One of the primary challenge that comes with hosting any kids’ birthday party is keeping all of those little ones busy until it’s time for their own parents to take them home. Between the excitement and the sugar contained in a typical birthday party just keeping up can be more than a parent can do. Games will wear them out, but choosing craft activities will give them an opportunity to be creative while they play, and may even leave them with a great souvenir to take home with them.
Finger puppets are great fun and each child can take home their own set! Use pipe cleaners or fabrics, and don’t forget the classic brown-paper-bag-puppets we all made when we were kids. For longer parties or sleep over celebrations, you could also have them decorate a cardboard puppet stage and come up with a show to put on before the end of the night. Flex that visual creativity AND their storytelling skills, while building a little story-time into the evening to mark the time to bring it to an end.
A mural is an excellent activity for kids, and something that your child can keep and decorate their room with to remind them of the great party you threw for them, and of all the friends who wanted to come and celebrate him or her. This is probably an activity best planned for outdoors or in the garage, but with the careful use of a tarp or a series of newspapers, it can be accomplished inside pretty safely. Remember to make sure that each child is getting a chance to participate and a space to work in, whether or not they’re the most artistic of the group.
Decorating T-shirts is lots of fun, and each kid will have a specially made item to take home! Use crayons or grease pencils for younger kids to reduce the mess, but for an older group consider setting up outside for tie-dye. It’s really a very simple process, requiring only die and rubber bands, and anyone can do it. All you do is twist up a part of the blank T-shirt and put the rubber band around it, then dunk it into the color you want. Trial and error will lead them to the best combinations of colors and the patterns they prefer, so having a few blank shirts for each child is a good idea.
It's all about color
This does require a few more elements than most of the craft ideas proposed above, but your party guests will be blown away when you teach them to use mirrors and paper to make a homemade kaleidoscope! Let the kids cut up the colorful paper and decorate the outsides of their tubes, then learn about refracting light when it comes time to put together the mirror and enjoy the beautiful colors. Each one will be entirely unique, and the kids will love taking home the kaleidoscope they made themselves.
Working with clay is a great activity for kids as it gives them an opportunity to really get their hands dirty while being creative and productive, but it can seem impossible to accomplish at home, since a proper kiln should heat up to nearly 2000 degrees. However, there are some great no-fire or air-dry clays on the market. Ceramics made with these items won’t be waterproof or oven-safe, but they will be handmade and great for decoration or storing things like keys and change.
Author Info: Jenny Franklin is a mom, a party planner, and a freelance writer. She currently writes for PartyPail, girls' birthday party supplier.