Let The Games Begin
Party Games & Ideas
You can't get too punchy when planning a party for the six- to nine-year-old crowd. At this blessedly uninhibited age, no trick is too silly, no joke too dumb. (Why don't cannibals eat clowns? Because they taste funny!) Our Clown School party is a mix of the finest circus games, events, and snacks--just the right atmosphere for a hilarious, if over the (big) top, birthday afternoon.
What better herald of an arriving circus than bright balloons? To make your invitations, blow up one pair for each guest and write the relevant information on the outside with permanent markers. (Don't knot the balloon; instead, try closing the end in a fat book or a drawer for easy handling, or have someone hold the balloon neck closed.) Deflate each pair and place them in a bright envelope with a handful of confetti.

In honor of the legendary hobo clown, favors and prizes can go in a bandanna on a stick. Simply knot an inexpensive scarf on the end of a straight stick. Guests can then load it up with gag gifts, small joke books or jokes handwritten on slips of paper (a good project for the birthday child or an older brother or sister), clown and circus animal stickers, noisemakers, candy, and funny dress-up items, such as bulbous clown noses or fake eyelashes.

When splashed with red, blue, and yellow balloons, streamers, and tablecloths, an ordinary room or outside porch takes on all the gaiety of the big top. A clown doll or a big stuffed monkey, sitting up in a chair, can hold a bouquet of helium balloons. If you have time, custom-made circus posters portraying each guest as a three-ring circus performer are a welcoming touch (and can be taken home later as favors). Using poster board or heavy white paper and markers or paints, draw a picture of each guest doing an act and add in large print his or her specialty. For example: "Ladies and Gentlemen ... we bring you Paul the Fire-eating Birthday Kid!" and "Come one, come all to see ... Kelly the Trick Rider!"

YOU LOOK LIKE A CLOWN When guests arrive, direct them to a dress-up area where they can undergo their transformations. You will want to have a big box of play clothes that kids can choose from --oversize shorts, shirts, and jackets, gloves, suspenders, bow ties, and any other clown-like items you can beg or borrow. A parent or teen can run a face-painting table, where each child receives the necessary red nose, arched brows, pink cheeks, and exaggerated smile or frown. (Tiny crescent moons, stars, and teardrops look wonderful on cheeks, too.)

A HAT-MAKING WORKSHOP A hat-making workshop is another warm-up craft activity that keeps kids occupied while newcomers settle in. At a newspaper-covered table, set out precut, cone-shape paper hats. (To make the pattern for these hats, roll a large square or a rectangular piece of paper into a cone, hold down the seams, and trim the edges for an even brim.) The kids can then jazz up one side of the hats with glue, glitter, pom-poms, and markers. Be sure the creators write their names inside, as well. When a hat has dried, staple it on the bottom and seal the seam with tape. Staple on an elastic cord to slip under the chin.

BALLOON SANDWICH This race, a feat of cooperation, is best held outside or in a spacious room. Begin by choosing partners and lining them up back to back at a starting line. Place a balloon (not a helium one) between the partners so that they must squish it, keeping it off the ground (emphasize no hands!). At the sound of a whistle, the pairs must take off in this position, shuffling their way toward a finish line. If the balloon pops or drops, they must return to the starting line for a replacement. The first sandwich to cross the line wins.

WALKING THE TIGHTROPE  Even acts of derring-do are funny business when you are a clown. To set up this high-wire routine, place a 2 by 4 on the floor or ground and gather your materials: an umbrella and a large-format (but not too thick) hardcover book. In this elimination game, each contestant first crosses the high wire with an umbrella in hand. All who survive make it to round two: crossing with a book on their heads. All who live through that ordeal go to round three: crossing with the book on their heads and the umbrella in their hands. All masters of the high wire win a prize.

