Ideas for the Party Human

Posts Tagged ‘kid’s birthdays

I’m going to interrupt this thread of Anniversary Parties to insert a description of my daughter’s 14th birthday party.  She is a fan of the book and movie series “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins.  After a few peeks at Pinterest, this is the party we came up with.

THEME:  The Hunger Games books/movies

INVITATIONS:  We found a printable image we liked, printed it on cardstock and cut it out in a circle, with the message inside.  We assigned each guest a different District and invited them to dress in the style of that District.

Our invitations

Our invitations

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  District badges (images from the internet printed and cut out); toy bow and arrow sets and targets (we used stacked paper cups); colored tissue paper, streamers, ribbons, bows, scissors and tape; small Post-It notes; enough chairs for each guest minus one; party favors of your choice.

FOOD:  We decided to have a Capitol Feast, and we brainstormed on what to serve.  We set the table with a lace tablecloth and nice china and labelled all the food.  Here’s what we had:  Capitol Pizza, Katniss’ Wild Strawberries, Peeta’s Breadsticks, Fishy Crackers (from District 4), sparkling cider (the Capitol’s Best Bubbly) and Nightlock (Poison Removed).  I made the cake (my daughter’s choice) and tried to duplicate the symbol on the invitations with my (very) limited skills in cake decorating.  


We also had ice cream with the cake.





DECORATIONS:  We put up a few yellow and black balloons and streamers, but did not feel the need for more than that.  As mentioned, the feast table was set very nicely.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:  As the guests arrived, they were given a badge to wear stating their District.  While waiting for others to arrive, they practiced their archery skills.






Then they sat down for the great Capitol Feast.








There was, of course, a toast to the Mockingjay (in this instance, the birthday girl).






After the Feast,  we brought out boxes of ribbons, packages of colored tissue paper, scissors and tape.  We paired up the girls, and they went to work creating  fashion costumes for the Grand Parade, something relating to their district.  They took turns being the Designer and the Tribute.039






When the first batch was done, we had them model their costumes, while their Designer narrated.




Then they switched, and the Tribute became Designer for their partner.







After those costumes had been modeled, we went outside to play “How Did I Die?”  This is simply “Who Am I?” with a mode of death on the post-it note on their back, instead of a person.  We used deaths from the Hunger Games books.






Then we played “District Switch.”  This is the same as Fruit Basket, but everyone is assigned their District number, instead of a fruit.  The chairs were placed in a circle, and the person in the middle was It.  She called out two district numbers, and those two girls had to switch seats before It could steal one.  Whoever was left out was the new It.  When It called “District Switch,” everyone had to scramble for a new seat.  The girls had a lot of fun with this one.








After this, the birthday girl opened her presents–many of which were Hunger Games-related.







Then there was cake and ice cream, and the girls went outside to play some more District Switch while they waited for their parents.  When they left, we gave them bookmarks and cookies from the “Mellark Family Bakery.”  I dressed as Effie Trinket and served and coordinated.066







Everyone had a great time!


THEME:  Art, Painting

INVITATIONS:  Shaped like an artist’s palette, with splashes of color.  Tell guests to bring an old shirt of their parent’s to use as a painting smock.  (This party is good for kids aged 4-7.)

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Large roll of butcher paper, strapping or duck tape, old newspapers or tarp, paint brushes for each guest, plenty of poster paints in bright colors, large plastic cups or small buckets to rinse brushes, prizes or awards, scissors.

FOOD:  Birthday cake can be any flavor, round and decorated like an artist’s palette, with splotches of colored frosting.  Use tutti frutti ice cream, rainbow sherbet, or any colorful flavor.  Drink pink lemonade or colorful punch.

DECORATIONS:  None needed.  Kid’s paintings will be decor.    


Young Artist


BLOW-BY-BLOW:            When the young guests arrive at the party, you (the parent) lead them around to the back fence (or back wall of house) where a long piece of large butcher paper is hung (with strapping tape).  They remove shoes and socks, don old shirts, and you give them brushes, water to rinse them in, and poster paints.  (Old newspapers or tarp can be put down to protect the lawn or deck.) 

