3 Themes for a Successful 7th Birthday Party

This one is personal.  My little guy is turning 7 next week and I have been thinking/agonizing over this for weeks.  Admittedly my son is a bit of an odd ball but these ideas will work for just about any group and are very customizable.  A good theme needs to be able to encompass games, party favors, snacks and foods and even costumes.  A few of these ideas I incorporate a specific location or event as well.  There’s nothing better than not having to clean your house or worrying about multiple little kids running wild in your home.

Renaissance Festival/Medieval Times-  This works for both boys and girls.  Boys can be knights or kings and girls princesses or queens.  Most festivals will work with you to provide a meal location and discounted food.  The food is always fun and messy so bring a pack of baby wipes for clean up.  All of the entertainment is included right at the facility so your set to go.  If you choose to go to a festival or show a much smaller group is necessary for cost and corralling purposes.  Think cat herding!  I would invite 2-3 kids maximum.  This theme can be done at home however by serving roasted turkey legs, orange icys in hollowed out oranges, candied almonds and spiced apple juice.  If you serve drinks in large plastic goblets your guests will feel very royal.  Games could include bean bag tosses, Nerf crossbow target and face painting.  There are great glitter tattoos out there that can be done by anyone.

Apple Orchard or Pumpkin Patch Party-  Most apple orchard and pumpkin patches offer a variety of packages for parties.  Many choices include hay rides, apple or pumpkin picking, petting zoos and bee keeping.  They are traditionally inexpensive and the added benefit of supporting a local farmer is always nice.  You can encourage your guests to wear their Halloween Costumes and decorate with fall leaves and scare crows.  Games should include bobbing for apples and pumpkin seed spitting.  I know its gross but if its outside and controlled the kids will love it.  Crafts can be pumpkin decorating with markers and stickers and scarecrow making.  Here a few of my favorite crafts:

scarecrow1                   scarecrow2

Foods should include of course all things apples.  Apple pies, apple cakes, apple bread, apple cookies, apple crumble to name a few.  Pumpkin bread, candied or salted pumpkin seeds and apple cider round out a fun menu.  A lot of places will even allow a campfire for hot dog or smores.  You will of course need a lot a parent supervision for this!

Masterchef Party-  This one is a little strange I know.  Both my children like to cook and I don’t know a kid around that doesn’t like to decorate cookies or cakes.  Many Hy-Vee’s and Social Suppers have facilities dedicated for these purposes.  It won’t mess up your kitchen and you won’t have to prepare any food.  Its a win-win!  I would suggest making something all kids like spaghetti, tacos, grilled cheese, or pizza.  Pizza is very fun because the kids can pull the dough and choose their own toppings.  Its also very hard to mess up.  Guests should receive Chef hats, coats and aprons and party favors could include a small pack of cooking utensils.  Cookie or cake decorating can complete the evening.

utensils                                      utensils2

I hope you and your kids will have as much fun with these party ideas as I have had.  Wish me luck with my son’s party.

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5 Easy Crafts for Kindergartners

If the idea of 25 Kindergartners with glue, glitter and scissors makes you cringe and run screaming from the craft table I’m your gal.  Don’t be intimidated.  It is possible to make cute, easy, non-messy crafts with the little guys.  You simply have to plan ahead and above all else keep them busy.  I have used all five of these ideas in parties many times and know first hand they are successful.  Some of these ideas do take some fore thought however,  so start early because they are well worth it.

1) Snow Globes

You will need clean baby food jars or small jelly jars with the lids, water, small charms or toys for the bottom of the globe, glitter or snow and super glue.  The jars do not have to be the same size or shape just small, clear and clean.  I suggest sending an email to the class roster the first of October asking for jars.  Have a deadline of one week before the party so you know just how many jars you have collected and how many you still need.  Ask your family, friends and neighbors for their empty jars as well.  The charms can be purchased in bulk from many online stores.  I have purchased mine from US Toys and  Oriental Trading Company.  The day of the party you will need either a pitcher of water or a sink in the classroom, two parents to help and paper towels to dry the completed jars.  Create stations to select the charms away from the water and gluing station as this “picking” process seems to create the biggest bottleneck.  Place the charms in two baskets at a table and have the children come to the charm station two at a time.  Once their charm is picked have a parent at the glue station super glue the charm to the underside of the jar lid.  Let the charm dry completely before moving to the water and glitter station.  It typically takes about 2 minutes to dry.  Finally add the snow or glitter to the inside of the jar and fill with water.  Lastly screw the lid on tightly and dry with a paper towel.  This craft will take approximately 30 minutes based on a class size of 20-25 children.  There is a great deal of down time with this craft before the charm is picked and after the globe is completed so I suggest having the children move directly to a coloring page station to keep them occupied and quiet while they are waiting.  A variety of crayon and marker colors and paper shapes and designs will keep kids attention.  Cut strips of paper into small rectangles for book marks, larger rectangles with holes at the top for door knob hangers, medium circles with holes for tree ornaments or hearts for valentines.  Start this craft early as it can use a lot of time and every child will want a snow globe.

