As Much Fun as a Barrel of Monkeys
By Shelly Radic
In the midst of selecting just the right paper goods, creating the perfect birthday cake and putting together a favor bag, don’t forget one of the most important elements of a birthday party- fun! Preschoolers love to be silly, engage in hands-on activities and bounce around like a bunch of curious little monkeys. The following tips will help you create a fun-filled party.
Select age appropriate activities
Children enjoy familiar tasks that are easy to master. Chose party activities that include familiar skills like gluing, cutting and skipping; then add a surprise twist. For instance, gluing face parts on a paper bag monkey puppet involves familiar skills, but braiding long brown yarn into a tail is a little out of the ordinary. Or plan a race where children must jump across the room, but jump like monkeys. To ensure activities are age-appropriate, have the birthday child test each one a week or so before the party.
Plan a variety of activities
A variety of activities make a party more interesting. At the beginning of the party, chose a quiet, open-ended activity or two to put guests at ease and keep them busy until everyone arrives. Creating a mural, learning new finger plays or acting out a story together are good choices. Then, plan two or three high energy activities like a relay race, a Simon Says type game or a hunt. Next, move into a quieter activity such as a story or puppet show before providing party food and opening gifts. Close the party with another open-ended activity such as playing with big balls or watching a video of the party.
Keep the pace quick
Little people have short attention spans so keep the party moving. If children appear to be losing interest in one activity, quickly move onto the next. Have activity supplies organized and ready to go. Placing all the supplies in a labeled paper bag keeps them together and close at hand. Engaging plenty of help will make it easier to transition from activity to activity.
Incorporate a silly sense of humor
Nothing dampens party fun like a stressed-out parent. As you plan the party, chose some silly stuff that will help keep a smile on your face. Plan to wear a costume or a silly hat. For instance, at the monkey party, dress in brown and don a monkey tail. Or wear a safari hat and pretend you are in search of cute little monkeys. Get down on the floor and bounce around with little guests. Have a silly signal to quiet guests down. For instance, if children see you scratching your head, they must immediately quiet down and scratch their own heads. Again, engaging help to clean up, serve food and take pictures will lighten your load and allow time for silly stuff.
Decorate with a touch of whimsy
Even the simplest decorations add to the party fun. Plan one or two decorating focal points. For instance, a giant inflatable monkey surrounded by bananas might fill one corner of the room and green streamers and yellow balloons might cover the ceiling to create a “jungle” atmosphere.
Ready for as much fun as a barrel of monkeys... then you're ready for a Monkey Business Party!