Activities for an Unforgettable Kids’ Party
Entertaining a roomful of excited children can be a challenge. Avoid chaos by planning age-appropriate activities and sticking to a schedule.
There’s no question that a good theme, a cute cake, and clever favors help make a birthday memorable. But games and activities are at the heart of any happy celebration. A little foresight and some creativity will ensure that your next party goes smoothly and the guests remain cheerful and entertained.
A typical party for toddlers and preschoolers lasts an hour and a half, while one for kids ages 9 and older can go to three hours. You can count on the traditional things — serving a snack, blowing out the candles, opening presents, and passing out goody bags — to take at least 35 minutes. The tricky part is figuring out how to fill the rest of the time. Keep the activities short and age-appropriate and consider asking a few adults to assist you so the day runs smoothly.
Set a Simple Schedule
At the start of the party, arrange a craft or activity kids can do solo to keep them occupied until the other guests to arrive. Once most of the children have arrived, play a game, perhaps a relay race, that lets kids interact and burn up energy. You might plan a cooldown activity — maybe a craft or a guessing game — before serving lunch and cake and opening gifts. As guests begin to leave, about 20 minutes before the party is to end, let kids have free time or pop in a movie or CD until everyone has gone home.
Play to the Crowd
Be realistic about the length and types of activities kids your child’s age can handle. Allot 15 to 20 minutes per activity; any more and younger children may lose interest. Easy art projects — decorating plain notebooks with stickers — or simple games like follow the leader are fine for a preschooler’s party. Kids ages 5 to 7 can handle something a little more involved, such as a treasure hunt, which will take more time. By ages 8 to 12, kids have been to lots of parties and may prefer to try something a bit different. Yours may decide to host a sushi-rolling lesson or try papermaking.
Choose a Theme
It’s easier to think up activities if the party has a theme. For a carnival birthday, adapt classic midway games for the backyard — test kids’ skills at the beanbag toss, or have them shoot water pistols at Ping-Pong balls set on golf tees. Manicures and kid-friendly facials are sure to be a hit at a spa-themed sleepover (Mom, big sister, or the girls themselves can do the honors). Let the theme guide your choice of invitation, cake, and favors. For a movie-themed party, consider theater ticket invitations, a star-shaped cake, and faux-jewel favors, in addition to watching a movie.
Parties on Location
A party away from home often has the activities built right in. Many establishments — from family restaurants to children’s play gyms to zoos — offer some kind of birthday package, with special tours, lessons, or programs. Get the details on what is — and is not — included in the price; many places include food and beverages, but not all. When arranging a birthday outing, make sure parents know all the details — where you will be, when you will arrive, and when you will leave. Ask for help chauffeuring the kids or, better yet, have guests meet you at the location.
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