I love having house parties for our kids’ birthdays. It might be in my blood. When I was a kid, my mom planned epic parties for me. There was the “Miss America Party” complete with floor length pageant gowns she picked up from Goodwill; the “Dolly Talent Show Party” which featured a doll-sized stage with a red velvet curtain that opened magically with fishing line, and a Pippi Longstocking Party. Picture ten girls with braids running all over the house singing and taking turns going down the laundry chute, and you’ll have a good idea of what that one was like!
Even though house parties take a lot of work, they are always worth it in the end because they are so memorable. For a few hours our home is turned upside down and into a swirl of sugar, games, and pure chaos. It feels like old fashioned fun, and it is a fraction of the cost of a party in an event space.
Here’s how I like to plan a house party for kids:
Choose a theme:
This year, our son Otto wanted to have a superhero theme for his sixth birthday. Choosing a theme gives me a template for décor, games to play, crafts, treats, and a take home gift. Collect Inspiration:I like to start by going to Pinterest. It makes it easy to see what’s out there both in DIY form, and things I can quickly purchase online.
Create a Plan:
I think all parties are better when you have loose plan for what you’ll do, even if you end up enjoying yourself so much you don’t stick to it perfectly. For kids parties there’s a tried and true structure that works for us:
1. Craft a prop (For the superhero party this year, we had kids decorate capes and masks to become their favorite super hero. At a dance themed party in the past, we had kids decorate cardboard guitars). Crafts also work well at the start of a party because it gives kids something to do right away, and late arriving guests can be included easily.
2. Create an obstacle course
My husband is the master of setting up fun obstacle courses. You can do this outside if it’s nice, and inside if it’s rainy. You can use whatever you have on hand. My husband usually uses cones, hula hoops, balls, and random toys. If you don’t have cones, use cups. If you don’t have hula hoops use string formed into a circle. He makes sure to set up the course and try it before we have the kids do it. We try to have an adult posted at certain points, so the kids have help if they need it. Obstacle courses get their energy out, and gives them a chance to use their props they’ve made. It was so fun to watch all the superheros complete the course this weekend!
3. Fill a Pinata
Kids love candy, and they love smashing things, so this marries the two. As a bonus, it lets me use up all the leftover Halloween candy and send it home with their friends. I used paper lunch bags and put the kid’s names on them along with a super hero sticker, and let them fill up the bags with candy. This could also double as their take home gift.
4. Dance party
Right around this time, we usually need a little breather, and the kids need to work off the energy from the candy they’ve scarfed from the Pinata. We turn on Kidz Bop and let them dance until they’re dizzy.
5. Snack and Cake
I prefer to plan parties between meals. That way I don’t have to feed everyone lunch or dinner. It cuts costs and makes things more manageable. This year I kept it simple by popping up some popcorn, and splurging on a fun-fetti cake from Met Market.
6. Presents, and goodbyes
It’s fun to designate a special chair for the birthday boy or girl to sit when opening presents. Once they are opened, it gives the kids something to do until parents arrive.
7. Take home
I like to plan a little something for each kid to take home. The take home is usually something small they can wear or something they can eat. This year Otto chose Tic Tacs for all the kids, and I put a super hero wrist band around each one.
Here are some pictures:
Cape decorating station
A quick pic with my superhero on the obstacle course
Bags for the Pinata loot
A take home gift fit for a superhero
Happy Party Planning,