20 bowling birthday party ideas that are right up your alley

The legs of people wearing bowling shoes and holding colorful bowling balls.
Paperless Post BlogBirthday > 20 bowling birthday party ideas that are right up your alley

Bowling birthday parties have it all: great food, classic vibes, nifty shoes, arcade games, party rooms—and bowling, of course. Bowling parties are the whole birthday package in one fun-filled alley, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add your own party-planning flair!

Customize your party with some of these bowling party ideas, including theme suggestions, food inspiration, décor from Paperless Post Party Shop, and complementary bowling birthday party invitations for adult and kid parties. We’ll help you bowl them over (sorry, couldn’t resist) before the first pin hits the ground.

How to plan a bowling birthday party

Though bowling parties are essentially a one-stop birthday shop, they do require some party planning in advance. Follow our tips on planning a bowling theme party for any age, group, or season—including bowling party ideas for adults.

  • Book your party early: Bowling alleys only have so many lanes and party rooms, and you’ll want to get everything set in advance to host your eager bowlers. Schedule your party at least 2–3 months in advance to ensure you’ve got lanes next to each other—and close to your party room, if possible. Then send your birthday invitations a few weeks after that.
  • Ask for shoe sizes in the invitation: When you send your themed birthday party invitations, include a Guest Question about shoe sizes. With this little bit of pre-planning, the alley can have bowling shoes ready to go for your whole party as soon as everyone arrives!
  • Explore different party times: Bowling is fun in the morning, afternoon, or evening—and don’t even get us started on glow or disco bowling at night. Decide which time of the day is best for you. The more flexible you are with timing, the easier it will be to schedule. 
  • Check out the food situation: Bowling alleys with restaurants or bars may not permit outside food. Clarify your alley’s food policy before you invest time in crafting your own bowling cake pops—and don’t worry, that recipe is below.
  • Gather a kid vs. adult headcount in your RSVPs: Bowling parties are fun for any age, but your party plans may change if you’re expecting a lot of kids—or a lot of adults. Adult parties may require a few pitchers of beer, for example, while pitchers of lemonade are the perfect thirst-quencher for kids’ parties. Turn on this feature right in the Event Details portion of your Paperless Post invitation, and we’ll take care of the rest.
  • Download the Paperless Post app to plan on the go: Get instantly notified about RSVPs or guest comments when you download the Paperless Post app. It’s an on-the-go organizer that keeps your invitation, contact information, and party details close at hand so your event goes exactly as planned.

Themes for bowling birthday parties

A birthday invitation with a pink rasterized image of a bowling ball knocking down pins beside a turquoise envelope with bowling shoes liner.
Lucky Strike” by Paperless Post.


Unless your guests are really young, they’ve probably been bowling before. Set your bowling party apart and turn it into a real celebration with one of these bowling birthday party ideas and bowling party decorations to match.

1. Costume bowling party

What happens when Batman, a kitten, and a cowboy each bowl a strike? They have a really fun party! 

An excellent choice for Halloween or any time of year, a costume bowling party lets guests dress up in their favorite costumes or coordinate a costume theme. Look through our kids’ birthday party supplies to dress your party up to match any costume.

2. Retro bowling party

A blue invitation with bowling pins and bowling balls with BOWL written on them above a red envelope; a vintage black and white photo of a man in a vest bowling at an alley.
Lucky Roll” by Paperless Post.


Host a blast from the past with a 1950s party at the bowling alley—an especially great theme for a milestone 50th birthday. Celebrate a strike in poodle skirts, fedoras, and leather jackets before stopping by the party table for a burger and milkshake. 

Decorate your space with some milestone birthday décor, and ask the alley if they’ll play your favorite retro songs for a real mid-century feel.  

3. Sci-fi bowling party

Perfect for cosmic night at the bowling alley, a sci-fi or space theme adds to the vibe and brings out guests’ inner aliens for an extraterrestrial game of bowling. Decorate with space party decorations and glow-in-the-dark party supplies, including glow necklaces and headbands.