2.)Soup Mix and Recipe

This is a super easy craft that creates very little mess.  The teachers love this craft as the children practice their writing and measuring skills.  I suggest using this craft for the February party as the kids will have developed better writing skills and will be better able to complete this task.  You will need a soup recipe,  I have included mine below as well as find this great recipe here from IFoodTV, large Ziploc baggies or bags with rubber bands or ties for closing, notecards or paper cut into rectangles with a hole punched to attach the bean recipe, string or yarn to tie the recipe to the bag, spoons for the children to ladle the beans into the bags and the beans you are mixing.  Most bean mixes will use just about any kind of bean available and I suggest buying whatever is on sale and modifying the recipe to fit the bean.  Place the different types of beans in their own bowl, with a card sticking out and the number of spoonfuls needed, and place the bowls at a table.  You can set up multiple tables with identical bowls, bags and cards to accommodate all the children.  Place a parent helper at each table to assist the kids.  Instruct the kids to spoon the exact number of spoonfuls of beans into their bag.  Do this for each type of bean.  Finally have the children copy the recipe from the chalkboard and attach to their bag with the string provided.  Parents helpers may have to assist children with the writing, closing and attaching of the recipe.  This craft typically takes about 10 minutes.

8 spoonfuls Dry Navy Beans

6 spoonfuls Dry Black Eyed Peas

5 spoonfuls Dry Red Kidney Beans

3 spoonfuls Dry Pinto Beans

2 spoonfuls Dry Split Peas

Recipe:

5 Bean Mix

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 large carrots chopped

2 celery stalks including leafs chopped

1 small onion chopped

ham bone or leftover ham cubed

1 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper

1/2 tsp each garlic and celery salt

Brown celery, carrots and onions in 1 TBL olive oil over medium high heat until onions are translucent.  Add chicken stock and remaining ingredients.  Cover and reduce heat to medium.  Cook for 6-8 hours.  Stir the soup and check on fluid level every hour.  If stock gets to low add more as needed to keep at a constant level.  This recipe makes soup for 4.  Serve with bread and salad.  It can also be placed in a crock pot.

3.) Cookie Decorating

This craft can be done very easily and many parents will volunteer to buy the plain sugar cookies or supplies as this is an easy way for them to help.  To keep messes contained place plastic table cloths on and under each table being used for easy clean up later.  You will need plain baked sugar cookies, icing, sprinkles or candies and spoons.  It is also helpful to have small plates handy for kids to place their cookies.  Have several different colors of icing and colors of sprinkles, candies and edible decorations.  All of these things can be found easily at any grocery store.  Place the supplies and spoons at the table and let the kids go at it.  You will need to keep an eye on the children however, as some  invariably will try to eat the icing or decorate themselves.  This craft will take about 10 minutes.

4.)Create Your Own Tote

These bags are hugely popular.  If they are to be used in the Fall call them candy bags and for the Winter call them gift bags or totes.  I received many phone calls and emails from parents thanking me as they had forgotten candy bags for Halloween and this was a huge time saver for them.  These bags can be purchased at Oriental Trading Company or any large craft store.  They can be decorated with as much or as little as you would like.  Use scraps of leftover material, fabric markers, glitter, foam board, cotton balls.  Just about anything you can glue to the bag can be used.  Place the bags and supplies at each table needed and let the kids loose.  This craft will take about 10-15 minutes.

5.)Flower pots

You can choose to decorate the pots with stickers and glitter before planting the seeds.  If you decorate the pots let the ink or glue dry before planting the seeds.  I suggest decorating the pots first, playing games and then planting the seeds.  You will need a small pot for each child, dirt to fill the pot, a pitcher of water and seeds for planting.  Pots can be purchased at any large craft store or online in bulk.  This craft works best for the Spring parties.  Have the children spoon dirt into their pot until it is 3/4 full.  Sprinkle several seeds on top and cover with dirt.  Pour a small amount of water over the dirt.  These pots can be placed into plastic bags to take home.  Both flowers and fruits are hugely popular with the children.  Having a variety of seeds is best.  This craft will take approximately 10-20 minutes depending on if the pots are decorated.

All five of these crafts have worked very well and I have used them multiple times.  Most of the crafts are not going to break the bank either as other volunteers will be willing to contribute items.  The key to a good party is planning, planning and more planning.

Top Five Kindergarten Party Game Hits

Games seem to be the hardest.  What to do that the kids will enjoy, won’t create to big a mess, will be age appropriate and proven winners.  The question I get asked the most is what games to play for the little ones.  Kindergartners are arguably the easiest and toughest to plan for.  They are enthusiastic and excited about everything but they can be easily distracted and wild.  Any game needs to be quick moving, involve large groups of people and not to messy.  At this point I know everyone has visions of trying to herd cats, but trust me it can be done.  You can engage these very sweet and energetic kids without creating pandemonium.

