When all the other kids at school are having their birthday parties at the roller rink or at a children's museum, it can be hard to keep up. But even a simple party at home can be a blast for the birthday child if you plan ahead. Add a few decorations and a birthday cake to your simple, festive activities and you've got a recipe for a birthday party to remember.
Festive and low-pressure party games help break the ice for young guests who are feeling shy. Play traditional games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey or Musical Chairs. Create a scavenger hunt by hiding small toys, such as plastic dinosaurs or costume jewelry, around the house and challenging each child to find 10. For older kids, make the scavenger hunt harder by having them try to find one of each color or type. To play Freeze Dance, all you need is a source of music and some space for dancing. When you pause the song, each child must freeze in place. If someone moves before the music resumes, they are out of the game.
Goody Bag Activities
Instead of just handing out goody bags at the door, provide materials for guests to make their own take-home creation. Set up a tie-dying station outside and provide white shirts in a variety of sizes. Or supply blank crowns, masks or wizard's hats for the children to decorate with jewels, paint or glitter. For jewelry-making, provide beads and ornaments that party goers can string together to create necklaces or bracelets. No matter which craft you choose to do, leave plenty of time for glue and paint to dry and always try the craft yourself a few days beforehand to troubleshoot any problem areas or safety issues.
When the weather is nice, use your backyard as the staging ground for various birthday activities. If you're short on funds, choose something free such as an obstacle course made out of lawn furniture or a limbo competition using a jump rope as the limbo stick. If you want to splurge, however, rent an inflatable bounce house or water slide and let the kids go wild. Or stuff a pinata with treats and small toys before hanging it in an open space for the kids to whack until it breaks.
Rather than just making all the food ahead of time, transform the party meal into a fun, hands-on activity in and of itself -- just make sure everyone washes their hands first. Provide the kids with individual-sized pizza dough, tomato sauce, cheese and an assortment of toppings and invite them to each create a one-of-a-kind pizza. For dessert, provide all the fixings for elaborate banana splits, ice cream sundaes or root beer floats. Use decorative plates and napkins to make the meal extra festive.