Forget the clowns and video games when you’re planning your child’s birthday party. Instead, build the party around a craft activity. Whether you choose a simple, cut-and-decorate craft, such as paper plate masks, or throw a tie-dye T-shirt bash, each party guest will go home with a one-of-a-kind party favor, and your child will have a birthday party to remember for years.
When choosing a craft for a birthday party activity, consider the age and interests of the birthday child and her friends. Some craft projects, such as decorating visors or making treasure boxes, are gender neutral and work well for all ages. Others, such as making friendship bracelets from embroidery thread or making toy boats from balsa wood, have a more specific appeal to particular groups. Bring your child into the planning process to be sure you’re choosing a craft that the birthday girl or boy will enjoy.
Kids need room to spread out while they’re being creative, so provide plenty of space for craft time at the party. Add the leaf to your dining room or kitchen table, cover it with newspaper and top it with a disposable plastic cloth to protect it from spills. If your dining table isn’t big enough, check into borrowing a long folding table from your church or renting one from a party rental store.
Choose a craft that the kids can complete in a reasonable amount of time. Age plays into this, of course–a group of 9-year-olds have a longer attention span than a group of 6-year-olds. If the kids are ages 5 to 8, for instance, break up the craft time into 20-minute blocks, interspersed with more physical activities. Have kids cut and decorate paper plate masks, for example. Break for a game while the glue dries.
Craft kits simplify the task of assembling materials for your craft. Check the instructions in advance to be sure you have any additional supplies on hand. Some may not include glue, for instance. If you decide to provide materials and supplies yourself, make sure you provide several each of supplies, such as scissors, glue sticks and boxes of crayons. You’ll avoid a scene when six kids all want to use the red crayon at once. Always pick up a few extra sets of craft materials to account for kids who goof and have to start over, advises Shelly Radic, author of “The Birthday Book: Creative Ways to Celebrate Your Child’s Special Day.”
Choosing a craft as a birthday party activity helps you rein in expenses without putting a crimp in your child’s celebration. Every kid at the party can go home with a decorated plastic visor or tote bag for far less than it would cost you to hire a clown or magician, or take the kids out to an activity center for the party. Cut costs even further by buying supplies at the dollar store instead of laying out the cash for packaged kits at the craft store.
A little preparation in advance can ease the transition between greetings and the craft activity. Make sure that the kids have everything they need to create their own projects. If you’re using purchased craft kits, check to make sure that each one has all the required parts. Otherwise, assemble items that each child will need in individual bags or bins so that you can simply hand them out when craft time arrives. For younger children, reduce the complexity of crafts by doing more difficult tasks, such as cutting out stencils or templates, before the party so that the kids can just do the fun parts of the craft.
Sit down with your own child a few days before the party and complete the birthday craft project together. The trial run will help you time the activity, evaluate whether it’s appropriate for your child’s party guests and head off any problems. It will also provide you with one completed project to serve as an example on the party day, and give your child a chance to practice in advance.
- arts and crafts image by Gina Smith from Fotolia.com