Birthday Party Activities

Party Activities, p. 2

Carousel Birthday Cake
Carousel Birthday Cake

Snap-A-Photo Booth

Create a photo booth in your home. Let the kids dress up, apply funny makeup and concoct hairdos. Take Polaroid photos in groups of three in a narrow area closed off by a drape or shower curtain. Part of the silliness is squeezing three people into a tight space.

Carnival Games

Toss the ball in the basket, pick the duck with the winning number on its bottom, or hit the golf ball in the bucket with a kid's club. Give each child a handful of pennies and have them pay for the games for a carnival atmosphere.

Animal Charades

Write the names or draw pictures of a variety of animals on paper. Have a child act out the animal and let the other kids guess what it is.

Pizza Pizzazz

Purchase ready-made pizza crusts and let the kids decorate them with grated cheese, tomatoes, veggie slices, and pepperoni.

Asphalt Art

Have the kids use sidewalk chalk to draw on the driveway or patio.

Table Art

Ask each child to decorate a designated portion of the tablecloth with handprints, foam stamps, etc. Spin in the dryer for 10 minutes to heat-set the paint.

Milk Pail Keepsakes

Give each child a miniature milk pail to decorate with stickers of barnyard images.

Egg Hunt

Hide plastic eggs around the party area and let the kids search for them and put them in their pails.


Line several wagons with straw or blankets. Put one or two kids in each and ask older siblings or other parents to pull the wagons gently around the yard.

Wonderful Wind Socks

As the guests arrive, hand each child a wind sock to decorate with different size pom-poms and colorful paper strips. To make, cut a 6-inch x 12-inch rectangle from a piece of purple craft foam. Roll the foam into a tube and staple together. Using a hole punch, make two holes about 1 inch from top of tube on opposite sides; thread ribbon through the holes and knot to secure. Finish by gluing 9-inch streamers to inside of tube cuff.

Treasure Box

As guests arrive, hand each child a painted treasure box. Have them adorn it with glitter glue and plastic jewels from a craft-supply store.

The Big Hunt

Write or draw clues for a treasure hunt and hide them and a treasure chest an hour before the party. Divide kids into two teams for the hunt. Each team gets a clue that leads to the next five clues. The last one leads to the chest. For nonreaders, draw pictures.

Fun & Games

Play "What's Missing?" Fill a tray with familiar objects. Have the kids study it for three minutes. Secretly remove one object; let them guess what's gone.

Lion-Face Bag Toss

Children will line up eagerly for a chance to toss a beanbag through this smiling lion face.

What you need:

  • 30-inch Styrofoam wreath form
  • Mod Podge
  • Paintbrush
  • 2 or 3 rolls of orange crepe-paper fringe
  • 1 roll yellow crepe-paper fringe
  • Face Template (click below)
  • Kraft paper (to enlarge face template)
  • Pencil
  • Foam-core board
  • Yellow, orange, and white felt
  • Box cutter
  • Scissors
  • Fabric glue
  • Heavy-duty staple gun and staples
  • Hammer
  • Eight 2-inch nails
  • Heavy-duty fishing line

To make the mane:

Use paintbrush to apply Mod Podge to a small section of the Styrofoam wreath, and cover with orange crepe-paper fringe. Repeat until the entire form has been covered in orange fringe. Finish by layering yellow crepe-paper fringe over the orange in a swirled fashion, gluing in place with Mod Podge.

To make the face:

Enlarge and trace face templates onto kraft paper and cut out. Trace kraft-paper pieces to appropriate felt color, and cut out. Trace outline of Styrofoam wreath to foam core, and cut out using a box cutter. Arrange face pieces on foam core, and mark opening for mouth. Remove face pieces, and cut out mouth using box cutter. Cover foam core with pale yellow felt, and secure with staple gun to back of foam core. Recut opening for mouth, folding felt to the back and stapling to foam core. Arrange face pieces over covered foam core, using fabric glue to hold them in place.

To Assemble:

Tie two lengths of heavy-duty fishing line around wreath form (at top of left and right sides). Nail foam-core face to wreath form using eight 2-inch nails. Hang.

Craft supply sources:

Colored crepe-paper fringe from Party City; visit for stores. Felt from Kunin; call 800-292-7900. 30-inch Styrofoam wreath by Floracraft; call 800-253-0409.

Personal Gardens

Buy a dozen plastic flowering pots, some soil and different seeds, and smocks for the kids to wear over their clothes (or tell the parents to dress them in gardening gear). Then let them plant individual gardens which they can take home as party favors.

Flying Spaceships Party Favor

What you need:

  • Disposable foam or paper plates, cups, bowls
  • Plastic drinking straws
  • Stickers: circles, stars, and patriotic themes
  • Colored PVC tape
  • Quick-setting craft glue
  • Permanent-ink markers, crayons
  • String

Let the little rocket scientists create their own intergalactic transports. Suggest using a disposable plate as a base to fuel a spinning spaceship with flying power, or using string to pull a vertical rocket - mechanically minded kids might even show you how to set up a string pulley system.

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Copyright© 2004. Reprinted with permission from the April 2002 issue of Parents magazine.

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