The Juggling Hoffmans

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Archive for the tag “birthday parties”

The Almost Perfect Birthday Party Giveaway

birthday party ideasSnag a copy of The Almost Perfect Birthday Party: A sanity-preserving guide to planning a party your child will love when you enter the Goodreads giveaway going on now through Monday, Feb 3rd.

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4 Reasons I Hate Pinatas

Pinata for Birthday PartiesFirst, let me apologize to pinata makers and everyone who has ever had a pinata at their party. Why, you ask, do you reserve such ire for the festive pinata? Let me explain.

It’s not like I have something against the traditional donkey or modern iterations of Sponge Bob, Angry Birds, or Princesses. It not that children get prizes or candy. Let it be known, I’m a big fan of candy. It’s about chaos. For the neurotic, hyper-vigilante worriers like me, this article is for you.

1. The Weapon

Can I start with the premise that you give an 8 year old a bat, then blindfold him, then tell him to swing as hard as possible? Sure. What could possibly go wrong? There’s a reason there is a whole pinata segment on America’s Funniest Videos.

2. The Impenetrable Object

Many of the new pinatas are made from cardboard instead of paper mache. Not just any old cardboard; the type of cardboard that could withstand re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. Give that 5 year old a chainsaw and we might get some action.

3. The Waiting Candivores

Don’t forget to add in a line of anxious children waiting to pounce on the candy should the blindfolded person actually crack the pinata code. No danger there of a misguided toddler (or six) wandering into the path of an oncoming bat train.

4. The Crying

Finally, the big kid down the street steps in and breaks the pinata open. Candy for everyone, right? Next is like a scene from the Hunger Games. Only the strongest will survive. Kids get pushed, fingers get stepped on, and that big kid, with his Lebron James-sized hands fills his basket and claims victory, leaving the masses in tears.

So, maybe I worry a little. It’s not so bad, you say? If you must, here are a few things that will make the pinata experience more fun for all.

The pinata

If you have the time and ambition, make your own pinata. Check out these sites for tips on making a few different types. By making your own, you can control how easy or hard it is to crack the pinata and can control the type of object need to break it open. This will deal with problem 1 and 2.

http://www.stormthecastle.com/how-to-make-a/make-a-paper-mache-animal-pinata.htm

http://youtu.be/SXRvxB0lZws

http://pinataboy.com/hook.html

The rules

Kids don’t listen to rules when there is candy involved. The boundaries need to be clear with rope, cones, or police barrier tape. Try having one boundary for the swinger with a buffer zone then a boundary for the watchers.

The helpers

Try to have at least 3 helpers for the smack-down. One person can be positioned with the bat holder and highlighted in an AFV video, one for the on-deck batter, and one (or two) for the rest of the kids.

The prizes

Tom Hanks said in the movie A League of Their Own, “There’s no crying in baseball!” Because I’ve spent my life making kids laugh at parties, I’m not a fan of having them cry there, either. There are a few ways around it.

  • You can station a few “even-uppers” with bags of candy to help out the slower or more timid to fill their bags. It works, but some kids might still feel pushed around.
  • You can fill the pinata with toy coins or other objects. Instruct the kids to collect the coins and fill a nearby collective jar. Once the jar is filled, they each get a bag of candy or other prizes.
  • You can label an object in the pinata with each child’s name on it. When they find their object, they can get their bag of goodies.
  • You can prefill bags of candy inside the pinata labeled with each child’s name.

That’s my two cents on pinatas. What’s yours? Share your pinata story with our readers here, good or bad. We would love to hear from you!

No wonder I’m tired!

2013 was a wonderfully busy year. We hit some new highs, learned some new things, and met lots of great people along the way. We challenged ourselves to perform at a new level and pushed ourselves try new things. Here are some of the highlights of our year.

