Now that I have written a series on Practical Parties, I thought it only fitting that I spend the next couple of Wednesdays suggesting ideas for parties that aren’t actual birthday parties. There are so many opportunities to turn a gathering into a party and frankly too few things are celebrated in the hum drum of getting from one extra mural to another. So I am going to go for a wander through a few of our party traditions.
And the first party that comes to mind is a Crafty Party. Now you might think this is a bit insane, why in the world would you invite a number of children round to your home to spend a morning or afternoon crafting. Well here’s why:
- Firstly the kids will love you forever. Kids can never get enough of creating and to be allowed to do it without the pressure keep tidy and don’t make a mess.
- Secondly their parents will love you forever. The mess isn’t in their house and they get some free babysitting!
That being said, at most parties we have there is a wide age-range of kids, thats fine for crafting because all kids love creating… maybe just get the older, more capable kids to team up with a younger one so that firstly, they don’t finish their projects in two seconds and want to rush on and secondly so that the little guys don’t get left behind.
We recently had a spring party theme, and flower invitations and flower crafts… don’t think boys won’t want to join in flower crafting – call it spring and they are there like bears! And this will work for any season… winter, summer, fall… Any holiday: Christams, Easter, 4 July.
As soon as they arrive settle them into a craft like pipe-cleaner people, something that doesn’t need lots of help or supervision because you will most likely be helping new arrivals… When everyone has arrived give them a list of what you intend to do… Otherwise there will always be one child who gets stuck on the first craft and weeps all the way home because they didn’t get to do everything.
Interweave crafts and snacks because snacks offer closure to crafts and then move location… inside then outside, and round about, so that no-one gets stuck on one thing and doesn’t get to enjoy the whole experience.
Which brings to mind: stick to your list of things and keep a watch on the time, the last thing you need is a heap of things on their lists undone – trust me on this – and you can’t run over time… so really stick to your plan. If you plan on a craft taking about 20 minutes then you can fit about 5 crafts (including food crafts) into a two hour party, because you need to have transition time between crafts. So stick to less is more rather than trying to get them to go home with fifty million things!
If you do a craft, like making kites or whatever then give them a chance to play a kiting game! For a crafty party I usually think of an outdoor craft as their “game”: so painting t-shirts, tie-dying or making candles, I choose to do outdoors and quite freely.
There are really a whole heap of crafts ideas in the post on party crafts, pick and choose ones that suit your range of kids. Make sure your crafts move around and they don’t spend the whole time in one spot… try inside, then outside, small little hand craft, big movement craft and pop some food and snack crafts in between. If you do choose a craft like fabric painting then remember to do that one first so that there is time for the paint to dry a little before they wander home…
Just because its not a birthday doesn’t mean you can’t have a pinata… we always have one – just a plain balloon shape covered in pictures of your seasonal theme – we had flowers! – and stuff it with little crafty things: tiny pens, little highlighters, glue sticks, stickers – stick with the theme!
Well the easy thing about a craft party is kids get to create their own food… create their own pizza slice, fill their own pita bread or make their own wrap. Decorate cup-cakes. Thread necklaces or garlands with candy or pretzels. Make their own sundaes. And give them a cake to decorate – loads of fun and really no messier than if you do it yourself!
Technically you don’t have to have a treasure hunt for a craft party but all kids love them. Hunt for something they will need to craft – a gluestick for a scrapbook party, fabric marker for a t-shirt party… don’t go mad, maybe just a paint brush to take home – whatever, but don’t go mad – you will just annoy all the parents you have just impressed.
When you plan your party you need to be sure that you have a plan for how they will transport their projects home. Will they need a bag, egg boxes are good – whatever they need you have to have it in mind and maybe get them to decorate and personalize them during the party. You need to plan for this to avoid a scramble of tired kids and hectic artwork and parents wanting to dash off.
That’s it – Happy Crafting!