Planning Kids Parties has become one of my very favorite things to do. I was just thinking the other day about how many kids parties I have planned and put on. It must be over 200! I had 4 kids and and 1 husband and they each had a Birthday Party every year till I cut the kids off at age 30. Plus I've taught young kids in school for 21 years. And we have about 5 parties a year. And I've been activities chairman in my church 3 times and president of the Stake Primary (children's organization). So in all the parties, I've learned a thing or two that might help somebody else in their planning. Here are a few of my ideas to keep it simple but fun.
Planning Kids Parties can be lots of fun if you keep it simple. Crafts using food are always a hit. HERE is a Frozen Party I did last year for my grandkids. It was a riot.
There is always the funny chaos that erupts when you have ten or more boys come over and do roudy games. There is always a kid who cheats, always one who is uber competitive and starts to get mad when he is losing or not winning. There is always somebody who breaks something in your house. (word to the wise, have that party at a park or splash pad, or even Chuck E. Cheese or at a swimming pool if you can).
Planning kids parties can be as simple as reserving a space at a city pool or splash pad and having cake and ice cream. Or you can get more creative!
I always made the mistake of stressing out over being sure my entire house was perfectly clean before the party began. I would work for days like a dog scubbing toilets, floors, making up the rooms so they all looked good, vacuuming every square inch of carpet and planning and baking a really darling cake to go with the themed invitations and party take-home bags. It was so exhausting, I don't know how I had energy to run all those games, pinatas and crafts!
Look at how pretty pops of colors in linens and little striped straws add to the refreshment table. You can always do a solid color on the tables and add another color with your plates and cups.
And then when everybody's parents came to pick their kids up at the end of the party, the house looked like a bomb had exploded in it. I was always so embarrased thinking "what are they thinking of my messy house!" I was waaaaaay too worried about stuff like that. NEVER clean your house before the party. Clean it up AFTER the party. Because, guess what? It's going to be a total mess.
Bubbles are a good sponge activity when kids first get to the party, or they are also a simple party favor to take home. And they can help decorate your party table too with the bright colors!
I had 24 little 5 year-old kinders in my class this year. And 19 of them were boys. I can tell you who makes my classroom messy for the most part. It is those 19 little boisterous boys who just destroyed the center games each and every day. I would have to go search to find a missing puzzle piece to a puzzle or pick up the plastic dollar store bugs and find the lost magnifying glasses at the science center daily! And the magnet center would have the letters and numbers mixed up no matter how many times I lecture to the kids to keep them in the separate bins.
Notice the pirate banner, cardboard parrots, red striped napkins, pirate bandanas and linens and skeleton heads. Fun Party Refreshment Table. Check out more from this party HERE.
Little kids make messes. And the littler the party guest, the more they forget their etiquette and training when they walk in your front door. All their manners get forgotten for the most part because if little Johnny next door is standing on his chair and throwing his jelly beans into little Suzy's glass of lemonade, they all start standing on chairs throwing jelly beans too.
This was such a fun activity for the kids; face painting using stencils and glittery glue made it SO EASY. You can buy the kits on Amazon.
Glitter Stencils kits are fun for Kids Parties. You just stick on a stencil, dab on some glue and then use a paintbrush and dab on glitter. Then remove the stencil and you have a cool face painted glittery butterfly or flower.
Parents are always surprised by this follow the leader fun. But it happens in my classroom on a daily basis. I find myself saying that dumb analogy "If your friend jumped off of a cliff would you copy him doing that silly thing too? I don't know why I do that. They always look at me blankly.
Another favorite for a party is my stuffed potato skins. Everybody loves them. Even kids!
My two little granddaughters at my Halloween Party one year. We were all dressed up as ladybugs (and bees.)
I loved having everybody sing happy birthday to my kids. It was a moment where they had all the attention of everybody important to them in their lives. I think that it is a great tradition. I'd do it all over again because a birthday party makes you feel special. I still remember my 9th birthday party. I had 9 girls come over for cake, games and crafts. And I still have the little ceramic girl holding a 9 that one of my guests brought me for a present. Then my mom let 1 of my best friends sleep over that night after dinner. It was such a fun and memorable day.