What we learned in 2013:

The Juggling Hoffmans shaker cupsWhile we continued to tweak our show, Michael learned the shaker cups. He spent countless hours watching experts on YouTube then perfected what he learned. He turned that hard work into an original routine that incorporates the twinkle in his eye and Michael’s unique brand of humor.

He also studied comedy. It’s a rough job, but important for the survival of humanity. He crafted a standup comedy routine and performed it a number of times throughout the year during special performances. Comedy demands an ear for rhythm and exquisite timing. It was fun hearing the routine develop over time.

birthday party delawareI worked hard on contact juggling. Contact juggling is more like manipulation of a ball in which the ball stays in contact with the body. Unlike the loud clanging of the shaker cups, I chose a quieter prop and practiced it night after night as we watched the Phillies in a disappointing season.

I was also relentless in my pursuit for knowledge of social media and social media marketing. We were able to increase our presence, as far as Likes and Follows, by 50% this year! While it is clearly a work in progress, I strive to be Sponge Lois (minus the square pants) and give back the knowledge I have learned.

This year, we made a conscious effort to be part of networking and business learning communities. The result was not simply that we have more contacts or even more knowledge. We got to know some amazing people. Some are sales people, some are marketing directors, and many are fellow business owners. I found folks that are wonderfully inspiring and generous with their time and knowledge. Even after 20 years in business, the people I met this year made it our best. While they contributed to our business growth, it is the community that I found most rewarding.

The highlights of our year:

corporate entertainmentWe performed at halftime at the Delaware 87ers game. The Sevens are the Philadelphia 76ers developmental team located in our hometown of Newark, Delaware. We had just 2 weeks to design and perfect a 5 minute routine. I have to say that I don’t usually get nervous before we perform. I had some serious butterflies going into this one! After the final catch, and cheers from the crowd, it was totally worth it.

The biggest thrill of all was learning to self-publish a book. This year, I wrote and published The Almost Perfect Birthday Party: A self-preserving guide to planning a party your child will love. I received some great reviews and even royalty checks! The ride was long and the journey was bumpy. Thanks to a great writing partner, Margie, and lots of support from family, friends, and colleagues, I was able to bring my dream to fruition.

birthday party ideas

In 2013, we have performed at:

Birthday Parties
Childcare Centers
JDRF Walk
Preschools
Libraries
Home Shows
UD Ice Arena
Blue/Gold Banquets
Pancake Suppers
Assisted Living Facilities
Continuing Care Facility
Purim Event
Girl Scout Banquet
Delmarva Power
CAIR
Easter Seals
After School Circus Camp
Supporting Kidds Fundraiser
Sunday Breakfast Mission
Wilmington Country Club Easter Egg Hunt
Sea Colony Easter Egg Hunt
IHM Father/Daughter Dance
DSWA Earth Day Celebration
Autism Walk
White Clay Creek State Park Creek Fest
Malls
Moms Groups
Masons Event
Arthritis Walk
Linden Hill Field Day
Customer Appreciation Events
After Prom Parties
UD Alumni Event
Newark Day
Special Olympics
Separation Day
UD Pool
Special Needs Camps
Blue/Gold Game
Parks and Rec Summer Camp Series
Ice Cream Festival
Summer Camps
Riverfest
Church Carnivals
The Hershey Story
Baby Shower
Trade Show
Taste of Newark
Harvest Festivals
Halloween Parties
Taught Juggling, Balloons, Face Painting
Christmas Parties
Humanist Holiday Party
Delaware 87ers Basketball @ Halftime
New Year’s Eve Event
And lots of private events

Phew!!!!

Our goals for next year:

Learning. Connecting. Giving. Growing. Exploring. I hope you’ll join us on our journey.

What’s in store for you in 2014?

I just booked a performer. Now what?

How to Prepare for an Entertainer or Guest Speaker

You’ve done your research and selected an entertainer to perform at your event or venue. Now what? Whether you’re planning an event in a theater, library, conference room, classroom, or living room, asking a few questions will set expectations and eliminate stress for both you and the performer(s).

