The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: Themed birthday parties

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Themed birthday parties

I LOVE themes - themed rooms, themed table decorations, themed quilts, and yes, themed birthday parties.  A theme always seems to bring the occasion, room, table, or quilt together in a way that a non-themed event or item is unable to do.  Therefore, when you plan your child's next birthday party, go beyond the Batman, Superman, My Little Pony, and Barbie parties and get creative.  Here are some ideas:

1. Carnival party - For a backyard event, have carnival-style games like tossing a ball to knock down empty plastic milk jugs, or fishing for ducks in a kiddie pool.  Don't forget to hire that balloon-blowing clown, and have carnival food - hot dogs, cheese fries, and ice cream cones.  I'd forego the cotton candy unless you really like sticky hand prints all over your house when your young guests come in to use the bathroom. 

2. Use a color theme - For example, you might  have a black and white party and ask all the guests to wear either black or white.  Naturally, you'd have oreo cookies with milk and chocolate cake with white icing.  Get the picture?  Did I say picture?  Take black and white photographs of the kids while they play and then give the parents an album of the fun after the event. 

3. Flower Power Party - A throwback to the 1960s will have a party that uses flowers all over everything - plates, napkins, invitations, name tags, etc.  However, for extra fun, don't have those items match, just use flowers of all sorts.  Use leis for prizes for games.  And have an activity where the children decorate a pot and plant their own flowers to take home as the party bag gift.

4. Let's Make Tracks Party - Think of all the things related to tracks - trains, animals, running, search and rescue, etc.  Getting train invitations is easy - think Thomas the train.  But then let your imagination run wild.  Have a search and rescue game where kids have to follow construction paper animal tracks to the prizes.  Have the kids run a race around a "track" in your backyard.  Like I said, get creative!

5. Pirate party - Again, the invitations will be easy to find.  The activities require more creativity.  See how many kids you can cram into a "boat" - otherwise known as a hula hoop!  Play steal the flag - put a flag that looks like a pirate flag in a child's back pants.  He runs around and the other kids try to steal it from him.  When one steals it, play stops until he puts the flag in the back of his pants.  Blow a whistle to start play again.  Everyone gets gold doubloons (chocolate coins) - there are no winners in this game, just plain ole fun!  Then play pin the feathers on the parrot.  Or Parrot down the Lane game - like whisper down the lane.  Play musical treasure chest.   Whoever has the chest in his lap when the music stops gets to pull a prize from it.  This has the added advtange of having the first kid out not throw a fit!  (I had one like that!)

6. Toga party - Give each kid a "toga" - an old sheet cut into quarters for each child.  (Go to a thrift store if you don't have an old sheet and wash it well with bleach!)  Then have "chariot" races - one child is the chariot and the other child holds his ankles.  Have Roman foods - fruits, nuts, grape juice, pastries, etc. 

7. Seashore - If you can't go to the beach for a party, bring the beach to you.  Get some moon sand for each child and have a sculpting time.  When they are done, have them describe what they built, but if you award prizes - give one to each kid for a different category (highest, funniest, first to finish, etc.)  Play a shell game with real shells!  Make a seashore bookmark by cutting out sea-related pictures and laminating them. Give each child a seashore book to go with the bookmark. Give the party trinkets in a bucket rather than a bag.

8. Vehicles - cars, trucks, trains, buses, boats, planes, and bikes.  Assign each child to be a specific vehicle - make them all different.  For example, instead of having one child be a car, one can be a race car while another can be a limo.  The selection of who gets which vehicle should be random.  Then throughout the day, when the kids play games, instead of awarding prizes to the child who collects the most or finishes first, draw a card to see which vehicle really won the game.  Remove the card after the child wins a prize. 

9. Jungle - Play jungle music in the background so you have have realistic sounds of birds and drums throughout the party.  Get jungle themed paper products.  Play jungle animal charades where the kids have to act out and guess different animals found in the jungle. Have jungle animal crackers for a snack or put them on top of each cupcake. For an activity, have the children make animal masks (crowns that look like the animal - I don't like covering children's faces - it's dangerous). 

10. Storybook land - If you think your child and his friends would enjoy this kind of party, have them all read the same book (give it out with the invitation).  Then when they arrive, you can have activities, snacks, and games that revolve around that book.  Again, get creative with which book you choose and how you adapt the party to that theme. 

These are just a few ideas I developed - I'm sure you can come up with some of your own with your children's help.  Everyone is different - celebrate their day!

For more ideas on birthday parties, see these books:
great parties for kids: fabulous and creative ideas for children aged 0-10 and
Hit of the Party: The Complete Planner for Children's Theme Birthday Parties

Happy parenting!

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