19 May 2011

Thoughts on Children's Birthday Party Activities

Grace's 4th birthday Japanese Doll Tea Party

If you decide to avoid traditional party games, you might decide that an activity for the kids would fill the time in nicely.
Activities Shmactivities
Ikebana - yes really....
And you might decide that that activity could be flower arranging, because your birthday child does love flowers and it is a 'Japanese Tea Party' as requested by said child after all, and flower arranging is Japanese and you found those awesome green blocks that florists use for arrangements in the $2 shop and you got a load of cheap flowers at the market, supplemented by some lovely ornamental grasses and such from your own garden, and all the kids will have a flower arrangement to take home and won't that be better than plastic crap from the $2 shop?

And you'd be right about all of that.  

And you might also think that such an activity would take, perhaps, fifteen or even twenty minutes, whilst the children carefully arrange their flowers according to the ikebana principles you've explained to them.

And you'd be wrong about that.  

Five minutes, I have discovered, is the length of time flower arranging holds the interest of the average 4-12 year old. 

As one of the Dads said "I bet you were wishing that took a bit longer".

To fill in the time not taken up by the activity, if you have some blokes available who are willing to be chased or have ice put down their shirts, it will give you a chance to heat up the food you've forgotten to put in the oven. This 'fill in' activity will be the absolute highlight of the party.  All the kids will talk about for days after was how awesome your child's father was when he chased them and made them nearly vomit from laughing so hard.  And none of them will notice the individually hand sewn party bags made from old flour sacks you saved after home baking all your bread for all those years...


  1. I am interested in learning more about your Japanese Tea Party. My daughter has asked for a Japanese party for her 8th so I'm trying to research ideas for activities and food. Thanks! :)

  2. Hi Gail, well, as you can see, we did the ikebana, which was fun but short! It was for a 4 year old so minimal activities - we played one game (a variation of pass the parcel with a vague japanese theme). We got some large sticks/small branches and scrunched up pink and white tissue paper and glued it on to make cherry blossom decorations. These looked surprisingly great. I have a few japanese things - like a tea set etc, which we used on the table (the table was just the top of a trestle table put on some bricks to make it low), covered with a cloth and cushions as seats. I bought some bamboo steamers to put the food in. If your children are into sushi/nori rolls this would be perfect party food. If you are adventurous, and with an 8 year old age group, making sushi or nori rolls would be great fun. I did think about doing japanese calligraphy -but because the kids were mostly a bit young I thought this would be too difficult. But you can find out how to write all the guests names in japanese on the internet and maybe have them paint them with ink or something similar. Hope this gives you a few ideas. My over-riding advice about parties, (having failed to heed this advice for many years), is to keep it simple enough that you enjoy it and are not stressed out organising/managing the whole thing. The mere fact of the party is exciting for kids so you don't need to kill yourself trying to add too much to that. Good luck!

  3. I reckon this post could sum up bits of every kids party eh. You make a good point though - make sure you have at least one grown-up (and preferably more) who are willing and able to play raucously with kids. Sorry bout the bags - I would have noticed them.