DIY Kids’ Birthday Parties: Looking for Inspiration

We are about to embark on Silly Season: that time of year when my little chickens hatched, one after the other, in April, May and June.  Three months of birthday planning and parties are ahead of me, and I am already behind!

I really enjoy hosting the kids’ parties at home.  Beth-Anne recently posted this list of tips from Alyson Schafer to our facebook page (via The Mabelhood) about hosting a party for kids at home.  It’s got lots of sound advice, and I especially liked how Schafer spelled out present etiquette: decide ahead of time if you will open presents at the party or after.  If you open them during the party, make sure the birthday child thanks each guest individually; if you open them after the party, make sure the birthday child sends a thank you note acknowledging the gift.  I like my kids to open the gifts after the guests have gone home, and I’m glad to know that it calls for an extra thank-you.

In the past, we’ve had parties at which we put on plays, parties with a fencing instructor, and, of course, sleepovers that featured very little sleep.  Beth-Anne has hosted a fabulous Ninja Party, and Carol has written about a horrible birthday party and the perils of trying to make everybody happy.

As I cast about for ideas for this year’s crop of parties, I keep coming back to the loot bags for inspiration.  I love putting loot bags together, and I usually find a book that works with the theme of the party: knights, magic, fairy tales.  My kids make bookmarks with a drawing and a note of thanks, and that goes into the book with each guest’s name printed at the top.  Add a sweet treat, bundle it up, and you’re done!

This year I’m putting the cart before the horse and looking at books that have inspired me recently and that could give me a theme:

Charlie’s Dirt Day

written by Andrew Larsen

illustrated by Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli

We could get the kids to paint flower pots, fill them with dirt and a plant and send them home with a good read and a green thumb.  Between the painting of the pot and the planting of the plant, there could be the kind of birthday chaos that is best enjoyed with a short shelf life.

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

by Maya Angelou

Paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat

We’ve been twice to see the Basquiat exhibit at the AGO.  Both times, Littlest and Middlest got busy getting their art on.  The first time they sketched, the second time they sculpted, getting inspiration from the art on the walls.  We could do an art activity and get the kids to create their own signature motif, like Basquiat’s crown.


Our Woodland Birds

written and illustrated by Matt Sewell

I can’t get enough of Matt Sewell’s bird illustrations.  They are an amazing balance of being entirely his own style while being reliable enough representations to help you identify the bird.  Littlest and I sat down yesterday to paint, a luxury afforded by the slowly tapering end of hockey season, and he painted an homage to Matt Sewell.  We could give the kids sketch books and pencils and make bird art.



4 thoughts

  1. Nice! We have done some fun themed birthday parties at home too. My favourites were a teddy bears’ picnic for a 4-year-old and a mystery party for an 8-year-old. The latter would lend itself well to a book-themed loot bag, as there are great mystery chapter books for this age group. Our theme was the Mystery of the Missing Birthday Cake, and the kids had to follow and decode a variety of clues in order to find the birthday cake (if they wanted to eat it!). Our loot bags were detective kits that they got when they arrived, including a detective badge (which they had to make), a Morse Code decoder, a detective notebook and a magnifying glass. It was a lot of fun for all!

  2. What cute ideas! We do themed parties as well, it keeps me organized and gives me more ideas. I am doing a baseball theme for my baby boy’s 1st and a Minnie Mouse for my daughter’s 3rd. I love the ideas with the books, we might just have to adapt some of your ideas into our daily things to keep the kids busy. Thank you!

    1. I did a sports theme one year, and I searched for sports songs on itunes. The search function makes it so easy. We made a playlist of new music for the party, and I found all kinds of fun music. Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

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