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February 3, 2011 / MrsH

Playdough Birthday Party

Buddy just turned 5 and he requested a birthday party.  His first.  Of course we obliged, how do you say no to that?  We only have one experience of actually hosting a party at our home, and while all the girls had fun, the parents did not!  We knew we did not want to replicate that experience, and yet were stumped for ideas.  Thankfully, family fun helped me out with the idea of doing a playdough party.  With some tweaks on our end, we ended up having  a great time.

We decorated with a variety of bright, solid colors.  Tables were covered in plastic table coverings, used brightly colored cups for drinks (or in our case fruit salad), and different colored napkins and plates.  Some birthday balloons finished things off.  Snacks were simple: a fruit tray, goldfish, and pretzels for the kids and a veggie tray and cheese and crackers for the grown-ups (of course anyone could eat anything!).

We had set up the main table with large pictures to color.  Crayons were in empty playdough containers on the table, ready to go.

Once a bunch of kids were there they all sat down to make their own playdough.  They were so excited about this!  In zip-top baggies (the ones that have an actual zipper), combine 1/2 cup flour and a 1/4 cup of salt.  Guests (or parents) add 1/4 cup warm water and a squirt of tempera paint or food coloring, then knead to make it into playdough.  Be sure you have the baggies prepped and pay meticulous attention to the measuring.  It was no fun having to add flour or water to various childrens’ baggies.  Get the air out before kneading so baggies don’t explode.

As the playdough was finished, we presented various fun elements.  I had intended to do it one at a time, but ended up actually giving it all out at the beginning:

  1. variety of cookie cutters and rolling pins, ice-cream shop and the playdoh pasta machine (these are frequently discounted at Target, or can be bought at AC Moore with one of their weekly 50% off coupons).
  2. mix-ins: cinnamon, glitter, and peppermint extract
  3. pipe cleaners and googly eyes

We also had a few “sideline” activities set up:

  • beading (onto pipe-cleaners) – this was our intention but with two young toddlers we decided it’d be too much of a hassle
  • trains
  • play kitchen
  • duplo

Once a few kids were done with their playdough, we placed it in a clean baggie and used a sharpie to write their names on it.  We left out all the stuff on the table and brought the cupcakes out to the living room coffee table.  I’d used food coloring to make them lime-green, red, blue, rose, yellow, and orange to tie into the playdough theme.   At this time we also served juiceboxes and miniature water bottles.

We followed this by giving them some time to just play, but things got a bit raucous.  I think it would have been better to have another activity planned, such as saving something neat to do with the playdough, or playing pin the tail on the donkey (with a playdough theme??), or some other party game.  A treasure hunt would also have been super fun but I didn’t have the energy to prepare it.

At the end, each guest brought home the playdough they made and a lollipop.   A few kids hadn’t made dough but brought some of the pre-mixed stuff home.  We invited friends to a “birthday playdate” and noted “no gifts, please.”  Because of that, we felt a lot less pressure to do goodie bags.

The kids had a great time and having them all at the table doing playdough worked out beautifully.  It was amazing how 10 kids aged 2-6 were able to work cooperatively and had a great time together.  The theme also brought the boys and girls together for this co-ed party.  And the birthday boy?  He LOVED it!


One Comment

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  1. jeannem32 / Feb 5 2011 3:51 pm

    Ahh…nice. I’ve got a play dough boy, as well. Love the idea. Just wondering when goodie bags became such an expectation–like how you solved it, though.

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