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Birthday Party Decorations

Don't limit yourself to just balloons. Here are unique ways to fill your home with birthday cheer.

Larger than Life

Glue color copies of your child's photo onto the tablecloth. Add colored paper triangles at the corners to look like photo corners.

Tent Time

Create a tent around a table or floor space by using an old sheet or two. The sheets can be suspended from the tops of the walls by nailing in two small nails and running fishing wire between them, then looping the fabric over it. Put a vinyl cloth or new shower curtain on the floor so kids can eat inside the tent.

Giant Grass

Give kids a bug's eye view of the world. Begin with a big roll of green paper and cut deep zigzags along one edge for grass. Tape it along one wall or all around the party area. (You can even have your kids color bugs on the grass before you tape it up).

Decorated Straws

Dress up drinking straws with our simple chenille bugs and flowers.

What you need:

  • Chenille stems (standard and thin)
  • Pencil
  • Colored drinking straws
  • Scissors

To make bumblebee:

Wind together one standard black and one standard yellow chenille stem to make one striped chenille stem. Wind striped chenille stem around the top of a pencil, overlapping layers to form a small bundle. Slide bundle off pencil, and place over straw. Bend a small piece of thin chenille stem in half, and insert through bee body to make antennae.

To make flower:

Shape one chenille stem into three petals, leaving a small section of stem free. Repeat. Twist the free end of each three-petal configuration around the center of the straw to form complete flower. To finish, cut chenille stem in half and coil it around pencil top; remove and slide over top of straw to make flower's center.

Decorated Cups

Paper party cups really pop when you decorate them with colorful Con-Tact-paper patterns.

What you need:

  • Colored paper cups
  • Green Con-Tact Paper
  • Scissors
  • Pencil

To make:

Split seam of one cup to create template. Trace outline of cup onto back of Con-Tact Paper and cut out. Trim Con-Tact paper to resemble grass. Peel backing and place around an intact cup, smoothing out air bubbles.

Craft-supply sources:

Con-Tact paper from Decora; call 440-353-6410 for information.

Yarn Pots

Yarn and glue are all you need to make these stunning striped pots. Our yarn crafts were designed by Julia Bernstein, courtesy of the Craft Yarn Council of America.

What you need:

  • Small plastic flowerpots (available at garden-supply stores)
  • Craft glue
  • Paintbrush
  • Yarn in an assortment of colors
  • Scissors

To make:

Using a paintbrush, apply glue to small section of the pot. Cover glue with yarn. Repeat until pot is covered. Let dry overnight.

Pennant Garland

Set the theme with a flourish of felt pennants.

What you need:

  • Card stock
  • Several colors of felt
  • Several colors of felt
  • Pinking shears
  • Fabric glue
  • Fabric scissors
  • Animal templates (click below)
  • Yarn
  • Hole punch

To make:

Draw triangle with sides measuring 12-inches x 9-inches x 12inches onto card stock, and cut out to make template. Draw slightly smaller triangle with sides measuring 11-inch x 8-inch x 11-inch 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.

Seaside Table

Decorate a blue tablecloth with little plastic fish and construction paper fish. Each cup can have a straw that doubles as a fishing pole, with fishing wire and a lure on it.

Go-Fish Buckets

Every guest comes up a winner when they cast a line for our treat-filled party cups. Continue the underwater theme with chains of paper fish.

What you need:

  • Con-Tact paper in various colors
  • Colored paper cups
  • Stencils or templates
  • Scissors
  • Chenille stems
  • Hole punch
  • Ribbon
  • Crinkle paper

To make:

Trace templates of fish and plants onto back of Con-Tact paper. Cut out shapes and adhere to paper cups as desired. To make handles, punch hole in each side of cup. Loop chenille stem through holes, securing ends by folding chenille stem up and twisting onto itself. Wrap ribbon around chenille stem to cover, leaving ends loose. Tie ends to handle with a small piece of ribbon. Trim as needed. Fill with crinkle paper.

Craft-supply sources:

Con-Tact paper from Decora; call 440-353-6410 for information.

