34 Birthday Party Crafts and Activities to Keep Kids Busy

These fun birthday party crafts and group-minded games are sure to delight your little kid's crowd.

Birthday Party Activities
Photo: Johnny Miller

Paper Bag Pinatas

Let kids decorate paper bags. Then fill the bags with inexpensive toys or candy. Blow air into the bags and create "pinatas." Tie them along a string stretched between two posts or trees and give each child a turn to whack one and win the goodies without a mad dash.

My Little Doghouse

Have children make mini doghouses from white cardboard boxes sold at stationery stores. Make "roofs" from cardboard folded in half, using coffee stir sticks to support it. Then let the kids decorate their doghouses. At the end of the party, give dog-themed goodie bags: a tiny toy dog that will fit in the house, dog- or dogbone-shaped sugar cookies, dog stickers, a rubber ball.

Stuffed-Animal Dress-Up

Direct guests to a basket of doll clothes, hats, socks, jewelry, and scarves, and let them get into the party spirit by dressing up their cuddly stuffed animals. Then give the children time to do what they love -- enjoy free play together with their floppy friends.

Pillow Art

Have the children decorate pillowcases with stamps and fabric markers. (Cut moon- and star-shaped stamps from sponges).

All About Me

For children ages 4 and under, let each make an "all about me" book with handprints, drawings, and a Polaroid photo from the party.

Puppet Fun

Make puppets from socks or Styrofoam balls. Decorate with pipe cleaners, yarn, googly eyes, and other craft objects. (Make sure younger children are supervised: small beads and googly eyes are choking hazards.) Puppets can later be filled with goodies to double as a goody bag.

Bug and Butterfly Magnets

These magnets are a charming, easy-to-make craft. Have children glue pom-poms or decorative papers (precut in the shape of butterfly wings) onto craft sticks. Add googly eyes. Then place stick-on magnet strips on the bottom of the sticks.

Crafty Caterpillars

Cut egg cartons into two lengthwise rows of egg holders, and pierce two holes at one end with a pencil point. At the party, let kids push pipe cleaners through the holes to make antennae, and glue on wiggly eyes. Smiles, dots, and stripes can be added, using crayons on plastic-foam carton eggs, washable markers on the paper variety.

Rock-and-Roll Shakers

Single-serving potato-chip cans are just the right size for musical shakers. Roll canisters in construction paper. Cut the paper to fit, and tape down edges. Decorate with markers, stickers, paint, or paper cutouts. Fill with a few spoonfuls of rice. Guests can shake to the beat while they play a freeze-dance game to music.

Hair Clips and More

Buy buttons, beads and plain hair clips or inexpensive headbands. Have girls glue items onto their clips or headbands (be sure to use a glue that's safe for kids). Let them dry and set during cake time and then give the children time to adorn their hair with their new accessories.

Mad Science

Set up fun science experiments and serve ice cream sodas that fizz by mixing green sherbet ice cream with ginger ale.

Treasure Hunt

Tell the children that some of King Tut's treasure was never found. Then send teams of guests on the hunt. (To arrange clues, it's easiest to work backward: Place the treasure in its spot, and set up the final clue that leads to it. Continue until you get to the first clue.) For added fun, you can also create a treasure map that corresponds to the party setting. To make the treasure chest, cover the lid and bottom of a box with masking tape for a mummified effect and decorate Egyptian-style. Arrange gold tissue paper inside, and fill with goody bags.

Hieroglyphic Charms

Let guests make rock-shaped Egyptian charms using Sculpey Granitex clay. Have kids translate their initials into hieroglyphics, and use toothpicks to carve hieroglyphs into the clay.

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.

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."

Glamour Relay Race

Have two teams race to dress up in selected sets of accessories. Once they're dressed, let the girls race down a "runway," pose for a Polaroid, and run back for the next girl's turn. The first team to finish wins. Girls can also decorate frames glitter-style to hold their Polaroids.

Foam Bracelets

Making our craft-foam and wrapped-yarn bracelets is a fun -- and quiet -- activity.

What you need:

  • Craft foam sheets
  • Paper edgers
  • Craft foam shapes
  • Glue
  • Self-adhesive
  • Velcro strips

To make:

Using paper edgers, cut craft foam into strips large enough to circle a child's wrist. Layer and glue craft-foam shapes on top of bands. Once glue dries, add self-adhesive Velcro strips to ends.

Craft-supply sources:

Creative Hands craft-foam shapes and sheets by Fibre-Craft; available at craft stores nationwide.

Yarn Bracelets

Making our craft-foam and wrapped-yarn bracelets is a fun -- and quiet -- activity.

What you need:

  • 2-inch-gauge paper-wrapped floral wire (available at craft stores)
  • Wire cutters
  • Yarn in various colors
  • Colored beads
  • Craft glue

To make:

Cut floral wire into lengths sized to fit a child's wrist. Wrap two pieces of different-colored yarn around floral wire to form stripes. Wrap ends of yarn over and around ends of floral wire, then glue. While glue is still wet, slide bead onto tip of yarn-covered wire and let dry. Bend into desired shape.

Craft-supply sources:

Yarn from Coats and Clark; call 800-648-1479 for stores.

Party Activities

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:

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 www.partycity.com 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:

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.

  • 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
    • 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
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