CLOWN CLASS RELAY Another game for a spacious area. Ask all the kids to strip back down to their original (well-fitting) clothes and stocking feet, then divide them into two relay teams positioned at a starting line. Opposite, at the finish line, place two similar clown outfits that include giant shorts, suspenders, a jacket, a hat, and the biggest pairs of men's shoes you can find (clomp, clomp). At the sound of the whistle, the first person from each team runs and puts on the outfit (over his clothes), runs back, strips, and tags the next player, who puts on the outfit and runs and touches the finish line and so on. The team to complete the relay first is victorious.

HA! HA! HA! Sometimes called gigglebelly, Ha! Ha! Ha! is an exercise in the ridiculous. On the floor or in the grass, have the kids lie down in any formation as long as every child has his or her head on another child's belly (the kids should form a chain, so that every child has another player's head resting on his or her belly, as well). At the whistle, the first child you point to should say "Ha!" The one whose head is on that child's belly should then say "Ha! Ha!" the third should say "Ha! Ha! Ha!" and so on. If you can make it all the way through the line before pandemonium results, you may indeed have a group of professional clowns in your midst.

HEADS UP This game hardly even needs rules--the equipment is so irresistible, kids immediately devise their own variations. For each child, have ready a special hat you make ahead of time plus a small, soft object, such as a beanbag or Koosh ball. To make each hat, simply glue two plastic, cereal-size bowls bottom to bottom and fashion a chin strap by either stapling on an elastic band or looping one through tiny holes. The birthday child can decorate all the hats ahead of time, too. Let the guests take these hats and objects home so they can show them off to their families.

For one game, put kids in pairs about four feet apart. At the whistle, the first player to toss the soft object into his partner's hat, wins. For another variation, kids are on their own. The first child to toss the object into her own hat wins. (A photographic opportunity if there ever was one.)

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Let's face it. When your child turns ten or eleven or twelve years old, coming up with the perfect party is no longer a piece of cake. For the birthday kid (who probably doesn't consider himself a kid anymore), it's imperative that his guests have a great time and his parents appear cool, or not at all. The answer? A no-holds-barred Video Party. While the kids have a blast ad-libbing and lip-synching their way through a variety of short skits in front of a video camera, you, as the cameraperson, can keep an unobtrusive eye on all the goings-on.
It won't take long to turn out Video Party invitations that resemble theater tickets. For a template, simply trim a rectangular piece of thin cardboard to a size that slips easily into an envelope. Trace the template onto sheets of yellow or orange construction paper and cut out the invitations. Use a single-hole paper punch or a pair of pinking shears to scallop the edges so the invitations will resemble tickets that have been torn on a perforation. On the face of each, draw a border one quarter of an inch from the edges. In the center, print the words Admit One. On the flip side, print the relevant invitation information. Where you can, incorporate Hollywood jargon for the usual invitation language; "curtain call," for example, can replace "date and time."

Anything that suggests stardom, comedy, or disguise is on target when it comes to Video Party favors and prizes. As the kids arrive, hand out small notepads and pens--the actors will get a kick out of swapping autographs following their performances. Cheap sunglasses, big rubber noses, fake mustaches and bushy eyebrows, and temporary tattoos come in handy during the skits. Candy is always well received, especially classic movie theater varieties, such as Raisinets, Milk Duds, and Good 'n Fruity. Other crowd-pleasing souvenirs include teen movie magazines and Polaroid shots taken of each guest during debuts in front of the camera.

To transform your humble home into a state-of-the-art film studio, start with a prominent display of movie posters. Odds are your child has a few stashed in his or her room, or your local video store may be willing to part with a few outdated ones. To complement the display, invite the birthday child to make a celebrity collage--a few days before the party, load him or her up with teen movie magazines, poster board, scissors, and glue. To simulate the flashiness of Hollywood, string white Christmas lights around the room and hang stars (fashioned out of bright foil) from the ceiling. Bright lights and director-style chairs lend even greater authenticity to the set. (With colorful tape you can spell out the birthday child's name across the back.) If you can't get your hands on a real bullhorn, try fashioning a crude one from poster board.

Kids in this age group, natural hams, will slip right into the spotlight. All you need to provide is a list of potential scenarios for them to playact, assorted associated props, and a video camcorder. If you don't own the latter or can't borrow one, consider leasing one from a video-equipment rental store, usually about $30 a day plus a hefty deposit.

