Garden Tea Party
This party theme is lovely for girls in spring or summer, or an indoor version during cold-weather months. Instruct guests to come dressed up and enjoy a ladies’ tea.
Set the scene by setting up a table outside (a deck works well) and draping with a pink, plastic table cover. Use wide, tulle ribbon in a coordinating color to tie the corners of the tablecloth to the legs of the table in big bows. This will prevent the table cover from blowing away, and it looks pretty. Then, imitate those fancy chair covers you see at weddings by draping folding chairs with pieces of the same color tablecloth. Simply spread your plastic tablecloth out on the floor, and cut lengthwise into two or three lengths, depending upon the size of the tablecloth. You will want the piece to be wide enough to cover the width of the backrest of your folding chair. Take the cut piece of tablecloth, and drape over the back of the chair, the edges should meet evenly at the bottom, near the legs of the chair. Then use a long piece of the tulle to tie it on, bring the tulle around to the back, just under the backrest, and tie in a big bow.
Check out these free printable invites by Cherylstyle in the shape of a teabag!
Tablescape and food:
Deck out your table with dollar store plastic bowls that look like cut crystal, and fill with Skittles or M&Ms. Add a serving spoon for daintily dishing out servings. Create a tiered serving platter from candlesticks and thrift store china and fill with tiny cupcakes or finger sandwiches. Check out tutorials by Somewhat Simple and Quillquips.
Add your best china and a vase of pink or red roses to complete the table scape. Or for younger kids, use cute paper ware. Serve real herbal tea or pour juice out of a teapot!
Create a paper doily garland to string along the deck rail or fence.
• colored yarn
• paper doilies
• tissue paper flowers or silk flowers
Determine how long you want the garland to be and cut a length of yarn accordingly. Place paper doilies at intervals. Fold paper doily in half over the yarn, so that the rounded edges meet at the bottom to form a half-circle and the yarn lies along the fold. Glue in place. If desired, add tissue paper or silk flowers in between the doilies. Sew Sweet Stitches has a great tutorial on making tissue paper flowers.
Create a fancy placemat
• clear shelf paper
• paper doilies
• colored sequins
• painters tape
Before the party: Cut two matching squares of clear shelf paper. The piece should be large enough for the paper doily to be centered in the middle with room around the edges. Place one, sticky-side up, on your table or workspace. Peel up the paper backing on one corner (only the corner, don’t peel off the whole sheet or everything will stick to it) and secure to the table with painter’s tape. Repeat with other corners.
At the party: When you are ready to begin, peel off the rest of the paper backing. Have the guest place a paper doily in the middle of the shelf paper then sprinkle with sequins. Try not to get sequins on the edges of the shelf paper. When finished, adhere the second piece of shelf paper on top of the first, removing the painters tape first. Trim edges if necessary, and tape edges with clear tape if needed.
Pass the parcel
Before the party: Place a small gift inside of a box, then wrap the box in wrapping paper. Next, wrap again in a contrasting color or pattern of gift wrap, after placing a small item under the paper, such as a packet of gummies or a strip of stickers. Continue wrapping the gift with prizes in each layer, enough for one layer per guest, plus one extra.
At the party: Instruct guests to sit in a circle. Play some music, and guests pass the gift from one to the other until the music stops. When the music stops, the one holding the gift opens one layer.
Spin the nail polish bottle
With partygoers sitting in a circle, spin a tightly closed bottle of nail polish on its side. When it stops spinning, the person the handle points to has to paint one nail with that color. Repeat with different colors until everyone has crazy nails!
Send each girl home with a rose from the table bouquet and their fancy placemat.
An insect-themed birthday party is a fun theme for boys or girls. This idea works well for a wide range of age groups, and can be easily adapted for in or out of doors. For a girl’s birthday, the bugs can be pretty: butterflies, dragonflies, and ladybugs. For boys, the creepier the crawlies, the better!
Check out these amazing, DIY ladybug invites from Simplicity Street. These could easily be adapted for a boy’s party by changing the colors to make a beetle instead of a ladybug.
Before the party: Print out clip art of various bugs and hang around the room along with streamers to match the party colors.
A variety of insect and bug-themed paper-ware can be found at party stores or online. Instead of the standard party hats, make bug antennae for the kids to wear. These antennae headbands are easy to make! Just cut construction paper lengthwise into one-inch-wide strips. Tape the strips together, end-to-end, until you have the length needed to go around the kids’ heads. For the antennae, cut colorful pipe cleaners in half and curl the ends, then tape onto the inside edge of the center of each headband.
