For many, the beginning of the school year is a Season of New. Children become new school-agers, change schools, or start after-school activities such as tumbling class or Scouts. Teachers, parent volunteers and other kids’ group leaders are likewise greeted by new faces. Sometimes there’s a little anxiety. Always, you want to start out on the right foot. The Shindigz prescription: a get-acquainted party, naturally!
Choose a Theme with Fins or Four Legs
Chances are you’ll need a theme that appeals to both boys and girls, and there’s one great big intersection of boy and girl interests called Animals. Here are a few animal-based themes we think would work especially well for this purpose:
- Down on the Farm
- Big Game Safari Party
- Undersea Adventure
These animal themes are easy to decorate and accessorize. Create a barnyard with a big red 3D barn, classic red gingham table covers and a herd of inflatable cows; an undersea universe of deep blue seaweed and tropical fish balloons; or a green equatorial paradise with a jungle trees backdrop and wild animal standups.
You will similarly find that it’s easy to match piñatas, crafts, party wearables and other party favors to any of these animal themes.
If possible, try to have at least part of the party outdoors, or in another setting where the children can run around.
Young “Animals” Get Acquainted at Play
Children tend to get excited about being around other children, so the best strategy is to work off excess energy with lots of active play right at the start of the party.
Games can be old or new, theme-related or not, but you will want to choose types where nobody has to wait too long for their turns, and select team games for team-building and getting acquainted. Relays such as egg races, pass-the-orange, balloon sitting, and crab walk races make for classic, dependable fun; just be sure to mix up the teams between each game. Circle games using a play canopy and foam balls or animal beanbag toys engage all the children on the same team at once and encourage coordination and cooperative play.
Food tends not to be a huge focus for younger party guests, and what there is of it can be part of an activity, too. Children can decorate their own cupcakes or whip up small sundaes. Otherwise, a few nibbles are probably sufficient. Provide peanuts in the shell to a band of elephants, oats (granola) for a herd of horses, half bananas to marauding monkeys and so forth.
They will absolutely get mighty thirsty. Create theme-related personalized water bottle labels for “jungle juice” or “sea water” and tint bottle contents accordingly with food coloring.
When the level of activity begins winding down and the end of the get-acquainted party nears, pull out the craft projects and coloring books from Everything Elementary.
Get-Acquainted Fun Continues Afterward
If you do create a herd of inflatable cows or a school of plush fish as part of the party decorations, be sure to have enough on hand for each child to take one home. Party wearables such as animal print safari hats, shark tooth necklaces and farm animal masks are emblems of fun both during and after the party, and photos taken in front of large party decorations and during games can adorn a bulletin board or the beginnings of a group scrapbook.