4. Disco bowling party

Bowling ball, disco ball—can you dig it? 

Break out the bell bottoms and glittery tops for a disco party at the bowling alley. Perfect for a glow or black-light bowling night, this party theme comes with a groovy playlist full of your favorite disco hits. Ask the bowling alley if they can use your playlist during the party or if they have their own groovy beats from the disco era so guests can boogie down in between bowling rounds. Bring disco balls for the perfect finishing touch. 

Disclaimer: You may need to trade out the platforms for bowling shoes. 

5. Bowling movie party

A square invitation with a thin blue border and an illustration of a blue bowling ball heading towards three pins beside a blue envelope.
Hit the Lanes” by Mr. Boddington’s Studio for Paperless Post.


Put The Dude on your guest list when you host a party based on your favorite movie. Though “The Big Lebowski“ offers an enjoyably ’90s palette of decorations, music, and quotes, you can abide by the party vibe just as well with other bowling movies like “Alley Cats Strike” or “Kingpin.” 

Bonus points for anyone who comes dressed as their favorite character!

Birthday party supplies

Elevate your grownup celebration with unforgettable decorations and supplies.

What to serve at a bowling birthday party

Your work is done if your bowling alley comes with food in your party package. But for bowling alleys where you need to bring in your own food, it’s time to get creative.

You can always choose bowling alley classics, such as buffalo chicken dip, pizza, or wings. But for a more modern or customized take, check out our bowling party ideas for a menu to remember.

6. Cheese ball

Bowling ball, cheese ball—it’s a match made in heaven. Prepare this easy yet incredible cheese ball recipe by Oh Sweet Basil for the ultimate bowling food you didn’t know you were missing. Just add crackers, pretzels, or anything else guests want to dip into this savory sphere. 

Don’t forget to add three finger holes—or black olives—to make it look like a bowling ball!

7. Crudité cups

Some bowling parties are competitions in disguise. If your guests don’t want to peel their eyes from the action even for a moment, hand out these portable crudité cups by Sage to Silver. They can snack and trash talk at the same time—preferably not at the exact same time.

8. Sandwich platter

Throwing three strikes isn’t the only way to score a turkey at a bowling party. These round pinwheel sandwiches by Delish let bowlers grab a bite as their ball travels through the return, ready for the next pin-shattering toss.

9. Cake pops

Sure, you can make a sheet cake with a bowling ball, but where’s the innovation? Spend a little extra time on these adorable bowling party cake pops by Pint Sized Baker. We have a feeling guests will pick up a spare when it comes to these yummy pins.

10. Pigs in a blanket

Guests may struggle to knock down all ten pins, but no one’s going to struggle knocking down a pig in a blanket (or two). A party classic for a classic party, the cocktail weiner-in-a-roll appetizer is a great victory prize for a strike—or a consolation prize for a gutter ball. Give them a twist with this Pretzel Pigs in a Blanket recipe by Modern Farmhouse Eats.

Bowling birthday party activity ideas

A man and child face a bowling alley lit up in glowing colors; an invitation with a bowling ball heading towards a chevron of colorful bowling pins above a black envelope with bowling pin liner.
Hit the pins” by Mr. Boddington’s Studio for Paperless Post.


The main activity at a bowling birthday party is baked into the title. But for those moments when guests are waiting their turn—or for guests who can’t bowl—plan alternate activities to keep everyone entertained.

11. Host a team contest

Everything’s better when you’re with friends—including a bowling contest! Split your party into teams and see which group can rack up the most points. 

Have prizes available for the winners, and consider extra prizes for different categories, such as: 

  • Most strikes
  • Most spares
  • Most gutter balls
  • Best bowling dance
An invitation reads LET’s BOWL! In script with an illustration of a bowling ball knocking down pins in a lane above a red envelope; several young adults holding drinks look on as a woman appears to bowl. 
Strike of Genius” by Paperless Post.