At the party: As kids arrive, put the antennae headbands around their heads, closing the paper strips in the back with tape.
Decorate bug sacks
Before the party: Gather brown paper lunch sacks and a variety of bug-themed stickers, markers and crayons. Label the sacks with the names of attendees.
At the party: Kids can decorate the bug sacks, and then use them to collect bugs in the Junior Entomologist game below. If you would prefer to purchase ready-made kits, Bug Jar craft kits can be purchased at Oriental Trading.
• variety of plastic insects
• bug catchers
• plastic magnifying glasses
• bug ID cards (optional)
Before the party: Scatter plastic insects around the room. Hide the bugs for older kids or leave them out in plain sight for the younger set. You could even make “bug ID cards” by printing clip art of the various bugs to be found in the game onto cardstock, then adding check boxes next to each picture. Offer a prize for the guest who finds and identifies each type of insect.
At the party: Explain that an entomologist is a scientist who studies insects. Hand each child a plastic magnifying glass and bug ID card. Challenge kids to be junior entomologists and collect bugs in their bug sacks and identify the various insects. Both plastic magnifying glasses and plastic bug assortments can be ordered at Oriental Trading.
Before the party: Remove labels from ten empty, plastic water bottles. Fill one-quarter full with rice or dried beans to weight the bottles, and then replace the lids. Cut various insect shapes out of construction paper or cardstock, decorate, and adhere to the fronts of the bottles. This is where the birthday kid can help by decorating the bug shapes. If you don’t want to create your own bugs, you can print out color pictures of insects to decorate the bottles.
At the party: Set up the decorated water bottles like bowling pins and use a soccer ball as a bowling ball.
Put the spot on the ladybug:
Before the party: Make a large ladybug by turning a piece of red poster board horizontally, then round the top two corners with scissors. This will be the ladybug’s body. Add a half-circle head to the left side of the body, and strips of black construction paper for legs to the bottom edge to create the profile of a ladybug. Add two smaller strips of black paper to the head for antennae and don’t forget the eye!
At the party: Pin the paper ladybug to the wall. Hand each guest a chocolate sandwich cookie such as an Oreo. Ask the kids what is missing from the lady bug. When they answer that the spots are missing, instruct partygoers to separate the cookie, and stick it on the lady bug. If food allergies are a concern, cut out black construction paper circles and stick it on with double-sided tape.
Before the party: Gather several rolls of toilet paper.
At the party: Put the birthday child (or even better, an adult) in a chair in the center of the room. Line the kids up and let them take turns wrapping the volunteer up in toilet paper. After everyone has a turn, the “caterpillar” rips off the toilet-paper covering to emerge as a butterfly.
Now that you’ve invested your time preparing the crafts and games, keep the food easy! Create a caterpillar by frosting cupcakes in green. Arrange the cupcakes on the table in a curvy line. Make the caterpillar’s head by adding antennae made of red licorice and eyes made of Skittles or M&M’s to the first cupcake in the line. Serve with green-tinted lemonade and call it “bug juice.”
As each guest leaves, be sure that they take home their bug sack with the insects they collected as a goody bag. Add a package of gummy worms or bug-shaped fruit snacks to sweeten the gift.
Instruct guests to come dressed as princesses and knights to enjoy a journey back in time to the medieval age.
Create bright bunting and drape around the room. Add a shield decorated to represent the birthday kid.
The Everyday Blog has a great tutorial for making bunting.
Purchase a plastic tablecloth in black or purple and paper ware in gold or silver for a royal touch.
If you really want to get into the castle look, check out this stone wall backdrop from PartyCheap.com
Decorate tiaras or shields.
Rescue the Royal jewels from the desert.
Before the party: Use an existing sandbox or fill a plastic bin with play sand. Bury plastic, self-adhesive jewels in the sand.
At the party: Let kids, dig up jewels, and then use the embellishments to decorate the tiaras or shields. Self-adhesive jewels can be found at Oriental Trading.
Before the Party: Tape prizes with clear tape all over the 1-inch length of PVC pipe, at various heights, at least one per guest plus a few extra.
