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Ideas for a 4 yo birthday party

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
My daughter's birthday is in 2 weeks. We are inviting about 12 other kids and parents, plus grandparents and a few cousins. I plan on having everyone in the back yard. We have a pond with goldfish that the kids can look at and feed the fish, a sand box and a wading pool for some splashing, bubbles for everyone. There will be cake at some point.

I thought it would be nice to have one table with a project to be made for those kids who are not into getting wet and running around. Anyone have any ideas?

My sister will be there, my dh, my parents, and then all the parents of the kids, so there will be lots of adult help for keeping everyone occupied.

I was also thinking about opening presents as each guest arrives, instead of all at once in one big orgy. Has anyone done this and has it worked?

I am anxious to read all your suggestions.
post #2 of 14
A craft that kids that age seem to really love is building with toothpicks and marshmallows. The astounding thing is how few marshmallows are eaten... the children are intent on building and they don't get around to eating. It is very open-ended as well, since it is something that is hard to know when a project is finished, so the A-type personality parents don't have to worry if their kid wanders away mid-craft.

I've done the present opening when the guests arrive, and I like it. I hate making the kids sit in a circle and watch the presents being opened. (Someone always manages to point out that she has something similar to one of the presents, but bigger, or a nicer colour, or more...Truth to tell, I'd prefer to not have presents, but it's the done thing, so get it over with as soon as possible and let the real fun of the party begin!)

Having a specific time for the cake is a good idea. The birthday child usually likes the attention of the whole crowd, and it does give a signal that the party is ending. That is something that some parents seem to have a hard time understanding
post #3 of 14
4 is young enough to be willing, even enthusiastic, to wear those pointy party hats. Maybe instead of buying some, you could cut stiff paper into the right shape, let kids draw on it, then roll it into a cone and staple? Paper crowns would be an easier version of the same thing.
post #4 of 14

Great Craft

It sounds like a great set up!!
We made this really cute craft at a Vacation Bible school once.
You will need light switch plate covers, sandpaper, glue and small seashells that are clean. First cut each piece of sandpaper the size of the switch plate and put a whole in the middle shaped like the switch. Glue the sandpaper on. Then the shells are glued onto the cover. When they are dry the kids can take them home and the parents can put them on their light switch cover in their room or other room in the house. They are very pretty and usefull!
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
These sound like great ideas. I like the paper hat or crown idea that they can decorate.

bestjob, it's good to know that opening the presents first thing works well. We've been to parties where they make all the kids sit and watch the presents being opened, and also parties where they didn't open the presents until after the party. The kids were *so* disappointed when they didn't get to see the present that they brought being opened.

Thanks guys, any more ideas?
post #6 of 14
My son's 5 yr. old party was entirely "craft" theme. The kids all wore old clothes and they all had fun.

We did:
- fabric painting on canvas bags (which we then filled with treats)
- painting little wooden bird houses
- collage making (I cut out a box full of magazine pictures ahead of time, and provided glue sicks and paper)
-sculpy molding
-spin art
-sand art -- this was definately the MOST popular!

A friend of mine did tie dying for her dd's party. It was more involved, but very fun and made an awesom take home party favor.

I love the switch plate idea.
And the crowns.

Bead stringing might be fun.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Tell me more about sand art, that sound really neat!
post #8 of 14
Well, we bought a kit, but it might be cheaper to buy larger quantities of seperate stuff.
- Basically, little tiny cool shaped plastic bottles that you can wear on a string as a necklace. But you could use any sort of plastic bottle.
- Different colors of sand in wide shallow bins that you can hold the bottle over so that you don't waste what spills.
- tiny funnels and scoops

They layer the colored sand in different patters. We had kids stay at that table throughout the whole party.

I've also seen it done with just one color sand -- fill a slightly larger bottle 1/2 way and also put in tiny shells, marbles, feathers, buttons, or whatever. Then when the lid is on tightly, the kids can roll the bottle around and watch the little treasures emerge and get buried again in the sand.
post #9 of 14
My siblings and friends and I always did the sit in a circle and open the gifts thing, but I've actually been to a number of parties in the last few years where the children didn't even open the presents until after the guests left and then made calls or sent cards to thank everyone. This seemed to work so well that we did it ourselves last year, and I loved it! Everyone was so much nicer to each other! And my girls had something to look forward to after everyone left, so we were able to postpone that usual end of birthday party/end of birthday season meltdown.