For props, start stockpiling offbeat clothing, old Halloween costumes, wigs, makeup, and other wardrobe accessories a week or two before the party. (If you are concerned you won't have a nice variety, you can include in the invitation a call for the guests to bring their own well-marked props, or you can pay a visit to a secondhand clothing store or costume rental shop.) You can also add to the collection a number of ordinary household items, such as mixing bowls and pans to use in a cooking skit or a few of your child's cassette tapes to play during a musical performance.

While you catch the party performances through the lens of the camcorder, ask one of the guests--or a sibling of the birthday child--to take Polaroid shots to send home as mementos. Once the final act has been recorded and you've called it a wrap, it's time for the cast to celebrate. This is a great time to bring out the birthday cake, appropriately shaped like a clapper board. Finally, have the kids assemble for the premiere showing of the Video Birthday Party. (You may want to invite the guests' parents to the debut, as well.) Grab the popcorn, slip the tape into the VCR, and let the show begin. The critics are sure to consider it the season's sleeper.

STAR PERFORMANCES Offer a little guidance when the kids are choosing skits and deciding on their respective roles but, to the greatest extent possible, let them run the show. They can break into pairs, teams, or even try something solo. Once everyone has chosen a part and scavenged the prop pile for accessories, allow the kids thirty minutes or so to come up with a loose script and to rehearse their performances. Explain to them that they want to get their performance down to five or ten minutes so that the final tape will not be hours long. Encourage them to factor in some time for improvisation during the filming. (Generally, the more groups, the less time you should allow. Handing out stopwatches during rehearsals helps party guests deal in real time.)

THE IDEA BOARD Although the kids should feel free to come up with their own skit ideas, you and your birthday child can get the creative juices flowing by posting a list of suggested performances, by category. Enlist his or her brainstorming help in the days before the party so you can come up with specific ideas within each category that appeal to the guests. Then, write the list in large print on a sheet of poster board and hang it from a wall--or better yet, ask your child to design and decorate it.

FAVORITE TELEVISION SITCOMS Like it or not, television, especially sitcoms, is a natural draw. An episode of , for example, might involve Hayden, the most macho of football coaches, being asked to help instruct the gymnastics team. Appropriate props for a takeoff on the show include a team shirt and football for Hayden and a piece of rope placed on the floor to serve as a balance beam for the gymnasts. Steve Urkel from might finally persuade Laura to be his date for the school dance. Eyeglasses and suspenders are, of course, in order for Urkel. Tim from could demonstrate the incredible adhesive strength of a brand-new carpentry glue for a skit that calls for assorted tools and wood scraps (cardboard can be used to simulate wood).

TALK SHOWS The talk show is ripe for camp humor, especially if the audience members are encouraged to pipe in. One child, for example, can be Phil Donahue interviewing a panel of guests (people who have been married more than a dozen times, or kids who have never missed a day of detention?). For a little less gossip but just as much silliness, David Letterman might interview a world champion sumo wrestler, or Jay Leno might invite Beethoven's handler to demonstrate training techniques used during the film about this love-struck Saint Bernard. (A stuffed animal can stand in nicely for Beethoven or, better yet, a third child can play the accomplished canine.) Can you imagine Barbara Walters trying to get a straight answer out of Jim Carrey, the wacky pet-detective star of ACE VENTURA and THE MASK?

MUSIC VIDEOS No child (and few adults) can resist an opportunity to impersonate favorite musical talents. Your child's tapes (the ones you've grown accustomed to hearing play day and night) will come in handy here. Those who are ready to embark on the road to stardom may opt to perform a live rendition of a top hit complete with personalized lyrics. The less musically inclined can still have a great time lip-synching their favorite tune. (If you own a kids' karaoke machine or can borrow one, all the better.) Although you may recognize performances by the Supremes, Mick Jagger, or Whitney Houston, you're likely to chart some unfamiliar territory--perhaps catching an appearance of the Swedish pop group Ace Of Base or rappers D.j. Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince.

