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Ideas and Hosting an Arts and Crafts Party

Getting Crafty at Birthday Parties

Second born Hailey recently turned seven and attempting to follow in the footsteps of what her older sister had just done, originally she asked to have a Sleep-over party. Kim and I were quick to block her intent on this. Our argument was that only half the kids her age would be able to spend the night, which was an educated guess at best, but plausible enough for Hailey to switch themes to a Birthday Craft Party.

She wanted to do at least three arts and crafts projects and we brainstormed together. Since Halloween was just around the corner Hailey suggested pumpkin carvings. An ambitious project for a dozen seven year-olds, I scaled it back to mini pumpkin paintings. Thinking inexpensive, I suggested decorating wooden picture frames and then printing a party-pic from our inkjet during the celebration to insert in each deco frame. Hailey liked that idea. For the third project I thought tie dye shoe laces would be fun and easy but Hailey wisely noted that only one friend wears shoes with laces. Kim chimed in with tie dye socks which was perfect being that Silly Sock Day was the following week at the elementary school. Hailey also wanted to do pizza and a scavenger hunt. Kim and I agreed to these plans as well. We decided three hours would be just enough time to get it all in.

A week before the party I stopped at the craft store to purchase all the supplies. We needed quite a bit. Three packs of paint brushes at one dollar a pack. And six big bottles of tempura paint, (two white, two black and two purple) at two dollars a bottle. That was all we needed for the tiny pumpkin paintings. I also bought sixteen wooden frames, (a few extra for future projects) at one dollar a piece. A fresh pack of 50 markers for ten dollars. A jumbo canister of multi-color, multi-pattern foamy letter stickers for five dollars and a small pack of foamy glitter heart shaped stickers for one dollar. All for the deco picture frames. I stumbled upon a tie dye kit that had everything we needed; six different color dyes, rubber-bands, gloves, tarp, six squeeze bottles and instructions. The kit was $40 but I had a 40% off coupon.

Kim picked up a couple six-packs of inexpensive white socks for the tie-dye project and a rock and roll guitar themed cupcake-cake that Hailey had picked out from Walmart. The mini pumpkins came from local supermarket. Three giant pizzas from Sam’s Club.  Everything combined we spent $150ish. Not too bad.

A few hours prior to the celebration, I had setup two folding tables in our living room to serve as a work area and Kim draped trash bags over them. An hour before the party began I scattered all the new craft supplies throughout the house, inside and out leaving a clue on each as to where to find the next set of supplies. The party attendees were held responsible for finding all craft supplies or there would be no art projects. Everyone had fun playing detective.

Once all the supplies were rounded up we started the first project; pumpkin paintings. There was just enough workspace and plenty of paint and brushes. A make-shift drying area was setup on the front porch. After everyone had finished painting. Kim and I quickly cleaned up and prepared the second project while the party moved into the backyard for crazy play.

Next we did tie dye socks. I preformed a quick demonstration for all the little people; twisting, folding and rubber-banding the socks. I had to assist a few of the girls with this part of the project and because of the permanency of the dye, I ended up applying the colors on each pair of socks and zip-locking the finished product. For the parents; I printed then highlighted the dye setting time and washing instructions. The socks turned out fabulously, Hailey proudly wears hers every other day.

Kim and I did a quick cleanup of the tie dye project, then tossed a big salad and prepared 3 huge cheese pizzas for consumption, ok so all we did was remove them from freezer, un-box and place ‘em in preheated oven. The pizzas warmed up while the girls completed the third project; decorating unfinished 5×7 wooden picture frames with markers and foamy stickers and before the little partiers later departed I slipped a photo in the frame as a keepsake.

Hailey Party 2011

A Few Party Girls

Right after the feeding frenzy there was just enough time to sing “Happy Birthday” and devoured the cupcake-cake. We managed to squeeze it all in under three hours. As the children’s parents popped in for pickup we bagged up all the projects as party-favors recieving many thanks and complements on a great idea for Hailey’s birthday. While sweeping up the last of the foamy sticker scrap peelings from the floor and stored-away the folding tables, Kim and I congratulated ourselves for another smooth, disaster free party.

Mother’s Day Gift Idea for Dad’s with Kids

Kim! Do not read any further!
Clothes Pin Picture Frames. This craft is easy for all ages especially dads.

List of necessities: These items should be available at any craft store, or Wal-Mart, or Home Depot, or Lowe’s, any of these places will have all this stuff.

a. Several Clothes Pins (the spring kind), these will hold the pictures. Ok one quick side tip; these make great chip bag clips.
b. 1’-2’ x 4”-6” Balsa Wood, (one per child) or bass wood or you could recycle paint stirs, the 5 gallon variety work good.
c. Stick On Magnets, I prefer a big roll.
d. Glue, wood glue will work, I use hot glue gun for speed.
e. Kids washable paint, or glitter glue, or foamy sticker shapes
f. Pictures of kiddos.

