If one of your children has a summer birthday, you know that it can be a bit disappointing for them to celebrate their special day during a time of year when they are on summer break from school. It's one of the great joys of childhood to celebrate the act of turning another year older with a class party, or in some way with your school friends.

In the summer it is extra important to plan a celebration that really makes your child feel special…but that doesn't mean that it needs to break the bank. Plan a fantastic summer birthday celebration will these tips. You will create a magical day for your child without costing you a lot of money.

There are 4 keys to planning a successful birthday party:

Today we are going to cover how to put together the schedule of events for your party!

Now that you've found a date and a place, and selected your theme, it is time to plan exactly what you are going to do during the 90 minutes of your birthday party. This is where the real effort and creativity comes in! The key is to have a schedule of events and a few back-up activities that you can rely on if things don't go exactly the way that you have planned.

Here Is an Example of a Party Schedule:

  • The warm-up activity: something to do as the guests are arriving (10 min)
  • The main event(s): an activity, game, and/or a craft (total time: 40-45 min)
  • The transition activity: something to do with the guests as another adult cleans up from the main event and gets ready for the food (5-10 minutes)
  • Food and birthday cake (20 minutes)
  • Wrap-up activity: otherwise known as getting them out the door! (10 minutes)

Let's Break This Down:

The Warm-Up Activity

Even though your party invitation may have stated that the party starts at 10 a.m., we know that not all of your guests will arrive at precisely the same moment. So the first 10 minutes of the party should be a time for a low-key activity that allows the birthday child to greet his or her guests while the other kids are happily occupied. For younger kids this might mean a tattoo station where they can pick out a temporary tattoo and have it applied by an adult. Simon Says is also a great warm-up activity that can be led by an older sibling. For older kids it can be a small craft or perhaps a warm-up to a sports activity such as tossing around a ball or batting practice. But you need to have a plan; otherwise, all of the kids are just standing around for the first 10 minutes waiting for the party to start!

The Main Event

This is the big activity time for your party. If it is a sports party, this is your big game. Review the rules and get started. If this is a more of an arts and crafts party, I suggest breaking up this time frame into three 15-minute segments. Start with a game to get the wiggles out. At a tea party we played "pass the crown" (like hot potato but with a princess crown). A wacky croquet obstacle course, a fun relay race, or even a silly dress up game is a great way to start.

Next, move on to your craft. We've made bottle cap necklaces, painted piggy banks, decoupaged picture frames, beaded bracelets, and created cooking aprons at some of our parties. If you want to purchase some pre-packaged craft kits, Oriental Trading Company is a great resource.

Based on your theme and the interests of your birthday child, the final activity can be another craft, or a new game or activity. But my vote is to keep kids moving, so hold another silly relay race such as standing two kids back to back, putting a balloon between them and have them race to a finish line. For older kids, a hilarious game to play is the frozen T-shirt game. The day before the party take a stack of old t-shirts, soak them in water, and then fold them into a small square. Stick each tee between two sheets of parchment so that they can be stacked, and then put them in the freezer overnight. Hand each guest a frozen tee and see how fast he or she can get them unfolded and put on!

Transition Event

This is for one adult to do while another starts to get the food ready for the kids. Our favorite transition activity is eating off of a string — without hands! We hang a gummy worm or a small powdered sugar donut from a string (the string is either hung from a tree branch or from the ceiling if the party is indoors) and have the kids try to eat the item off of the string without using their hands. It's always good for a laugh! Another great transition activity is freeze dancing. The kids all dance while music is playing and then when the music stops they all need to freeze.

Food and Birthday Cake

Whether you plan to serve just a light snack or a meal, only allow about 20 minutes for the guests to eat, including the birthday cake. It is shocking how fast the kids will scarf down their food and be ready to move on to the next activity!

Wrap Up

We learned the hard way at our first birthday party that you need a definite wrap-up activity that alerts parents and guests that the party is over. Otherwise, you might find yourself tired and hungry with a house full of people just hanging out! Our favorite idea is sending the kids out in the yard on a treasure hunt to find their goodie bags. We hide them behind or up in trees, under bushes, etc. The kids have a blast running around looking for their treats, and it is a great way to end the party on a happy note! Another fun tip is to take a picture of the entire birthday party group before allowing them to hunt for their bags. My kids love these photos of themselves with all of their friends.

In our next post we will talk about how to pull together all of the party supplies you will need — without spending a pile of money.

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