12. Visit the arcade

If your bowling alley has an arcade, guests will likely spend a good amount of time there—especially if they’re teens. If tokens aren’t included in your party package, add $10–$20 per guest to your budget for a well-balanced party. 

Some bowling alleys also offer billiards or other games that don’t require extra coins.

An invitation with large letters reading PARTY! in mottled bright green and blue; a round invitation resembling a bowling ball with fluorescent script text on a highlighter-green envelope.
Light Bright” and “Ready Set Bowl” by Paperless Post.

13. Bowling alley bingo

Bowlers tend to focus on that one pin that won’t fall down, but there’s a lot more to see and experience in a bowling alley! Create a bingo card with items guests may glimpse at the party, such as: 

  • A cake
  • A pink bowling ball
  • A teddy bear
  • A personalized bowling bag

When guests spot five in a row on the card, they win a prize!

14. Cocktail hour

If anything can make bowling more fun, it’s a pregame cocktail. Invite guests to your party an hour before the bowling starts, and host a round or two at the bowling alley bar. 

This works for adult parties as well as kid parties—just have parents drop off their kids at the lane so kids can start playing while parents stop by the bar for a drink.

15. Bowling trivia night

Torn between a bowling party and trivia night? Have them both! 

Bowling trivia inspires guests to match bowling shoes with thinking caps as they listen to a trivia question—and have to answer before the next player is done bowling.

Bowling birthday party invitation ideas

From kids’ birthday party invitations to bowling-themed Flyers for any age, we’ve got the customizable templates you need to gather loved ones around the gutter.

16. A few frames of fun

An invitation with an enlarged bowling ball and pin on a yellow background next to an envelope with blue liner.
Kingpin” by Paperless Post.


Send the message that bowling is fun for everyone with the “Kingpin” invitation. Great for kids or adults, this invitation features a bowling ball and pins—just enough to intrigue guests to attend the bowling party of the century.

17. This is how we roll

An orange, pink, and yellow online invite with an animation of a bowling ball hitting pins and exploding into confetti with the words HOW WE ROLL.
How We Roll” Flyer by Paperless Post.


Bowling is full of action—so shouldn’t your invitation match? The animated “How We Roll” Flyer has an old-fashioned bowling feel and enough space for custom invitation wording.

18. Neon bowling night

If you aren’t totally sold on how epic a glow bowling party is, the “Strike Up” invitation might be the final push you need. Bright neon colors against a black backdrop evoke nighttime fun and excitement—black light not included.

A black invitation with a colorful neon line illustration of a bowling ball hitting four pins next to a blue envelope with hot pink liner.
Strike Up” by Paperless Post.

19. Perfect game

A square invitation with a blue bowling ball and the words FERN IS TURNING 6 on a yellow bowling alley background next to a navy envelope with a bowling-themed liner.
Lucky Ball” by Paperless Post.


The lucky ones are the fortunate guests who find your bowling party invitation in their inbox. Send out “Lucky Ball” for your party and watch the RSVPs roll in faster than a bowling ball toward the pins.

20. Bowling party with style

Bowling parties don’t have to be all fun and games. Well, they do—but they can be stylish, too. 

The “Ready Set Bowl” invitation lets guests know that bowling is on the agenda with its unique circular shape and design that also highlights your fun and unique party vibe.

Planning with Paperless Post gives you time to spare

Whether you celebrate a birthday at a bowling alley, your home, or another epic location, Paperless Post knows that the celebration should be as special as the occasion itself. If bowling’s not your thing, plan your child’s next birthday with our list of unique kids’ birthday party ideas.

When it’s time to celebrate your own birthday, Paperless Post has you covered. Check out our suggestions for things to do on your birthday with loved ones or by yourself—and yes, bowling’s on that list!

Birthday party invitations

No matter whom you’re celebrating, find designs to suit your style and make planning a breeze.