5 Easy and Inexpensive Ways to Incorporate Kids’ Birthday Themes into a Party

published Aug 1, 2021
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Another birthday means another party theme, and *cue deep thought* — figuring out how to entertain a bunch of kids! Even if the theme is as specific as “Doll and Donut Dance” of all things, do not panic — I got you.

No matter what theme you or your child dreams up, here are some creative and open-ended birthday party activities that are easy to customize and sure to be a blast for everyone celebrating.

1. Doodle Paper Tablecloth

Grab some white Kraft paper and measure out enough paper to cover the length of your table. On each side of the table, draw large doodles related to your party theme with black Sharpie. Set out crayons on the paper-covered table, and watch as the party guests color in your illustrations! This is the perfect warm-up activity for kids to take part in while guests are arriving.

2. DIY Slime Bar 

Slime is always a sure-fire hit with grade school kids, but what’s even better is making your own slime with custom add-ins! You can tailor your slime to your theme by buying slime “charms,” which are little plastic or resin miniatures, to match the party theme. For my daughter’s tenth birthday, which was a doughnut theme, I bought these small doughnut charms, and the kids loved picking out which ones to mix into their slime. 

For the slime, I recommend a slight adaptation of Tinkerlab’s contact solution slime. All you need is 6oz. of Elmer’s white glue, 1.5 tsp of baking soda, and 1.5 tsp of contact lens solution. The kids can mix the ingredients together and then use their hands to knead the slime. Food coloring or liquid watercolor is an easy way to give the slime some color.

3. Playdough World

Silky, soft homemade play dough is worth the effort and perfect for a birthday activity. It’s open-ended, taste-safe, perfect for both grade-schoolers and the preschool set. First, brainstorm an idea for a play dough “world” activity that relates to the party theme. For example, my son had an Under the Sea 4th birthday party so I made 5 oz. of deep blue-green play dough per child and rolled it up into a deli container. My favorite homemade play dough recipe is this one from Tinkerlab. This play dough was the “sea” for the activity. 

At the party, each child received a tray, and I set out small items for the kids to create a “underwater world,” using the play dough as a base for these items to stand on. The small items included shells, blue and purple glass beads, and Safari Ltd. Coral Reef Toob sea miniatures, including scuba divers and marine animals. Each child created an underwater scene, and at the end of the party, we rolled the small items and the play dough into the deli container for the kids to take home and play with over and over. 

4. Pass the Parcel

This classic game brings nostalgia and fun to the party and is easy to customize as well! Buy small toys and favors that go along with your theme, and create a parcel with gifts in each layer. Begin by wrapping an item in packing paper or newspaper, and then adding another toy on top of the first wrapped item, and wrapping again to conceal it. With each layer, you add a toy or small item, until you have a large parcel with all of your themed toys inside. During the party, the kids sit in a circle and pass the parcel while music is playing, and stop passing when the music stops. Whoever is holding the parcel gets to keep the gift! 

The adult in charge of the music should be facing away from the group, to ensure fair play. You can decorate the outside of the parcel according to your theme. For example, I added a paw print to the parcel for my daughter’s puppy-themed party to make the activity “Pass the Paw-cel” (No, there is no way I can resist a pun — allow me this!)

5. Guided Drawing

This is a birthday activity that works well for both in-person parties and Zoom. Search YouTube for a guided drawing lesson that relates to your theme. Play the video on a TV or on a device for all kids to see and follow along. If the party is held over Zoom, the host can play the video for all attendees by screen sharing. Each guest will get a paper and pen, pencil, and colored pencils or crayons for their drawing. I love this activity because every guest gets to learn a new drawing skill, create a piece of art, and keep it as a memento from the party. If the drawing is being done remotely, it is a wonderful moment when all of the guests share their work on screen and the kids have a moment of connection and appreciation that they would usually have in person. 

So do not fear — no matter what birthday theme is around the corner, customizing a couple of these activities will leave your guests feeling inspired, creative, and ready for cake. Happy celebrating!