Parties: A Sporting Chance

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

We had only been home in Australia around 6 weeks when I threw Riley his 6th birthday bash. Keen to invite his new classmates, I reluctantly sent out over 25 invitations... and it was the best move I ever made. This party was a blast, and with a little preparation, can be so easy to coordinate.

Held in the stinking high heat of summer, it was easy to get the kids outside outside outside - with lots of refreshing drinks and food. If you want to throw something similar, get on your mark, set, go!


With 25+ invitations, I wanted something simple, so I just put together an invitation using art from the web, printed onto white paper, cut out and pasted to orange card. I then used decorative scissors to cut around the edges.


Super easy decorations involve balloons in a single colour and cut-outs of sporting equipment - for us it was basketballs, soccer balls, footballs, blu-tacked to walls. I also cut out HAPPY 6th BIRTHDAY RILEY with bright paper. To do this, print large letters onto coloured paper but make sure you set the font in 'outline' first. Print out and cut around the outline.


To make things really sporty at an international level, I strung up fabric flags of the world. Tying colours together makes for an impactful party visually, so I tried to use coordinating items in orange and grass green, like tablecloths, napkins, cups and plates.


The great thing about a sports party is that it doesn't have to be blokey. Girls are huge on sport now and it was fun to include sporting challenges for the chicks. All over the decking and around the backyard, I had 'stations' where the kids could 'compete'.

Type up a record sheet with each challenge and list the kids' names underneath each one. As they complete a challenge, record their time or place on the sheet so you can work out which athlete wins - but also remember to take notes on kids that try hard, those who are great sportspeople, allrounders, most-improved, etc.

If you are one of these parents who trips over themselves to make sure every child is 'equal' and every child must win, then go ahead and keep no score and just present everyone with a medal and call everyone a winner.

Walk the Tightrope
Simply lay out or peg out a length of rope. Kids are really good at this, so make it harder by asking them to subsequently place hands on heads, walk backwards, etc.

Ball Toss
Using a hula hoop or other round item (you can cut one from card), have kids throw the ball through the hoop at increasingly distant intervals.

Hula Hooping
Have each child hoola for a set time. It's fun to also try it around the neck of limbs. Longest time wins.

Goal Kicking
If you don't have a set of goals, you can use household items like brooms or even sticks to peg into the ground and kick the balls between.

An all-time classic, limbo takes more athletic strength than we think. Have kids walk in a loop and lower the beam each time.

Throwing Games
Everyone loves to test their skill at throwing - darts and shooting hoops and ring toss are all great ways to test skill. 

Tug o' War
All time classic feat of strength. Has to be done.

Other ideas
Ribbon twirling, standing on one leg with eyes closed, leaping between points, coin tossing into a bowl at varying intervals. You can also lay out any type of sporting equipment you can, so kids can just PLAY. Footsal tables, trampolines, skipping ropes, balls - all good. 

I'm so big on making food easy. Leave the complicated, exotic and sophisticated for grownups who'll be impressed. Having said that, easy doesn't have to be boring or sloppy. You can create beautiful food for kids with the easiest of recipes.

For this party, I served classic kids party food - cut fruit, lots of watermelon, sausage rolls, cheezels, chips, butter biscuits with numbers piped in dark chocolate and orange segments with orange jelly inside.

To do this, simply cut an orange in half and scoop out the flesh (reserve for other yummy things!), fill with jelly made with a third less liquid (to make it set more firmly). Make sure oranges sit flat to set. When set, cut with a very sharp knife heated in hot water.

I also served teensy cupcakes topped with orange and white fondant icing, cut out with circle cutters.
I labeled the kids' cups and served juices and water and sparkling water spritzed up with juice.

What is an athletics party without a medal presentation? You can pick up plastic medals at supermarkets or party stores, or even go for the real thing at a sporting trophy store.

Riley presented the medals to his friends, who climbed on a 'dais'. Once medals were strung around deserving necks, Ella then handed them their goodie bag (as opposed to flowers).

What is a party without a piñata? Sorry. A must-do. And they are SO easy to make. Balloon, newspaper, papier maché, cornflour glue made from boiling water and cornstarch that has been swirled into a little cold water.

Decorating a piñata with crêpe paper is so effective because mistakes can easily be covered over, and they look so bright and beautiful.

To make the football shape, I added extra paper at the ends of the balloon, all bunched up and papered over with more papier maché. I added the red crêpe paper in strips that had been fringed with scissors. I then added black 'stitching' cut from black card.

When you hang a piñata, don't make the mistake of hanging it with fishing line - this will quickly cut through and the piñata will fall. Use a thick string or even ribbon. You can either attach it by wrapping around the balloon as you cover it with papier maché or you can make a hole in the top of the piñata through which you put your candy, then make small holes at least 2cm from the edge of the hole to thread ribbon through. Then paper over with your decorative paper to cover.

Once the piñata has smashed to smithereens (in our case, Riley had to give it a whack on the ground!), make sure the goodies are shaken all over so everyone can grab them. Be sure to provide the kids with little bags to stash their stash.


Once again, an easy peasy cake that looks so beautiful. The little soccer player is made from tinted fondant icing and he is truly just balls of icing rolled into shapes and assembled. Not at all difficult. His hair is chocolate shavings and the soccer balls are wrapped chocolates. I purchased the basketball candles. The grass is dessicated coconut, shaken in a bag with green food colouring.

We always have ice cream with the cake, and in this case we had an ice cream 'bar' where kids could add sprinkles to their heart's delight. Always a hole-in-one.


Jane said...

Hi Tania - I'm a big one for at home parties but I confess I had run out of ideas on party games. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Anonymous said...

another smashing party! TB

moggies said...

Hey party planner whizz.....little challenge for you! Any suggestions on how to combine a 5th birthday party with a 41st 2 days before christmas? I'm struggling!!

smileybella said...

How about an Ebenezer Scrooge party? Nick could play Scrooge and Quiddy could play Tiny Tim!!

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