If your party guys are into sports and your party gals prefer fashion and makeovers, it might seem like a challenge to organize the perfect party for your mixed gender group. Fortunately, there are plenty of activities that everybody at your preteen's party will enjoy -- it just takes a little planning and creativity to coordinate the activities with your party crowd.
Include a unisex craft activity in your preteen's party events to keep the group occupied and provide them with some creative keepsakes to take home. If you're celebrating in the summertime, have the group transform ordinary, inexpensive towels into one-of-a-kind beach accessories with fabric paints and pens, and glue-on decals. For a fabric craft anytime of the year, pick up plain T-shirts and let the kids decorate these instead. You can help the kids keep track of all their future party plans and other important events by having them decorate miniature whiteboards with fabric, felt, craft foam and decals, or have the preteens make dream catchers to decorate their rooms with small, circular wire frames, embroidery floss and beads.
Rumbling stomachs don't have to mean that activity time must come to a halt; turn the meal and dessert into activities, too. You can pick up the fixings for your crowd to assemble their own subs, or present each preteen with unbaked, unadorned pizza dough and let them customize their pizzas any way they like. When it's time for dessert, bring out a tray full of undecorated cupcakes. Before you sing the birthday song, have everyone cover the cupcakes in a thick layer of icing, spoonfuls of sprinkles and handfuls of any other toppings you'd like. You can have the kids build their own sundaes to cool off in the summer, or offer a healthier alternative and have the kids build their own yogurt parfaits with fruit, granola, nuts and dark chocolate shavings.
Your preteen might have outgrown “Hot Potato" and “Pin the Tail on the Donkey," but there are plenty more games that will appeal to this crowd. Create a preteen carnival in your own backyard with a homemade beanbag toss, ring toss and some simple team relay races. If it's warm outside, incorporate games that will help the kids cool off, such as sponge relay races, water gun or balloon competitions or bobbing for apples. If you have enough room, rent some impressive inflatables that are designed for bigger kids, such as an inflatable obstacle course and a hook and loop fastener wall. Make the backyard carnival as authentic as possible by renting a cotton candy machine and help each of your guests make his own treat.
If you've been considering a sleepover for your preteen's mixed gender party, you can organize a well-chaperoned event easily by turning it into a camping adventure. Invite your guests to arrive during the late afternoon to start the party off with a barbecue in the backyard. Divide the kids into two groups and transform setting up tents into a friendly competition. Keep the team spirit alive with a game of capture the flag, or wait until the sun sets and play a game of flashlight tag instead. If permitted, roast marshmallows and hot dogs and take turns telling ghost stories -- or add a twist to the events and aim for the silliest stories instead. When the group is ready for bed, have the guys and gals retire to separate tents with an adult chaperone to ward off bad dreams and wandering kids.
- Great Parties for Kids: Over 35 Celebrations for Toddlers to Preteens; Nancy Fyke, et al.
- Penny Whistle Birthday Party Book; Meredith Brokaw, et al.
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