“Under the Sea” birthday party

I love that my children have cousins so close in age to them. My oldest has a cousin born four days earlier. My son has a cousin with the exact same birthday! My youngest has cousins within just a few months. Part of that means that for the first few years of their lives, my first two had combined birthday parties with their cousins. They were just happy to be having a party, and the parents could combine resources to throw a party for basically the same group of people. Win-win!

When my youngest was going to have her first birthday, I realized that I wouldn’t be combining with anyone, but she was also not old enough to voice her own likes or dislikes for a party theme. Wait, so… I get to pick the theme? Sweet! I went with fish and marine life because, truth be told, a friend of mine had posted photos of her son’s fish birthday party on Facebook years prior and I stashed it in my “idea folder” until the opportunity arose.

I will apologize in advance for the lack of photos. This was before we started the blog, and my photos were more of the people than the food. Who knew I would always want so many photos of what I cook?

~ Theresa

Cake & Dessert ideas:


  • Fish-shaped cake: Using a set of 8″ or 9″ round cake pans, make your favorite cake recipe. After the cake has fully cooled, freeze it for at least 20 minutes to make it easier to cut without it crumbling. Leave one circle whole (yay!). Cut the other into a crescent shape for the back fin, and then cut the remainder in half for two smaller fins. Pick two contrasting colors for your frosting. I would suggest dying all of your frosting one lighter color so that you can add food coloring to the frosting you have left for your contrast (for example, I dyed all of my frosting yellow, and then was able to just add red to what I had left to make orange). Use Skittles or M&Ms to decorate the fish. I decided to attach one (non-edible) googly eye with frosting. So cute!
  • Gummies! I actually decorated the cake platter with several gummy worms, Swedish fish, stars, sharks, and frogs. It’s a fun way to get the kids involved picking out which gummy shapes to buy from the bulk bins.
  • Make Fish Cupcakes: Use your favorite cake and frosting recipe. Use aforementioned gummy candies on the top of the frosting. Done. Cute, fun, and the easiest option.

Food ideas:

Here’s my take on getting party food to fit a theme: presentation is everything. Put a fruit salad out, and it’s just a fruit salad. Put a sign next to it that says “Mermaid’s Purse Fruit Salad,” and hey – that’s themed party food! Get creative and have your kids help figure out how to get snacks and drinks fit the theme.

  • Goldfish (I love fishes cuz they’re so delicious!)
  • Child’s favorite snack served in a fishbowl
  • Blue Jell-O with gummy fish inside
  • Veggie Octopus: Cut the top off of a colored bell pepper and fill with your favorite veggie dip. Surround the filled bell pepper with your favorite raw veggies. Extend eight slices of bell pepper from the middle as “tentacles” extending to the veggies. Use capers for eyes.
  • Favorite sandwiches cut into the shape of fish with cookie cutters
  • Arrange fruits and veggies into the birthday age on a platter
  • Yogurt-covered raisins as “oyster pearls”
  • “Mermaid’s Purse” fruit salad
  • “Fishing (pretzel) rods”

Decor ideas:

  • Hang blue and green streamers vertically in doorways and archways to look like water
  • Cut out a simple fish shape in card stock and write out the letters for “Happy birthday!” and the birthday child’s name on the papers. Hang in a prominent location.
  • Set out any small marine life toys near the food (Finding Nemo figures, rubber ducks, plastic or rubber fish – nothing too fragile that couldn’t be rinsed off if food spills on it)
  • Have your child color pictures of fish or marine life (or pages from coloring books with marine life on them).
  • Use beach and sand buckets and shovels for food or toys


  • Swim on by for ____’s Birthday!
  • We’ll have a whale of a time!
  • Use shades of blue and green
  • If making paper invitations, cut the paper into a simple fish shape

Activity ideas:

  • Play “pin the fin on the shark.”
  • Set out coloring sheets of fish and marine life with washable crayons
  • Have each child make their own fish from paper plates and tissue paper. Cut a triangle wedge out of the plate for the mouth, then attach that remainder at the bag for a fin. Draw a black dot/circle for an eye.

About Cooking for the Fam

Katie and Theresa are sisters-in-law who are passionate about food, passionate about family, and passionate about making and sharing food with their families. The Fam needs to eat. Make it good!
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