COMMERCIALS By the time children are preteens, they are starting to get savvy about how a sales pitch works. Here's an opportunity for your guests to unleash their creativity by coming up with advertising gimmicks and catchy slogans that are sure to boost cat chow sales across the country. Anything from cereal to toothpaste to diet formulas to household appliances is a potential product for this sixty-second takeoff. Remind the kids that commercials can include taste tests, product demonstrations, and silly jingles.

COOKING SHOWS Three tablespoons or half a handful--being productexact is certainly not the order here. Besides, your child and his friends probably are already pros at whipping up after- school snacks and simple meals. If you're game for a messy ion, supply the ingredients for a favorite concoction, such as crisped-rice-and- marshmallow treats, no-bake cookies, or guacamole and nachos, and let the children guide their audience step by step through the recipe. Afterward, members of the audience can be invited to taste-test the chef's specialties (if they dare).

As long as you set up a host of favorites, this age group will forage themselves a light meal with little encouragement from you. Set up a spread of snacks and refreshments on a card table in a corner of the room. The children can help themselves throughout the party, and you remain free to operate the camcorder and monitor the activities. Don't forget the movie popcorn--at showtime, serve it up in colorful paper bags and top with melted butter (or grated Parmesan cheese). What follows is a suggested menu for a spread of trouble-free foods.

Ask any preschooler what he or she would like to be, and the answer is bound to be something four-legged, hairy, and hopelessly noisy--which is precisely why jungle parties are such a roaring success. Birthday celebrations are still a novelty for this age group, so keep games and food familiar and limit the wild rumpus to five guests and a two-hour get-together.
Send out the call to your child's favorite party animals with an unfolding pachyderm. From an 8 1/2- by 11-inch sheet of gray paper, cut out the shape of an elephant's head and trunk and draw in the eyes and tusks. Fold in one ear over the face, then the other. On the top ear, write "You're invited"; on the second ear, write "to [the birthday child's] unforgettable ..." Fold the two ears back out, then write "Jungle" on the left ear and "Party!" on the right. On the trunk, fill in the party information, including a request that each child bring a favorite stuffed animal. Fold up the trunk accordion-style, then fold in each ear and place the card in an envelope.

Any favor that is striped or spotted is gold with this crew (remember that two or three prizes still feel like a big haul to them). Shop for small animal figures, jungle noses, animal stickers, windup creatures, animal coloring books, tropical-flavored candy, or boxes of animal crackers. The plastic sand pails used in The Great Peanut Hunt make durable favor bags.

With decorations, as with favors, a little goes a long way. Traditional party decor--balloons, streamers, or strings of lights--in tropical colors turns the average house into a deep, not-so-dark jungle. Cordon off an area of the party room with string and hang a sign labeled Jungle Petting Zoo. When the guests arrive with stuffed animals in tow, they can set them in a comfortingly nearby spot.

As any four-year-old will tell you, it's the stripes that make the zebra. With quick-to-make headbands, kids can decorate and don their animal alter egos as soon as they hit the party. Before the event, cut out one poster board strip (roughly 3 by 20 inches) for each guest, adding the ears for a particular animal (rounded ears for a tiger, say, or ears and horns for a giraffe). At party time, set out the strips on a newspaper-covered table or bench and scatter around a pile of crayons or water-soluble markers. Children can pick whichever blank headband they like, then color it. Measure the band around the child's' head, then staple the ends so that it fits snugly. A touch of face paint--for whiskers, stripes, spots, or a black nose--completes each child's costume.

Because three- to five-year-olds have a split-second attention span, the best party games are variations on those they already know. Try the ones below or invent your own version of your child's favorite (Tarzan says? Monkey, may I? Jungle tag?). Remember to plan a quiet activity for the party's end when kids are waiting to get picked up; a jungle story or favorite video helps wound-up kids wind down.

