Preteen birthday party ideas
An at-home birthday party for your preteen that’s fun, within your budget, and makes your house the one all the kids like.
Too old for Pin the Tale on the Donkey and too energetic to sit around watching DVD’s – they are Preteens. Using up as much energy as possible, while keeping different interest levels engaged can prove difficult, but not impossible. Whether your at-home party is outside or inside, everyone can have fun, your budget kept intact and make your house the one all the kids like best.
Invitations should be mailed out or made by phone two weeks in advance. Remember that some schools have rules against students handing out invitations at school. A party right after school can be a great way to get everyone to arrive at the same time, but means the guests must bring their presents to school, which some administrations frown on.
Be sure and set an ending time for your party. Parents of eleven-year-old boys are always hoping you wanted them to stay all night.
Preteens want their parents to throw them a party—they just don’t want it to look like their parents threw them a party. Keep any decorations to a minimum. However, a few balloons on the mailbox will give them a reason to roll their eyes and say, “Mooommm.” Then you can explain it’s so everyone will know where the party is.
You might want help for your party and hiring a teenager can be a lifesaver. At the very least, invite a couple of the parents to stay.
Handing out cheap, brightly colored sunglasses as the partiers arrive sets the mood. Announce that the “Snowball Fight” will begin momentarily and start them guessing.
Snowball Fight – How about a Summer Snowball Fight? For several weeks in advance, wad up snowballs from pieces of newspaper or scrap computer paper. By party time, you’ll have several garbage bags full. Separate your party goers by counting off 1, 2, 1, 2… so everyone doesn’t clamor to be on their best friend’s team. Divide the teams by a line made either by lying out a piece of rope or drawing a line in chalk across a driveway. Dump half the “snowballs” on each side of the line, several yards behind the line. Then assign each team to a side. When the game begins, each team tries to throw as many snowballs across to the other side. After an appropriate amount of time, end the game with a loud whistle. Then have each team collect the snowballs on their side. The side with the fewer snowballs wins and of course the losing team will demand vindication, so divide the snowballs and let the fight begin again!
Water Guns – Keep the same teams from the Snowball Fight and hand each participant a water gun. Medium to small water guns work best so they have to keep refilling. Place a kiddie-pool full of water in the yard for refills and don’t allow anyone to sneak inside to the water faucet. Maneuvering around to refill becomes almost as much fun as soaking your opponent.
Piñata – Corral all the partiers by hoisting a piñata. Give each child an empty goody bag to hold their sunglasses, water gun, and the candy they collect. Form the line for hitting the piñata according to birthday order so there’s no wrestling for position. Using a plastic bat is great since it rarely causes a break until everyone has had a turn. Blindfold the “batter” and move everyone out of his vicinity.
Baseball Cupcakes are easy to decorate and perfect for outdoor summer parties. Frost cupcakes with white icing, then lay two pieces of red licorice whips on the side. Curve the whips away from each other to look like the seams on a baseball. No plates or forks are needed.
If your cupcakes need a more feminine touch, tint a can of white frosting with food color. Having turquoise or purple cupcakes is as easy as following the color combinations on the side of the box of food color.
Make sure to have a cooler of ice water on hand for during the games. Serve fruit drinks with the cupcakes.
Snowball Fight – The Snowball Fight still works. Just lie out a rope for the dividing line. You will want a large room for this activity.
Shoveling Snow – Keeping with the snowball theme, line up the two teams for the Snowball Relay. Place a mound of cotton balls on the floor. Line up each team behind their pile of cotton “Snow” balls. Give the first person in line a plastic spoon and tell them they have to scoop up a snowball in their snow shovel (the spoon) without using their other hand and then carry it to the finish line where their team’s snow bucket awaits. As each player dumps his snow into the bucket he rushes back to his waiting team member, hands of the spoon and goes to the back of the line. The first team to finish shoveling their pile of snow wins.
Telephone Game – It’s old-fashioned, but kids love it. Have everyone sit in a circle. Tell the first child you are going to tell her a sentence – ONCE – and she will repeat it to the person on her other side. Make up a rather complex sentence. “My uncle, Jimmy Joe went shopping at the mall and bought a cd by the Old Raccoons and a pink sweater to give to my aunt Lucille for her 45th birthday.” When they see how silly it ends up, they always want to play again. This time let the next child in line make up the sentence.
Grandmother’s Birthday Game – While the children are still settled or while they are eating, announce that your Grandmother is having a birthday and what you will be bringing her. You think up something that starts with the same letter as your first name. My name is Kay, so I would say, “I’m bringing her a kite.” Then choose a child and ask them what they will bring her. Unless the say they are bringing something that begins with the same letter as begins their name, you say, “No. You can’t bring that.”
Maybe John said he would bring a cat. You say, “No, you can’t bring that, but Caitlin can bring a cat.” Occasionally someone will accidentally say something that begins with the same letter as their name and when you say, “Yes, Thomas, you can bring a turtle,” the guessers really gets going. Eventually they start figuring it out, but until everyone does this game keeps them glued to you.
Candy Hunt – Since a piñata indoors isn’t a good idea, fill those goodie bags with a candy hunt. Hide the candy around the rooms used for the party. Hand out the bags and tell them to start hunting. Of course, you have to use wrapped candy and keep some to the side to even out the bags of any that don’t find much.
Cupcakes can be a little messy for indoors since taking the papers off always results in crumbs. Ice cream sundaes please everyone and don’t leave a mess. Buy a large tub of vanilla ice cream then put out bowls of assorted toppings and syrups. Include the traditional chocolate syrup, whipped cream and sprinkles, but don’t forget the sour nerds, gummy bears and gummy worms.
Having an at-home party can be fun and rewarding. You get to know the children better than if they are all-over an amusement park or sitting in a movie theatre. They also get to know your home as a place they are welcome. This may not seem that important when they are 10 or 11, but when they are 16 you’ll be glad you got to know them when playing telephone was a thrill.