If you had asked me eight years ago what I thought about themed birthday parties for little kids, I probably would’ve said something like, “Cute, but overkill. They won’t remember it anyway!”
Fast forward. What do I love doing now? Yep, themed birthday parties for my children.
I still don’t feel like I go overboard, but just enough to have fun, include some unifying commonalities between activities, and see those gorgeous smiles full of joy.
Enter the “Have a Ball” Birthday Party!
Ready to get rolling? (Ha ha, just had to…sigh)
The main focus of this birthday party was activity. I wanted it easy for all attending kids to come in, quickly join in on play, and then change activities when they wanted. (We keep our birthday parties small, and the kids present are fantastic, so I usually don’t have to worry about too much chaos. Praise.) Add in my teaching background, and, boom, stations quickly became involved.
This party is geared towards ages 1-5. We set up five main stations/play areas:
- Basketball – One of those indoor/outdoor preschool basketball hoops and a bunch of kids who love to jump, spin, defend, and shoot baskets? Instant win.
- Water Bottle Bowling – Yes, we did use water bottles as our bowling pins. It’s what we had around the house, and it worked! Another idea I might use in the future: take plastic water bottles, paint them, fill the inside with a sand in a little plastic bag (to help prevent spillage), and seal the bottle. (Read one tutorial for making your own bowling pins here.)
Side note: We have a small basketball goal hanging near where we set up the bowling pins. Some creative kids in attendance found out if they tossed the “bowling ball” (a soft, safe, squishy indoor ball) into the basketball hoop, the ball would fall down onto the bowling pins. Thus “basketbowling” was born!
- Bubbles – Okay, not exactly a ball, but it is ball-shaped. And kids love bubbles. (Who am I kidding… most adults love bubbles! I do!) Plus, from a special needs/speech therapy standpoint, practicing blowing bubbles actually helps strengthen those small muscles around the mouth and promote lip closure for base sounds.
- Dancing at the “Ball” – Yes, right, this isn’t even ball-shaped, but little kids love dancing and my kids really love dancing. We played upbeat music and cleared a small area for bouncing, bee-bopping, and groovin’.
- Ball Pit – Thanks to my friend Sandra for this fantastic idea. We purchased a set of 100
(phthalate free! And all the special needs mothers rejoice.) “pit balls” and tossed them in the pack ‘n play. I love this! Confined, yet big enough for one (or two, depending) children. To keep it safe, we only let the kids ages three and under go in the ball pit, shoes off, and two kids in at a time. My son still enjoys time in the “ball pit” when he wants some satisfying sensory input.
I created some simple station signs to help direct the kids to different activity areas. We have a small downstairs, so I strategically placed each area to prevent most collisions. Feel free to download those station signs for free here!
All of these activities were simple enough for kids to jump in whenever they liked with very little front-end explanation. The kids kept moving the whole party, except when they ate.
Speaking of food, we kept the snacks simple, too. We usually plan parties in between common mealtimes so folks know to only expect some kind of birthday cake and a light snack.
All the food was ball-shaped—clementines, blueberries, grapes, and little round cheeses my mom purchased. (Thanks, Mom.)
I made a lighter, healthier version of carrot cake into muffins (somewhat ball-shaped, right?) for the birthday cake. A very easy way to serve cake to young kids. (This recipe is similar to the recipe I use.)
I originally planned to decorate each cupcake to look like different colored ball pit balls, but I ran out of time! Thankfully, last minute, I plopped either a blueberry or a grape on top of each cupcake. “Ball” cupcakes!
We sent out party invitations via email. Here’s an example (minus the details):
I also saved a blank version of the invitation in case you’d like to use it! Just save the document from this page and use your favorite photo editing software to add in your specific details. Print out and send, or email to your guest list.
Click here to download the invitation template and the ball party station signs for free!
(Note: If you’d like to share these printables, thank you! Please link back to this blog post when doing so.)
Overall, the party was a success, full of exercise, love, and fun!
Do you plan themed birthday parties for your kids? What’s your favorite party you’ve helped implement?
This post is also linked up with The Homeschool Village’s Ultimate Homeschool Link-Up and Homeschool Creation’s Preschool and Kindergarten Corner and UpsideDown Homeschooling’s Hearts for Home linkup.