JUNGLE CHARADES A great mixer for new arrivals, this game gets even the bashful hissing and howling. Before the party, sort through old magazines with your child, cutting out pictures of animals and pasting them on index cards. At the party, each child gets a turn to pick a card. She must then act out her creature (no words are allowed, but animal noises are encouraged) until the others shout out her identity. When the animal is guessed, the rest of the party goers get to jump up and act out the same animal together.

CATCH THE LION BY THE TAIL Like most winning games, this twist on duck, duck, goose combines suspense, action, and make-believe. Kids sit in a circle on the floor. One partygoer, the lion, tucks a homemade tail (a yellow piece of fabric with a knot in one end) into his waistband and begins circling, touching each child on the head and saying "Lion." When he decides he wants some action, he touches a player on the head and shouts "Hyena!" The lion then must dash around the circle and take the hyena's spot before the hyena can grab the lion's tail. If his tail is snatched, he remains the lion; if not, the crafty hyena becomes the new king of the jungle.

THE GREAT PEANUT HUNT Like an Easter egg hunt, this simple contest indulges kids' love of discovering surprises. Before the guests arrive, hide unshelled peanuts around the yard or house. At the party, explain to the kids that they, as elephants, must go out in search of a tasty meal. Give each child a plastic sand pail, then send your trumpeting herd out to forage. Offer a small prize for the partygoer who harvests the biggest crop.

JUNGLE PARADE A great finale, this activity lets little ones cap off the party with a wild forest chorus. Before the party, the host parent sets up a "paw print" trail throughout the house (poster board cutouts taped to the floor). Come parade time, party goers gather their animals from the Jungle Petting Zoo and line up behind the birthday child at the beginning of the paw print trail. When the host parent puts on some music (The Jungle Book sound track, for example, or any other well-loved animal tunes), the children and their pets can begin their merry march through the jungle, continuing until the music ends.

Since young children have a natural inclination to pillage and plunder, pirate parties are always in fashion. Readers Connie and Tony Bonaccio told us that they were hooked by the flexibility of this theme and all the swashbuckling fun, which made their son Ben's fourth birthday party a blast. It was such a hit that they threw the same party for their younger son Nick when he turned four.

Let's face it: The reason pirating was once such a popular career choice was because of the loot, so a treasure hunt is a sure bet. Hand the captain (the birthday child) a map, covered with decades of dust (a pinch of flour). Inside, write a message about a stash of treasure hidden somewhere in your yard or house. For example: "As any pirate ought to know, this is where tomatoes grow." Each guest gets to guess the answer to a riddle, and as a pack, the guests can run to wherever the clue leads and find another one. At the Bonaccios' party, Connie came up with a great variation for young kids. She used Polaroid picture clues instead of written ones. At hunt's end, be sure to hide a suitable prize, such as a stash of candy coins.

Organize the rest of your party around two principles: that pirates are an energetic lot, and that they like to take home lots of booty.

•Walk the plank. The Bonaccios secured a board across a Little Tykes pool with duct tape. They set toy alligators in the pool for ambience, then each child got to walk across. Upon reaching the other side, the pirate was awarded a Hook Hand. To make one, cut a slit in the bottom of a plastic cup. Cut a hook shape out of cardboard, wrap with foil, and slip it through the slit in the cup.

•Make spyglasses. Have kids cover the end of a toilet-paper tube with a square of colored cellophane and fix it in place with a rubber band.

•Tick tock, find the croc. With a little imagination, an egg timer makes a suitable crocodile. Have pirates try to locate the hidden croc by its tick, before the bell rings.

•Musical islands. Set as many hula hoops on the floor as you have guests, and play music. Pirates must walk around the hoops until you turn off the tunes, at which point they must be standing inside one of the "islands" or they're out. Every few minutes, take away a hoop, until only one seafarer remains.

Your pirates can leave with quite a haul, such as gummy fish, temporary tattoos or candy necklaces.

