Kids Birthdays

How to plan a fun birthday for your child

Birthday parties can be as diverse as the children they celebrate. They can be planned around anything, from your child's favorite cartoon character, animal or activity, to the season in which your child was born.

Fall birthday parties can include activities such as bobbing for apples or eating apples on a string, and playing "kick the pumpkin." Costumes and costume contests can be great fun for younger children during this time of year. Winter birthdays could have snowmen building contests, making snow ice cream, snow ball fights and other such wintertime fun. Have plenty of hot chocolate on hand, as well as extra gloves, hats and scarves, just in case.

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Spring birthdays can include kite flying, nature exploration, scavenger hunts and even seeing some baby animals, which all children seem to adore. Summer birthdays could have outdoor activities on a beach, lake or favorite park. Swimming, sand castle building, hide and seek or freeze tag are several great options that provide lots of fresh air and sunshine.

Teens might enjoy a hay ride, complete with bonfire and marshmallow roast for an autumn birthday celebration. In winter, they might like ice-skating, sledding or snowboarding, or other activities. For spring and summer, they might choose to gather at the baseball diamond or soccer field for a picnic and some good old-fashioned sporting fun. Camping out with tents and coolers in the backyard is another good option, as well as a trip to their favorite amusement or theme park with several of their friends in tow.

For younger children, slumber parties are a popular option, regardless of the season. Plan to have lots of activities on the go if you are going to have children over all night. Movies, games and midnight snacks are a must. Be sure to have extra pillows, sleeping bags and even a few extra pairs of PJs for those who forget to bring their own.

Children's birthday parties should reflect their personalities. Boys who love bugs and creepy crawlies will have a blast if you make this the party's theme. If your child loves baseball or is into video games, consider building the party around these things as well.

For my son's 18th birthday we had a "Halo" party. We borrowed TVs from friends and family and had an all-nighter with a Halo 2 Tournament in process for hours. We had kids in the basement, the bedrooms and the living room – even in the kitchen, with a system link running through the house. We had pizza, soda and a Halo 2 cake. Those guests who didn't play Halo had a great time watching the tournament and cheering for their favorite team.

When my other son was in junior high, he was a baseball fanatic. Party invitations were sent out with a color-coded team emblem: red on one team, blue on the other. Even grandparents, aunts and uncles got put on one side or the other. Those who didn't want to play were assigned to cheer for their color team. Nothing could be more fun than watching grandma step up to the home plate and prepare to swing that bat. Hot dogs and bags of potato chips were the staples of the day.

Birthdays are for making great memories and having the time of your life with the people you love the most. It's one of the few times of the year we can go all out to show the birthday kid how special they are to us. When you plan a celebration for a child (and not so much for yourself), you show them that they are loved.

By Kansas