Let’s Have a Birthday Party!
By Scott Klepach Jr, with Jennifer Wolman
Most of us can remember how special birthday parties were when we were kids … whether we had a small gathering of family and friends or an extravaganza full of party favors, costumes and games. But do throwing parties stress you out?
With all the baking, writing invitations, designing games and activities, cooking and providing food, drinks and cake, making party favors … and spending all that time and money, parents can get overwhelmed before they even begin.
So to get some tips on how to throw a stress-free, easy, inexpensive and FUN kids party, I talked with party-planner extraordinaire (and local mom) Jennifer Wolman.
The first question: What’s the party’s theme?
For girls, try a princess, pink poodle, pink diva, Webkinz, tropical, spa, tea, slumber-sleep-over, mermaid or High School Musical party theme.
Top boy themes include Thomas the Train, construction, bugs and nature, Spider-Man, Star Wars, pirates, Army, scavenger hunt, Survivor, Lego, space and science and cowboys.
Some more fun ideas from Jennifer:
Construction/Bob the Builder
- To Play:
- Pin the tool on the tool belt
- Build a “work zone” obstacle course, so partygoers can crawl through a box, walk on a 2X4 and jump over caution tape
- To Eat and Drink:
- Make a “Rocky Road” cake – include Oreos, pudding and gummy worms – and place it in a toy dump truck. For smaller kids, you can offer blocks or Legos.
- Prepare easy and fun “Cement Milkshakes,” made of Oreo cookie ice cream, milk and black food coloring
- To Play:
- Provide a box of dress-up clothes for the partygoers
- Focus on decorating the table, because this spot will be the center of attention. Put lollipop flowers in one pot for a centerpiece.
- To Eat and Drink:
Make tea sandwiches along with “Sun Tea punch.”
- Sun Tea Punch (recipe)
o 6-8 bags of decaf tea
o ½ gallon on water
o 4 oranges, 3 juiced and 1 sliced
o 8 lemons, 7 juiced and 1 sliced
o 1/3 cup honey
o ½ bunch of mint
o Steep in the sun for 3 or more hours. Remove the tea bags and remaining ingredients and stir.
- Use white bags and tie yarn with a nametag for party favors, which can include a cup and saucer and costume jewelry.
- To Play:
- Use noodles to make light sabers and electric tape for handles.
- Start up the “Jedi Training Academy,” a training course where kids try to keep the balloon in the air on pop bubbles with their light sabers.
- Battle: use Nerf guns on droids and water pistols on clone troopers.
- Have Wookiee Cookies for dessert, made with peanut butter, cocoa and oatmeal; Darth Dogs for lunch, which are refrigerated breadstick rolls around hot dogs, baked; and serve Yoda Soda to drink, which is a combination of green sherbet, lemonade and Sprite
- (Note: this theme can work on its own or be combined with a princess theme!)
- When girls arrive, have a cashier/check-in station ready. They will take off their shoes and be directed to a wading pool full of soapy water where they can soak their feet.
- Supply magazines for them to read as they soak their feet.
- Next, play Pass the Nail Polish game, which is a version of Hot Potato.
- Set up four stations. The Hair Station will let girls put glitter and hair clips in their hair. At the Manicure Station, girls will have their nails painted. At a third station, girls will be given hand cream, makeup with lip gloss, and shimmery face glitter. The fourth station, the necklace area, will let girls create and keep their own candy necklace.
Wolman notes that while cakes will always be a part of birthday party tradition, cupcakes have made a comeback. You can do a lot with these tasty morsels to fit with your theme. A princess stand can display cupcakes, or you can create your own “webbing” to hold Spider-Man cupcakes, for instance.
Or, try making your cakes unique. A princess cake is fun, but you can also try to create your own Rapunzel tower cake!
Other Party Ideas
- Face painting
- Duck, duck, goose. Wolman recommends tweaking this game to fit with the theme, so for a “Wall-E” party, this could be Wall-E, Wall-E, Eve.
- Hot potato. Or, if you’re thinking of a princess angle, make it The Poison Apple Game.
- Musical chairs, with theme song in the background. Make it Thomas the Train, a princess song, or race-car sounds!
- Scavenger hunt. Wolman suggests making these noncompetitive so everyone focuses on having fun, and not just spotlighting the winner.
Sidebar: Save some money
While it’s very easy to spend a lot of money on birthday parties, you can be frugal and still have fun. Emphasize connections and activities over materials such as new decorations. You can make use of what you have at home to make a scene, and you can always be crafty and make your invitations, food and decorations.
Jennifer Wolman is a stay-at-home mom of two children. She plans fun parties and volunteers in the community and in her kids’ schools. In her rare spare moments she loves to read, scrapbook, bake yummy goodies, dive into her Bible and go camping with her family.
Filed under Featured Stories, From the Mag, Parties