At the party: Have an adult or helper sit in a chair in the middle of the party area. Line kids up on opposite sides of the room facing the pipe. Give the first in line on each side a stick horse and a dollar store helmet, chest protector and shield. (Tip: Do not give shield to younger kids; it is hard for them to hold both the shield and the stick horse in one hand.) The kids must ride toward the pipe, (one passing the pipe on the left and the other on the right so that they don’t collide) and grab a prize off of the pipe as they ride by without stopping.
It wouldn’t be a medieval party without a castle cake! A castle cake can be easily made from a mold or by using a 9x13 cake pan to bake a rectangular sheet cake, then using frosted sugar cones to add turrets to each corner. Lots of ideas and tutorials can be found at Coolest-Birthday-Cakes.com.Buy a castle cake mold at Party Supercenter.
After the guests have enjoyed cake and “ale” (lemonade) seat the birthday child in a special throne (a chair decorated with balloons and streamers) to receive the royal gifts.
Send kids home with their decorated tiaras or shields, prize, and medieval coloring pages for younger kids or medieval word search or other puzzles for older guests. Printable coloring pages are available at Busy Bee Kids Printables, and activity page printables at PrintActivities.com.
Picture from Mommart
All kids birthday parties feel like a three-ring circus, so why not accept the inevitable and use a circus theme?
Check out these free amazingly colorful circus-theme printables at catchmyparty.com.
The above-mentioned printable set includes a banner, invites, sign, and cupcake toppers, treat bag labels, water bottle labels, candy bar labels, and even thank you cards! It also includes signs for the circus games and activities.
If you decide to do your own decor, use lots of red and white streamers to go with the traditional colors of a red and white striped circus tent plus balloons in bright colors.
For prizes, we suggest using small toys you can get in big bags labeled piñata mix. Supplement with a bag of small pieces of candy such as tootsie rolls or Dum Dums.
Set up different “game” stations around the party area. Oriental trading company has lots of low-cost game sets to buy, or you could make your own. Check out this great blog post at Party Games Plus for lots of ideas.
Here are a few time-tested games you can make yourself!
Purchase a six-pack of soda in glass, long neck bottles. Empty the soda bottles and wash well. Cover the cardboard bottle carrier that came with the soda in bright paper. Put clean bottles back into the carrier and use plastic or rubber dollar store bracelets as rings. Depending upon the age and number of guests you may want to make this game larger and more difficult by using several six-packs of bottles. Instructions available at Mom Mart.
Tin can toss
Rescue six aluminum cans from your recycle bin. Wash the cans then remove the labels. Decorate the cans by covering in scrapbook paper or spray paint them in bright colors. Stack in a pyramid, (three on bottom, then two, then one) and let kids try to knock them down with a small ball. Instructions available at Mom Mart.
Pick a duck
Fill a baby pool or a plastic bin with water. Place labels on the bottom of floating duck toys. You could label with “P” for a prize or “C” for candy. If you don’t have enough ducks you could also use small bathtub toys such as boats. Have two prize boxes labeled for kids to choose from. Purchase weighted ducks that won’t tip over at Oriental Trading.
Tape together twenty-five brightly colored plastic cups. Place stickers into the inside bottom of five of the cups. Set on top of a table and have kids toss pennies into the cans. Getting a penny into a cup with a sticker wins a prize.
Cut three pieces of brightly colored poster board into quarters. Label with large numbers one through twelve and lay on the ground or floor in a circle. Put pieces of paper labeled with the numbers into a bag or hat. Start some music and have kids walk around stepping onto the numbered poster board squares. When the music stops, pull out a number and whoever is standing on that number gets to choose a cupcake.
Have a helper ready with a bunch of temporary tattoos and a wet sponge!
Put popcorn into paper bags, and serve with lemonade. We bought individually packaged cotton candy from Charms, and it was a hit with the kids. Of course don’t forget cupcakes topped with the printable toppers.
Guests can fill their goody bag with the prizes won, be sure and have a few extra on hand to even out the amount so that everyone goes home happy. Add in a clown nose for extra fun!
Be sure to take a group picture of party guests wearing the clown noses!
What kid doesn’t love dinosaurs? A dino party is sure to delight either gender.
Decorate the area with brown and green streamers, and create a sign for the front door to greet guests that says, “Warning: Entering the Jurassic Era!”
Kids can become junior paleontologists by digging and identifying dino bones!
Before the party: Purchase plastic dinosaurs or dinosaur skeletons (available at Oriental Trading) and hide these in a plastic bin of sand or in a sand box. Place a small table nearby with paintbrushes of various sizes.