There've been a lot of great ideas here. We've done the make-your-own crown thing ourselves. Some other ideas are:

- make necklaces out of long strips of licorice with fruit loops "beads" (FWIW, we never eat either of these things normally, but they're fun for a party)

- have kids decorate their own cupcakes, with frosting, sprinkles, candy, etc. (hmmmm... after these two suggestions you'd never guess we were health food nuts, LOL!)

- maybe some kind of treasure hunt or scavenger hunt?

- maybe you could have them decorate flower pots and plant something to take home?

- if you were into tie-dyeing, now you can buy these "tie-dye strings" which have the dye in the strings and are much easier and less of a mess with a group.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 

A follow up

I just wanted to tell everyone how well the party turned out. We decorated birthday hats and did sand art. the hats were easy, I had already bought regular cone shaped birthday hats and then got feathers, buttons, pompoms, etc to be glued on. I had sand and about a dozen little plastic bottles to fill.

Dd was so excited to see her friends that she hugged and kissed each guest who came through the door!

We opened presents first. This was really successful. The child would gave the present was so pleased to see their present opened but it was not so "organized" so that kids got bored having to sit there and see each and every present. Ten kids came, all between 2-4 yo. they all have different temperments. Several wanted to go straight to the pool, some decorated birthday hats and played with the colored sand. In two hours almost everyone had done a little of everything.

There were no fights and no one cried! The sign of success in a 4 yo birthday party. thanks for all your suggestions.

post #11 of 14
can you pls tell me more about opening presents first?

does that mean you did it as each child arrived? or soemthing else??

general note re: sand art --- GLUE the covers onto the bottles!!! dd did this as a recent event and all was well until she took a fit and poured the sand into our bed/bedroom floor

something i've done with my dd is a shaker bottle

we only use huge bottles of water, so i bought a case of water in small bottles and put the water into a pitcher

i then put about half-ish full of colored water, add sprinkles of stuff -- pony beads, seed beads, glitter, jewels, buttons, basically anything that fit in the hole. top of with the cheapest (but clear) baby oil. GLUE the cover on and you have a shaker bottle.

neighbor had water in like 8oz bottles, think i may get those next time
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
When each guest arrived dd would open the present. This worked until there was a rush of four arriving at once. A few presents were put to the side until a lull in activity that occurred later on. I would make sure that the child who brought the present was there to see dd open the gift. There would usually be a few other kids who would come to see also. I think that the only one who really cares about seeing the present opened is the one who brought it.

It seems a little chaotic - a few kids watching presents being opened, a few kids wandering away to do other things - but the kids seemed very comfortable doing their own thing.

Basically I tried to stay really flexible with what the kids wanted to do. Some played inside, some outside, some did all the crafts, some did none. A few of the parents dropped their kids off, but most stayed. Still, I had arranged to have 4 extra adults (besides me) there to help, and this was really essential.
post #13 of 14
I know you've had the party now, but a couple of other ideas that we found fun:

-treasure hunt: we put small bottles of bubbles and party hats for each child in a chest, hid it, and they could all cooperate to find it (went straight to it strangely)

-rides up and down our street in our bike trailer (huge hit!)

-party games such as sack races in pillow cases, and What Time is it Mr Wolf? I felt games were necessary so it would be different to just having playgroup at our house.

-digging for dinosaurs or similar in the sandpit
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the additional reply! It always good to have new ideas on hand.

One other game that we played that I forgot to mention was bobbing for apples. My dd saw this on tv and was dying to try it. You would not believe what a hit it was! The kids were already in their bathing suits, so it was perfect. We filled up a big galvanized metal tub about halfway with water, dropped in some apples and it provided about 20 minutes of activity. We cut the apples in half after realizing that the kids' mouths were too little to get around them whole. It was hilarious for the parents to watch too.
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