Terms of payment

Discuss where to direct the invoice and/or contract and payment method. Indicate whether you or your organization has policies regarding the payment of vendors. If a deposit is required, ask about the terms.

Contact info

Exchange contact info for the weeks prior and day of event. If there is another contact person on the day of the event, relay the contact information for that person, as well.

Advertising

If you are advertising the event, ask the performer for a bio, photo, logo, and/or a description of the presentation. If you are trying to promote the event publicly, see if the entertainer can send out announcements through email, on their website, or through their social media sites. Provide detailed information for the release to avoid inaccurate information being advertised.

Order of events

If your guest is doing more than one thing (e.g. a show and book signing, face painting, etc.) discuss the order of events. Discuss whether you are needed to direct the audience from one activity to another.

Arrival time

Ask the performer when they intend to arrive and how much set up time is required. Determine if the will require any help/equipment for load in or set up. Where applicable, ask if they prefer the audience wait until show time to be seated or if early arrivals are ok. Direct the performer to any changing area or practice space as requested or practical.

Equipment requirement

Determine if the performer needs sound or lighting equipment and who is providing it. In addition, a performer may need tables, chairs, or extension cords.

Space requirement

If space is an issue, discuss who will delineate the space or determine preferred staging area. If there are other performers or activities before or after, make sure the performer is aware of any time constraints. If they are performing at the same time as other activities, consider the noise level of each and allow ample foot traffic space between areas.

Audience configuration

Consider how the audience will be seated (if there is a choice) and if the performer has a preference of theater style, in a U shape, or on the floor or ground.

Parking/loading in

When possible, save a parking space close to the venue for the performer. If they need a pass or if there are specific areas to park, get that information to the performer ahead of time. As a nice gesture, let them know of any construction or traffic detours in the area.

Who/where to report

Especially if it’s in a larger venue, let your performer know where and to whom they should report. A cell phone is a great option for busy events.

Introduction

Determine who will introduce the performer. If the performer would like you to do the introduction and it is more the just the name, have it written for you to read.

Loading Out

Ask how long it will take for packing up and getting out. If there is a set closing time or time you need/want to leave, inform the performer in advance.

Contingency plans

If there is a chance the event could get cancelled, inform the performer prior to booking the event and decide upon cancellation plans. Discuss the time at which the decision will be made and any plans to reschedule.

I hope that’s been helpful! Is there something else that you wish you had discussed prior to an event that would have made it better? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list!

Worst Juggling Venues Ever

Children's performers Through 20 years of performing, we have juggled on big beautiful stages with perfect lighting, ample space and sound engineers at the ready. We’ve performed at a home with an 18-hole golf course, an estate where the mom didn’t know how many hired help she employed, and at a party so elaborate that I couldn’t imagine what they would do for the child’s 4th birthday.

Then there were the “wanna get away” times where the space or the conditions were nearly unbearable. Nonetheless, they give us some good stories to tell. In no particular order, here are our top ten worst spaces under which we have performed.

In a doorway. We performed for a birthday party at a pizza place in Chadds Ford, PA. They invited 40 people and filled a 15 X 25 foot room leaving no room for us. When we passed clubs, one of us was inside the room, one was out and could only juggle as high as a standard door frame.

In a basement with pipes hanging down to create a ceiling under 6 feet high in a box infested space surrounding us on all sides.

Upon arriving to a birthday party in the pouring rain, we were told to do the show outside. When we told them we couldn’t, they said they had no space indoor. They were nearly right. We juggled in a 8 X10 foot room with 20 people, a desk, and a TV with 7 foot ceilings.

In several spaces that were lit as if by soft candlelight where night vision goggles were warranted just to locate our props.

In an open field in Elkton, MD with winds gusting to 35-40 miles an hour. The wind sent our keyboard and stand crashing to the ground, rendered our sound system useless, and required Bernie Parent-like reflexes to prevent getting bonked in the head with the juggling clubs.