Making bead bracelets is always easy. Get pony beads from the craft store and chenille stems (pipe cleaners). Kids lace the beads on the pipe cleaners, twist at the ends and cut them to fit their wrist. Easy Peasy! Get the colors of your theme. You can tell this is a Valentines theme party. I love making Valentines Sugar Cookies with my family AND my classroom kiddos. Use this idea to decorate cookies on St. Patrick's Day, Super Bowl Sunday, or for any kid's birthday party. If you have candy to top it with, you will be a complete success with kids.
There are always those parents who drop their kid off at your party and don't return on time. They use you as a free babysitter and go get their hair done and return an hour late. I did that once when we were babysitting my daughter's girls for a week. I just needed some errands run without kids so I did use her friend for babysitting. I apologized later. And I know how it is. But it is still hard when you are the party hostess and you are so burned out and tired and there are still 2 little boys running around your house when the party was over an hour ago.
How fun would making snowcones or cotton candy be at a birthday or family party? Lots of fun and so easy too. Just rent the machines for around $75.00 for a few hours.
Anyway, here are my ideas to make a really fun party and not get too overwhelmed. I've taught kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades for 21 years so I've done a TON of kids parties.
We played Pin the Tail on the Bunny. It was so sweet to watch. And there was no peeking! Amazing! We have also played Pin the Gold on the Leprechaun, Pin the Nose on Olaf, Pin the tail on the Goat, for a big kid turning 30 (my son thinks goats are really funny) and Bunny for Easter themed party.
Get some cute invitations from the party store. Invite no more than 12 kids. There will always be a few who can't come and although 8 is a perfect number, (don't all the party supplies come in a group of 8?) but 3 is a dud. (we've had a few of those too). So call and remind people the day before and to see who is coming. You can always invite cousins or an auntie or somebody else too. We (the grandparents) always get invited to the grandkiddie parties. It is a lot of fun, and we can help with the little brothers and sisters still in diapers. I give out invitations with only 1 1/2 hours for each party. If it is 2 hours everybody starts to get cranky, including YOU!
Lots of times you can find printable games online to use at your themed kid's party. This one was for my grandkids to play Tic Tac Toe on the 4th of July. This would be a perfect activity when people first arrive.
When Kids Arrive - Have a sponge activity when everybody gets there. Have a craft to do, or a physical game to play like duck duck goose, or just a swingset or a coloring page with colors or bouncy house.
Pin the Nose on Olaf game I made last year for a school and grandkid's Frozen Party.
At one party my daughter had them all do a foam visor with their name on it as soon as they arrived. Then later she had another more involved craft. The visor just had stickers. Kids love making hats of any kind. That is always a great sponge activity that takes up time till everyone arrives. A good before everybody gets there activity can be Magnets using Dollar Store magnets and cookie sheets to play.
Party Games - Have 2 activities. One can be a noisy one (pinata, pop the balloons, scavenger hunt, bean bag toss etc., and one a quiet one that takes longer (bingo game, craft, decorate a cookie, pin the tail on the theme animal, etc. Here are a list of my favorites.
- 1. Pin the Tail on the Donkey (bunny, elf, pirate patch, nose on the snowman or Olaf)
- 2. Bean Bag Toss into a cardboard theme character with holes.
- 3. Decorate a cookie or cupcake.
- 4. Make a necklace, hat or bracelet with beads or stickers or foam of some kind.
- 5. Bingo game on a theme of some sort.
- 6. Hot Potato (use a stuffed pumpkin, or heart, or snowman, any soft stuffed animal can become the potato).
- 7. Musical Chairs or Fruit Basket.
- 8. Pinata or Treasure Hunt
- 9. Bowling using a tennis ball and paper cups with pictures on them.
- 10. Face Painting using stencils and glitter glue.
