It’s hot, humid, and Houston. By this point in the summer, your kids are probably doing one of two things. They are either complaining about being bored or dreading that summer’s end is drawing near. Why not treat them to an end of summer water-filled party? Here are 10 tips for pulling off a fun splash bash in a snap. Don’t be surprised at how much fun the adults have too.
1. Choose a theme and be creative. A beach theme is a fun way to take advantage of the season. Encourage your kids to help ahead of time by creating a welcome sign, playing off the “Life’s a beach” motif. Grab a few beach balls and place them around your yard for kids to find and toss with friends. Consider filling an inflatable pool with sand, shovels, and pails. Plant a few beach umbrellas around the yard to keep kids cool.
A cute theme for preschoolers is a fish out of water party. The invitation would be a card or sponge in the shape of a fish. Fish sticks and Goldfish crackers are tasty snacks on fish-themed plates. Play Sharks and Minnows in the pool, playing up the fish out of water concept. Invite guests to go fishing with a homemade fishing rod that uses a clothespin instead of a hook. Friends can reel out colorful magnets, key chains, or other treats.
Elementary boys will dig a slime time water party. Cover a table with a plastic tablecloth and dedicate it as the slime station. Kids love to squirt shaving cream on the table and feel the smooth texture. Add food coloring to mounds of shaving cream for vibrant play. Encourage guests to mix in other textures like cooked spaghetti noodles or instant potato flakes. The mix unleashes creativity. Clean up the table and your guests with squirts from the water hose.
How about a ‘70s Swim Party for your middle-schooler? Guests can tie-dye a shirt in psychedelic hues in buckets stationed over the grass. Purchase long shirts that double as swimsuit cover-ups from membership clubs. Hang the shirts to dry on a makeshift clothesline while the kids swim and listen to Sister Sledge and the Jackson Five.
Even your teens will think you’re cool if you offer to host a luau or surfer party. String floral leis from the trees and place some on tables. Light up the yard with tiki torches since your guests are older and cautious around flames. Citronella candles help keep the bugs away while setting the scene for a great celebration. Instead of using tablecloths, dress your table with grass skirts. Surf boards double as pool floats and cool decor. Ask your teenager to download traditional Hawaiian or surf tunes from the Internet. Hang loose.
Spice the summer up with a crawfish boil for preteens and teens. Don’t forget the corn and potatoes. Place newspapers over tables as disposable tablecloths and have plenty of napkins. Jazz up the party with Zydeco music and Mardi Gras beads. If you like cooking, serve warm beignets sprinkled with powdered sugar as an added treat. Pour nonalcoholic hurricanes or punch drinks to bring the theme home.
2. Of course, invitations come in an array of options. For simplicity’s sake, e-mail and evite.com allow the party organizer to communicate quickly and get RSVP responses fast. If, however, your old-fashioned sense of style prefers traditional invitations, tie the invitation style into your theme.
Creativity starts here. Summer provides an ideal time for kids to create the invitations using construction paper, stickers, and more. Couple invitations with an enclosed beach ball, pinwheel, shovel, or bucket trinket and hand deliver. The trinket also serves as a party reminder and gets guests excited about the event.
Include both a phone number and e-mail for the RSVP responses since many parents find it easier to respond electronically. In either case, keep the number of invitees to a manageable number. Send out invitations in plenty of time to accommodate busy summer schedules.
3. If you have a pool, decorate with an assortment of floats, dive rings, and balls. No pool? No problem. Create your own water park by setting out sprinklers a few feet apart. Soaker hoses now come in various shapes and heights—approachable alternatives for preschool guests. Slip n’ Slides add an adventurous edge. (Just be sure rocks aren’t hidden below the surface!) The mixture of sprinklers gives kids several entertainment options.
Create a backdrop of color by hanging beach towels on the fence or a temporary clothesline. Kids can easily dry off when needed. Balloons are an easy addition to decor. Tie your decor into your theme as discussed above.
4. In addition to free play, plan a few water-filled games. Friends of all ages will laugh through a water balloon toss. Put the swing set to good use by transforming it into a wet ride. Simply tie the water hose to the top of the slide and place an inflatable pool at the bottom. Kids will enjoy the slippery slide that ends with a splash.
Hang a hula hoop from a tree branch and see who can throw the most balls through the hoop. Add a challenge to the game by setting a water sprinkler around the hula hoop to introduce a funny distraction.
If you have a swimming pool, consider hiring a certified lifeguard from the community pool.
5. A tasty menu is sure to please but keep it simple. Paper plates and napkins are ideal when guests are in bare feet. Reserve your glassware for an indoor soiree. Jazz up the informality by sticking to a specific color palette. Then build your menu around a common subject. Food might tie into your party theme, but munchies could also stick to a certain color or shape. For instance, have fun with round foods such as fruit salad made with blueberries and round watermelon scoops. Serve individual pizzas, quiches, or burgers to keep within the circular theme. Gum drops and round candies provide colorful and delicious accents. Quench the kids’ thirst with water bottles and juice boxes sitting on ice in a nearby cooler or large bucket.
Cool off with a refreshing dessert. Popsicles are a summertime favorite. Looking for something different? Snow cone machines are available at local stores for under $20. Yummy! Try placing snow cones in disposable cups instead of the leaky paper cones you may recall from the past.
Pull out your blender and mix up fruit smoothies for your guests. Add a drink umbrella to each cup for a little pizzazz. Since you’ll be adding fruit to the blender, lay out the fruit as a nice visual display.
More adventurous guests can customize their own dessert with a make your own sundae station. Lay out two or three flavors of ice cream. Add color with various syrups, candy sprinkles and whip cream. Strategically place large trash cans near the tables to encourage guests to help themselves to tossing finished goods.
6. Purchase sunscreen lotion that doubles as bug spray and share it with your guests. Spray sunscreens make full coverage easier, especially with squirmy youngsters. Depending on the length of your party, you may need to reapply but make it fun. Blow a whistle and ask young kids to line up and dry off. With everyone in a line, you can spray them one at a time. It’s amazing how such a chore can be filled with giggles.
7. Bring out plenty of towels for your guests and a laundry basket for the end of the party. Remember: if you use all dark towels, you limit the number of laundry loads you’ll later need to complete.
8. Simplicity is key when planning party favors. Fun, yet inexpensive items include flip-flops, water guns, sunglasses, and summer themed cups. Shop locally to find these giveaways for under $1. Provide large, closeable bags to guests for storing wet items on the trip home.
9. Play candid camera to capture the memories. Snap a shot of every guest throughout the party. With your photo printer tucked safely inside, print your pics and hand them out at the end of the party for an extra personal touch to your summer shindig. Alternatively, e-mail the photos to your guests (or parents) after the party, thanking them for making the celebration extra sunny.
10. Most importantly, don’t sweat the small stuff. Only you know exactly how you intended things to unfold. Plus, other parents will probably stick around for the fun so you’ll garner extra help from adults. In all, your kids are likely to remember a fabulous summer party. Chill out and enjoy the festivities with them. After all, it won’t be long before the kids have moved out of the house and you’ll be reminiscing those warm summer days.