            The guests can work together to create a mural (older children) or paint their own individual little masterpieces.  Allow them to paint as long as they are all interested in it.  Then march them off to the sinks for cleaning up, while the parent judges make their decisions.  (Presents can be opened at this time, if desired.)  The children sit on the grass and eat the cake and ice cream (or some more artistic refreshment), and then the awards are given.  The judges take care to give each child a prize for a different quality (Most Circular Lines, Best Use of Red, etc.).  The head judge announcing the awards wears a French beret and talks in an amusing French accent (“C’est magnifique!”).  Allow the children to take home their portion of the painting, if desired.  Be sure to take lots of pictures.  The guests then go home, having satiated their creative urges for at least an afternoon.

 Variations and Comments:  Something similar can be done with older children when you have a job to be done, like whitewashing the fence Tom-Sawyer-style.

            When we were teenagers, our church youth group was given the service project of painting several buildings in our town which were being restored.  Local merchants donated the paint.  We kids had a lot of fun, and that is one service project we will long remember.

THEME:  Pirates, Buried Treasure

INVITATIONS:  These could be shaped like a pirate ship or at least with a picture of a pirate on them.  Message should be couched in typical seaman’s language, such as something like this:  “Ahoy, all ye pirate lads!  ‘Tis time to hoist anchor and set sail in search of Blackbeard’s Treasure.  It’s  (child’s name)  birthday, and the adventure happens on  (date)  at  (time) .  Don’t be a landlubber, but come in your best pirate’s garb to  (house, address, etc.) , or you’ll be made to walk the plank!”  This party is ideal for boys aged 5-10.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Extra costume accessories for those who might need them, such as sashes, one-of-a-kind clip-on earrings or earrings made from string and small canning rings, newspaper pirate hats, head bands and black construction-paper eye patches; treasure chest filled with candy, toys and trinkets; padlock and key for chest; various clues written on pieces of parchment paper; cellophane tape; swimming pool and large rubber raft (if no pool is available, a child’s wagon could be decorated like a clipper ship and the children pulled over land to find the hidden clues and key); small shovels; paper and crayons and/or pirate story; kerchiefs or small bags to put “loot” in.  (You can make a treasure chest from a sturdy cardboard box by gluing fancy-shaped macaroni on it and spraying it with gold paint.)

FOOD:  Cake can be divided into sea (blue frosting or decorator’s gel) and beach (white or tan frosting sprinkled with brown sugar for sand).  A plastic ship sails on the sea, while palm trees, pirates and a treasure chest are placed on the beach.  Drink root beer and serve birthday child’s favorite ice cream with cake.  Miniature treasure chests could hold candy and nuts to nibble on.

DECORATIONS:  The outdoor area will not need much decoration, but the indoor area (if used) should be graced with various nautical items:  compass, fish nets, shells and starfish, plastic fish, toy boats, pictures of pirates, crossed swords, a globe or large world map.  Somewhere there should be a flag (or large poster) with the skull and crossbones on it.  You can also use bright-colored streamers and balloons.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:            The guests should arrive dressed as pirates, but you (the parent/host) have on hand extra accessories, such as those described in the MATERIALS section above, to help out those who forget.  When all have arrived, a helper dressed as a scurvy old pirate tells a tale of buried treasure and presents the children with the first clue to the whereabouts of this famed treasure.  This is a little riddle or rhyme on an odd-shaped piece of parchment, which hints at the location of the next clue.             

            The group of little pirates goes from place to place, collecting all the clues.  When they find the last one, they put them together like a puzzle to form a map.  (Tape is for holding it together.)  Reading the map, they decipher where the treasure is buried. 

            Provided with shovels, they then dig it up, discovering to their dismay that it is locked with a heavy padlock.  But wait!  There is a note attached to the chest telling how the key was thrown in the lagoon and can only be retrieved with the help of a mermaid.  (If pool and raft are not used, the key can be hidden somewhere else outdoors and can only be found with the help of a gypsy and her crystal ball.) 

            The pirates then board the raft and a swimsuited helper (such as an older sister) guides them slowly through the water to the place where the key lies.  She dives and retrieves it for them–in return for something, like a piece of the birthday cake!  Now, at last, they can open the treasure chest.  Inside they find dime store trinkets and toys, candy necklaces and chocolate gold coins.  Give everyone small bags to hold their shares of the loot.  The pirates then settle down for the opening of presents (if desired) and the eating of cake and ice cream. 

            If the children are old enough and there is plenty of supervision, they could swim in the pool until their parents come to get them.  (Be sure to ask them to bring suits and towels.)  If this is not desirable, they can go indoors to hear a pirate story and/or draw pirate pictures until time to leave.

