Sports-themed birthday parties are a way to tie everything together — food, decorations, goodie bags, and activities. Depending on where you’re hosting your party and the age of the guest of honor, you can adapt these ideas to fit the needs of your particular birthday party. Here are 5 Tips for Throwing Sports-Themed Birthday Parties.
- Bowling – Whether you’re hosting the party at a bowling alley or trying a do-it-yourself version in the backyard (minus real balls and pins), bowling is easily adaptable for most ages. As a take-home gift, fun socks are an unexpected and useful alternative. Let the kids put them on before the rental shoes! In keeping with the theme, serve single-serving milk bottles that have been decorated with a few strips of red electrical tape near the neck. Let kids know that it’s all about the effort and having fun. Send everyone home a winner with small plastic trophies that can be decorated (with stickers or marker) with each child’s name. (You can also fill the opening of the trophy with wrapped candies). Decorations are relatively simple. Transform black balloons (use caution if little ones attend as balloons are a choking hazard), plates, cups, and napkins into imitation bowling balls by attaching round white adhesive labels to represent the finger holes. Desserts can also follow the round theme of a bowling ball– let guests choose from an assortment of donut holes, cookies, Ding Dogs, and more.
- Baseball – Depending on the venue for your party, decorations can be easy do-it-yourself or none at all. White hanging lanterns can be transformed to look like baseballs by using a red marker to add on some stripes. You can keep party food traditional by serving the “classics” — hot dogs, peanuts, cotton candy, Cracker Jacks. Have guests sign a baseball as a memento that is given to the guest of honor at the end of the party. If you’re keeping it simple (i.e. more Americana than a particular sports team) stock up on patriotic decorations (around Memorial Day or Fourth of July, for example). A clean baseball glove makes a unique napkin holder! A star-shaped cookie cutter transforms sandwiches into “all-star” sandwiches. Another cute alternative calls for open-face bagels with cream cheese. Use a red food marker to add-on “baseball stitching” on top of the cream cheese. Taking it a step further, you can transform a cheese pizza into a baseball by strategically positioning the pepperoni so that it again resembles the stitching on a baseball. For dessert, you can try sugar cookies decorated with white frosting and thin red licorice rope to resemble a baseball. Or a white-frosted circular cake can also easily be transformed into a baseball. For goodie bags, keep the theme going by sending each guest home with any combination of: baseball cards, small baseball cap bowls, squeezable mini baseballs, and inflatable balls and bats.
- Golf – Kids’ golf parties can be held at miniature golf venues or in your own backyard. And activities aren’t limited just to golfing. Have guests make their best estimates about how many tees are in a clear glass vase. Use plastic golf balls and have relay races, seeing which team can make it back and forth while balancing a ball on a spoon (or while walking backwards). And those same plastic golf balls can be strung together to create a garland. Play “pin the ball on the green” by using a green poster board with a cut-out hole. Guests are blindfolded as they try to make a “hole in one.” Foam visors are a fun make-and-take project that kids can use during the party and then keep as a souvenir afterwards. Send kids home with the fixings for future games: a small towel, ball markers, tees, plastic balls. And to keep the ball theme going, try serving them — cheese balls, melon balls, “balls” of vanilla ice cream.
- Soccer – In terms of color it’s easy — green (for grass), black and white (for the balls). And depending on where you’re hosting your party and the age of your guests, you can vary the rules of game, adapting soccer to common playground games such as “sharks and minnows.” Vary the idea of a traditional pinata, by having each child attempt to kick the soccer ball pinata while blindfolded. Serve “soccer ball pizzas” by placing spaghetti sauce on each half of an English muffin. Top with cheese and pieces of pepperoni that have been cut into pentagon shapes. Also, serve edible soccer fields — a guacamole platter. Send each child home with the quintessential coaching tool — a whistle attached to a small soccer ball keychain. Nerf soccer balls can be decorated by the guests and then sent home.
- Olympics – Because of the variety of activities and sports involved, an Olympics-themed birthday party may make it easier for all children to feel comfortable participating. For decorations, stock up on paper goods during patriotic holidays (Memorial Day, 4th of July). You can also decorate by displaying flags from around the world. Depending on the amount of space available, you can set up for a variety of activities, and kids can participate on teams or individually depending on the number of guests. Activities may include: Frisbee throwing (similar to the Discus event), track and field events (including the long jump, sprints, relay races, an obstacle course), and weightlifting. For a “calmer” activity, party-goers can make their own flags to wave during a parade of athletes. (Flags can be for countries the guests wish to represent or they can create their own flag designs). In terms of food, you can let the internationalism of the Olympics influence your food choices — pizza for Italy, sushi for Japan, croissants for France. And, for a unique dessert, try an “Olympic torch ice cream” — use ice cream cones as the bases of the torches, and add scoops of orange, yellow, and red sherbet to serve as the “flame” of the torch. Instead of a cake, you can serve “Olympic ring cupcakes.”