Street performing at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore when it was 98 degrees with 98% humidity at noon and nothing but pavement and brick all around. It was so hot that no one could sit on the concrete benches to watch us and I could feel my sneakers melting if I stood in the same place too long. I only wish I was exaggerating. (That was the last time we did street performing.)

Outside, next to a generator-powered moon bounce with no electricity for a sound system at a festival in North Jersey. If you didn’t know, generators are really loud.

First Night Wilmington has, by far, provided the top worst spaces/conditions under which to juggle.

In 20 degree weather when I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes despite extra socks and gloves. It didn’t help that I was pregnant at the time. I was waiting for my fingers to shatter like glass every time I caught the cold, hard plastic juggling clubs.  At least a smile was frozen on my face.

At the Wilmington Library between 2 tall shelves of books when the whole library was packed. I think we were stuck between the  book titles “Dream Careers” and “Who Moved My Cheese.”

The worst of the worst was when we were assigned the space inside the Christina Cultural Arts Center. That wasn’t the bad part. It was just that our audience was outside on the street. No problem, there was a sound system. Except, the sound system that they provided projected our voices out to the audience reminiscent of the sound of Charlie Brown’s teacher.  That night actually got worse, but that is the subject of one of our blooper posts still to come. Stay tuned.

(We performed at First Night Wilmington 8 times and we did get to perform our show in some nice venues and on some gorgeous winter nights. They just aren’t as entertaining to write about.)

After 20 years and thousands of performances, we were bound to run into a few conditions that weren’t ideal. But, as they say, the show must go on. And on they did. We still juggled. The kids still laughed. And we collected more comic stories to put in our juggling scrapbook.

Bounce House Safety

Moon Bounce Safety RiskBack in the news this week are some startling figures about the number of injuries to children while in bounce houses and slides.  While most of them are minor, like broken bones and sprains, there have been a few reported fatalities and the injury numbers are on the rise.

Like a lot of injuries, many are preventable.  Injuries resulting from jumping in a bounce house are no exception.  Here are a few things to keep in mind if you rent a bounce house for a party or event.

The Company

Compare bounce house rental companies. Ask about insurance and length of time in business.  Get referrals from friends.  Ask about the condition of the bounce house and whether it comes with trained staff to monitor the children and the bounce house. The cheapest rate is not always the best deal.

The Children

The number of children that can safely bounce at one time will depend on the size of the unit.  Ask the operator the maximum number of children recommended for your unit.

Equally important are the ages of the participants.  It is not safe or wise to pair 10 year old children with 3 year old children.  Their size and weight differential plus their balance and ability can make for unsafe conditions for the younger children.

The Weather

Make sure the weather conditions are suitable for safe operation. Wind can pick up or blow over a bounce house if it is not properly anchored tossing the structure and the children inside.  Wet weather can make the smooth surface slippery.

Adult Supervision

With all that goes on at a party, it is easy to let the children go and play.  If there is no trained operator that comes with the unit, it is important that there is adult supervision.  Many of the injuries reported can be prevented by monitoring the number and age of the children in the bounce house at one time, encourage safe behavior within the unit, the safe entry and exit of the children and the overall condition of the weather and the condition of the unit itself.  If the power accidentally gets turned off, the adult can help children safely exit the unit before it collapses.

Don’t let accidents spoil the fun.  Take the needed precautions and have fun!

Related Articles:

http://bounce-house-safety.tumblr.com/

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/bounce-houses-party-hit-kids-injuries-soar

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57554184/bounce-houses-injure-a-u.s-child-every-46-minutes-study-finds/

http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/26/health/bounce-house-injuries/index.html

How to Choose a Children’s Entertainer

There are several factors in choosing the right entertainment for your party or program and questions to ask both yourself and of the person or group you are requesting information.

Is the program designed to educate or entertain?

