Do you celebrate half birthdays in your house? Most kids (and even some grownups) practically live for their birthdays, and the date is etched into their memory very early on. Six months later, though, the occasion is the furthest thing from their minds—making a half-birthday party such a fun surprise!
A half birthday is rarely the full-on, all-out bash that a true birthday party is. This more low-key fete, with just family or a few close friends, can be a perfect way to lift the spirits of a kid who's having a tough time adjusting to a new school year, is missing a friend who moved away or otherwise just needs a little pick-me-up. It can also be a nice way to shine the spotlight on someone whose own special day is often overshadowed—if their birthday falls at the holidays or over summer break when all their friends are away. Here are some ideas to get you started!
Create a half-day party menu
The food you serve at a half birthday doesn't need to be elaborate. It can be as simple as a special dessert after dinner. Or you can plan a whole meal using the half theme as inspiration.
- Pizza: With its endless topping possibilities, pizza is a great canvas to bring a half theme to life for a crowd. This recipe for spinach and ham French bread pizza—served on halves of French bread loaves—is a great place to start!
- Hot dogs: This couldn't be simpler. Grill up some dogs and place on buns, then slice each in half crosswise. Skewer with a toothpick and serve the halves with mustard, ketchup, and other toppings. (Or cut them lengthwise—a good safety practice for toddlers and little kids anyway—and serve them open-face on bun halves.)
- Sandwiches: Grilled cheese, chicken salad, PB&J… whatever the birthday boy or girl loves best, served crusts removed and sliced in diagonal halves. (Need recipe inspiration? Check out our Inside Out Double Grilled Cheese.)
Don't forget the sweet stuff
- Half Layer Cake: These classic stacked cakes are the perfect option to bring the concept of a half-birthday cake to life; using our rainbow layer cake recipe, we recreated the vibrant cake by cutting it in half to reveal the gorgeous layers (bonus: it doubles as a great conversation piece and memory-maker). If using your own layer-cake recipe, either cut the recipe in half to produce just one 9-inch layer, or make two layers and freeze one for a future celebration. Bake the layer, let cool completely, then slice in half crosswise, stack, fill, and frost. Top with half a birthday greeting or candles!
- Custom cookies: Everyone loves a fortune cookie! These chocolate-dipped fortune cookies with sprinkles are not only delicious and darling—they give parents the perfect opportunity to create custom fortunes perfect for the half-birthday girl or boy.
- Color-block desserts: Multicolored layered treats are cute way to keep the half-and-half theme going strong. Try these Fruity Fro-Yo Fun Bars for a cool twist!
Decorating for a half-day
Decking the halls for a half-birthday party isn't strictly required, but if you're going to do it, go ahead and get silly:
- Decorate half the dining or living room—streamers, balloons, the works, but on one side only.
- Set the table for half of a party: Use a colorful tablecloth, paper plates (get sturdy ones and cut them in half, or splurge on artful half-moon and triangle-shaped plates), paper cups (you can cut them down to half-height); leave the other side of the table bare, or just set it with plain white plates and cups.
- Darken one half of lampshades by lining the insides with black construction paper.
- Have half-masks (from a party store or costume shop) for guests ready by the door, or place one at each seat at the table
Half-day party games
- Pin the tail on half the animal: Modify the standard donkey-tail game and use just the back half—could be a donkey, a horse, an elephant, any animal you like. Blindfold each player and have them stick the tail in place. Alternatively, have players try to match up the front and rear halves of the animals.
- Finish the sentence: This is a fun game for young readers and writers. Have one player write the first half of a sentence on the top of a sheet of paper, using a noun and adjectives, then fold it over and hand it to the next player. That player finishes the sentence without reading the beginning, using verbs and objects, and making it as silly as possible. Then read the results out loud!
Celebrating a half birthday grown-up style?
As much fun as half-days are for kids, they can be even better for grownups looking for an excuse to get together and indulge. Keep the party simple, and bring in the theme with layered treats like our Black and Tan Beer Pops, Stout Brownies and Dark Chocolate Stout Cream Pie.