If you haven’t noticed, not everyone is punctual. Call it fashionably late if you will, but either way, some people just don’t arrive at places (meetings, airports, weddings) on time.
I’m not here to judge those of you that run late, we’ve all done it. However, when it comes to event planning it can be tough to plan around you late-ys. This is especially the case with children’s parties because kids tend to be impatient (Are we there yet?). Of course you want to wait for everyone to arrive before you start the main activities and games, but what do you do with 10 excited kids while you wait for the last two to show up? Without a plan you can be in a real pickle (picture 10 kids running around the house and screaming – not fun).
The Solution – An Opening Activity!
A simple sanity saving solution is planning an opening activity. All of our Bashes include an opening activity because I’d say 5% of our parties have started right on time. This is an activity that will keep everyone occupied until the stragglers show up, but if someone misses it he or she isn’t terribly disappointed.
What’s required for the perfect opening activity? I’m glad you asked…
Keys to a Great Opening Party Activity
There’s lots to consider when picking an opening activity – I’ve created an infographic to guide you along.
Our Favorite Opening Activities
Like I mentioned earlier, all of our Bashes include some sort of opening activity. Here are a few of our favorites.
Decorate a Birthday Banner
If you have basic art skills (or ask a friend who does) use a black Sharpie marker and on the matte, non shiny side of a white poster board outline “Happy Birthday” as well as some smaller pictures like presents, confetti, etc. As the kids arrive they can use markers and crayons to color in the BIG banner. Ask them to sign the banner or write a nice message to the birthday boy or girl.
Decorate a Party Hat or Crown
Set up a table with blank party hats or crowns (you can find cute ones on Amazon or Michaels), stickers, markers, crayons, pom pops, ribbons, scissors and craft glue (raid your craft stash) and let the kids decorate their own party hat! Another option is printing hat templates on blank paper, letting the kids cut them out and then they can decorate (I found this template through Pinterest – it’s template #4). If you’re decorating the cone party hats, we recommend decorating while they’re flat. When the kids are done, you can help put them back together again with tape.
“Who Am I?” Game
Write different professions, TV/Movie characters, and famous people on index cards (one per card). Everyone will receive a card to put on their forehead with tape – they aren’t allowed to see what’s written on their card, but everyone else can see who they are. The kids will have to go around and ask each other questions to figure out who they are. One question is off limits: “Who Am I?”. Make up extra cards so if someone figures themselves out you can give them a new identity. This game works better for older kids (9 and up).
“Heads Up” Game
Ellen DeGeneres is a genius for giving us this game. We’ve played this as a closing activity at Bashes as well when parents are running late for pick up. It’s a free download from the App Store and there’s a deck of clues just for kids. One person holds the phone sideways up to their forehead and the kids have to describe what the clue is on their head. If the person guesses the clue right they flip the phone down for the next word or flip up to pass. Each round is a minute long so once your turn is over you pass it to the next person. This game works groups 7 years old and up.
Personality Quizzes/Would You Rather?
This is another one that works for slightly older groups so we would recommend this for
tweens and teens. You can find tons of free printable personality quizzes and Would You Rather questions for tweens on Pinterest. For the personality quizzes, they can work on their quizzes independently and then you can go over the answers with them later. For Would You Rather, you can print out the questions, cut them up and put them in a bowl. Everyone can get a turn picking a question out of a bowl and asking the group what they think. These activities definitely get a lot of giggles.
Like all children’s parties, planning is key and that starts with when the kids walk in the door. Let me know below what you think and if you have any of your own opening activities that have worked for you in the comments below. Be sure to follow us here, on Facebook and Instagram for more party planning ideas.