Battle’s the Pink Robots, but we wanted a mix that everyone could relate to.

Please note! This list is not about me impressing you with my hipster/indie music street cred. This is about inspiring kiddo’s with fun jams and giving your cool meter a shove and allowing yourself to embrace the cheesy goodness of pop! I’ve broken this down by decade—feel free to mix and match for your own Mega Mix!

[Unfortunately I can’t give you the tracks, but I’m happy to help you track ’em down if you need ’em.] Let’s go!

THE 1950s/60s

This era is filled with tunes that are goofy, bouncy and pretty darn wholesome. What’s not to love? There are a zillion more I’m missing, but these should get you started!

“La Bamba” -Richie Valens

“Ring of Fire” – Johnny Cash (perfect for young Woody & Jessie fans….)

“Twist and Shout” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” “Birthday” “Octopuses Garden”- The Beatles (I mean, you really you can’t go wrong with any Beatles song!)

“Wipe Out” – The Ventures

“Build Me Up Buttercup” – Foundation

“The Loco-Motion” – Little Eva

“Day-O” – Harry Belafonte

“I’m A Believer” – The Monkees

“The Twist” – Chubby Checker

“Magic Carpet Ride” – Steppenwolf

“Sugar, Sugar” – The Archies

And of course  anything by Elvis, James Brown….

The 1970s

Classic Rock. Disco. Punky. Funky. The Seventies had it all—and these groovy tunes make for an amazing kiddo dance party. Start with some bad ass classics, so the dads can feel cool, and by the time you throw on that LIPPS Inc., they won’t even know what hit ’em!

“Bliztkrieg Bop” – The Ramones. “HEY! HO! Let’s GO!” The classic anthem that’s is guaranteed to get kids rockin’. But really any Ramones song. Right?

“Rock & Roll All Night” – KISS

“We Will Rock You. “ – Queen

“You Shook Me All Night Long.” – AC/DC

“I Want Candy” – Bow Wow Wow

“One Way or Another” – Blondie

“Shake Your Booty” – KC & the Sunshine Band

“Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees

“Dancing Queen” -ABBA

“YMCA” – Village People

“Car Wash” – Groovy tune and hey, you just might get a clean car outta the deal too. Not too shabby!

“Le Freak (Freak Out)” – Chic

“You’re the One That I Want” – Grease Soundtrack

“Rock the Boat” – Hues Corporation. I had no idea who sang this song, I just knew that every kid loves to “Rock the boat, don’t tip the boat ovah!!”

“We Are Family” – Sister Sledge

“Funky Town” – Lipps Inc.

You see where I’m going here, right? DISCO = AWESOME DANCE PARTY.

The 1980s

Ah, the 80s. If disco’s not your bag, go for the candy colored goodness of a new wave dance party. You get the big nostalgia factor of your elementary school/junior high memories—and who doesn’t love to watch little kid’s chanting, “Hungry Like the WOLF! Hungry Like the WOLF!!”

“That’s What I Like About You” – Romantics

“Blinded Me With Science” – Thomas Dolby (“Good heavens Ms Sakamoto, we’ve got a DANCE PARTY!”)

“Safety Dance” – Men Without Hats

“Get Into The Groove” – Madonna

“C’mon Eileen” – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

“Hungry Like the Wolf” – Duran Duran

“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper

“Walk Like an Egyptian” — The Bangles

“We Got the Beat” – The Go-Gos

“Mickey” – Toni Basil

“You Give Love a Bad Name” – Bon Jovi

“Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor

“Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr.

“Footloose” – Kenny Loggins

“Flashdance” – Irene Cara

“Stray Cat Strut” – Stray Cats

“Jump” – Van Halen

“Busta Move” – Young MC

“Walkin on Sunshine”- Katrina and the Waves

Tip: any song that has a verb in the title is a guaranteed booty shaker: JUMP! STRUT! WALK! BUSTA MOVE! You get the idea…


OK. So maybe you want something a little more au courant. I admit, some of these are cheesy but remember this is all about the kids havin’ fun! (And ok fine. I’ve been known to rock the vaccum to Katy Perry. What??)

“Gangnam Style” —PSY (Remember….it’s FOR THE CHILDREN!!)

