Question of the week… I am often asked how to have a good party… We have heaps of parties, not just birthday parties – crafty parties, new year parties, summer parties – heaps of parties! I love plotting and planning parties, I can think of nothing better than setting kids up for a couple of hours worth of fun and surprises. And after all this experience I figured out: we have a pattern – same method, same action, same everything !!! EVERYTIME – and they still love it!
Post script (first!): I realized that as I wrote this I could write a whole mountain on each step – so this is to introduce you … in the next week or two I will blog about each step… At this stage all you need to know is that kids love home based parties, simply because they are a novelty and they aren’t being shipped off to other entertainment. Don’t be afraid!!! Kids are very forgiving and whatever the media says they still have wonderful imaginations – if you say a chair is a rocket, well forever more, that chair will be a rocket!
So here it is:
Step 1: Invitation: Like anything you do with kids: you have to plan…
choose a theme… take one of your kids passions and turn it into a party… a favorite book, toy, character, song, activity whatever… Find an image relating to the party on the web and overlap a photo of your kid… for example for a butterfly party, pop a smiley pic of your kid on an origami butterfly; for a truck party pop a smiley face of your kid into the driver’s spot on a truck image – it is that easy, and add the obvious come over to my house etc. and there you go…
Step 2: Arrive: Kids usually arrive at parties in dribs and drabs and I let guests give my child their gift right then – it settles the curiosity and the guests get to spend some “one on one” time with the birthday child and experience the joy of seeing their gift well-received… (My kids love to see the person they have bought a gift for actually receive the gift.) I have found that by quickly doing the “gift thing” on the way to the real party, the gifts do not become the center of the party… As kids arrive there is usually some sort of easy dressing up craft… getting whiskers applied or making spy glasses out pipe cleaners – just to get everyone into the spirit of the theme.
Step 3: Games: My first point is lots of kids have no idea about competition… they need constructive games… don’t avoid games – they need to run and scream and shout!!! So we disguise games as training: training to be a spy, training to be a good roman, training to be the best penguin and so on, often times they’ll get a stamp for achieving their standard of training – easy and each kid works to their own strength. Relays also work well and if you have a wide age range then partner the biggest kids with the smallest kids. This helps the small people to get turns but more important it gives the big kids a job to do and keeps them involved – something they usually find hard to do while waiting for small people to get done – now they have a vested interest, so to speak! My best online source for all games: indoor/outdoor/water/ball games whatever is of course Family Fun.
Step 4: Craft: Kids love creating, so instead of a party pack full of junk, let them make something lovely to take home… Use your friend google… and whatever your theme is google: “theme party”; “theme activities”; “theme printables” and you will be forever burdened with more ideas than you can possibly cope with. Trust me kids love creating and they don’t get enough chance to do it… they would much rather craft and create than watch a movie – even the most resistant kid will get sucked in… my best on-line source for craft ideas is: Family Fun. That being said all kids love glue, little kids love sticking and gluing projects and bigger guys love cutting and sticking – yes STICKING is IT!!! If you can’t bear glue then get stickers – even blank stickers they can decorate with markers - as long as there is STICKING the party will be a hit!
Step 5: Pinata: These are so easy to make that it’s laughable! I make three types depending on how late I leave it… the first is the traditional balloon, newspaper and wall paper paste, the last layer you do with gift wrap and decorate, these take about a week; or you can do mini pinata’s with tissue paper they are very quick and take a day or two to dry… and finally the hurried masterpiece (!!!) a pinata in a bag: take a gift bag and stuff it, tape it shut and you are done (you can decorate it with streamers or whatever but there really is no need). Really that easy and kids love them. So what do you stuff it with? The list is endless: stickers; streamers; anything that fits the theme and the top most exciting thing is stationary (even boring office stationary, like paper clips) is wildly appealing!!!
Step 6: Party Food and Especially Party Cakes: I have always used this even for student parties, open houses whatever: one food and one beverage is enough to get any party going… Really, trust me on this especially with kids, they have either just had breakfast for a morning party or lunch for an afternoon party and all they really need is a snack later… Keep in mind that the food you are preparing is actually just for the mingling adults. That being said the cake is the most memorable part of any party. I have no idea why, but it is!!! Now I have found that kids don’t really like cake (its really just the event of the cake that counts) so it needs to be small – and here is My Supreme Party Trick: whatever cake you decide to make: make it with ice-cream – yup ICE-CREAM CAKE – super easy, jam it into cones, they eat the whole lot (no leftover smudges of cake with the icing gobed off)… here’s how: Use your regular ice-cream, let it soften a bit and pop it into the shape dishes you will need, glass and plastic work well. Leave in the freezer for a couple of hours to harden… once it is hard float your dishes in a sink of warm water for a few seconds and then turn your shapes out onto a board… refreeze… finally whip up a tub of regular cream – add some food coloring and decorate your cake with “cream icing” – refreeze… finally present your cake and I always put a bit of jelly round the base for kids that are allergic or cannot have ice-cream… more about this in the up-coming cake post. And should I say it again: the best place to get cake ideas would be Family Fun.
Step 7: Treasure Hunt and Go Home: Finally a party is not a party without a treasure hunt – hide stuff even if it’s potatoes – if you must have party packs now is the time…it is better to hide bits of a puzzle they have to complete together or something they have to bring to you in order to get their party pack… Because there is always one child that finds two hundred things and there is always one child that can find nothing – even if it is under their noses! Talking of party packs – I loathe them, and they are not essential… one plastic animal or something they will need to complete their crafty thing – a small thing to match the theme… they don’t need junk and it is not fair to give them stuff you wouldn’t want them to keep! Trust me if all you want to do is chuck it as soon as they turn their back then don’t even give it to them to start. Right gather their craft and send them home!!!
That’s it – I will write something more for each topic and I will add lots of photo’s for ideas and clearly I will have to post some party themes as well – if you need help in a hurry and you haven’t picked up on a hint yet here is my very best on-line source Family Fun!!! (and no they are not paying me for this – it is simply true!)