At the party: Let guests dig up a dino or skeleton one by one, then take it to the table to brush if off with a paintbrush. For older kids, have a chart with pics of the dinos labeled with their scientific names so that they can ID their find.
Dino egg race
Before the party: Fill leftover plastic Easter Eggs with small plastic dinosaurs (like these available at Oriental Trading). Purchase dinosaur hats from a dollar or party store, if desired. Line two baskets with blankets to become dinosaur nests. (laundry baskets work well) Place filled eggs in two bags or boxes and have two large spoons (metal serving spoons or wooden spoons are great) next to each bag.
At the party: Divide guests into two teams, and have them form two single file lines behind each bag of eggs. Have the first in line put on a dino hat and place one egg on a spoon. They then race to the “nest” which is placed several feet away and try to get their egg into their teams nest without dropping it while balancing the egg on a spoon. The game continues as a relay, until every child has raced and all eggs are in the nests. The team to fill their nest first wins.
Egg Hunt: While the guests are busy with the next game or activity, Remove the dino-filled eggs from the baskets and hide them around the room or outside. Send kids on an egg hunt, and they can add found eggs to their goody bags.
Of course, any party in the age of the dinosaurs needs a volcano cake! A super-cool smoking volcano can easily be made from boxed chocolate cake mix and a Bundt cake pan. Red and yellow frosting flow down the sides like lava and a candle votive is placed inside the center hole in the Bundt cake, and filled with dry ice to create smoke. Here are two easy recipes for a volcano cake, one from Parents.com, and another from The Food Network. A quick Google search will yield many more, including video tutorials.
Send your guests home with the dino skeleton they dug up, their dinosaur eggs and tuck in a packet of gummies shaped like dinosaurs for a sweet treat.
This is a fun fantasy theme for a birthday or even a Chinese New Year Party. Highlight cute cartoon dragons for a younger kiddo or realistic fire-breathers for tweens and teens.
Decorate your party area as a Dragon’s Lair. Set the scene by covering the entrance to your party by taping streamers in alternating red, orange and yellow to the top of the door frame. The streamers should dangle all the way to the floor so the guests will need to walk through them. Or purchase a Dragon Door Cover at Oriental Trading
Continue the theme throughout the room with orange, red and yellow streamers and balloons. Fill a bowl with a “dragon’s hoard” such as plastic gold and silver bead necklaces, and/or plastic gold coins. This can function as a decoration during the party, then you can hand them out as party favors later.
Add a “dragon’s nest” by draping a blanket over a laundry basket. Put a few round or oval-shaped rocks inside as dragon’s eggs.
Games for younger kids:
Dragon Tales bingo
Play using a free printable from DLTK (pictures, no reading required).
Dragon coloring pages
Print at Coloring Pages for Kids.
Games and activities for older kids:
Draw a dragon
Learn to draw a dragon with this free printable from Activity Village.
Chinese Zodiac chart
Games for all ages:
This Dragon’s egg piñata will be a hit! This is a fun, messy project that the kids can help with.
To make the piñata: Cover an inflated balloon with paper mache, and then when it dries, paint it white. Once it’s dried and painted, cut a small flap in the top for filling with goodies. Don’t forget to make two small slits on either side of the flap. You can reach inside and put a loop of yarn or twine through to hang the piñata by. While you are at it, consider covering a few, partially inflated balloons with paper mache and paint to be dragon’s eggs. These can become party favors and/or or table display. Full instructions can be found at The Copycat Crafter,
No time? Check out this cool dragon piñata from Oriental Trading.
We love this idea from younghouselove.com. She painted flames on foam board and taped it to the wall at kid-mouth height. Each guest could stand next to the fire and have a picture taken as they breathed fire!
Check out this amazing Dragon Cake at Spoonful.com
Then turn other ordinary foods into dragon-themed snacks. For example, chips can become Dragon Scales, Hot Tamales candy can be Dragon Fire, and jelly beans become Dragon’s Eggs.
Red paper bags with orange and yellow tissue cut to look like flames. Fill with the breathing fire picture, coloring page and items from the dragon’s hoard.
Mustache Party: Throw a ‘Stache Bash!
Mustache parties are all the rage lately and this theme can be tons of fun, especially for older elementary age and tweens.
We Mustache you to join us!
Since mustaches are in right now, you won’t have any trouble finding tons of cute mustache themed paper ware, table covers and other décor at your local party store. Oriental Trading Company has two pages of mustache-themed decor and paper ware.