Variations and Comments:        Another game that could be played is Capture a Pirate:  Merely Blindman’s Bluff with a pirate theme.

     I have always loved mermaids, and this is the fantasy party I never had.  The idea for the mermaid tail is not proven, so if anyone has ever made one, I’d love to hear about it.  This party description was written long ago, before Disney’s The Little Mermaid, so it could be changed to contain references to that movie in the invitations, activities and decorations. 





THEME:  Mermaids

INVITATIONS:  Regular card-type with a picture of a mermaid on the front, or shaped like an oyster shell, opening to reveal a plastic pearl glued to the inside.  Ask guests to bring swimsuit and towel and any other apparatus they might require for swimming (such as ear or nose plugs).  This party is recommended for slightly older girls, aged eight to 12.  Some swimming skills are necessary to play the games.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Mermaid tail(s)–described below; mermaid story; stop watch; whistle; treasure article(s) for diving; air mattress or inner tube for floating; prizes (if wanted) and favors such as small seashells, plastic leis, or candy necklaces; paper and crayons.  Oh, yes–and you’ll need a swimming pool, too!

FOOD:  Round layer or oblong cake of child’s favorite flavor, decorated as follows:  Most of the top of the cake will be a beach; simulate sand with brown sugar sprinkled over off-white frosting.  One small area will be frosted blue, to represent the ocean (blue decorator’s gel can be used).  On the beach place a small, nude fashion doll (5-7 inches tall is best), sitting up.  Using blue-green icing and a shell decorator tip, create a mermaid tail covering from the waist to the feet of the doll.  You can also appropriately place frosting seashells on the doll’s chest for modesty.  Other decorations on the beach might include tiny seashells (real or icing), a treasure chest or a plastic palm tree.  For ice cream, use lime sherbet or child’s favorite flavor.  Lemonade or a tropical fruit punch would serve for drinks.

DECORATIONS:  Try to create a seaside atmosphere.  Hang large fish nets strung with seashells, starfish, driftwood and the like.  Set a large potted palm on the deck, if available.  Hang a large sign near the pool reading “Mermaid Lagoon.”  Perhaps you could make use of a sandbox for a mini-beach.  You could also display island artifacts, like native masks or costumes.  Large posters of ocean beaches and skin divers over coral reefs would be excellent.  If you or a friend has a nice fish tank, that would make a good display also.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:            The guests arrive and sit in the shade on the deck.  You (the parent), dressed in tropical island style, read a short, exciting mermaid story and then explain that today each girl will get a chance to be a mermaid.  (If there are boys present, they can be mermen.)  The guests go change into their swimsuits and return for the first activity.

            First, you must teach the children how to swim like mermaids, so tell them all to jump in the shallow end of the Mermaid Lagoon (a.k.a. swimming pool).  (If you don’t have your own pool, you can reserve the pool at a local club or public park.  A shallow lake with a good beach would work, also.)  Having now donned a swimsuit, you or the child hosting the party demonstrate the method of swimming with legs together, kicking as if with one leg.  This is most effective underwater, but can be done with almost any stroke.  The guests now try it, and you act as a watchful lifeguard.  The child who appears to have the most mermaid ability has earned the right to wear the mermaid tail for the next activity.  (If you have made tails for all the guests, they can now put them on.)

            (The mermaid tails can be made simply in the following manner:  Have your child lie down on a large piece of butcher paper and draw a pattern of a simple mermaid tail on the paper around her, leaving about a 6″ border around her body.  Gauge your child’s size relative to her friends and leave generous room for the tail to fit everyone.  [If you love sewing and want to make tails for all the guests, then it might be wise to get waist and waist-to-foot measurements from their mothers.]  Cut out the pattern and pin it to the folded, right-sides-together fabric [any blue-green material suitable for swimsuits].  Cut out and sew around edges, leaving waist open.  According to your desire, you can put in an elastic or drawstring waist, or simply hem it and have large diaper pins available to pin the tail to the child’s swimsuit.  Or, if you’re inviting boys, you may want to make suspender-like straps to keep the tail on.)

            Now comes a series of contests to determine who may wear the tail.  (Or, give prizes for the winners, if you’ve made tails for everyone.)  There is more than one parent supervising, to ensure safety during the games.

