My youngest two children—a girl and a boy— have birthdays three weeks apart. For my convenience and sanity, I often combined their parties. Whether you’re in the same situation or just want guests of both genders to have a great time, here are a few party themes that keep the fun flowing for everyone.
Young royals and wee warriors get outfitted for the court and release a bit of energy. Ask your guests to arrive in costume or provide dress-up items to don when they arrive.
- Cross the Moat – Children ride pool noodle “horses” over a “bridge” made of 2 X 4s over a “moat” of blue cloth on the ground. See who can stay balanced and cross without stepping off.
- Find Cinderella’s Shoe – Ask half the kids to take off their shoes and drop one of their shoes in a bin. The shoeless ones sit on chairs while the others grab a shoe and see who it belongs to.
- Cup Stacking Castle – Working in teams or as individuals, kids build the tallest or sturdiest castle. You can limit the number of cups to use or set other guidelines, such as number of cups at the base.
Let each child choose to decorate a paper crown or a cardboard shield with crayons, markers or stickers.
Perky pirates and miniature mer-people join forces to take the sea by storm. Welcome costumed guests or outfit participants upon arrival.
- Sink the Ship – Cut a pool noodle into slices to form circular “boats” and add a paper sail using wooden skewers. Guests try to overturn the ships by lobbing rubber balls that serve as cannon balls.
- Mermaid Race – Each player places both feet and legs in the single leg of a pair of hose or tights and race on their bellies or backs as mer-people to reach a designated island.
- Treasure Map – Guests find the treasure by following a map with clues. Set up the hunt in the party space or get the neighbors involved in a scavenger hunt.
Use empty Gatorade bottles to create I-Spy containers. Add in a few small toys and fill to about half-way with sand.
Tweens and teens enjoy getting the party glowing in a garage with black lights or outside after sunset. Ask guests to wear clothes they don’t mind getting paint on, and give everyone a plain white t-shirt.
- Neon Glow Tag – Form teams and give each team paintbrushes and neon glow paint. Encourage players to splatter as much paint as they can on the other teams. For safety, supply glow-in-the-dark eyewear.
- Color Shutdown – This is like Old Maid with glow sticks. Buy several glow sticks and paint the bottom of one of them black. The kids hold sticks in their hands and try to make color matches by picking sticks from other players without getting the “Old Maid” painted bottom.
- Balloon Volleyball – Cut the end off a glow stick and pour the contents into a latex balloon. Inflate and tie off the balloon, then have the kids try to keep the balloon from hitting the ground.
Guests make glow-in-the-dark play dough or bubbles by adding neon non-toxic paint to your favorite DIY bubbles or play dough recipe.
Junior chefs make and eat their creations. Stage this party in your kitchen or outside on the patio. Guests will enjoy putting on an apron they can take home afterward.
- Too Pretty to Eat – Little artists decorate white bread using clean paint brushes and food coloring. When done, toast slices and return to the kids for spreading with almond butter or cream cheese.
- Play with Your Food – Guests create mosaics or skewers using pieces of colorful veggies like peppers, carrots, celery, cucumbers and olives. The fun is only limited to their imaginations.
- Dirt Cups – Kids crush Oreos placed in Ziplock bags, then layer their “dirt” in clear cups, alternating with premade pudding. Don’t forget to add the gummy worms!
Kids create mason jar snacks they can take home using your favorite homemade trail mix or snack mix recipe. Preprint the recipe to send home.
Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and mother of three.