Spear a wooden skewer through a small piece of paper to make a schooner sail and set it in the middle of a hot dog. Add a few Goldfish crackers and the fearsome pirate cake below.

kids have an  inherent love of mystery and magic, it's safe to predict that this birthday theme will prove positively bewitching. The agenda includes a mix of exciting activities and quieter craft projects, perfect for setting a manageable pace for wizards in training, who can get a bit high-spirited in group gatherings.
• With a few decorating props--quilt batting spiderwebs, strings of twinkling lights, and a few plastic bugs and frogs--you can turn any room or yard into an enchanted wizards' lair.
• Set the mood for a spellbinding time by inviting Harry Potter fans to take turns reading aloud their favorite excerpts from a book in the series.

• Collect old CDs to make Crystal Ball invitations.
• Cut out yellow Con-Tact paper stars for decorating party hats.
• Collect jars to make Sorcerer's Glitter Globes.
• Buy plastic aquarium tubing, glitter and polymer clay for party crafts.
• Write clues and choose hiding spots for a magic bean treasure hunt.

Spread the word about this party in true sorcerer's style--with a crystal  ball that reveals all there is to know about the upcoming event. For each one, start with a CD that you no longer use (or you can cut a circle out of silver gift wrap). On the unprinted side, attach a sticker star to the center, then use a permanent marker to print on the words "Prediction: A Magical Time" and the date of the party. Next, tape or glue the lower edge of the CD onto a colored-paper crystal ball base. Finally, cut out a paper circle on which to print the rest of the party information and glue or tape it to the back of the CD.

What's a wizard without his wand? With just a few basic supplies, each guest can conjure up one of these precious props. Beforehand, use a craft knife to cut 1/2-inch clear unflexible plastic aquarium tubing (sold in pet stores) into 1-foot lengths (one for each person). Seal one end of each tube with a bit of modeling clay. Then each child can fill his own tube with wiggle worms (metallic pipe cleaners) and dragon scales (sequins or glitter) before sealing the other end with clay.

When it comes to magic, appearance is everything, so arriving guests will be eager to don one of these easy-to-whip-up wizard caps. For each one, lay a sheet of newspaper on a flat surface. Sandwich the sheet between two pieces of glossy gift wrap. Treating the stack as if it were a single sheet of paper, shape it into a large cone and tape the overlapping edges. Roll up the lower edge of the cone to create a brow band. Then each kid can adorn his hat with stars cut from bright-colored Con-Tact paper.

These crystal ball party favors are sure to cause a stir among attending wizards. In the center of each one is a sparkly sorcerer's stone. Use your hands to mold some polymer clay (such as Sculpey III) into a small mushroom shape, then press plenty of glitter onto the clay surface. Next, press the bottom of the clay "stem" onto the inner lid of a small clean jar so that it is firmly attached. Fill the jar almost to the top with water and stir in a few drops of glycerin (sold at most pharmacies) and 1/2 teaspoon of glitter. The glycerin will increase the density of the water and cause the glitter to fall more slowly. Finally, tightly screw the lid onto the jar and invert the globe.

A job is always easier when great wizard minds join forces. In this case, that means solving a series of cleverly cryptic clues to find a stash of magic beans (a fanciful container filled with multiflavored jelly beans the kids can divvy up and take home).To set up the hunt, first choose four to six successive hiding spots around your house or yard (the last one being where you hide the treasure). Then write a clue that leads to each one. For example, the first clue, which might direct the kids to look under a pot of marigolds, could be printed backward so that they will have to hold it up to a mirror to read it. The second clue, hidden under the flowerpot, might lead them to the mailbox. This time you could write the clue with a white crayon on white paper and leave it with a colored marker and instructions to scribble all over the paper to reveal the message. For the remaining clues, consider posing a riddle, coming up with a numeric code and a key to translate each number into a letter, or even creating a word search puzzle.

It wouldn't be a true gathering  of wizards if you could not sample the latest batch of potions. Fill assorted jars with a variety of colorful sports drinks or juices. Then set out ice-filled tumblers into which kids can pour their beverage of choice or perhaps mix a few together. For a little added authenticity, provide a sprig of magical herb--mint leaves that the guests can pull off and drop into their potions.

