3 Party Themes for Kids
You’re celebrating the day your child was born...which also brings to mind 16 hours of contractions (but who’s counting?). Still, the concept of long, hard labor should play no part in planning his birthday, With these easy-to-pull-off party ideas, including suggestions for decorations, food, and activities, you can—hee, hee, hoo—breathe easy knowing that organizing your child’s special day will be anything but laborious.
Host a “Little” Italy Party
- To create a café vibe, cover tables with checkered tablecloths ($15 for 12 disposable 52-by-90-inch cloths, orientaltrading.com) and string white holiday lights and a red-, green-, and white-striped garland ($2.50 for a 12-foot garland, theitalianamerican connection.com) around the room. (If you have leftover Christmas supplies, such as paper streamers, utensils, and the like, they’ll work well with this red-and-green color palette.)
- For place mats, make color copies of the Italian flag (click the “Little Italy Place Mat” icon above to download) or a map of Italy.
- Let kids channel the Super Mario Brothers with stick-on paper mustaches (click the “Stick-On Mustaches” icon above to download).
- Set up a make-your-own-pizza station, where guests can create their own edible masterpieces, featuring pepperoni smiley faces or hair made of Cheddar cheese. Each child receives his own prebaked mini pie, made with store-bought refrigerated dough, and chooses from a selection of toppings.
- Time for dessert? Serve individual scoops of gelato or ice cream in paper cups (available at baking-supply stores) and allow kids to garnish with various toppings, like red and green sprinkles.
- Pin the pepperoni on the pizza. Download the game board and pieces by clicking on the above icons, or create your own version using felt or poster board. The kids, blindfolded, get five points for pinning the pepperoni on the center of the pizza, two points for placing it directly on a slice without touching a line, and one point for hitting the crust.
- Hot Tomato. Just like Hot Potato, but with a tomato.
- Meatball race. Kids form teams and deliver a “meatball” (a golf ball or a racquetball) on a spoon to a designated location and back without dropping it.
- Bocce ball. Each player gets a ball (or a beanbag). One person throws a starter ball roughly eight feet ahead, then each child tries to throw his ball as close to the first ball as possible. The closest wins. (Bocce set, $40, modells.com.)
Host a Backwards Party
- On the invitation, ask guests to wear their clothes backwards.
- Think about how you would normally decorate, then do the opposite. Hanging balloons? Forgo the helium and hang them upside down from the ceiling. Hang banners from right to left, and have guests write their names backwards on name tags.
- Arrange place settings underneath the table, and move the chairs aside for a game guests can play after the meal.
- Ask people to enter through the back door, and greet them when they arrive by saying “Good-bye.”
- Serve dessert first. Or offer breakfast if the party takes place later in the day.
- Go topsy-turvy and serve inside-out sandwiches (deli meats on the outside of a bread slice, secured with a toothpick) or, say, meatloaf cupcakes with mashed-potato frosting.
- "Say ‘eseehc’ ” photo booth. Create a fun backdrop with a sheet and let kids ham it up with their backs to the camera (while dressing up as though they’re facing it). Fill a bucket with wardrobe items the kids can throw on, like sunglasses and ties.
- Backwards musical chairs. Like musical chairs, only kids walk around the circle backwards.
- Seek-and-hide. In this reverse game of hide-and-seek, one child hides and everyone else tries to find him. As people find him, they hide with him, until almost everyone is hiding. The last person looking hides first during the next round.
- Backwards birthday song. Write down the words to “Happy Birthday to You” and have guests sing them backwards (or try to, at least) as the birthday girl or boy blows out the candles.
- Pin the donkey on the tail. Place the tail on the wall and challenge kids to place the donkey in the right spot.
- Coloring station. Hand out a few coloring books and have kids color outside the lines, using the wrong ends of the crayons.
Host a Treasure-Hunt Party
- If you’re set on serving a main dish, fish and chips will do the trick. Or offer hot dogs and call them Salty Dogs. Just serving snacks? Stick to the maritime theme and fill bowls with Chips Ahoy, Swedish Fish, Goldfish crackers, and Pirate’s Booty.
- Create a “dessert island” and serve Treasure Hunt Cake (shown), which guests can bite into in hopes of finding hidden treasure (read: gummy candies). The first pirate-in-training to bite into a candy receives a prize, like a plastic bead necklace ($10 for 48, orientaltrading.com). Give the remainder out as p-ARR-ting gifts.
- Make-your-own-telescope station. Let crafty types decorate cardboard paper-towel tubes with stickers and glitter, then cover one end with blue cellophane (secured with a rubber band) so kids can see how things appear "underwater."
- Go fish. Create a wave using poster board or a cardboard box (shown) and let kids fish for prizes. The person hiding behind the wave can use tape to attach the prize.
- Peg-leg race. Divide kids into pairs and tie an ankle of each pair together with a bandanna, as in a three-legged race.
- Walking the plank. Let kids take turns walking across a long wooden plank. Whoever finishes first without touching the ground wins. (If someone does touch it, yell “Shark bait!”)
- Cannonball toss. Children stand in a circle and toss around a water balloon until it bursts. The person who gets wet is out, and the circle gradually gets smaller until there’s a winner.
- Treasure hunt. Hide a bunch of plastic gold coins in the backyard and let partygoers race to find the most loot.
The Party Props
And don't forget the clever disguises. Let eye patches (available at costume stores) serve as napkin holders and create hats out of newspapers.