Beach Bonanza

Cover the table with brown paper to look like sand and top with some seashells. You can even create a sand castle centerpiece out of cardboard boxes and toilet paper rolls.

Ring of Friendship

Make a giant friendship bracelet out of paper rings. Let kids decorate the rings with beads, glitter, feathers etc. Let them hang their creations over and around the table and they've taken care of the decorations.

Fun with Fringe

Lay two or three layers of coordinating paper tablecloths on top of each other and "fringe" the edges all the way around by cutting from the bottom edges up to the tabletop. Kids will love kicking the fringe.

Footprint Parade

Whether your theme is detectives or dinosaurs, you can add a festive flavor by creating oversized footprints out of black construction paper. Place them around the perimeter of the room or even going up the walls.

Carnival Buckets

The perfect centerpieces, our decoupage buckets hold a ton of treats.

What you need:

  • Mod Podge
  • Quilling paper
  • Metal buckets
  • Patterned paper
  • Circle craft punch
  • Scissors
  • Paintbrush

To make carnival buckets:

Cut triangles from different colors of quilling paper to fit dimensions of bucket. Adhere to bucket using Mod Podge, alternating color and direction of triangles. When finished, seal with layer of Mod Podge.

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Clown Pinata

Older kids will have fun taking a swing at these cheerful papier-mache pinatas.

What you need:

  • 16-inch-diameter balloon
  • Newspaper cut in strips
  • Papier- mache (In a large bucket, mix 3 parts water with 2 parts flour)
  • Masking tape
  • String
  • Crepe-paper fringe
  • Mod Podge
  • Paintbrush
  • Felt
  • 1 1/2-inch-diameter wooden dowel to crack open pinata

To make:

Cover most of papier-mache form with yellow crepe-paper fringe, leaving space for a face. Cover facial area with white fringe. Fashion nose from rolled red crepe-paper fringe and other features from felt. Top off with a colorful party hat.

Craft-supply sources:

Colored crepe-paper fringe from Party City; visit www.partycity.com for stores. Decorative paper and ribbons from Midori; call 800-659-3049.

Butterflies

Delight your guests by dangling these fluttering friends from the ceiling.

What you need:

  • Heavyweight patterned paper
  • Butterfly template (click below)
  • Chenille stems
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Craft glue
  • Pencil
  • Round craft punches
  • Fishing line
  • Tape

To make:

Using template as guide, cut butterflies of varying sizes from patterned paper. (If you like, punch holes in the smaller cutout so the pattern on larger cutout shows through.) To make butterfly, layer smaller cutouts on top of larger ones and glue together. For bodies, roll chenille stem around pencil to form spiral shape, bend another in half to form antennae, slide into spiral, and glue to center of paper. To hang, tie fishing line to chenille-stem body, and tape butterfly to ceiling.

Birds' Nests Favors

Fill doll-size straw hats (available at craft stores) with raffia or moss and add a little feathered ornamental bird (also available for a dollar or two at craft stores). Perch a bird on each nest and then add egg-shaped wrapped chocolates, wrapped speckled egg candies or gummy worms.

Flower Garland
What you need:

  • Flower and dragonfly Stiffened Eazy Felt Shapes by Consumer Products Enterprises
  • Fabric glue
  • Yarn
  • Low-temperature glue gun and glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Fabric stiffener (optional)

To make:

Using fabric glue, layer flower and dragonfly shapes as desired and let dry. Using glue gun, attach shapes to length of yarn, and hang. If you can't find precut shapes that fit your party's theme, cut your own shapes from felt, then stiffen shapes by applying fabric stiffener, if desired.

Craft supply sources:

Yarn from Coats and Clark; call 800-648-1479 for stores. Felt from Kunin; call 800-292-7900. Stiffened Eazy Felt shapes by Consumer Products Enterprises; call 800-327-0059 for information.

Treasure Chest

Spray a Styrofoam cooler inside and out with black paint. Trim the lid and base of chest with gold ribbon. Cut out two 4-inch x 6-inch rectangles from yellow craft foam; glue one to the center of the lid in the front and the other directly below, on the chest, to make the lock. Heap the chest with gold-foil-covered chocolate coins.

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