Outrageous Themed Kids Parties

Gone are the days of birthday parties past — of simple, homemade cakes sans fondant and cake toppers, a few decorations, and a small guest list. These days, birthday parties for kids are one elaborate celebration after another. The more outrageous the theme, the better, and let's be real — a beautifully decorated Dora the Explorer cake pop trumps that measly Duncan Hines cake any day.

As summer birthdays are just around the corner, catch up on the newest trends to throw your little one the biggest birthday bash on the block. No matter what the theme — superheroes, Harry Potter, under the sea, pretty princesses — one thing is for sure, serve up some major sugar and you'll be the belle of the ball. A candy buffet is a must for such parties, so have some treat bags on hand and let the little guests scoop up their favorites to take home with them. And forget playing it safe with the decorations. Instead, embrace the DIY trend with open arms, whether it's with cupcake toppers, garlands, or a dressed-up dessert table.

Bite-sized eats and individual packages are especially big hits with the kids, and save you the hassle of dishing out the food, so take a step up from mini pigs in a blanket and go for tea sandwiches (without the crusts, of course), personalized bags of chic snacks like gourmet popcorn, and cake pops — they're perfectly portioned and mess free. What could be better?

Circus Party: Peanuts and popcorn and candy, oh my! This brightly colored theme party is perfect for the summer days ahead. Serve boxes of animal crackers and individual bags of popcorn for each of the guests, with some traditional M&Ms, Skittles, and Red Hots on hand for a candy buffet. Make a booth to give out cotton candy and giant swirled lollipops concession stand-style, and of course, no circus is complete without a few circus peanuts.

Alice in Wonderland Party: Invite your guests down the rabbit hole for a Mad Hatter tea party. Cute little tea sandwiches, finger foods (like mini cupcakes!), and drinks with "eat me" and "drink me" signs bring the storybook classic to life. Host a traditional tea party with teacups and saucers for the little Alice's to enjoy, and don't forget the Mad Hatter cake — the crazier, the better.

Angry Birds Party: That's right — the iPhone game comes alive in this kid-friendly party. Character-themed cupcakes and cake pops are all the rage for this party, with character treat bags to hand out to your little game-crazed guests.

Sock Monkey Party: This classic character gets a modern twist with the parties now themed around the vintage stuffed animal. With traditional candies like Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops, peppermints, banana pudding, and monkey bread, let your guests enjoy a blast from the past. Use red and brown décor, polka dots, and old-fashioned finds for this timeless party.