“What Makes You Beautiful” – One Direction

“Starships” — Nicki Minaj (CLEAN version, of course)

“We are Never (Ever) Getting Back Together” — Taylor Swift (they won’t know its a breakup anthem, they’ll just love to sing “Weeeeeee!”)

“Good Feelin” — Flo Rida. (Yep. Bouncey clean hip hoppy fun.)

“Stereo Hearts” — Gym Class Heroes, with Adam Levine

“Just Dance” or “Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga (download the clean versions)

“Please Don’t Stop the Music” – Rihanna

{some tracks from a few years back!}

“Firework” – Katy Perry

“Dynamite” – Taio Cruz

“Hey Ya”-  Outkast

“Sweet Escape” – Gwen Stefani

“Life is a Highway” Rascal Flatts. If your child has seen the movie Cars, then you’ll know that this song is pretty cute.

“Me Myself and I” – De La Soul

“D.A.N.C.E” – Justice

“Kids” – MGMT

“Cha Cha Slide” – Mr. C the Slide Man (yeah, I had to look that up….I though Mr. C was the dad on Happy Days….)

“A Punk” – Vampire Weekend

“I Got A Feeling” – Black Eyed Peas

SIDEBAR: I can’t watch the Black Eyed Peas any more without thinking of that SNL skit. If you haven’t seen it, seriously, watch it now. SO FUNNY. But  ya know, the kids love to jump around to them. And Fergie was super sweet when we shot a commercial with her [OOF! NAME DROP!] so yeah, BEP make the list.

Michael Jackson.

The dance master. The one. The only.

The man gets his own category. ABC, I Want You Back and Rockin’ Robin from The Jackson 5. Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough and Rock With You, from Off the Wall. Beat It. Thriller. Black & White. The list is endless. You can’t go wrong with Michael, people.


As a little surprise, I love to throw on some TV and movie theme songs—it always brings a smile and a “Hey!!! I know this!” If you have a really little one, think Little Einsteins, Backyardigans, Yo Gabba Gabba etc. You can also go for Disney classics—Supercalifragilistic, Under the Sea, The Tiki Room Theme Song, Yo Ho Pirates of Carribean song etc. Slightly older kids will get a kick outta things like the classic “Spiderman” song, or the theme song from their favorite cartoons (like Pokemon or Ben 10, both of which are surprisingly 80s rockin’…) or even a Minecraft Remix!

Whew! So that’s my list. I know there is a ton of great stuff I didn’t include—but hopefully this will get you started. Help me fill in the blanks! Leave a comment with the songs you and your kiddos like to rock out to!

PS Here’s a fun idea for a Rock-n-Roll Birthday Bash! Oh, and fun party tip. Play FREEZE DANCE with the kids. It’s a game I invented in 1985 (well, OK, I probably didn’t invent it….but back then no one in Flint, Michigan had ever heard of my fabulous creation!). ANYWAY, you play music, get every one to dance/hop/boogie, and then in the middle of the song, you hit pause (kinda like musical chairs). When the music stops everyone has to FREEZE! Until the music starts again. Kids LOVE this game and love freezing in crazy positions. Trust me on this! And then tell everyone you know the girl who invented this game waaaay back in 1985.

Adventure Time Birthday Party Fun!

Pilgrim Lee is no slouch when it comes to birthday parties. She thrilled us all with her beyond fabulous Willie Wonka Birthday Extravaganza for her sweet boy Donovan’s 5th birthday. This fall she put together another wonderful party based on Little D’s love of the wacky animated series Adventure Time. It looked like a blast!

Lumpy Space Princess Rice Crispy Treats
Tree Trunks’ Apple Pie Pops
Slime Princess Passionfruit Jello Cups
Gumdrop Dudes & Gummi Worms
Princess Wildberry Lollies
Tart Toter Gingerbread Men
Royal Jam Tarts
Witch’s Garden Donuts
Candy Kingdom Fairy Bread
{bread and butter with sprinkles – an australian party staple}
Princess Bubblegum Punch
{Cottee’s Bubblegum Cordial – similar to Koolaid!}
Marcelline the Vampire Queen’s Red Juice {aka apple and black currant juice}
Hot Dog Princess Hot Dogs
Sword Picks: Pickle, Cheese, & Kabana Sausage

{I just watched the Paul Newman/Robert Redford movie The Sting over the holidays with my mom—it takes place in the 1930s and “jake” was slang for a-ok!}

Ice King ‘Freeze!’ – party guests move to music—the Ice King would freeze players when the music stopped.
Snail Treasure Hunt – each episode of Adventure Time features a little snail, i assigned each kid a color and wrapped 2 small gifts for them in corresponding tissue paper sealed with a picture of the snail. then they were hidden in the garden!
The Illustrious Lady Rainicorn Pinata!

