The Ultimate Birthday Party Planner

The Activities

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Oh, Baby For the youngest guests, play peekaboo games with mirrors or have a selection of oversize rubber balls on hand to roll. Ask toddlers to bring their favorite doll or stuffed animal for a parade, or set out a puppet theater with hand puppets that won't frighten little ones.

Creative Kids An easy craft is a great icebreaker and provides an extra favor. Kids can use fabric paint to design a T-shirt, tote bag, or pillowcase; make and decorate their own party hats; create a sand-art bottle; or adorn a bucket with stickers and use it in a treasure hunt.

Move It Active games anchor an at-home party, and it's wise to plan several, since kids can tire of an activity quickly. Choose a musical game such as freeze dancing, limbo, a line dance, or (for older kids) karaoke. Plan circle games such as Musical Chairs, Duck Duck Goose, Simon Says, or Pass the Parcel (kids unwrap a layer of paper to reveal a small toy, then pass the parcel to the next player, who removes another layer). Pin the Tail on the Donkey -- or a variation that suits your theme -- delights kids of all ages. And definitely bring out your child's dress-up box filled with items that appeal to both sexes.

Happy Ending Dessert-making keeps kids busy but not frenzied as the event winds down. Four easy variations: Make your own frozen yogurt sundae, frost your own cookie, make your own ice cream sandwich using oversize chocolate wafers or chocolate chip cookies, and decorate your own cupcake.

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