Figure (a.)

Figure (a.)

Figure (b.)

Figure (b.)

Figure (c.)

Figure (c.)

Figure (d.)

Figure (d.)

Figure (e.)

Figure (e.)


First, have kiddo(s) paint, stamp, marker, sticker, glitter glue, bug shape, google eye’s, whatever’s in the craft bin on the (b.) balsa wood and several (.a) clothes pins. For our project, we have foamy dress up people, (found at craft store), that the kiddos will make portraitures from and those will be adhered to the clothes pins.

Elizabeth Painting for Mommy

Elizabeth Painting for Mommy

Second, (if applicable) take kiddos outside to play or do Mario Kart on the Wii while the paint dries.

Third, stick the (c.) magnets on the bottom of the (b.) balsa wood (hit the corners with magnets).

Forth, (d.) glue the decorated (a.) clothes pins (at least 6” apart) to (b.) balsa wood.

Fifth, more Wii or playing whatever while glue dries.

Six, open clothes pins and insert (e.) pictures.

Seven, give to baby’s momma on the special day that honors all the mommies.

Clothes Pin Picture Frame - Test Run

Clothes Pin Picture Frame - Test Run

A Child’s Disappointment

A whale in the ocean - Hailey 08Stay at home dad this past Tuesday with Olivia, Hailey and Elizabeth Rose lesson learned:
Setting up the tone, “Daddy Days Are Here Again” to the song
“Happy Days Are Here Again.”  Olivia has a superb new addition to her morning routine, journaling. From the kitchen table she sketches in a spiral bound Strawberry Shortcake branded notebook, supplying me with a brief dictation of the journal entry, currently a narrative mermaid epic, I hastily inscribe a sentence or two. She enjoys creating pictures and appreciates the short bit of time we spend discussing the drawings on a mature level that Hailey either understands and is uninterested or she doesn’t yet comprehend the abstraction. Hailey’s Care Bear note book occasionally gets used and she will scrawl prolific ‘scribble scrabble’ a dub from her big sister. The scribble scrabble is fresh and expressive. I write copy pertaining to Hailey’s Star, or Snakes, or Fish, or Whales and once I received no expletive, instead artistic silence. Olivia's Mermaid

During a breakfast of bagels and cream cheese we discussed the dreary rainy morning. I suggested we go to our community center to make use of the dues we pay and visit the indoor pool. Hailey jumped on the idea and Olivia half heartedly agreed. Free swim wasn’t until noon, so after cleaning up from meal number one of the day, Elizabeth Rose ended up in her crib for nap number one of the day, then it was game time. Hungry Hungry Hippos, Fishing Around, Little (or Littlest) Pet Shop, Hi Ho Cherry O’, Melisa and Doug’s Magnetic Dress Up Princess, honestly, I opted-out on that last one, preparing three backpacks for the pool instead.

At noon the clouds had blown over and the spring sun worked to burn off the dampness. I was feeding Elizabeth Rose bottle number two of the day and Olivia and Hailey were finishing up meal number three of the day. (They snacked on granola shortly after breakfast).  Anticipating our departure for the pool, they were bouncing all over the place, so I sent them to their room to prepare for swimming. Elizabeth Rose had me temporarily immobilized which meant I had to verbally remind them that if they wanted to go to the pool they needed to, “put on swimsuits and get dressed. Socks and Crocks.” Fifteen minutes later, Elizabeth Rose belched out a deep baritone that a horn three times her size would not be able to register. All the little ducky’s in a row and we were out the door.

Twenty minutes later, Olivia and Hailey are disrobing in the locker room.
Me: “Hailey? Did you forget to put your swimsuit on?” She had stripped down to her Hello Kitty’s.
Hailey: Silent.
Me: “Olivia?” She had one arm out of her jacket. “Did you put your swim suit on?”
Olivia: “Ohhh… Daaadeee…”
Hailey: “Daddy! You got my swimsuit?!”
Me: “No Hailey. I don’t”
Hailey: “You put them in my bag!? [backpack]”
Olivia: “Ohhh…Daaadeee!”
Both Olivia and Hailey: “You packed the bag!” I usually stuff my green gym bag with all our swim gear, this time I chose to force them to be a bit more responsible and self sufficient, relying on their back packs. Truthfully, I needed one more hand and one less encumbrance while shuffling Elizabeth Rose around.