•Disappearing Tortilla Chips with Midnight (black bean) Dip
•Celestial Sandwiches (bologna and cheese layered between white bread and cut into star and crescent moon shapes)
•Lizard Tongues (baby carrots halved lengthwise)
•Eyeballs of Newt (chilled red grapes)
• Wizard Cupcakes

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Make a Fairy Garden For Your Kids Party
Making a fairy garden for your kids party combines fun, fantasy and learning. It's a perfect activity if your party theme is a fairy party, garden party, or tea party. Learn how to make a magical miniature garden kids will love.
This project is a truly unique kids party activity, combining fun, fantasy, and learning. Kids love getting their hands dirty and learning how things grow. They will also love the idea of making a magical garden place for a fairy to live.

A miniature garden takes little space and can rest on a tabletop. Maintenance requires only a light misting from time to time and watching for fairies to come to call. Just kidding about that last part, but you never know...

Start by collecting various containers such as woven baskets, large shallow bowls or deep dish clay saucers (like a birdbath), or even discarded bureau drawers. Check yard sales for innovative ideas and inexpensive materials.

Next, supply potting soil and a selection of small plants that will reach under a foot when fully grown. Dwarf zinnias, marigolds, violets, ivy, baby's tears and sprigs of vinca are all good choices.

There are many types of mosses that will work nicely too, fitting into corners and small areas easily to add texture and interest. A variety of low-growing herbs such as thyme and rosemary lend aroma to the mix as well.

Start by lining your garden container with heavy duty plastic, fill to within an inch of the top with potting soil then kids are ready to landscape the top. Let them choose their favorite diminutive plants, interspersing them with various materials to add charm and character to the fairy garden.

For example, turn a colorful plant pot on its side and submerge it halfway in the soil to serve as a proper fairy dwelling. Add dollhouse sized furniture to set in the garden, popsicle sticks to construct a fairy fence, or small flat rocks to make a wonderful stepping stone path.

A small mirror symbolizing water making a faux gazing pool. The round flat glass beads used in vases make nice accent pieces too. Tiny garden accessories like terra cotta pots and shovels give your garden a "lived-in" look.

Fairy gardens needn't be for little girls only. Boys can make a miniature dinosaur den using many of the same materials. Herbs, moss and other green plants can make a forest or wooded area in which small plastic dinosaurs return from extinction to live another day. Soil mounded to one side forms a volcano, spilling red aquarium stone lava.

A construction site garden is another option for boys. Tiny rocks, stick logs, and craft stick lumber can be stacked up waiting for the big rigs to move them. Small toy bulldozers and cranes can be scattered about, among the plantings.

These whimsical gardens can go wherever your child's imagination takes them. You provide the materials, they supply the ideas and creativity. Planting and maintaining a miniature garden teaches kids about plants, caring for living things, and most all the fun of gardening.

Fairy Flutterby Children’s party
* Fairy Party Games *

Find the Fairies Print off or photocopy some pictures of fairies. Stick them onto string card and cut out. Punch a hole in the top and thread with pink ribbon. Hide the fairies around the garden or house and see who can find the most fairies.

Musical Flowers This is a version of musical chairs but instead of using chairs, use flowers which you have cut out from card and painted. Lay these on the floor and put the music on. Tell the fairies that if you play the musical loudly then they must rush around the room, but if the music is quiet then they must flutter gracefully about the room. When the music stops the last one to stand on a flower is out of the game but they do get to choose a small fairy gift. You could also use paper lily pads for this game instead of flowers

Tooth toss Collect a load of wine bottle corks and paint then white. Also prepare a couple of small baskets that you have decorated with flowers and hung from a tree. See who can then toss the most teeth into the baskets and for every tooth in the basket they get a chocolate golden coin.