1.)The popcorn relay

This one can be done with any number of different items to run, popcorn, jelly beans, cotton balls to name a few.  You need several small trash cans or buckets, several large spoons and the item to be transferred.  Popcorn is fun and cheap but can be quite messy.  I found jelly beans or other small candies work just as well and are not nearly as difficult to pick up afterwards.  The staff will definitely appreciate the use of candy versus popcorn come clean up time.  Simply divide the class into several equal teams.  I found about 4-6 people per team works best.  Each team will get a full bucket of candy and an empty bucket.  They will also be given one large spoon.  The race starts as one member of each team puts as many candies as they can on each spoon and runs it to the empty bucket at the other end of the classroom.  The child runs back and tags the next child in line.  The relay continues until the once full bucket is now empty.  If the buckets are large this game will typically take 10 minutes to complete.

2.)Mummy Wrap/Gift Wrap

This one requires very little in the way of supplies.  You can use toilet paper for the fall or leftover gift wrap for winter.  Include bows, yarn, spiders, candy corn, whatever would be fun to add to the wrapped child.  If you are making a “mummy” use plastic spiders, candy corn or glow sticks.  If you are wrapping a “gift” use bows, yarn, confetti, christmas ornaments or tinsel.  This is a great use of leftover Christmas paper and wrapping materials.  Divide the class into teams, 4-6 per team works best.  If you have any more than that there are to many kids wrapping and wildness ensues.  One child is selected as the “mummy or gift” and the others are the wrappers.  The goal of the game is to use all the wrapping supplies before the other teams.  A fun variation of this game is to find a kids Winter or Fall rap CD and play it during the wrapping process.  When the music stops whichever team is the furthest along is the winner.  This game takes typically 5-10 minutes to explain and complete depending on the amount of supplies used.

3.)Guess How Many

A time tested game for sure.  You simply need a large clear glass bowl, vase and enough candies, buttons or beads to fill it.  Fill the vase with whatever items are appropriate to the season.  Candy corns or small pumpkin candies for the fall, candy hearts or red hots for February and silver, red, gold balls or Hersey kisses for the winter.  The kids simply need to guess how many items are in the bowl.  Make sure you count the candies as you place them in the bowl the night before.  Have a parent record each child’s guess.  The child closest to the actual number wins.  This is a good game to use as a station game, meaning it can be used at the same time as other crafts or activities.  This game usually takes the whole party to cycle kids through but does not take much of each individual child’s time.  Teachers like this game as well as it introduces the children to estimation.

4.)Telephone

Who hasn’t played this game.  This is great because you can play as many rounds as needed, it doesn’t require any set up or materials and the kids love it.  Make sure you have many phrases pre-made however as this age group has a tendency to be quite silly if left to pick their own phrases.  You will get a large number of bodily function jokes.  I use phrases such as “The Silly snowman slid down the hideous hill on his way home.”  Rhyming phrases and phrases with similar sounding words and lots of consonance make for the best telephone phrases.  The children should sit in a circle and the first child should be whispered the phrase by the adult leader.  The child then leans to his neighbor and whispers the phrase as they heard it.  The game continues until the last child is whispered the phrase.  They then say out loud what they heard.  This game is great because it is a real time waster.  Use this game at the end of parties to use the last couple of party minutes up.  It can be used for as short or as long a period of time as needed depending on number of phrases used.

5.)Bingo

Everyone loves a good Bingo game.  You can make your own Bingo cards for the season or holiday or buy them pre-made.  I have done both.  The pre-made ones  are usually not expensive and definitely will save you time.  Here is a site I have used before to purchase pre-made cards and tokens.  You can make your own however as long as you have a computer, printer and a whole lot of patience.  Remember if you make you own you need to also make tokens or balls to pull out to announce the next letter and object.  Kindergartners are a tricky bunch as some can read and others can not.  Use cards that have more letters or more pictures depending on how advanced the class is and where in the school year this game will be used.  If you use this game in the Fall I would use pictures only except for the top word which could be CANDY or GHOST.  This game takes a lot of time and is relatively quiet in the classroom but you will need lots of parent help.  You will need a parent to draw the Bingo tokens, and about 1 parent per 4 children.  Teachers like this game as it reinforces what they are already learning, does not create any mess and is very quiet.  This game typically takes 10-15 minutes to play.

Game winners can win small trinkets like themed pencils, markers or erasers, candy, or glow bracelets, necklaces or pins.  These can be purchased in bulk cheaply from and stored for the next party.

There are hundreds of sites out there with great information.  I have included a few below.  The five games listed above I have used myself with my oldest and plan to use again with my little one.  These games are for sure winners which do not require a great deal of money to set up and are flexible on time.  The key to this grade is stay flexible and have a Plan B, C and D as necessary.  Keep the party moving and the kids active and it will be a huge success.

Awesome Kids Parties

EHow Mom

Family Fun