A Festive Mess: Creative Birthday Activities For an Unforgettable Party

My husband and I have thrown quite a few awesome birthday parties over the years. However, when reflecting back over all the parties we’ve hosted, it’s clear to me that the most memorable parties were not the most elaborate – or even the most expensive. They were simply the messiest. Messy and birthday parties go together better than you might imagine. After all, what could be more festive than a little bit of parent-approved pandemonium?

The most fun at any birthday party usually includes something messy. If you really want to throw the party to top all parties, go for a totally messy party from beginning to end. If a little bit of mess is memorable, than a lot of mess just might be unforgettable! In that spirit, here is a list of some indoor and outdoor ideas:

Eggcentric Art.

Break the tops off real eggs and pour the yolks and whites into Tupperware to make quiche or a soufflé later. Keep the empty shells in the carton and fill each one with various colors of acrylic paint. Then, in the garage, basement, or outside, hang a large canvas against a sturdy wall or fence and let the kids take aim and fire until they make a masterpiece. Use plastic drop cloths to catch the splatters as needed.

Construction Junction.

Supply lots of sheets, blankets and pillows for fort construction. If you can mount a few Hula Hoops strategically around the room – they come in handy. You might also supply large cardboard and bandanas. Be sure to inspect the results for hazards. Keep food and drinks strictly separate.

Reach For The Foam.

Play messy Twister in the yard by mixing foam shaving cream and food coloring creating big circles in the grass. Be sure they wear clothing that can get stained.

Slime Ball.

Find an online recipe to make nontoxic slime and let guests prepare it. Then play a game of hide the bouncy ball in the slime. Use a blindfold and a timer to see who can find their party favors the fastest. Enjoy the groans.

Musical Silly String.

Put half the group in the middle on a plastic tarp. Encircle guests with the other half of the group. Turn on the music. Have the inside group move in one direction and the outside group move in the other direction while spraying the inside group with silly string. When the music is turned off, switch groups.

Mud Puddle Fun.

On a sturdy table at playing height, fill a small kiddie pool with dirt and just enough water to make mud. Add digging and pouring toys for an hour of industry for young guests.

Human Bubbles.

Make bubble mix with ten cups of regular Dawn dish soap and five gallons of water. Let it sit overnight. Do not agitate the solution as you pour it into a small wading pool slightly larger than a Hula Hoop in diameter. Have guests wear a pair of clear goggles and stand in the middle of the shallow pool without splashing. Let two party guests lower a Hula Hoop over the goggled guest and then pull it straight up into a giant bubble!

Sloppy Volley.

Divide guests into two groups. Put a line across the center of your play arena like a tennis court. Everyone has to stay on their own team and wear swim goggles. Place a table of supplies within reach of the backcourt. On the table, supply large bowls of chilled mashed potatoes, cooked spaghetti, Jello, pudding and cooked oatmeal. Tint food with food coloring if clothing can be stained. On your mark, get set – food fight!

Trashion runway.

For a couple of months before the party, don’t discard your reusable recyclables. Spread them out evenly in tarps with plenty of clear tape, masking tape, painter’s tape and duct tape. Pair guests up into design teams. Give a time limit like one hour. The assignment is to design a runway-worthy fashion for each team out of only the trash that’s been supplied. Have a runway show afterwards to display the results.

Making Messy Work For You

The key is simply to let kids make a mess and have fun doing it. These tips will save you some sanity:

  • If you can’t go outside, consider using a well-ventilated garage, shed or basement. 
  • Check out the painting supply section of your local store for inexpensive items to protect your party space. 
  • Have a designated photographer who may not be slimed, covered in spaghetti or painted. 
  • If you only have one messy activity planned, save the best for last. 
  • If you go with a totally messy party, go with messy food, too. Consider buffet style or make-your-own.
  • If you don’t want kids to get stained or dirty, you can still make a mess. Just use smocks, shower caps and bandanas to cover up.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to making messes. Use your imagination; then consider safety precautions as needed. 

Christina Katz
About Christina Katz

Author Christina Katz believes in the power of the arts to improve and enrich the lives of children and families, and appreciates the moments she’s witnessed transformative results first-hand.

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