Most mustache décor is black and white, but you can add a pop of color by adding red, bright blue or even hot pink streamers and balloons.
Games and activities:
Pin the ‘stache on the birthday kid
If the birthday kid is willing, find a picture of them and have it blown up to poster-size. Then hand out mustache stickers or cut-out mustaches with a piece of double-stick tape on the back of each. Don’t forget the blindfold!
With all those mustaches around, you have got to take silly pictures!
Before the Party
Create “mustache on a stick” photo booth props. Shannon over at Fox Hollow Cottage blog created these fun mustache and lip printables. Or check out the printable mustache brigade from Stacey W. Porter. Print, cut out and glue to wooden dowels or skewers. Or create your own! Then, find a corner or spot in the party area to set up your photo booth. Create a backdrop by taping up a length of fabric or plastic tablecloth. Or you could get fancy with a backdrop made of dangling streamers and balloons or painted Kraft paper. Gather fun props such as top hats or bowler hats plus your photo props.
At the Party
Take tons of mustache pictures.
Bad mustache puns and jokes:
See who can come up with the most creative, groan-worthy mustache puns, and have each guest write theirs on a piece of paper. Read each aloud, and the winner is the joke or pun that elicits the loudest groans from the crowd.
Top cupcakes with paper mustache toppers and the punch will taste better with these cute Lorax Mustache straws from MadTownMacs!
Elephantshoe blog featured lots of printable mustache-themed paper products from goody bag tags to stationary. Then, use a printed-out mustache and trace it onto black felt. Hot glue the felt mustaches onto pencils for fun favors.
Mini Wooly Willie: These party favor sized Wooly Willy games will be a perfect addition to the goody bag!
Berenstain Bears Party
Celebrate one of America’s most beloved bear families and love of reading with a Berenstain Bears party.
Start off by creating a “Welcome to bear country!” sign by writing on a poster board. Put this on the front door to set the scene!
Next, create a fun banner by making color copies of pictures from Berenstain Bears books. Punch holes in the top two corners of each copy using a hole punch. Write the book the picture was copied from lightly on the back in pencil for a game later. String the copies on twine or yarn and hang in the party area. For tableware, go with pink or blue depending on whether your kiddo is a boy or girl bear. Mix it up with some polka dotted plates, napkins or balloons to imitate Mama Bear’s blue and white polka dotted dress or Sister’s pink and white polka dotted shirt.
Search free printable coloring sheets, word search, mazes and matching activities at Random House Kids.
Guess the number of gummy bears in the jar
Fill a jar with gummy bears and let each guest guess the number of bears inside. Whoever guesses closest to the right number gets a prize! After the activity is completed, you could package up the gummies in snack bags to send home with guests.
Instead of a cake walk, hold a book walk! Cut brightly colored poster board into quarters and write numbers on them, up to the number of party guests. Write the corresponding numbers on slips of paper and place inside of a hat or bowl. Place the numbered poster board squares in a large circle on the floor or grass. To play, instruct kids to each stand on a number. Start some music and the kids walk around the circle, stepping on the squares. When the music stops, draw a number out of a hat and whoever is standing on that number gets to choose a book. We found a large lot of gently-used Berenstain Bears paperbacks on eBay, but most large stores have paperback Berenstain Bears books. Of course you could also clean out your book stash and pass on gently-used books.
Bee hive piñata:
Instructions on how to turn a balloon paper mache piñata into a beehive are available at Box Play for Kids. Or purchase one at Pleasantly Pinatas on Etsy.com: (this one can be modified into a pull string piñata at no extra charge)
Guess the story:
While kids are eating, read one or two of the Berenstain Bears books from which the copies for the banner were made. Then challenge kids to guess which picture came from which book. Give a prize to the one who correctly guesses the most!
Everyone knows that Papa Bear loves honey! Purchase honey sticks and display them in a jar or bowl labeled “Papa’s Honey."
Utilize your Berenstain Bear books again and make cupcake toppers. Make color copies of characters from the books. Cut out and matte on cardstock in a coordinating color. Hot glue or tape to toothpicks and use at toppers.
Everyone goes home with a Berenstain Bears book, a small bag of gummy bears and their piñata loot.
Tiffany Doerr Guerzon is a freelance writer and the mother of three children, including a teen. Read more of her writing at TDGuerzon.com .