A farm-themed party lets everyone make hay -- rain or shine. Send out a barn-shaped invitation, decorate tables with gingham or burlap fabric, and gather up bales of hay, baskets, buckets and watering cans to set the mood. For activities, you can have hayrides in wagons, square dancing and relay races.
Everybody's a champ here. Pick games that are silly or rely on luck so everyone's on an even playing field. For safety monitoring, try to have a mature, responsible "coach" or "referee" for every four to six youngsters. Assign someone with a camcorder to be the "TV cameraperson." Decorate your yard with colorful banners or flags and put paper and crayons on the table so the kids can play games of tic-tac-toe, finger football, or dots.
Bring the beach to you and have a fun day in the sun. Set up umbrellas, beach chairs and picnic coolers in your yard. Party goers can decorate sunglasses with spangles, buttons and beads, or make sandart projects. Volleyball played with a beach ball is sure to be a hit as well as beach blanket bingo.
Pitch a daytime campout in your own backyard. If you don't have a real tent, you can improvise with a blanket draped over a clothesline. Make a phony campfire from rocks, logs, and red and yellow cellophane wrap. Kids can decorate frames with items from nature and play a host of campside games such as sleeping bag races (using old pillowcases).
Adapted from The Parents Party Book: Fun and Fabulous Theme Birthday Parties for Children 2 to 8 Years Old by the Editors of Parents Magazine. Golden Books, New York