Want something fresh and out of the ordinary for birthday parties, particularly for boys? Here’s a brilliant idea from Alberto Lobo-Guerrero S., a professional magician from Colombia and a member of the Kids Entertainment Academy.
Knowing that their child and their child’s friends love to make paper airplanes, Alberto and his wife decided to throw their son a paper plane party for his ninth birthday. If you’d like to try the same idea, read Alberto’s post below:
The Invitation & Unique Party Giveaway
The invite was printed out on a recycled colored cardboard (Figure 1).
For the party treat, we put together a small manual with instructions on how to make several origami figures. (The files of the Origami Manual are in the handout. Just click the link above and enter your email to get a copy.)
The first page of the booklet includes the name of our child, his birthday date, and our contact details. This and a 50-page 20×20 cm square colored origami paper pad, constituted the party treat for each child (Figure 2). Both were put into a letter-size manila envelope.
The manual is shown in Figures 2-6. The main sources for the origami designs are shown in the last figure.
*NOTE: The images provided by the contributor are in Spanish, but you can easily source the folding instructions in English.
We also folded small colorful containers and filled them with sweets (Figure 10). Instructions on how to fold the container are also shown.
The Warm-up Party Games
The party took place outside, on the sixth floor. The day was bright all morning, but as the hour of the party arrived, the sky became dark gray and strong showers were forecasted. Fortunately the rain never came and we were able to stay outside all afternoon, but several backup strategies were prepared in case of rain. The only activity that took place indoors was the magic show.
When the children arrived, they played “table” games in small groups. These included Mikado (Chinese chopsticks – left image below), building creative towers with blocks from two Jenga sets, and playing with a “pirinola”. (This last game–right image below–is a spinner with six different alternatives: all give, take all, put one, put two, take one, take two. Several dozen game tokens or chips were used as markers. The game is akin to Jewish dreidels.)
On purpose, we wanted the boys to play simple, technology-free games. Many of these games were new to the kids, but they are well-known and loved by our child. The games were played on the ground, and the kids had lots of fun with them.
Once the crowd was large enough, we began playing other “field” games. These included varying types of tag, breaking into two teams, searching for fragments of yarn, tying them in a long “dragon’s tail”, etc. (Details of the games will not be included here, for brevity.)
Building and Playing with the Paper Planes
At one point, I began to teach the kids how to build the origami paper airplane step by step. Three sets of instructions were printed out on double letter-size sheets (akin to A3 sheets). They were exactly the same instructions included in the booklet that we handed out as giveways. The boys could follow me or the instructions on the sheets, which were pasted on the floor with masking tape.
When well-made, the plane flies in a straight line. A few of the kids managed to complete their airplanes before the others. They began to play with them while I and my child (he knew how to make the paper plane by heart) helped the rest. Some of them drew pilots, passengers, windows, bombs, cargo, etc on their planes.
In the meantime, my wife started a game for the children where they tried to aim and shoot their plane into a 16-cm circle cut out in a corrugated cardboard. The cardboard was cut from a box obtained at a supermarket.
As shown in the picture on the right, the circle starts 32 cm from the bottom of the cardboard. A side flap was left on the board so it could stand upright. It was placed on the edge of a table and held there by an adult or by one of the kids. (They all were eager to help!)
The boys were to stand at a fixed distance from the hole (2 meters) and try to aim their planes through the hole in the cardboard. Whoever made it gained a point. (See the note about points further down.)
That simple game turned out to be an extraordinary thing. All kids lined up to wait for their turn to fly their plane through the hole. Everyone cheered for everybody’s planes.
To calm down the crowd during that activity, my wife decided to play Vivaldi’s Four Seasons melodies. That worked out well.
My wife and I were surprised to find that the boys did not want to stop playing this game. At a certain time later on, when we were reorganizing for another different game, one of the boys grabbed the board and held it in place while the others aimed and sent their planes in. That spontaneous activity brought all the children together.
The plane-through-the-hole game, thought up by my wife, was actually an alternative activity to be used indoors, in case of rain. She was not planning on using it and left the board plain without any decorations. It surprised both of us to see how much the kids liked it. In fact, it was the game most liked by the boys during that party.
At the time of handing the boys their treat, I asked some of them about the games they liked most. Building the airplanes and using them was the favorite. And by far, the winning “game” was shooting the airplanes through the hole.
The kids did not want to let go of their planes during dinner, or during the blowing of the cake, or during subsequent field games that took place after sunset. Most of the kids took their prized planes with them home after the party.
Curiously, all boys wanted to sit and watch the sunset. On their own, they lined up the chairs on the side of the terrace facing the sunset, and they enjoyed that moment a lot.
Before the magic show though, we had the kids store their paper airplanes in a cupboard. Each labeled his plane so he can find his “valuable possession” afterwards.
Outdoor dinner came immediately after the magic show. The boys spontaneously started playing again with their paper planes in the terrace.
My wife was keeping track of the points earned by each child in the various individual or group competitions. So when leaving the party, each child was able to select his prizes, based on the number of points he got. These turned into candy bars, chocolate, little erasers, bags of gummy bears, football referee whistles, etc.
The party was a great success. A few of the parents told us that after coming to our child´s party three years before, they planned on coming again and were delighted to be invited. They were not worried at all to leave their children in our hands.
From our point of view, getting to know our child´s classmates directly is a good thing. It enables us to gain a much better understanding of our child´s life and become better friends with him.
Hopefully these ideas contribute to the store of information available about kids entertainment. Any comments or questions are welcome.
What about you? Do you have unique or uncommon ideas for games, activities, or entertainment for children’s parties? We’d love to hear them! Share your ideas in the comments section below.