Pumpkin Bean Bag Toss my hubs made for us out of plywood that we spray painted orange. We get to play with it every year at my classroom Halloween party.
Kids love to make crafts. Try making some kind of insect out of paper and stickers at your next party. Then tape it onto a stick and watch the kids have fun with it. You won't be disappointed! Check these out HERE. Buccaneer Bingo Sight Words Game. This was a fun center. Check out the Pirate Party for more ideas.
- Foods - It's fun to then plan some simple foods for the kids to eat. Most kids like Pizza or hot dogs or mac and cheese if you are serving lunch or dinner. If adults are there you can add some chicken salad sandwiches on rolls. I have used these for family celebrations, wedding receptions even. Everybody loves a little chicken salad sandwich with almond slices and grapes.
- Pretty white platters to put your fruits and veggies on work well. Try a few that are 2 tiered for a nice spread.
- Add cookies or donuts, 2 kinds of chips, fresh fruits cut up or on skewers or veggies and dip. Then you can have the birthday cake at the very end of the party after the presents have been opened. Use linens or fabric to give a pop to your refreshment tables. This black and white fabric I've used for lots of parties. Polka dot is also a real popular generic linen choice.
- I've used these cookie jars with inserted scrapbook paper to match my colors or theme for years. They look equally cute with Cat in the Hat papers or Pirate or Superhero themed papers filled with cookies or treats. Then add a sticker to the jar. Just be sure to also add a half sheet of waxed paper around the interior of the jar between the scrapbook paper and cookies so you don't get the oily marks on your scrapbook papers. Top with colorful ribbon to match your theme colors. These I did for my son's wedding reception a few years back. But I've done them also for other parties and baby showers.
Little kids always love cupcakes at parties. You could do cupcakes instead of a cake.
Halloween Party ghoulish cupcakes and skeleton brownies. Kids will eat em up! Check out how I made them HERE. Granny Smith and Honeycrisp Apples with Homemade Caramel Dipping Sauce - great for a party anytime! And so easy and healthy too!
- I usually serve 2 liter bottles of pop with papers printed out to tape over them with a themed message. Then I have paper cups, plates in the party colors. I use banners, balloons, tissue paper puff balls, and party store cardboard cut outs all over the place for decor.
- My daughter in law made these cute little palm trees with brown paper rolls for the trunk and green paper cut out leaves with little stuffed monkeys attached (the party favor) to them. They were really sweet decorations. The napkins are usually pretty and special and make the themed table looks really cute. I spend extra to get real cute napkins. Then my plates and cups are usually solid color to save a few bucks.
Refreshment table for a summer party can be just bars and cakes and fresh fruits. Super easy! Notice the orange and hot pink linens and flowers make the decor look bright and fresh.
- Goodie Bags - I always like to send home a goodie bag with some little candies and toys inside. I usually fill it with a balloon, some clay or bubbles, a whistle, lollypops, pixie stix and individual candies like taffy, Jolly Ranchers or chocolate kisses. Then I tie them with a ribbon. If it is for my class I usually add a pencil and an eraser of some sort. Sometimes I find theme toys to go with the holiday if it is a holiday type party.
The key to the goody bag is DO NOT GIVE THEM OUT TILL THEY ARE LITERALLY WALKING OUT OF THE DOOR.
I have had to learn the hard way that kids will open and eat, or worse, spill the contents of the bag and then want another one. Somebody always loses theirs somewhere in your house if you give them out early, and then you run out because they come and take another one. Even in my classroom the goody bag goes in the backpack and they are not allowed to open it till they get home or in their parent's car. It is nuts when you have a kid who not only opens his and eats up all the stuff but gets chocolate mess all over himself and everything he has touched, and then leaves a mess under his desk, on his desk and all the candy wrappers everywhere for you to clean up! Word to the wise.
Pirate Party "Loot" bags were a big hit with my kindergarteners this year at our end of year Pirate Party.
Have a boatload of fun at your next kids party all you whipper snappers. Argh Mateys!