Hailey’s distress could be heard throughout the lock room. So close to the pool, the chlorine vapors wafted in, to mix with her cries. I reasoned her out of the emotional furry relatively swiftly by telling her that I knew she wanted to go swimming and that I understood her dissatisfaction. I was on the verge of promising that we could swiftly retrieve their suits and return faster than superman spinning the earth backwards. But I didn’t
Hailey: “We coming back Daddy?”
Me: “No Hailey. We will miss swim.” Hailey did not like my answer and started breaking down again.
Me: “We can do something else” I wasn’t sure what. Pause.
Olivia: “The park?”
Me: “Yes! good idea Sweetie” I had a hunch she may have wanted this. She made a reference to the park during meal number one.
Hailey: “I want to go swimming!”
Me: “Hailey. We can’t do a thing hanging around in this locker room.” That reasoned with her just enough.
Olivia: “C’mon Hailey, we can go to the park. Daddy said.” One of Olivia strengths is in helping her own cause. I was eager to ally and the timing was brilliant.
Me: “What park Hailey?”
Hailey: “I want to go swimming!”
Me: “Well Honey, we have to get to the car before we can do anything, please get dressed, we will talk about it on the way to the car.”
It took Hailey a few minutes to collect herself; Olivia, Elizabeth and I were patient. We slowly made our way out of the building, a preschooler’s walk of shame, across the parking lot to my vehicle and in that time Hailey had agreed with the change in plans.

The park consumed the remainder of the afternoon. Elizabeth Rose napped (number three if you count the ten minute car ride to the park), tucked in the Bjorn. Hailey forgot about swimming as soon as her feet hit the spongy play surface running wild filling her body with fresh spring air. Olivia made friends with a couple of kids in the sand pit, coordinating a dinosaur bone excavation. Obviously those are merely the highlights. They played hard for a good three hours.

Disappointments are tough to sort through especially when under fire. What if I had caved to Hailey’s demands by bending to the will of my children? Would I have been a hero, (retrieving the forgotten swimsuits), rescuing them from misfortune? Or would I be enabling irresponsibility? Explaining to Kim the missed swim opportunity situation at the dinner table that night both Olivia and Hailey (meal number five) said they forgot to put their suits on.

No Strings Attached

Originally posted on BabyCenter.com 04/01/07 

Three months straight, Olivia repetitiously pleaded for a pair of her own scissors. Having tons of practice cutting at preschool and various activity centers she was definitely ready. But there was one little problem, Kim and I were concerned that Hailey’s lack of sheering dexterity combined with her strong determined nature could be a dangerous combination. At what point do you sacrifice the learning experience of an older child while protecting the younger sibling from possible physical harm or mental anguish? We figured that close supervision would be the key, so Kim bought two identical training scissors and surprised the girls.

For the past few months Olivia has been methodically producing new and exciting artwork. She has evolved into a multi-media genius. Experimenting with papers, ribbons, string, yarn, cloth, anything clipable, also playing with several different tacking mediums, glue stick, tape, glitter glue, paints, hot glue gun (with my assistance), skillfully layering objects upon object. Her insatiable desire to create supersedes my own and I have a fine arts degree.

As predicted, Hailey was frustrated from the first cut. She had trouble holding the scissors. Her thumb ending up loosely in the big hole, her fingers crammed into the little hole, palms too small to open the scissors all the way and instead of trimming she’d end up tearing. Forget about explaining the correct way of holding and snipping to my independent thinker/doer, any assistance from me or Kim was (is) strictly prohibited. A few weeks of trial and error ensued and eventually she was able to make a few clean cuts. I was proud of her cut-above achievement and congratulated her, “You did it! Good job sweetie!” with high-fives, opposite her hand holding the scissors, obviously.

After a couple months of storing the scissors on a high shelf in Olivia’s closet we decided it was ok to keep them in the accessible-anytime craft box. This wasn’t a noticeable problem until Olivia’s slashing experimentation expanded from the limitation of her craft table or easel to any object she deemed detachable. I have caught her trimming the yarn-like hair from her groovy girl doll, by explanation, needed the hair out of her eyes. I also have found many of her little two-piece doll-house toys freed from the strings that hold them together, for instance, a miniature nightstand with half a string and a missing tiny hair brush or a bathtub figurine now minus a tiny washcloth. Also the doodle etch a sketch toy is now missing the etching pen. An alphabet caterpillar (I think that’s what it is) pull-along toy needed string repair. A wear around your neck toy drum is no longer wearable. On day she diligently chopped-up half of a fat neon green skein of yarn into tiny pieces, she was making grass. Do I ever stop her from what some may think is destruction? No. I say things like “I love your lawn, you manicured it so nicely.”

Am I negligent in teaching her what is right and wrong or am I allowing creative freedoms? All the lost or detached toys are irrelevant why not let her learn about the value of her possessions though making a few inconsequential mistakes. Until she finds my shoe laces or worse, my skates, I won’t keep her tied down. If I did, she’d probably cut herself free anyway.

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