Make It Fun: Planning a Party for Your Little Ones
Is it April or January? Honestly, these days I am not quite sure. Everyone in the house is growing a little weary of the cold winds, snow squalls, freezing rain and last but not least, wearing a winter jacket. This Winter (even though it is Spring) seems to be relentless. While scrolling on social media, I have come to laugh at so many of the memes I’ve found about it being the 105th day of January, or Mother Nature is off her meds. I have to find something to make me laugh, otherwise I might start to loose my mind. I just keep thinking positively that we will start to see some warmer weather soon. (I will even take 65 degrees with some sunshine…I don’t think that is asking much, do you?)
Ok, weather rant over.
This time of year starts to get so busy with Spring Sports, Scout outings, year-end Dance Festivals and dress rehearsals (thank God for our shared Apple Calendar). I am always so amazed how May feels like it is almost gone before it even starts. So I have to start thinking ahead of May in April because both of my kids have birthdays in June and July. These past couple of years it has snuck up on me in the worst way and I feel ill-prepared and inevitably like a bad mom for not having these amazing birthday parties for my kids.
My son, who will be turning 7 this year is totally into Nate the Great books and I thought it would be super fun to put together a “Spy Birthday Party.” I’ve been jotting down some cute ideas but really need to officially make up my mind so I can run with it.
I’ve done a few kids birthday parties at our home for my daughter when she was younger (she is going to be 11 in June….HOW DID THIS HAPPEN!!?!!) and it was super fun for her. Her friends had a great time, it made her smile, and it wasn’t like a factory where you were being pushed from one room to another because there is another party starting 30 minutes behind yours. Granted, having it at your house means you do all the work. The planning, the execution and the clean up, but if crafting and planning is what you do best, than you might love this simple and fun idea that I hosted for my daughters birthday one year.
It was the year she totally got into everything art….the color wheel, how to mix colors, using different mediums…so I thought an art party would be perfect! As many of you crafters and artists know, art supplies tend to get a little expensive, so I tried to think of how to hold the cost down while still making it fun for the kids. I realized that there were so many things we use in daily life that I could repurpose for this party. Things like paper towel or toilet paper rolls, sponges, paper cups and toothpicks. The only things I purchased were the 8 x 10 canvases (which I found in a pack of 10 that I used a 50% off coupon for at AC Moore…score!) a large package of paint brushes and sponge brushes, a package of dowels, plastic table clothes and about 7 different colors of acrylic paint. The rest of the items I had in my house.
I planned the party for a morning, so that food would be simple and easy. I did fruit skewers of grapes and strawberries, mini muffins and bagels with cream cheese and butter. It can’t get any easier than that!
When the girls arrived, I had each of them decorate a brown paper bag that had their name on it with a design of their choosing. After that, they moved to their art stations, which were just two folding tables covered with plastic table clothes. Each station had an 8 x 10 canvas, a paint brush, a sponge brush, a paper cup, and another short cup full of recycled items like the toilet paper rolls, cut sponges and so forth. Down the center of the table I had plastic plates and each plate was filled with a different bright color.
The girls had a blast dipping their recycled objects into the paints and making an abstract work of art that was truly a one-of-a-kind original. It was fun to see their talents and thoughts come to life on a canvas. Most of the paintings were geometric, but none of them looked the same. It was awesome! One of my particularly favorite ones was a very Jackson Pollack “esque” painting from one of my daughters friends. Lots of different colors but with defined lines. It just looked so cool.. you would have never known a 7 year old had made it. Another one that was super cute was a blue painting with purple and green “circle like” objects. The girl that painted that one told me she was thinking of stepping stones in a creek. I thought that was fantastic!
After the girls finished creating their masterpieces, I moved the canvases to a sunny place in the backyard where they had a chance to dry (quickly), and the girls headed back to the picnic table for some breakfast. I put the paint brushes to the side and washed them up and my husband wrapped upped all the leftover contents that was left on the folding tables inside the plastic table cloth and away in the garbage it went. Talk about the easiest and fastest clean up ever!! After eating breakfast (and singing Happy Birthday of course) it was time for one more fun activity. The blindfolded birthday girl t-shirt!
This was cute because my daughter got to have it as a keepsake from the special day with her friends and it was funny to watch the girls draw blindfolded. Before the party I prepared a plain white t-shirt with “birthday girl” and the date, paint-stenciled on the back. I wrote down all different body parts (arm, leg, hair, etc..) on pieces of paper and folded them up, then placed them in a little wicker basket (taking care to have one piece of paper for each girl that was attending the party). The girls then, one at a time put on a blindfold, picked a random piece out of the basket and drew whatever body part we told them they had chosen. It was funny to see the girls try to draw the birthday girls body in a complete random order. They all smiled and laughed…so I knew this activity was a winner! The end result was actually pretty cool, and my daughter wore the shirt the rest of the day!
While the kids had some free time to play on the swing set as the parents started to arrive for pick up, I took the brown paper bags that the girls decorated and put their (semi) dry paintings in the bag with their paintbrushes. It is awesome when the activity for the party doubles as the goody bag!
There are so many great party ideas you can run with too! Take a fairy party for your little girl…you can have them paint “birdhouses” but call them fairy houses or even make a fairy garden (those are super fun as well). Party games can include pin the wings on the fairy or toadstool bean bag toss. Maybe you have a 1st, 2nd or 3rd grade boy. What about a ninja party?! You can make each of his friends a ninja headband adorned with their name on it, and have games like Chopstick Pick or Blind Ninja, essentially a game of Marco Polo where the blindfolded ninja has to find the other hidden players by only listening to the sound of their claps. Make nunchucks or boas out of pool noodles, so they can have fun and be crazy without poking each others eyes out or giving one another a concussion.
No matter what your kids are into, find a theme and run with it! Have a great time planning fun games and activities, and don’t stress too much over the food. Easy pick stuff like bagels, muffins, chicken fingers, fruit kabobs or containers of popcorn are all easy fun ideas that will be a hit! Your son or daughter will have a blast with their friends and have the memories of their special day for years to come!