            First will be an Underwater Living contest.  Using the stopwatch,  time each guest to see who can stay underwater the longest.  (This contest should be done in water that is not over the children’s heads.)  The winner gets to wear the tail (or receives a prize).

            The next activity is the Mermaid Race.  The children gather at one side of the Mermaid Lagoon and get set.  On the signal, they swim to the other side using the mermaid swimming technique.  The first guest to reach the other side receives the mermaid tail (or a prize).

            The winner of the Mermaid Race is now given the honor of being the Queen (or King) of the Floating Island.  Set her adrift in the Mermaid Lagoon on the air mattress or inner tube.  The other children jump in the pool and try to relieve her of her throne.  This is a water version of King of the Mountain, and the first player to knock the Queen into the water and climb onto the Floating Island is the new Queen and may wear the mermaid tail.  Play this game as long as the guests enjoy it.

            When the children tire of the Floating Island game, they get out of the pool for Diving for Treasures.  Toss a string of plastic pearls or some other such trinket into the deeper area of the pool (deep enough to dive in safely).  Tell the children they must use the mermaid swimming technique or be disqualified, and  then signal them to dive for the treasure.  (If your group is large, you might throw in three different treasures and give first, second and third place prizes in order of retrieval.  Another way might be to give each guest a turn at diving for the treasure and use the stop watch to see who returns it the fastest.)  Again, the winner gets to wear the mermaid tail (or receives a prize).

            After these games, allow the guests free swimming time, if they have any energy left.  After a specified amount of time, close the Mermaid Lagoon, and ask the children to dry off and change clothes.  They gather on the deck or in the house for the birthday cake and presents.  If there is extra time while waiting for parents to pick up their children, the guests may use paper and crayons to draw mermaid scenes.

 Variations and Comments:  If you have just one mermaid tail, make sure that every child gets a chance to wear it at least once.  Try to make it with good, stretchy swimsuit material that dries fast, so they won’t cringe putting on a sopping wet tail.  If you have made tails for all the guests, those can be their party favors to take home. 

            If the pool used is indoors, a different decorating scheme might create the atmosphere of an underwater lair.  Use mood lighting with blue and green spotlights.  Drape seaweed (real, plastic, tissue or crepe paper) around the walls and over doorways.  Use the fish nets, shells and starfish as well, and maybe add a cardboard silhouette of a sunken ship off in a corner.  Use your imagination; what would the underwater domain of the mermaids look like?

THEME:  Dog-sleds, Eskimos, Snow

INVITATIONS:  Draw, print or glue a picture of an Eskimo and his dog-sled on the outside of a regular card-type invitation.  Write message inside and ask guests to dress warmly and bring their sleds, saucers, etc.  This party is good for children aged 4-9.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Lots of clear space with plenty of snow, whistle, prizes.

FOOD:  Serve hot cocoa with white-frosted birthday cake.  Decorate cake with an Eskimo scene, if possible.

DECORATIONS:  None needed outside, just set up the snow areas for the various games.  Inside, decorate with toy sleds and posters showing Arctic landscapes, Eskimos, dog-sled races, etc.  You could make it look like an igloo, with sheets of white paper covering the walls and blankets and a fake campfire set up inside.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:             As guests arrive, you (the parent) make sure they all have plenty of warm winter clothing, especially gloves or mittens.  (Have extras on hand.)  When all have arrived, the children choose partners.  Each pair will need a sled, toboggan or saucer, and they will take turns pulling each other, switching at each stop.  The sleds then line up like a train, and you act as leader, blowing a whistle to start them moving.

            You will have arranged the route ahead of time, and it forms a circle (more or less) that will end up back at the house for refreshments.  The first stop will have a large circular path prepared in a clear area of snow.  There are paths crisscrossing it so it looks like a huge wheel with spokes.  (Preparing these stops for the games is an excellent activity for the excited birthday child to do with his parents earlier in the day.)  When the “Eskimos” arrive at the first stop, the leader blows the whistle to signal them to stop. 

            Here the children will play Eskimo Bear Hunt.  Divide the guests into two groups, Bears and Eskimos.  The Bears get a head start, then the Eskimos try to catch them, but everyone must stay strictly in the paths.  Allow no short cuts.  When a Bear is tagged, he is caught.  He then helps his captor catch the other Bears.  When the children begin to tire of this game, you blow your whistle, and lead the group to the next stop.

