A Healthier Birthday Party? Get the Kids MOVING!

Happy Birthday
See? Small cake for LOTS of boys = small pieces and no leftovers!!!

November is a busy month for us – along with the start of the holidays, multiple sporting tournaments/ meets and after school practices, my son has his birthday.  He always wants a party at our house – which certainly saves a lot of money, but as the boys get older also creates a LOT of craziness!  Luckily, as parents we are a little bit crazy ourselves and do our best to have fun and enjoy the night instead of cringing at the mess!

Although it is certainly a good idea to try to keep the food at the party as healthy as possible (without slaving over the stove all day), it’s important to remember that many kids are picky eaters.  So in this area, I tend to limit the sweets (by serving smaller portions and less variety), offer typical kid food like pizza or pretzels, and then just consider the food for the night to be part of our once in a while “not so healthy” meals.  I also serve cut up veggies or a salad to my family before the party begins – I’ve learned through the years not to bother making enough for everyone, I’ve only had one kid take me up on it after dozens of parties.  This way I can feel a little better about the pizza and cake!

Where you can REALLY shine in making a party healthier is to incorporate exercise into the evening.  There are so many great ways to do this – from traditional games like tag, soccer or kickball if the weather is nice to relay races, hula hoop contests and fun active indoor games like Hullabaloo.

For our most recent party, my son requested a Nerf war.  AND he wanted to invite 12 boys.  AND remember, it’s November.  Gulp.  Turns out that it was a terrific, very active party for the boys.  I think ALL of them (and us too) ended up with a great cardio workout and had a lot of fun by the end of the evening.

To keep it safe, we purchased clear auto eye protection glasses at the dollar store (also a perfect party favor), and set rules that shooting at the heads was off limits.  My amazing SIL and daughter also spent an afternoon clearing the basement of any dangerous items or things that could cause issues like balls, swords, drum sticks, etc.

We broke up the party into “sections” to keep the insanity to a minimum.  First we spent quite a bit of time on target practice (dividing the boys up into groups and having an adult supervise each of three stations).  Next came a pizza and present break.  Finally the big event.  We divided the boys up into two teams, divided the adults up also to help with crowd control, sent them to different sides of the basement and went at it.  It was a lot of fun, and we found that timing the action helped keep craziness to a minimum.  We’d have a two minute “war” and then reset.

Nerf War

Was it a big mess?  Yes, but less than one would think.  Thanks to our foresight (and constant adult supervision and participation) we had no injuries, everyone had fun and I bet they all slept well that night!

So next time you are planning a party for your kids, think creatively about how to add an element of exercise.  It’s good for them, good for you and will make the party fun and memorable.

What do YOU do to create a fun and healthier party for your kids?  Any tips and tricks?  Please share in the comments.