Are you trying to reinforce or introduce children to a subject or activity?  If so, ask how this presentation achieves your objectives. Or, are you looking to just delight children with a funny, lively, or theatrical performance?  For either purpose, ask what takes place during the show.  Ask if the children are required to sit quietly or if it is interactive.

What age group is most appropriate for your presentation?

Entertainment designed for the preschool set is likely to make a 4th grader gag. Conversely, interactive activities designed with the motor skills and capabilities of a 4th grader in mind will frustrate both the children and the presenter (and likely the other supervising adults).  If you are dealing with a mixed age group, ask how the entertainer will accommodate all of them.  Don’t be afraid to ask the presenter for examples of other similar groups they have entertained.

How long is the show/presentation?

Most performances will be between 30 minutes and 1 hour with the majority falling closer to 45 minutes.  Several factors will help you determine the right amount of time for the performance. At a fair or birthday party there may be games, food, or other activities to engage children during a set amount of time. This contrasts with a summer camp or library program with a designated time set aside for a show.  The other critical factor is the age of the participants.  While some 2 year olds will sit for an hour and some 10 year olds will only sit for 20 minutes, the younger the age, the shorter the presentation unless the activity is very interactive.

How many children can you accommodate?

If you are charged with entertaining 200 children and the program works best with 20, you didn’t find the right fit.  Some programs will require more assistance from adults.  Find out what is required of you during the performance.

What are your equipment and space requirements?

You want to determine if the entertainer will require from you a sound system, tables and chairs, access to electric, or special equipment of any kind.  Find out if the performance can be in a living room, outside, or with a low ceiling if your space is limited.

How long do you need to set up for the show?

If the “stage” space is shared, either by other activities or another performance, you will need to determine how much time is required to both set up and break down the space and schedule the entertainment/activities accordingly.  Ask if the audience can be present during set up if that is required.

What is the cost for the performance?

Ask if the cost is per performance or per person and if it includes travel time. If you would like to have multiple shows, ask about a multi-show discount. If you are booking through an agent, you will likely be paying the agent and the performer.  Book the show directly with a performer whenever possible.  Find out the terms of the agreement.  Many will require a deposit.  Ask what the procedure is for booking a performance and the lead time required.

 

You are entrusting this person or group with both your entertainment and the children.  Ask for references, especially from venues and people that have hired them back. Check out their website and Facebook pages, if they have them.  Make sure you are comfortable with the tone and message they are portraying.

 

Resources:

 

www.Partypop.com

www.Merchantcircle.com

www.Yellowpages.com

www.Superpages.com

www.Gigsalad.com

Or, Google children’s entertainment and your city or state.

Budget Friendly Places

The previous entry was on fun places outside of the home that are good party venues. However, these places can get a bit pricey so this post is going to focus on more budget-friendly party locations. Just because a party is on a budget does not mean that it cannot be a fun and memorable one, quite the contrary actually! With fun activities and inexpensive decoration you can throw a great party just about anywhere! Here are some great party venue ideas for the budget savvy party planner in you!

1. Local Parks

Local parks are a great party place, weather permitting of course, because in most cases, it’s a free venue! Many parks usually come with picnic and/or playground areas to set up near as well as grilling stations. This is perfect for a lovely outdoor themed party or even just a fun BBQ. Be sure to check with your local park first before throwing your party there because some parks do require you to obtain a permit (sometimes for a nominal fee). Also, most parks to have regulations about what you can and cannot bring onto the premises so do be sure to look into the specific guidelines for your local park before your party date. Another great thing about parks is the big open space you have for guests to play in. This is great for setting up physical activities such as sports games or even a game of horse-shoe throwing. Parks generally have a carry-in-carry-out policy regarding trash so be prepared to cleanup carefully after your party.

