Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall

Birthday ideas for them all.

You can use each season to your advantage with these birthday party ideas for children ages 4-8. A simple party formula ensures fun no matter what the time of year, and a little creativity keeps the budget in check without compromising the end result: a fabulous party.

Winter

Theme: Let It Snow
Craft: Melted Snowman at www.craftelf.com. Simplify by crinkling up a brown paper bag for the tag. Also prep ahead by having all cut-outs ready and setting up the stations for each step.
Games: Cold Winter Toes— divide your party into two teams for this relay game. Place marbles in the bottom of a tub filled with ice water. Each child takes a turn fishing marbles out using only his or her toes. After everyone has had a turn, the team with the most marbles wins. Penguin Shuffle— pair up the kids and place a small stuffed animal on one child’s feet in each pair. Kids must pass the stuffed animal to their partner’s feet without dropping the stuffed animal on the floor. Inform kids that this is how mom and dad penguins pass their babies back and forth.
Cake: Snowball Cupcakes. Make white cupcakes with white frosting that are sprinkled with coconut shavings or powdered sugar. Instead of a cake plate, use a sled or a snowboard to display the cupcakes.
Favors: Gloves and hot cocoa tied up in cellophane bags.
Bonus Fun: Order fake snow from www.stevespanglerscience.com. It sells for under $10 for two gallons, which is plenty for a party room. Play a dance scene from Happy Feet and dance along amidst the snowy scene.

Spring

Theme: Ladybug Party
Craft: Antennae Headbands. You will need black headbands, black pipe cleaners and black pompoms. Hot glue pompoms to the pipe cleaners before the party, but let the kids attach the other ends of their pipe cleaners to their headbands at the celebration.
Game: Lady Bug Hunt— order live ladybugs at www.gardensalive.com for $13.95. Set them free in your backyard for the kids to hunt with bug catchers, which also serve as party favors. Whoever catches the most bugs wins. Be sure to have the children release the ladybugs back into your yard. Explain that ladybugs belong in nature and help care for plants.
Cake: Ladybug Cake. Ingredients include one box cake; two cans of vanilla frosting; red, green and black paste food coloring; a round dinner roll; coconut flakes; two googly eyes; one black pipe cleaner and 11 black licorice wheels. To make, bake two eight-inch round cakes. Once cool, stack cakes, using frosting between layers, on a platter. Place the dinner roll against the cake. The roll represents the ladybug’s head. Color half a can of frosting black. Color the rest of the frosting red. Frost the dinner roll black and the cake red. Unwind a licorice wheel and place down the middle of the cake. Arrange the other licorice wheels as spots. Cut the pipe cleaner in two for antennae and affix the eyes. Add a bit of green food coloring to the coconut and give it a stir until all the coconut has been dyed green. Spread around the ladybug to look like grass.
Favors: Bug catchers. I’ve found mine at the dollar store. You can also let the kids decorate these favors at the party with ladybug stickers.

Summer

Theme: Bubble Party. Bathing suits and towels are required.
Craft: Turn your backyard wading pool into a bubble bath by adding tear-free bubbles to the water.
Games: Stomp the Bubble Wrap— give each child a large section of bubble wrap. The first person to burst all of his or her bubbles wins. Blow the Biggest Bubble— use bubbles or bubblegum to play depending on the age of the kids in attendance.
Cake: Skip the cake. Instead, get Pink Bubblegum ice cream from Baskin-Robbins. Don’t forget the Dixie cups for kids to spit their gumballs into. It’s gross, but they’ll love it.
Favors: Bubblegum and bubbles.
Bonus Fun: Serve bubbly champagne to the adults in attendance. An automatic bubble blower, which you can purchase for around $15 at Target, further enhances the festive atmosphere.

Fall

Theme: Pumpkin Party
Craft: Pumpkin Lollipop. Let each child wrap a lollipop with a small square of orange tissue paper and secure it with a green pipe cleaner. Curl the ends of the pipe cleaner around a pencil to create a cute spiral effect.
Games: Guess the Pumpkin’s Circumference— set out a large pumpkin and encourage the children to cut a string they think is just long enough to fit around the pumpkin. Whoever’s string is closest to fitting around the pumpkin wins. Put the Pumpkin in the Patch— staple a large piece of green butcher paper, which can be found at a craft store, to your wall. Use pumpkin stickers to play a game similar to Pin the Tail on the Donkey.
Cake: Pumpkin Cupcakes. Making these is as simple as frosting chocolate or vanilla cupcakes orange and placing a piece of a green spice drop candy on top of each cupcake to portray the stem.
Favors: Give each child a sugar pie pumpkin with a beanie hat on it. I like to glue googly eyes to the pumpkins to give them a little personality. The adorned pumpkins double as cute table decorations.
Bonus Fun: Consider throwing your party at a local pumpkin patch. Such places tend to have entertainment like hayrides and games during the fall. Plus, your house stays clean. Just be sure to call ahead and ask if you can bring your own cupcakes and a few balloons to make the party complete. I have never had a problem doing this.

Party Planning Tips

  1. Only invite your child’s closest friends, keeping the guest list and the pandemonium from spiraling out of control.
  2. Plan ahead. Send invitations at least two weeks in advance, prep goody bags one week in advance and make the cake the day before the party.
  3. Break down each party activity and then decide how much time your party requires.
  4. Choose to throw your party at a time of day that doesn’t demand that you serve more than cake and ice cream. Specify on the invitations as to what kind of food will be served.
  5. Allow yourself to keep decorations simple. Balloons, a “Happy Birthday” sign, bright napkins and favors on the table are all it takes.
  6. Frosting is forgiving. Use as much as you need to hide cake or cupcake baking mistakes! Don’t want to bake? Buy box cake. It’s easy, inexpensive and totally tasty.