This post was contributed by Sarah of Little Bins For Little Hands.
Fun Party Activities for Your Next Birthday or Playdate
When party times rolled around, I started going mad looking for ideas and themes. I searched pinterest and I googled images non stop. I questioned Liam on his interests, his thoughts on themes and his favorite colors. Then I realized, he doesn’t care as much as I seem to care. He doesn’t care about color scheme as long as there are some balloons. He doesn’t care about themed snacks as long as there are some corn chips to grab on the way as he is running by. He doesn’t care about elaborate party activities as long as he can run and jump and be with his friends. He definitely doesn’t care about hosting a pinterest worthy party and that’s when I realized I shouldn’t either. All of a sudden the whole party thing got a whole lot easier, a whole lot more manageable, and a whole lot more budget friendly!
Ok, so now that I wasn’t going to have an elaborate theme, I still wanted to have a theme! That sounds a bit funny I know, but I wanted some party activity stations set up for something a little special. What do four-year olds like to do? Explore! Create! To make it extra affordable, the party activities were going to be made from materials we already had around the house. Activities for any 3-4 year old to play with without direct adult supervision. I decided on a create, explore and move theme! The party was both inside and outside to spread out the different party activities, but if it rained we would have plenty to do inside! Here’s what I came up with…
Our Fun & Affordable Party Activities:
Some notes about the stations and the room. I cleared all of the small toys, games, puzzles, books and so forth to help eliminate missing pieces, clutter and mess. This helped the kids focus on the activity tables and have more fun exploring and creating. I designed each station so that at least three kids could work together with minimal sharing. The party activities were spread around the room and miscellaneous furniture was removed.
1. (Outdoor) Obstacle Course
While on pinterest, I did see a fun idea (pirate theme search) that showed a balance beam set up over a blue tarp (walking the plank). They used cinder blocks and a piece of wood but we actually had a preschool friendly balance beam left over from the previous owners. I added our tunnel, a small climber, our stepping logs, and an agility ladder , some pool noodles and a basketball hoop. The kids had fun pretending to fall into the water! They also made up their own version of the obstacle course.
2. (Outdoor) Bird Seed Sensory Bin
I simply put out our classroom size sensory bin on legs and filled it with bird seed. I added lots of scoops and containers to dump and fill as well as a sand wheel. The birds benefited by this activity just as much as the kids!
3. (Indoor) Construction Themed Small World Table
I brought our water table inside and filled it with brown aquarium rock and larger stones. I added duplos, duplo men and trucks and some wooden craft pieces for a pretend construction site.
4. (Indoor) Play Dough Table
Since his party was in September, I made a batch of plain colored cinnamon play dough as well as a batch of red and orange (apples and pumpkins). What do you need on a play dough table? Play dough tools, cookie cutters, muffin tins and fun things like golf tees, marbles and gems to stick into play dough creations.
5. (Indoor) Mini Blocks & Frames Building Table
On another table I put out our mini table top blocks and picture frames (no mats or glass) to make 3D artwork. I also included our geometric blocks set. The kids made all kinds of cool creations within the different sized frames.
6. (Indoor) Painter Tape Truck Road
Since we had a large open space available, I decided to make a big road for the big trucks I left out for the kids to use! I made it double wide and added these cool boxes as tunnels. After that, I decided to make some traffic lights with construction paper squares and painters tape. The whole thing came out so cool! Since I just couldn’t stop there, I had to make parking spaces in the middle for the trucks! The kids had an awesome time driving trucks around and pretending to stop, go and slow!
More Party Details
What did we actually buy? Well, I really wanted the blue tarp (you could choose not to have one or use a blanket) so we bought a tarp that proved useful for our tag sale and I am sure many more things to come! I had to get a roll of painters tape when my extravagant roadway, garage and traffic light used up the roll I already had! The only decorations we bought were bunches of balloons and this lovely frog balloon. Liam loves balloons! The frog one was $10 but it is still standing a month later and he still loves it!
I had plenty of paper products so I decided not to worry about fancy birthday plates or napkins or tablecloths. At this age, Liam doesn’t care either and that’s what counts. He requested the following food: watermelon stars, brownies and ice cream and pizza. Easy. We cut watermelon stars; I made two batches of store-bought brownie mix (on sale) and we bought a delicious, enormous party size pizza for $12! Add some baby carrots, corn chips and salsa, a salad, and seltzer and juice boxes for extra snacks! Wow, very budget friendly.
How did the party go?
He loved it. Simply loved it! His friends loved it! The parents loved it! Everyone had a good time. The party was easy to throw together. It was not overdone. Sure, there were still hiccups, flurries of running around, and a little bit of stress, but it was minimal. Liam was unaware that a party can even have a theme! What does he think a party should have? Friends, cake, pizza, and fun (oh and presents too)! I imagine somewhere down the road, he may request a theme or special party activities. Until then I plan on savoring the simplest joys in a little boy’s life without hurrying him along to bigger things. Simple fun and friends.
More Birthday Ideas from B-Inspired Mama:
If you like this, get lots more by signing up to get B-Inspired Weekly right in your inbox. And follow B-Inspired Mama on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest! Also check out these link ups where B-Inspired Mama loves to share and find inspiration!
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.
Awesome ideas! So creative and a great way to keep everyone busy and entertained! Thanks for the great ideas!
I love the construction site in the water table! My son is turning two soon and is a vehicle-lover. I might have to try this as an activity for him and some little friends! Thanks for the inspiration!
Janis Cox says
Marvellous idea!!! This is also good for playdates.
Following you from Bee Crafty Kids.
Janis http://www.janiscox.com Author of Tadeo Turtle.
Barb @ A Life in Balance says
The obstacle course is awesome! I’m pinning that idea for next summer when the kids complain they’re bored and have nothing to do.
Love the idea of a birthday party with so many fun and different activities! I bet Liam loved it!
This looks like so much fun. I am impressed that you figured this out with your first child. Kids LOVE parties at someone’s house. So many are step by step activities at facilities so any sort of free play is a party for some kids! Your party ideas are tried and tested. Who doesn’t love an obstacle course? I love your clay and block stations so kids don’t have to stick with one thing. Wish I had these ideas years ago when I spent all that time on a batman themed party. As the kids get older, I have sinced learned to let the kids guide it more when they get here. We have some planned games but if a game of kickball starts up we don’t stop it to play an arranged party game. Great post! Definitely Pinterest worthy under party planning for kids.