Mar 18, 2013
Boundless Birthdays
Abby Heugel, Managing Editor

Young, old, male, female-everyone likes a party

It’s the birthday boy! It’s the birthday girl! These are phrases you hear quite often, especially if you work in the party industry. But what’s the difference between the products sold for the birthday boy/man or girl/woman?

Magenta, pink and purple are often associated with females and blues with the males, but bold colors and strong graphic patterns work well for either sex at any age. While those patterns and decor can be as unique as the individuals that are celebrating, a few common threads do occur.

Boy/Girl Party

Kacey Curry of Creative Converting said that for a masculine party, the key is adding splashes of color to blacks, browns and grays, which are regarded as more masculine or neutral.

“Pops of bright blue, red or green make the color scheme fun and masculine,” Curry said. “Additionally, themes referencing a gentleman’s favorite beverage are growing in popularity as craft beers and small batch whiskeys have become more mainstream.”

When it comes to young boys, Curry has found that it’s all about vehicles right now – everything trains, planes and automobiles.

Dawn Kirschner of Unique added the most popular themes for young boys tend to be sports, camouflage, dinosaurs, aliens, pirates, farm and jungle animals – something that mom or dad can center a party around with toys and activities.

“Young girls love bright colors and are taking on the animal craze with zebra stripes, ladybugs, bumble bees, bright floral patterns and butterfly designs,” Kirschner said. “They love mixing and matching these designs with solid colors and dots.”

Kirschner added that since girls like to accessorize, more is better for this party group, and the most popular items are foil and latex balloons, jointed and foil banners, loot bags, centerpieces, cutouts, dangling decor, loot bags, stadium cups, gift wrap and bags and invitations.

“When it comes to adults, the feminine party thrower tends to gravitate to the brighter color palette with lime green, turquoise, purples and pinks,” she said. “The patterns can be florals, stripes and/or dots and animal prints, which are a popular theme for all ages.”

Curry agreed and added that “modern vintage” is also a popular trend and “everything old” is new again with modern colors to make it interesting for today’s shoppers.

Flash and Flair

Women are the primary purchaser for both genders and all age groups. Unless it’s a major milestone, many adult birthdays are celebrated in the work place or at small family/friend events while juvenile birthdays are typically a larger event with classroom and neighborhood friends.

“For the more mature birthday party, the focus is less on decor and more about creating the right ambiance to honor the celebrant,” Curry said. “Shining the spotlight on the guest of honor with photos and personalized favors and decor is a great way to do this.”

Kirschner added that the juvenile party often has a theme so that decorating and creating activities are much easier to do.

“Plates, napkins, tablecovers, cups and invitations are a staple for the cake and ice cream,” she said. “Most parties require hats, blowouts, loot bags or cello bags for all the party goodies, foil and latex balloons, banners, centerpieces, party games and pinatas. All of these together create a fun party atmosphere.”

Another thing that creates a fun party atmosphere are products that light up. Alissa Murray of Party Dots said that regardless of age, flashing tiaras, necklaces and buttons are popular purchases.

“Adding a light such as sparkle ribbon or Party Dots to balloon designs makes them both more attractive and creates a better profit margin on balloon designs,” Murray said. “It’s an easy way to increase a sale by $5 to $7 just by making it flash.”

Know Your Customer

So how do you market these goods for the busy shopper? The simpler the task, the better, but of course, they still want choices. By merchandising party collections with coordinating solid colors, they can mix and match to stay within their budget and to create a more customized feel for the party.

“To make things easier, keep similar items together, so they can be easily shopped,” Curry said. “The must-have items can be displayed with less prominence – the shopper already has these on her list, but she may not have realized she needed shaped treat boxes or a pinata for the party.”

Murray added that most men come in with a list, but are also more likely to impulse buy on anything that is pre-made – stuffed animals, grab-and-go balloon bouquets, etc. If they don’t have a list, then they tend to want the staff to help plan the party instead of leaving them to their own volition.

At Party Time RR in Horseheads, N.Y., they train their sales staff to “Party Completion” by suggesting three to five items to every customer that may be in a different area of the store.

“There is no wrong item to suggest,” said Owner RC Ike. “We also offer comprehensive planning checklists to help them make sure they didn’t forget anything. We understand they may not get everything, but at least they know it is available and that we carry it.”

Kirschner added that it’s important to remember that most people do not throw parties on a daily basis, so what is familiar and common to the retailer may be foreign to the consumer. Showing them what is available and how to utilize can only positively impact your sales.


He Said, She Said

When it comes to decor for the masculine birthday party, what themes are trending right now?

RC Ike

Party Time RR

Camo party supplies for the guys specifically the Real Tree, Fishing and Mossy Oak from Havercamp.

Alissa Murray

Party Dots USA

“Holy Bleep” by Creative Converting – by far.

For the young boy’s birthday party?


Superheroes, video games and popular TV shows have always been big hits for the boy patterns. If the boy gets involved in sports, they love to have their party go with the sport they play. It’s still an area very driven by licenses.


Angry Birds products and balloons.

For adult female parties?


Zebra print has been strong for women and girls and Amscan does a great job getting all the components for this from banners, invites, goody bags, table deco, balloons, and so much more.


“Another Year of Fabulous” from Amscan and zebra patterns, especially streamers and lanterns.

For young girl’s parties?


Zebra print, but the girls also like Rock ‘n Roll, Princesses and TV show or movie characters.


Zebra, polka dots and cupcake parties!

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