Summer Birthday Blowout

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Birthday cake decorated with pirate theme, skulls and treasure maps
Summer is such an exhilarating time for kiddos. The break from school often comes with a little more flexibility and a little less structure, which translates in their world to more FUN. I mean, who can blame ’em? And for those littles lucky enough to have a summer birthday, these notable weeks of the year can serve up even more excitement and anticipation. For the parents, however, planning a summer shindig can present itself with some logistical challenges. For example, this could be a scheduling conflict due to family traveling or friends away on vacation. Or, it could be based on the weather and your efforts to beat the heat. Either way — no sweat, my friends! I’m here to suggest some alternative ideas to help you maximize the potential of throwing a total bash of a birthday in the summertime.

By Natalie Garrett

AHOY, ME HEARTIES!

A pirate theme is the prime opportunity to switch it up from some of the typical outdoor activities. Not sure where to start, matey? Read on for a few ways to transform your backyard into a pirate’s paradise that will leave your guests shouting “shiver me timbers!”

Create a treasure hunt in the sand. This is convenient if you already have a sandbox, but if not — you can pretty easily bring one to life. All you need is some source of containment (a kiddie pool, an oversized storage tub, or even a large tarp), play sand, and some “treasures” that’ll entice the kids to go digging.

Make your party-goers walk the plank. Guaranteed entertainment for all! It might require getting a little resourceful on what to use as your plank (think long, skinny slab of wood or something similar) and how to stabilize each end (cinder blocks, sturdy boxes or crates, etc.). Position the plank over a kiddie pool filled with water and toy fish or sharks, then dare each child to give it their best walk.

Decorate a spyglass. Set up a craft table with supplies to decorate a “spyglass,” which can simply be an empty paper towel roll. Offer stickers, jewels, buttons, markers, paint, tissue paper, construction paper, and anything else fitting. Let your guests craft a masterpiece that can be played with at the party and then taken home.

Go searching for gold. I recommend this as a good ice breaker to kick off the festivities. Order a large sack of gold coins and hide them all over your party area. When everyone arrives, let ‘em loose on a voyage to explore and find gold. All the littles will be warmed up and ready to party like a pirate in no time!

WATER WARS

As a substitute for the classic summer pool party, consider hosting an epic day of water wars. Prepare a lineup of water-themed competitions and let the games begin. Depending on the number of people you’re hosting, participants could compete individually or relay-style in groups. To up the ante, display a poster or white board to tally points and keep track of who’s in the lead. The adrenaline will be rushing and water flowing! Take a look through some suggestions below to begin establishing your game play.

Water Gun Races: Picture this… a clothesline setup, but with plastic cups attached to a string. The open end of the cup will need to be facing the player. The objective of this game is to blast water into the cups, pushing them along the string with the power and aim of the water guns. Whoever’s cup makes it to the end of the line first is the winner.

Slip & Slide Dash: Slip and slides never go out of style, especially when you overload the soap and bubbles to make it extra difficult to maneuver. Adding an additional component to the end of the slide, like some sort of physical task or obstacle to navigate, could provide a tough spin on the rules to overcome… and perhaps a chance to earn some bonus points.

Water Balloon Battle: The options are endless when it comes to water balloons.Your average sport involving a ball — such as dodgeball or baseball — would be taken to the next level if you replace the ball with a water balloon. You could also add a twist on some more traditional party games, like using water balloons as piñatas. Have no mercy!

SPLASH PARTY

Make a splash! And don’t just limit it to water… I’m talking paint. Yes, you read that right – a summer paint party. Even the kid who’s too cool for crafts won’t be able to resist the joy that comes with untamed art. Plus, if you’re on the hunt for a more low-key or intimate birthday celebration this year, you definitely don’t need a large group to execute this concept. Sometimes the most unforgettable memories are waiting to be made with just a few close friends or family.

Here are a few tips to help make the day a success:

1. First, arrange a “paint safety zone” in your yard to protect the ground using cheap tarps, tablecloths, trash bags, etc.

2. Then, set up a large canvas display. This could be in the form of hanging a bed sheet, taping up poster board, or rolling out Kraft paper.

3. Incorporate a variety of paint colors to enhance the splatter effect and let their inner artist go wild! Disposable bowls are all you really need, but I’ve found that a muffin tin from the Dollar Tree turns into a durable and reusable paint tray. Or, take it up a notch by experimenting with some unconventional vessels… like a water gun or spray bottle loaded with paint.

4. Lastly, since it’s 99.9% likely your little Picassos will be covered in paint, set up a “rinse station” with sprinklers for them to run through and wash off all the excess paint. Just make sure to buy the washable kind, and I would advise swim suits for the entirety of the event.

Enjoy the summer fun, my fellow party people! –Natalie

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