            At the second place, the guests will play Snowball Tag.  (Omit this game if there is a community ordinance against throwing snowballs in your area.)  Play this in a place where there are several trees or things to hide behind, for the tagging will be done with snowballs.  (A small neighborhood playground might work well.)  Only the player named “It” may try to tag the others with snowballs.  When a player is hit with a snowball, then he becomes “It” and repeats the process.  When everyone has had a chance to be “It,” conduct the “Eskimos” to the next stop.

            The third game is a Sliding Contest.  It will need to be prepared in advance with a long slide of hard-packed snow.  If done the night before, the slide could be sprayed with a fine mist of water.  For this game, the guests must take the dog-sleds apart and take turns sliding down the slide with their sleds.  Mark a starting line a few feet from the beginning of the slide.  Each player may start however he wishes, whether running and jumping on his sled, or having someone push him, but he must be sliding alone when he crosses the starting line.  The object is to see who can slide the farthest or the fastest.  You may give prizes for this contest.

            After the Sliding Contest, lead the Eskimos to an open area where they will have a Dog-sled Race.  Each pair will choose who will pull the sled and who will sit on it.  The sled teams line up at the starting line and, on a signal, race to the finish line, yelling “mush!” as they go.  The first team across the finish line may win a prize.

            When the race is over, the group returns to the “igloo” and parks their sleds there.  The children go inside for some much-needed warmth and sustenance.  After the refreshments, the guests can play games like “Musical Chairs,” or “Simon Says” while waiting for their parents to pick them up. 

Variations and Comments:        A fifth outdoor game can be added, if snowballs are legal in your area and the supervision is adequate to prevent injury.  This would ideally be the last stop and would need to be prepared in advance.  It should be relatively close to home, so the group won’t have far to travel in their wet and snowy condition after it’s over. 

            You will need two barriers, such as ditches or fences.  If these are not available, you can build two walls of snow about two feet tall and a few feet apart.  When the group stops, have the children choose sides for a Snowball Fight.  Each team takes a stand behind one of the barriers and begins the assault on the other team.  Whenever anyone is hit, a point is scored for the other side.  Set a score limit of 10 or 25 points, depending on how long you want the game to last.  When one side gains the score limit, they win the game.  Back at the house, the winning team should receive a prize they all can share, like a box of candy.

            Part of the Flexibility Principle for this party would be to take the children back to the house as soon as they complain of the cold, whether they have finished all the games or not.

THEME:  Circus, Clowns

INVITATIONS:  Shaped like a clown, perhaps holding an unfilled balloon that the child can keep.  Or, send a balloon invitation:  Blow up a jumbo balloon.  Pinch end closed with one hand; with the other, write your invitation around the sides of the balloon with a waterproof oil-based felt-tipped pen.  After the ink dries, let the air out.  Insert balloon in envelope and mail.  The guest blows up the balloon to read the message and keeps it as an early party favor.  Ask the children to come dressed as their favorite circus performers (including animals) and to be prepared to imitate that performer for 1-2 minutes.  This party is good for children aged 7-10.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Circus “set” described in DECORATIONS section, perhaps a “fishing” booth and/or a silly fortune-telling tent, circus music, rented clown or magician (or capable parent disguised as such), favors (such as bags of peanuts or popcorn, small boxes of animal crackers, or circus-type souvenirs).

FOOD:  Birthday cake can be made in a special clown-shaped pan, or a sheet cake could be decorated with a frosting or plastic clown, holding balloons.  Another idea could be to make a round layer-cake into a Balloon Cake:  Decorate frosted cake with gumdrop balloons.  You will need 15-20 flat, round, fruit-flavored gumdrops.  Cut end of gumdrop off to give balloon a bright fresh color.  Arrange on cake, add short strands of black or red shoestring licorice for strings on each candy balloon.  To make the cake an exciting centerpiece, anchor strings of one or more colorful helium-filled balloons around it.  Or use a Bundt-shaped cake and anchor strings to center of cake.* 

            Perhaps the easiest thing, for those mothers who are not cake decorators, would be to buy small plastic figures of clowns and animals and place them on top of the cake.  Colorful ring-shaped candies make good birthday candle holders.  Neapolitan ice cream or the orange sherbet/vanilla ice cream combination might be good choices, if the birthday child agrees.  Drink pink lemonade (or child’s favorite punch).  If you’re going to serve an entire lunch–which might be a nice idea–what better than good ol’ hot dogs for a circus party?  Potato chips, carrot and celery sticks (with or without peanut butter) could round out the meal.