The fairies missing wardrobe In advance make or buy various items of fairy clothing such as a wand, pixie hat, crown, shoes, flower garland and so on. Have a set of items for each team of children. Give the kids a list (pictures might be better) of items to find and the first one to finish gets to choose a fairy gift

Fairy pinat

Fairy trail This is best for outdoors. In advance prepare a magical trail which the kids need follow. Tell them that the fairies have been in your garden and you think that they have left a special gift for all the children but you are not sure where it is. Ask the kids to look for clues in the garden that might lead to the gift. For instance you could lay a path of glitter or glass pebbles; put small plastic insects on the trees; leave small paper foot prints on the ground or leave a trail of plastic flowers. When they get to the end of the trail have a magical chest set up and filled with goodies.

Piñata Having a piñata is always a great success at kids parties.

*Fairy Party Favours and Prizes

Instead of plastic fairy party bags instead make your own out of organza and ribbon. If you do use purchased bags personalise them with glitter glue and streamers. Alternatively use small plastic flower pots that you have painted and decorated with glitter and stickers.

Bag of magic fairy dust (glitter)
Lip gloss and glittery nail polish
Anything flowery and pretty for their hair
Bow ties for the boys
Magic wands
Stickers and novelty rubbers
Anything that glows and sparkles
Torches to go on night time fairy hunts
Chocolate golden coins
Polished rocks and glass pebbles used for flower arranging

Improv Games

Pass the Ball: All players in a circle. Ask the players to pass a mimed ball [present] to others (one ball at a time). The ball bacomes heavier, until it weighs a ton, or extremely light, extremely big (and light or heavy) or extremely small (and light or heavy). Actors need to show the ball's characteristics in the way it gets passed.

Mirror Exercise: Pair up actors. One actor is the mirror and must copy everything the other actor does.

Shrinking Box: Actors pantomine that they are in a very large box. Show audience all the sides. Then the box gets smaller. Show the audience how small it is getting. Then they must figure out a way to escape. The actor must do a good job showing the audience how they have escaped so they can correctly guess how.

Group Stop: Everyone quietly mills about the room. One person will elect to freeze in position unexpectedly. As soon as one notices that someone else has frozen in position they freeze as well. So the effect of one person freezing causes everyone to freeze. Once everyone is still the group starts milling around again. The goal is to see how quickly the group can freeze in position.

3 Noses: A fun and silly game. Let everyone walk leisurely around the room. When you shout '3 Noses' the players must form little groups, each group consisting of 3 touching noses. Use your imagination - say 4 feet, 3 hands, 2 ears, 9 fingers, 5 hips, 4 elbows, 3 heads, 7 left big toes, 4 little fingers. Repeat till everyone is giggling.

Alphabet Game: The actors act out a scene but they must start each sentence with the letters of the alphabet. If an actor gets a letter wrong, audience yells SLEEP and remaining actors continue.

Fairy Tale in a Minute: The actors pick a fairy tale (or get one from the audience) and then act out the story in one minute. Then they must act out the same thing in 30 seconds. THEN they must act it out in 10 seconds.

Lines from our Pockets: The audience will write lines for the actors to say. Someone will collect the lines and not show them to the actors. The actors will act out the scene and then they must interject the lines into the scene.

Melodrama: We have an old fashioned melodrama for you, but with a twist. The twists will be based on suggestions from the audience. We have three characters: a damsel in distress, a hero, and a villain. Audience: you will Boo at Villain, Cheer for Hero, Ahhh for Damsel. Audience will suggest... Damsel: something strange to raise on a farm, Villain: a weird form of torture, Hero: an odd weapon someone might use to stop a villain.

Stunt Doubles: 2 Actors are acting a scene such as washing a car. When it comes time to do a “dangerous” step (such as turning on the hose) they call in their stunt doubles.

Here Comes Jill: One actress plays Jill who is off stage. The other two actors are patrons at a restaurant and describe what Jill is like while she is off stage. Jill is a waitress and when Jill comes in, she has to act like she is described.

Flock of Seagulls: You have a lead actor and four other actors who must copy everything the lead actor does. The problem is that each of the other actors have some sort of problem. One has their foot stuck to the floor, one can't put their arms down, one has their hands stuck to their head, one keeps falling asleep (add your own problems).

Honey Walk: All actors walk in place. The audience calls out different things they must walk through. Snow, ice, mud, jello, honey...