Thank you so much Donovan and Pilgrim for sharing your special day with us! We can’t wait to see what SEVEN brings!!! You can browse Pilgrim’s fantastic prints in her shop here.

Mini Golf is My Best // A Happy Birthday for an 8 Year Old

Last month was Wolfie’s birthday and he had a special request. MINIATURE GOLF. Aw yeah! I was only too happy to oblige. It’s funny, when your child turns one or two, their birthday party is just as much for you as it is for them—more like “Hallelulijah! We made it through the first year!” But as they get older, they have more opinions and it’s less about snazzy decor and themes (although I love a good theme….and of course fun decor!) and more about doing something that THEY are into. And in my boy’s eyes:

We found a local place that did birthday parties and boy did we hit the jackpot! This place was super cool and funky and filled with lots of retro accents. Check out this sweet little midcentury “party room”!

I love those umbrellas! The kid’s played mini golf and then we hit the patio area where we feasted on pizza and cupcakes….and lollipops.

I admit, I always do a goody bag. I know people have mixed feelings about them, and it’s sort of lame that kid’s “expect” them these days. BUT it does make the kid’s happy and I think they can be fun. My tip is to make sure it’s super simple and filled with small, inexpensive things that I think the kids will actually be able to play with or snack on. I usually use a brown paper bag that we decorate, but this year I found craft paper handle bags at the dollar store and we filled them with a plastic tiki mug, tattoos, moustaches, Ring Pops and Candy Necklaces. Cheap but lotsa fun!

I think I had just as much fun as the kiddos. I was joking around and told them all that I was a golf pro….really bragging about how they better watch out, just to be funny. The kids were laughing and rolling their eyes. And on my first try? I got a hole in one! HAH! (I may or may not have played air guitar with the golf club in my excitement. Ahem.)

After cupcakes and birthday songs, we hit the mini arcade where the kids played and laughed and snapped up tickets that they could turn in for small treats. It was a HUGE success! It was an easy party for Greg and I, and my little guy had a blast. And that was all that really mattered.


So two questions. What do you do for Goody Bags? And when was the last time you played miniature golf?? It it’s been longer than 2 years, get thee to that putt putt range STAT! It’s the best!

The Peach’s Balloon Birthday Party

Hoo boy!  I’m exhausted just remembering this party.

Since we invested most of the Peach’s birthday funds into a new play house, we were determined not to spend a lot of money on her party.  I set the budget at $50, so the mantra for the party was Cheap and Cheerful!  We ditched the idea of having helium balloons since that was too spendy for us.  Instead Eric and I watched a few YouTube videos and learned how to make balloon dogs, swords and flowers.  Perfect! Manned with only $20 I headed to the party store and left with cheap plain party hats, some kinda weird ruffly edging stuff and bag of biodegradable balloons.

I used water balloons at $1.39 for a pack of 60 to make a balloon banner which was inspired by one I saw on Pinterest.

I loved the idea of kids running around in fun and fancy party hats! So I jazzed up these plain jane hats with some white sticker dots I picked up from an office supply store and some leftover washi tape I bought last year from Paper Source. And I used that super cheap paper mache rainbow stuff to edge the bottoms of the hats. I did it in less than an hour, while watching Parks & Recreation and 30 Rock.

I gotta say the kids loved ’em and wore the heck out of ’em!

And the last balloon accent to this party was this nutty idea I had to create little balloon doggie stuffed animals.  After two weeks of trial, I made some cute little friends as giveaways for the kiddos.  I made them out of lycra scraps which cost no more than $15 all together.

And the kids loved ’em! AS you can imagine, Molly here took the yellow one…

I must admit, the Peach was tickled pink with her little play house. And a lot of the party action happened outside in the play house.  Please note–Miss Peach picked out her entire outfit herself including her boots!

And everyone loved the balloons!

