It's a lucky kid who's born in the summer with years of wonderful outdoor celebrations ahead. This birthday, make the most of the backyard's resilience to good messy fun with a water theme that allows children to splish and splash and parents not to worry about untidy results.
To create a watery world, you don't need an adult-size swimming pool -- just lots of blue and green decorations, a menu inspired by critters from the sea, and a few aquatic activities.
What makes such a simple party memorable for the guests? There's a single theme that's expressed creatively in all the details. Start by setting the tone weeks before with invitations that hint at what's to come. Look for store-bought cards, or create your own -- a project you and your birthday boy or girl can work on together.
For the invitations, we used picture window cards with envelopes, cellophane bags that fit inside cards, plain paper, blue vellum, scissors, a scallop edge rotary cutter, and photo corners. We added a favor -- a cellophane "fortune fish" -- to each. Design invitations on a computer, print them out, then cut them to fit in the cellophane bags. Cut the vellum to desired size (to overlay some writing), cutting the top with a scallop cutter. Slip the cards and vellum into cellophane bags; place bags in the cards behind the windows, and secure them with photo corners. Tuck them into envelopes.
Towel Favor How-To
To make the fish pocket, you will need scissors and scalloped pinking shears, colored fabric (we used a cotton-polyester blend), eye buttons or adhesive-backed eyes, kraft paper, a fabric pencil, and green or other contrasting-color thread.
1. Transfer the template to kraft paper, then trace it onto a double layer of fabric. Cut out the sides and bottom of fish shapes with scalloped shears; for the mouth, leave a 1/2-inch seam allowance and cut with regular scissors.
2. Sew pieces together at the mouth, and turn right-side out.
3. Iron the mouth flat. Sew or glue an eye onto the side that will face out. Pin the fish onto the center of the towel.
4. Sew the fish to the towel using a zigzag stitch, leaving the mouth open. Tuck favors inside.
Fishing Game How-To
For this game, you will need kitchen twine, 4-foot-long bamboo poles (available at floral-supply stores), a hot glue gun, a drill, blue and green Moosgummi foam, plastic crabs and frogs, and horseshoe-shape and round magnets. Drill a hole through the diameter of each pole, 1 inch from the end. Cut twine to be as long as the pole, thread one end through the hole, and tie. Tie a horseshoe magnet to the other end. Use the template to cut out foam lily pads; enlarge and reduce the template on a photocopier for pads of varying sizes. Hot-glue round magnets to the backs of frogs and crabs, and let dry. Set a plastic animal on each lily pad and float pads in a kiddie pool or small pond.
Gift Wrap How-To
The presents you give your child can be wrapped according to the day's theme. To cover boxes in sea scenes, first wrap them in white or yellow paper. Measure one side of the box; draw a fish on colored paper to fit. Cut it out and glue it to the box. Use a hole punch to make round eyes from colored paper. Using a scallop-edge rotary cutter, cut water from blue acetate to fit around the bottom half of the box and secure in back with tape.
Safety Kit How-To
For an outdoor party, stock up on water resistant sunscreen lotion and lip balm, both with an SPF of 15, and a lotion with citronella oil to repel bugs. Have first-aid supplies on hand, just in case.