Sports Nuts

Ages 4 and up

Invitations

Olympic Birthday Cake

    If your child's world revolves around sports, this party will score big points. You may even consider contacting your local YMCA, school, or health club. Most rent space for parties and often supply instructors to keep the games in high gear.

    Basketball Invites

    Cut a 4"x11" rectangle from a piece of red construction paper and fold in half. Carefully score and bend back the flap of the card 1 inch from the fold. Punch two holes in this folded section. Loop twine through the holes, knot, and trim any excess. To decorate the front of the invitation, cut a 2"x1¾" rectangle from a piece of blue construction paper; attach a small photograph of your child; trim blue paper border with scallop-edged scissors and glue matted picture on the front of the card. Using an oversize craft punch, cut out two hearts and affix with glue alongside the photo. Write the invitation details on a 3"x5" piece of white paper, apply glue, and center it inside the album.

      Pennant Power Invitation

      This invitation will put your guests in the team spirit. Cut blue and orange card stock into pennant-shaped triangles, each slightly larger than the one before. Glue together and use a marker to write party details.

        All-Star Party Invite

        Send baseball-card style invitations with the birthday child's picture in the frame and the party information in the section for "stats." To make, use a color copy machine or computer.

          Activities & Goodies

          Cap It Off!

          Have your crew decorate caps with puff paints and felt patches featuring sports themes. While the paint dries, take the kids outside for a game of your child's favorite sport.

          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.

            Team Time

            Divide the kids into two teams for basketball. Take breaks every 15 minutes, or whenever the kids are tired or thirsty. Let kids cool down by playing a game of "Simon Says" or "20 Questions."

              Reader's Tip: Par for the Party

              My nephew chose a golf theme for his 10th birthday, but instead of taking the kids to a miniature golf course, my brother helped him create a homemade course using plastic drinking glasses for the holes. They designated tee-off areas for each hole and then designed the course to go down stairs, under tables, etc. They even made trophies and ribbons for the winners. The kids loved it. --Kate

                Reader's Tip: Home-Run Fun

                When our twins turned 4, they wanted a baseball party. We hung a banner over our front door announcing ARANYI STADIUM, and upon arrival, each guest was given a team tag (Benjamin Blues or Zachary Reds). We set up a baseball diamond in the backyard, and the kids played an awesome game of T-ball. Inside the house, we made signs for the souvenir stand (a party-favor table), the dugout (the backyard), and a snack bar (the kitchen), and we served hot dogs, soft pretzels, peanuts, and a baseball-shaped cake. Everyone had a great time. --Rebecca

                  Pennant Garland

                  Set the theme with a flourish of felt pennants.

                    What you need:

                    • Card stock
                    • Scissors
                    • Several colors of felt
                    • Pinking shears
                    • Fabric glue
                    • Fabric scissors
                    • Animal templates
                    • Yarn
                    • Hole punch

                      To make:

                      Draw triangle with sides measuring 12"x9"x12" onto card stock, and cut out to make template. Draw slightly smaller triangle with sides measuring 11"x8"x11"onto card stock, and cut out to make a second template. Trace outline of large triangle template to felt, and cut out using pinking shears. Trace smaller triangle template to a contrasting color of felt, and cut out using straight-edge scissors. Enlarge animal template, trace to felt, and cut out using straight-edge scissors. Punch holes in two corners (the ones bordering the shortest side) of each finished scallop-edged triangle. Thread yarn through holes. Layer triangles, placing the straight-edged triangle on top, and glue together. Glue felt animal to top of straight-edged triangle. Repeat until you have enough triangles to fill the length of your garland.

                        Craft supply sources:

                        Yarn from Coats and Clark; call 800-648-1479 for stores. Felt from Kunin; call 800-292-7900.

                          First-Place Souvenirs Goody Bag

                          Use travel-size soap cases to hold baseball cards, sporty key chains, whistles, and stickers. Decorate with first-place ribbons. Cut paper into one"strips, and notch the ends. Then attach with medal-style stickers. Wrap the cases with sports-theme sneaker laces, and tie in bows.

                            "On the Go" Goody Bag

                            Be sporty: Give out juice-filled water bottles tied with theme whistles.

                              Ice Cream Victory Cup

                              victory_cup

                              Show your birthday child who's first in your eyes with this grand-prize ice-cream dessert This fast, no-bake ice-cream prize is a real winner; just pick your favorite flavor and start scooping.

                              Prep and decorating time: 30 minutes

                              Yield: 16 servings

                                • 1 gallon vanilla-chocolate-swirl ice cream, or assorted flavors of your choice
                                • 1 (14 oz.) bag blue melting wafers, melted
                                • 1 cup orange melting wafers, melted
                                • Whipped cream
                                • Multicolored sprinkles
                                • Candles
                                  1. Several hours before serving, scoop balls of ice cream in a single layer into a baking pan lined with waxed paper. Place in freezer until ready to serve.
                                  2. Spoon ½ cup melted blue candy into a small resealable plastic bag. Snip a small corner from bag, and pipe out 2 decorative handles onto waxed paper. Line the inside of a 2-quart glass bowl or trifle dish with remaining melted blue candy, using a pastry brush to coat entire surface. Let set 5 minutes.
                                  3. Place melted orange candy in small resealable plastic bag. On outside of glass bowl, pipe out "Go Team!" and let set 5 minutes. Pipe a thin vertical line of blue candy onto each side of bowl, and stick on handles. Let set 5 minutes.
                                  4. To serve, place scoops of ice cream into glass bowl, top with whipped cream, and garnish with sprinkles. Place candles in center.

                                    Sports Ball Cake

                                    sports_ball_cake

                                    Take your pick -- baseball, soccer ball, basketball -- whichever is your child's favorite sport. Once you have the round cake pan, decorating is a snap.

                                    Prep and decorating time: 30 minutes

                                    Bake time: 35 minutes

                                    Yield: 10 servings

                                      • 1 package (18.25 oz.) cake mix, flavor of choice
                                      • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
                                      • 1 can (16 oz.) vanilla frosting
                                      • Red and yellow food coloring
                                      • 1 tube (4.25 oz.) black decorating icing, fitted with a ribbon tip
                                        1. Heat oven to 325°F. Prepare batter using 1 Tbs. of oil (instead of 2 Tbs.), for a firmer-textured cake. Fold chips into batter and divide between pan halves. Place pans in baking stands on a baking sheet. Bake 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes. With a serrated knife, level tops of cake halves. Invert halves onto wire racks; lift off pans and cool completely.
                                        2. Tint frosting orange with food coloring; mix in a small amount of black icing to deepen orange color. Place cake halves together on a serving plate; frost cake. After 10 minutes, before frosting is completely set, lightly press large side of four-sided cheese grater into frosting to achieve a textured effect.
                                        3. Use black icing to mark lines of basketball.

                                          *Round cake pans are available from Wilton Industries. To order, call 800-794-5866 or log on to www.wilton.com.

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

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