DECORATIONS:  This party is best given in the summer in a large, grassy backyard.  You can go as big as you want to with this; I’ll describe the biggest.  Hang bright-colored posters, flags, balloons and streamers on back of house, on fences and trees.  Have a sign at the entrance:  “Welcome to the Circus!”

            Involve other parents and big brothers and sisters and have them dress as various animals (complete disguise is not necessary), the bearded lady, the sword-swallower, etc.  They can sit at booths or in makeshift cages and do their impersonations as the children arrive.  Or, if you prefer, put family pets in cages and advertise them as ferocious, wild animals.  (You can  let them out when the party gets going.) 

            Booths and cages can be concocted from large appliance boxes or card tables.  A little paint, construction paper and streamers can transform them into circus originals.  You will also need an area for the audience to sit on chairs or benches and an area for the children to perform.  You could make three large rings out of strips of cardboard placed in the grass, but one would probably be sufficient.  Have on hand props for the circus “set” that the performers can use, like a beam of wood for a “tightrope,” a swing-set or tree swing for trapeze artists.  You can make barbells for a Strongman act using a cardboard tube with balloons on each end.  Write “1,000 pounds” on each balloon.*

BLOW-BY-BLOW:                         As the children arrive, they look at the “impersonators” in the booths and cages until everyone has come.  If you use pets in the cages, then the other helpers can dress as clowns and greet each child with a balloon.  The guests might be allowed to feed the animals something.  When everyone has arrived and seen the displays, they take their seats.  (The helpers can sit in the audience, too.) 

            You (or another parent) dress as the ringmaster and invite each child, one at a time, to come up and do his circus act, which you announce loudly and with great fanfare.  Play typical circus music in the background.  The helpers in the audience give support to the performer with cheers, whistles, applause and gasps at the death-defying feats.  When every child who wants to perform has done so, the birthday child opens the presents (if any) and serves the cake, ice cream and drinks.  As the children finish eating, the professional (or volunteer) clown or magician comes out to perform.  At the conclusion of his performance, give the guests their favors to take home.  If necessary, play a game like “Pin the Nose on the Clown” until parents arrive to take them home.

 Variations and Comments:        If you have a large rec room or other such area in your house, this party could conceivably be done indoors.  In this case, it would be possible to rent a video of a circus or magic show, which would probably be less expensive than hiring the performer.  Instead of the large cages with live “animals,” you could set out miniature ones on a table, made from animal cracker boxes.  The animals inside could be made with marshmallows, toothpicks and licorice.  There could be one for each child to take home as a favor.

            Another game the children could play instead of “Pin the Nose on the Clown” or one of the other activities is “Ringmaster.”  One child is chosen for Ringmaster.  The other players form a circle around the Ringmaster without holding hands.  The Ringmaster turns and moves around in the circle, calling the name of some animal.  The players in the circle immediately imitate the animal, both as to its movements and sounds.  For instance, for a monkey, they might walk swinging their arms and making noises like “ooh, ooh.”  The Ringmaster, at his discretion, may announce, “Join the circus parade!”  At this call, each player chooses some animal he would like to represent and gallops around the circle in characteristic movements.

                                                                          * * *


[1]From Today’s Tips for Easy Living, by Dian Thomas (Holladay, UT:  The Dian Thomas Company, 1982).

[2]From Today’s Tips for Easy Living, by Dian Thomas (Holladay, UT:  The Dian Thomas Company, 1982).

     This is a fun party for preschoolers who are dying to go to school.  For them, school is fun.  After a child is in school, this might not be the theme to choose!

THEME:  School, Kindergarten

INVITATIONS:  On a simple folded invitation, you could paste a picture of an old-fashioned schoolhouse on the outside and have the inside be like a simple registration form–asking name, age and favorite color, for instance–as well as the necessary information for the party.  Ask the guest to bring his “registration form” with him.  Children could also be asked to bring anything they would like to “Show and Tell.”  This party is best for kids aged 3-5.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Small pieces of colored paper and pins for name tags, materials for each child to make a seasonal craft (see below), miscellaneous household items for counting, small papers containing letters of the alphabet, tape, small chairs and desk or small table, box of various musical instruments, story book, crown for birthday child, lively music, paper and crayons.

