Children’s birthday parties are no longer about musical chairs and pin the tail on the donkey. We found parents are upping the ante on birthday parties and showing us how they make it happen.
Allison Goldstein of Highland Park recently created a circus-themed birthday party for her daughter Gracie’s 4th birthday. Allison worked with her daughter to create a party plan together so that Gracie was involved from the start. For inspiration, Allison looked to websites like Pinterest and Etsy.
For décor, she draped the tables in red and white striped cloth and topped them with treats like animal crackers, circus peanuts, saltwater taffy, as well as bowls of clown noses and carnival ducks. She found a “big top” tent at Ikea and used it as a play zone for the younger kids.
After being entertained by a clown, everyone was treated to a live animal show. Children had the opportunity to see and pet a possum, monkey and baby alligator. As a spin on the common carnival prize, the kids went home with “goldfish in a bag” soap.
Theme Inspired and Giving Back
For Brandy Isaac of Glenview, birthdays are not just a time to celebrate, but also an opportunity to give back. For each party, her children choose a nonprofit organization to contribute to while involving their guests in a theme-inspired activity. This family tradition teaches her kids that they have the ability to help others in need. Brandy’s kids still receive presents from family members, but friends are asked to support the chosen charity in lieu of gifts.
At one party, money was raised for the Nature Conservatory. Brandy explains, “We had a big map of South America. It was blank at the start of the party. After our main activity, where the kids used popsicle sticks and green construction paper to make trees, we had filled South America with green trees. The kids saw in a real clear, visual way, how working together they could make such a difference.”
When planning the party, Brandy talks to her children about their passions. This way each child feels they are donating to a charity they have a connection to. For instance, if your child loves animals, consider giving to a wildlife fund. When possible, Brandy likes to bring her children in-person to make the contribution.
Birthday themes our readers loved and you will too
Backwards Party – Make an invitation that needs to be read in a mirror. At the party, have gifts first, followed by cake, crafts, games, and end with pizza.
P.J.s and Pancakes – Host the kiddies from 9-11 a.m. in pajama attire. Children decorate pillowcases and make chocolate chip crescent rolls. Serve pancakes, bagels, juice, and mini-donuts for the kids and mimosas for the parents.
“Chopped” – Mimic the Food Network TV show “Chopped.” The kids decorate their own aprons and chef hats. After being split into teams, each team is given a basket of surprise ingredients. They must come up with a dish using those ingredients. Think no-cook and no-chop ingredients like pre-cooked pasta, pre-chopped veggies, pretzels, pre-grated cheese, etc.
Outer Space – The children and parents create a spaceship out of recycled cardboard. The kids make jet packs and practice space maneuvers, then do a stimulated space flight.