2. Community Centers

Community centers are another great budget-friendly party venue because there are typically many to choose from in your local areas. Community centers often have great banquet rooms that can be rented for a low cost. You can make a community center party extra special by assembling a team of friends or family members to decorate the place and make it extra colorful and lively. Some community centers even have recreational rooms with things such as pool tables, ping-pong tables, Foosball tables, and more. These are great locations to bring in a party entertainer such as a juggler, balloon twister, magician or another entertainer of your choice. Most commonly you are responsible for the set-up and clean up for your party so make sure you review the guidelines of the community center of your choice. Most importantly though, have fun!

3. A Friend or Relative’s House

Do you have a close friend or relative with a really awesome house? Maybe a house with a pool, a great backyard or basement, or even one of those home movie-theaters? If so, consider asking them to be the host of your next birthday party! Of course you will be responsible for set up and clean up for the party but surely if the host is having a party in his or her home, they will want to at least participate in decorating! I suggest to bring a small gift as a token of appreciation for your party host for generously allowing the party to take place in his or her home. Having a party at a friend or relative’s house is great because you won’t have to pay a venue charge and you don’t have to worry about a suitable place in your own home to fit a bunch of energetic kids!

4. Community Pool

What child doesn’t love a pool party? Perfect for the warm summer months, hosting your child’s celebration at a community pool is a fun time for everyone. Parent’s get to relax by the pool knowing there is a lifeguard on duty to help supervise your kids while the party guests get to splash around and play pool games with friends. Most local areas have a variety of community pools including your local YMCA  branch. Some community pools to require membership in order to host your party there so make sure to check into that. One thing that most children have in common is that they love to go swimming so a pool party is great especially because it generally involves minimal decorating and stress!

5. Your Own Home

What could be more budget-friendly than hosting your child’s party at your own home? This is of course dependent on your home and if you can fit the desired amount of party guests. If your home is suitable for a party though it’s a great location because you don’t have to travel, pay a venue charge or follow any policies or restrictions other than your own. You have the freedom to decorate how you want to, clean up at your own pace, and invite however many people you can fit! This is a perfect place to hire a children’s entertainer to make the party extra exciting. With hosting a party at your own home you have the liberty of deciding exactly what you want and how much you want to spend, making this the most budget-friendly place of them all!

Party Location Ideas

Hey everyone! I’m sure many of you with kids (or even multiples) know that throwing a birthday party can be stressful, especially if you are having it at your house. You have to make sure the house is clean and decorated, make sure there is enough space for everyone and make sure there is enough entertainment to keep the party guests having fun. This week’s post is going to explore alternative party locations for those times you just don’t want too many kids running around your home.

1. Local Zoo

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This is obviously subsequent to your location and how close you are to a zoo. If you are within a reasonable driving distance to a zoo this is an excellent location for party hosting. Often there are special rooms that can be reserved for parties or picnic areas where things like cake and presents can take place. Often with parties at the zoo you can arrange for a zoologist to come talk to your guests and maybe even meet a few of the animals face-to-face. This is a great location for birthday parties because with so many animals to see it is sure to keep kids entertained for hours!

2. Ice Rink or Roller Rink

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Ice and roller rinks are another great option for party hosting location because they offer hours of physical activity and fun. Most commonly these locations also have special party rooms that can be reserved and often overlook the ice. This is great because parents who wish to stay with their children but do not wish to skate can keep watch from the room. Skating is a fun form of exercise and just might make parents a bit less weary about their kids eating so much birthday cake! Many skating rinks also offer party packages that includes room reservation, use of the rink, skate rentals and even pizza and drinks!

3. Pottery Painting Shop

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Pottery painting shops are great for a party with a more relaxed atmosphere. These shops are popping up all over the place so there is sure to be one in your area. Many of these shops also offer birthday packages and for a flat rate you get a special party room reserved, and guests get to choose from a selection of unpainted pottery that they then get to create! How these shops work is that the guests pick out a piece of pottery and get set up with a variety of paint brushes and colorful paints and they create their very own masterpiece! Their painted work then dries and gets put in the kiln to harden and set the paint and the guests can usually pick up their pieces 1-2 days later. These parties are great because the guests get to unleash their creativity and come home with a keepsake to remember the party by.