The Peach had a very specific menu she wanted: lemonade, pizza and vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles. DONE! In fact, she was so tickled pink with her cupcakes that she just grabbed one and started eating it without a candle so we had to start singing “Happy Birthday” as she nommed away.

But what the Peach really enjoyed more than anything else was playing with her friends!

You always worry a bit about how your little kiddo will respond to hanging with a bunch of kids. Some she knew well and some were children of my friends that she sees maybe every six months. And I must say there were several times I beamed with pride over my little girl’s inherent goodness.  Miss Peach was drinking her lemonade when another little girl came up to her and said she was thirsty.  Miss Peach immediately took her little tea cup of lemonade from her own lips and raised the cup up to the little girl’s lips to drink.  Outside, some of the older girls had commandeered the playhouse and wouldn’t let little Finn in. He came crying over to the Peach, who immediately took his hand and marched over to the playhouse, knocked on the door and demanded those big girls play with Finn. Attagirl!  No “How not to be a mean girl” classes for you!

As you can imagine we tucked in be a very happy albeit very tired little three year old into her bed last night.

“Cheap and Cheerful” can still produce some pretty priceless memories!

A Willy Wonka Birthday Party for the WIN!

My lovely friend Pilgrim is colorful, creative and the world’s best mama! You’ve seen her fabulous illustrations (she designed our super amazing masthead—including the spooktacular October version!) but wait til you see this spectacular party she threw for her little man D, who was turning a grand old FIVE. I’m so thrilled to share with you, Draw! Pilgrim’s Magical Willy Wonka Party!

I think my favorite thing about this party is that with a little planning, and a defined color scheme, you can create something pretty spectacular faster than you can say  Oompa Loompa Loopety Doo! Let’s cut to the chase—we begin with the invitations. Pilgrim’s fun party invitations are a great play on the original! Here’s what she had to say about them:

“i started off “small” with the invitations. the obvious choice was to send out bars of chocolate with golden tickets! and who am i to question the obvious choice?! however i’m neither made of postage money or chocolate so i opted for 2D double-sided paper wonka bars that were cheaper and simpler to post. i made you a special printable version to use for your own wonka party, linked below! ask your print shop to print them double sided – printable front and printable inside: just fill in the party host, the location, time and date, your phone number and “RSVP by” date.”

How sweet! You can download your own! Yee haw! Pilgrim is always extremely generous with rad little downloadables….but back to the party!

For decor, Pilgrim did not disappoint. Her trademark vibrant color palette displayed beautifully with whimsical candies—both real and pretend. I love the mason jars “filled” with paper candy. Such a simple but effective touch! They are a great way to give added punch but let the real candies become the stars of the party!

“a tight color palette may not be the answer to all of life’s problems, but it helps parties look well put together with minimal effort and expense. turns out there’s not much chocolate brown party supply out there so i happily used the groovy pink/orange/yellow color scheme of the wonka bar packaging. you can make a big impact with a knock-out buffet display – let the food display be part of the decor: decorative AND delicious! i really lucked out finding a groovy striped plastic table cloth in those colors which served as the backdrop to the table AND the table cloth (it was long).”

~ Ze Delicious Menu ~

fizzy lifting lemonade

everlasting bubblegum cordial

(if you’re in australia, cottee’s make blue “gubble bum” flavored cordial)

ice water

chocolate crackles

birthday cake flavor rice krispie treats

chocolate+candy spoons

coconut strawberries

jelly slice

pretzels, chips, popcorn, mini candy bars, & lots and lots of candies!

M&M’s on chocolate cake is one of my all time favorite “festive but easy” decorating techniques. Of course Pilgrim does it one better by making a graphic design—the number 5. I LOVE this! And the square cake is so adorable.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Mr. D and the marvelous Pilgrim in person and I can tell you that they are awesome. He is adorably sweet and spunky and Ms Pilgrim is every bit as cool and lovely as you’d think she would be. So it should come as no surprise that they created one of the cutest and coolest parties I’ve ever seen! So often in these “fancy kiddo bday parties” the decor seems more for the parents than the children (I’m guilty of this myself….). And this party is so much fun for children AND grownups alike. Pilgrim, you are a clever clogs. I’ve only shown you a bit of her madness. You must go to draw! pilgrim to see the really fun games she drummed up as well! Let’s just say there is a game called “violet beauregarde’s blueberry balloon bonanza”.