Backyard Birthday Party with a Colorful Twist
Written by Abbie Schiller, CEO & Founder of The Mother Company
Confession: I’ve always gotten over-the-top excited about my childrens’ birthday parties. I love making them memorable celebrations and creative events. But this year, when my son was turning seven, I was finding inspiration a little hard. Initially, he wanted a chess party but upon realizing that so few seven year olds know the game, he then settled on a party with fun “stations” – and he wanted to invite his entire grade, which meant that I needed to find things to entertain 30 children…and their parents… on a budget.
Rather than try to fit the event into a theme, I drew inspiration from the colors of the invitation he chose on Paperless Post.
The colors were so fresh – the combination so easy – I took it and ran. From there, the rest felt into place:
We settled on 5 stations and staffed each with one of my daughter’s teenage friends:
- Slime Making Station
My daughter made slime using glue, shaving cream, liquid tide and paint in the palate of the party. Each kid chose their color and got to take home their homemade slime in a mason jar. So pretty!
- Taste test Station
This was the easiest station. Children sat, closed their eyes and were fed a “mysterious” morsel that they had to guess what it was. Samples included raisins, apples, pickles, carrots, chocolate chips and onions eached chopped into tiny squares. We housed all the samples in a muffin tin covered by a linen cloth so guests couldn’t guess by sight what they would be tasting.
- Photo Booth Station
We made a colorful backdrop with paper lanterns, poms, and decorative fans each attached to a large wooden picture frame covered in canvas.
Some parents preferred to use their own cameras to capture the kids but we also had an iPad set up with the app NAME and a printer nearby with Ikea frames for the taking.
These framed photos made such a lovely party favor. I especially loved seeing parents posing with kids – it’s so rare the moms get themselves in the photos with their kids – and these were so lovely.
- Cookie Painting Station
I made Martha Stewart’s recipe for sugar cookies in the shape of the number 7 and in a fall leaf and iced each one with white icing. Then, at Michaels, we purchased edible food paint (we only needed one package for all these kids with plenty left over).
Each kid got one of each cookie design and painted stripes, dots, and often blobs. They all looked great and were totally delicious to eat too. For the kids who wanted to take the cookies home, we put them into cellophane bags sealed with washi tape and wrote their names.
- Letter Wrapping Station
This was the most time consuming station. I ordered paper mache letters in the initials of each kid attending the party and put them in an 8×10 bag with the child’s name on it. The bags looks great lining the stairs and kids were excited to receive a “gift” upon entering the event.
At this station, kids wrapped the letters with various colored yarn and they looked great. I hope all the kids are proud of their personalized keepsake.
After the first 90 minutes of kids rotating through the various stations, we started a few simple backyard birthday games including Freeze Dance and Limbo.
Then we sent the kids around the outside of the house for a treasure hunt.
The teepee held one of the clues in the treasure hunts. (I had fun painting the top of the teepee poles in the colors of the event along with hanging feathers and colored yarn)
The kids went around the back of the house to wind up back in the garden where the “prize” was the piñata – all strung up and ready for them.
Since my son’s birthday is next to Halloween, I don’t like to fill piñatas with candy. The kids already get so much sugar at parties anyway. Instead, here are some of the fun items the kids got:
Then it was time for cake. I love making the cakes for my kids – and with almost 65 people, this one used 5x the recipe of a usual cake for me, filling two 18” cake pans. It was impressive to see (and on display the entire party). I turned to Everett Edibles on Etsy to create custom fondant stripes and a “Happy Birthday Charlie” lettering for the cake’s top. It made all the difference and for less than half the price of a store bought custom cake, I had a delicious, and professional looking custom one.
The Secret to Throwing a Great Birthday Party:
The secret (I think) to making people marvel at your parties is to create little unexpected “moments” or “vignettes” that let guests explore and discover new places. It is also exciting to let the events themselves surprise guests so just when they think the whole party is stations, we introduce games…then the treasure hunt… then piñata…then cake. It just keeps getting more and more fun.
I’m a sucker for details and so making sure the décor was fresh and creative was important to the feel of the party. The teepee is one little detail that creates delight, the yarn “party” sign is another, the signs and decor marking each station, another. Even the trellis used to hold all the gifts was another unusual experience.
Putting the gift bags on the stairs and letting children find the one with their names on it, creates an unexpected delightful experience at the first moment of the party. Details really matter.
Here’s a look at what we did:
Yarn wrapped “Party” Sign: Yarn art is in general, awesome, cheap and easy. I bought a $5 bulletin board on Craigslist, covered it with canvas, and nailed in outlines of the letters for the word “party.” Then using different colors, wrapped yarn around the nails and tied it off. Cute, right? Cheap and cheerful. What a welcome.
Balloons from Oh Happy Day: I love supporting other mom businesses and Jordan’s company, Oh Happy Day, is incredible. Can you buy balloons elsewhere? Yes. Do they have the amazing colors Oh Happy Day offers? Nope. We filled up 50 balloons in aqua, peach, pink, and yellow, tied them with yarn and floated them over the buffet table. It was gorgeous. Other balloon bundles marked each station. Make sure to save some balloons for the mailbox too! Nothing says “birthday party” more than that.
Wrapped sticks – rather than spending money on flowers, we picked up long sticks and branches nearby on walks and brought them home for family branch-wrapping nights. We used the yarn we’d already bought for the letters and wrapped sticks in multi colors and then hung a “happy birthday” sign from them for the buffet.
Painted signs: Each station at the party needed to be well marked so large signs were important. I used painter’s tape to keep the lines and spacing nice and straight.
Fringe Tassel Garlands made from $1 (dollar store!) vinyl tablecloths. This clever idea was brought to my attention by the ultra creative mama Maggie who runs everything at The Mother Company. Maggie is also famous for her creative birthday parties so her suggestions are always golden. She found the inspiration HERE. These garlands were time consuming but worth it for their impact on the look of the party. Also, they are budget friendly (though not that environmental – so reuse them).
The party was deliberately hosted during an off-meal time because I really didn’t have it in me to prepare an entire lunch for everyone. But what we did serve got eaten:
- Deviled eggs with chopped chives
- Vegetable platter and herb dip (trick: I mixed cream cheese and ranch and added chopped herbs like chives and thyme)
- Fruit platter
- Cheese and crackers
- Little containers of homemade pop corn, airpopped and salted
- Donut tower (attach 150 donut holes with toothpicks onto 18” cone)
- Lemonade, spa water (and hot coffee and champagne for the adults)
Of course, the paper plates and napkins added to the color scheme.
So…a fun time was had by all. Good memories were made. And when I asked my little guy what his favorite part was, he said “ALL OF IT,” which to me made all the hard work worth it. Parents are still coming up to me to ask about where I got the balloons or how I made the tassels and wanting resources so I can now send them this link. I hope it is inspirational to you too!
Here is the pinterest board for more details. https://www.pinterest.com/abbieschiller/7th-bday-party-ideas/
Paper Mache Letters: https://www.consumercrafts.com/store/browse/catalog/basics-paper-mache-letters
Piñata, plates and paper decorations: https://www.raquelscnc.com/party-supply
Customized Cake Fondant Décor: https://www.etsy.com/shop/EverettEdiblesArt?ref=pr_shop_more
The Mother Company aims to support parents and their children, providing thought-provoking web content and products based in social and emotional learning for children ages 3-6. Check out our Emmy winning children’s series, “Ruby’s Studio” along with our beautiful children’s books, music, and more. We want to be a truly helpful parenting tool… For you!Posted in: The Mother Co. Mamas
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