4. Aquarium

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Parties at aquariums can be a bit more tricky because they are often not as many in driving distance. However if there is an aquarium in reasonable distance to you, they make great locations for parties because there is so much to explore. Aquariums are often quite large and full of exotic underwater creatures to see. A party here will surely mesmerize guests with the beautiful animals they will get to see. Some aquariums (such as the Baltimore National Aquarium) offer special shows like dolphin or whale shows and if you call in advance sometimes your birthday child can get the opportunity to touch one of these wondrous creatures. Talk about best birthday gift ever, right?

5. Children’s Museum

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Lastly, children’s museums are great contenders for birthday party locations because they are geared specifically towards children’s enjoyment. Places like The Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, PA and the Delaware Children’s Museum in Wilmington, DE are two examples. These museums are full of fun activities for guests to explore with lots of different rooms and themes and things to play with. There is almost no way for a party guest to get bored here! These places also typically have special party rooms that can be reserved and sometimes a museum worker will bring in a special craft especially just for the party! Children’s museums are fun places for guests to explore and learn together, making them excellent and memorable party locations.

Boy’s Birthday Party Themes

Hello again! Last week I wrote on birthday party themes for girls and as promised, this week is on birthday party themes for boys! Again, depending on your budget most of the decor and party accessories needed for themed parties can be either bought at your local party store or if you are extra crafty you can can make decorations yourself!

1. Prehistoric Dinosaur

What could be more perfect for an adventurer than a dinosaur themed party? Crafts could include making paper-mache volcanoes. Games could include pin the tail on the dinosaur and a sandbox dino-dig, you can get really creative so use your imagination! Colors to focus on are outdoorsy colors such as browns and greens and blues. Also consider hiring a professional reptile handler to come as the main attraction so your guests can get up close and personal with a whole array of critters.

2. Astronaut Space Explorer

This would be especially great for a sleepover party you can bring the kids outside to look at the stars. Weather permitting, back yard camping would be extra fun. If the sky is clear enough, print out constellation guides and see how many the party guests can find. Check with your local rules before doing this, but another entertainment idea would be to set off small (and LEGAL) firecrackers with the kids and pretend that they are rocket ships going into outer space! Crafts could include the kids decorating their very own spaceships (made from recycled 2 liter soda bottles)! Colors to focus on are black, silver, yellows and blues. Consider ordering some freeze-dried “astronaut” food for the guests to try.

3. Wild West Cowboys

Cowboy hats required! Handout sheriff badges, bandanas and water guns and get ready for a wild west ride! Depending on the age of the children consider hiring a horse for pony rides to make your party guests feel like true cowboys. Another fun idea is to rent a photo-both for the day and have all of the party guests take “Wanted” pictures to make a souvenir scrap book for the birthday boy. Colors to focus on are browns, whites, and reds. Games could include stick-horse races and a rousing game of horseshoes (with kid-safe equipment).

4.  Superhero

This is the perfect theme for your little crime-fighter (or trouble maker)! With this theme you can choose to either focus on your child’s favorite superhero, a group of superheros (such as the Justice League or Marvel’s Superhero Squad) or you can create your very own superhero out of your child! Fun crafts to do with the party guests include personalized mask making. Another fun activity would be to create fake crime scenarios and have your little hero’s role play how their characters would handle the problem!

5. All-Star Sports

Perfect for an outdoor party. You can set up different play stations around your yard or local park with various different sporting equipment. This theme is great for the energetic boys in your house and is sure to tire out any little athlete. A fun idea is to get inexpensive trophies as party favors and have each guest receive an award such as “tee-ball MVP” or “Longest Football Throw”.  You can really personalize this party to what your child’s favorite sports are so be creative!

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