FOOD:  The birthday cake could be a “little red schoolhouse,” shaped as described below and decorated appropriately.  Neapolitan ice cream and milk or apple juice could complete the refreshments, but other snacks might include graham crackers and apple slices.



 Schoolhouse Cake:   Bake a 9×13 cake and cut it in half crosswise.  One square will form the “house.”  Cut the other square in half diagonally.  Put one triangle on the “house” to form the “roof.”  Cut a “bell-tower” or “chimney” from the remaining triangle.  “Glue” these pieces together with frosting.  Frost it all in red.   Decorate the roof with candy wafers, if desired.  Form windows and doors with strips of shoestring licorice.  Use strips of green spearmint leaf candies for leaves and stems and candy circles for flowers, pressing them into the frosting at the base of the house.  Press a miniature bell into the peak of the roof.  Place candles wherever desired.

DECORATIONS:  Try to make the party room look like a kindergarten school room.  Place posters of the alphabet, etc. on the walls and set up a blackboard or whiteboard, if possible.  Arrange the small chairs around a small table or in a circle.  Place the “teacher’s desk” at the front of the room and put up a small national flag.  If you let the children play outdoors for a short “recess,” have balls and any playground equipment possible set up outside.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:             As the children arrive, they turn in their “registration forms” to  a helper who greets them.  From the favorite color they listed on the form, the helper chooses the same color of name tag and writes the child’s name on it, pinning or taping it on them.  The helper then asks the children to take their places in the small chairs and wait for the teacher to come.  When all the guests are seated, you (the parent who is the “teacher”) come and greet them warmly, explain that they are pretending to be real kindergartners today, and help them count all the children in the circle.  Then you choose a leader to march with the flag, and the children “follow the leader,” marching around the room to a patriotic song.  You then help them pledge allegiance to the flag and replace it.

            Next, it is time for “Show and Tell.”  Children who brought items to show take turns describing their items (keeping them hidden) until someone can guess what they are.  Guests who did not bring an item but have some interesting news to tell about may also share that with the other students.

            After this, the children get busy on a little project, chosen to match the particular time of year.  For instance, if this party is given in September, near the start of school, the guests could put together a little schoolhouse by pasting previously cutout doors, windows and bell on a red cutout schoolhouse.  (Glue sticks are relatively tidy and would be better to use than glue or paste.)  Or, give each child a paper apple with a hole in it and a paper worm to put through the hole and paste in place.  When the crafts are finished, tell the students they may keep them to take home.


            Now it is time for some learning activities.  Set up the items for counting on your desk, then help the children learn to count them.  Depending on the guests’ interest and ability, you may demonstrate a little addition and subtraction by taking items away and replacing them again.

            After the counting activity, tape the alphabet papers on the edge of your desk and teach the children the alphabet song.  Then point to one of the items on your desk, pronounce the beginning sound, and ask if anyone can guess which letter the name of the item starts with.  The guest who guesses correctly takes down the paper with the correct letter on it.


            When all the items have been guessed, the children may go outside for a short “recess,” or else they may play some active games inside, such as “Bull in the Ring,” “Cat and Rat,” “Farmer in the Dell,” “London Bridges” or “Ring Around the Roses.”  

            After the children have gotten the wiggles out, they return to their seats, and you bring out the box of musical instruments.  The guests play with these for a short period of time and then settle down to hear a story.

            When the story is finished, introduce the birthday child by placing a crown on his/her head.  The children then sing “Happy Birthday to You,” followed by “How old are you?” to the same tune.  Then they chant quickly, “Are you one?  Are you two?  Are you three?” etc. until the birthday child says “Stop!” at the appropriate number.  He or she then helps serve the refreshments.

            After eating, the children keep busy by dancing to music or drawing pictures with crayons, until their parents come to pick them up.

 Variations and Comments:        Even if your child’s birthday does not come in September, this would be a fun party to give for your preschooler who feels left out when older siblings go off to school.  Snack time can be substituted for the birthday celebration part of the party.

            Much of the success of this party depends on whoever plays the “teacher.”  This person should be enthusiastic, friendly and comfortable dealing with young children.  If you, as the parent, feel you would be too harried on the day of the party to function well as a teacher, then ask someone else to help.

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