Start the party before the party starts with ice breaker ideas that keep kids occupied while hostess mom greets guests.
Some kids arrive early & others arrive late. If left to their own devices, kids tend to run around & can be out of control before the party even starts!
The ice breaker activity should be completed at any stage so you’re ready to move on when the last guest arrives, but is involved enough to keep the earliest guests’ interest for as long as is necessary.
It is important for you as hostess to greet the arrivals and speak with their parents so the activity should be self-directed or have a volunteer to keep the kids organized for you.
You can do one icebreaker, but that may not be enough. For extra time, you can have party stations. (And there’s always that kid – or two – who just don’t want to do what you have planned. Now they can choose.)
If your party is set up with stations, make sure all stations are prepared and the volunteer has full understanding of their instructions before anyone arrives.
Never underestimate the power of finger foods! I have a very active son so I know from experience that if you want him to sit still – or at least not run around at top speed – you need to give him something to keep him busy and nibbles fits the bill.
The key here is to serve something that takes time and a lot of munching movement but isn’t messy. Yes to carrot and celery sticks, apples and chips. No to cupcakes and ice cream.
Games are one of those tricky areas. Some kids HATE games.
Sometimes thinking games like puzzles, trivia or pictionary makes them worried they’ll look “stupid” or physical games may make them look “silly” so you really need to know your group before deciding on whether you should plan on a game as an ice breaker and which type of game will work best.
And don’t assume that an active game will help them get rid of their energy. Some of my son’s friends were revved up by activity so I had to choose wisely. You really do need to know who is on the guest list and plan from there.
Games require supervision so make sure you have a volunteer to who can organize the games while you greet the guests and talk to their parents.
Not every child enjoys art so the key to a successful art ice breaker is to offer a couple different choices. When they’re choosing between making a bear or making a lion, they are more apt to choose to participate than if it is making a bear or nothing.
Make their art important – not just a time filler. Have whatever they’re doing match the theme of the party and be a nice take-home gift.
This can be easily accomplished just by having cheap or printable frames ready for their drawings. Put their creations up on the wall as a “party decoration” and then send it home with them.
If you want to keep it simple, give each child a brown paper lunch bag or plain gift bag to decorate their own loot bag. They can also embellish their party hat or crown. Have stencils, pom poms, gems and stickers on hand for the less creative.
Craft kits are available at a reasonable cost and do double-time by being a take home party favor as well as an event at the party. Choose an easy craft that can be completed within a reasonable period of time but can be easily added to if you get a Rembrandt in your midst!
Some kids hate crafts but ask them to decorate a cookie and that’s something different altogether!
Whether they treat it as a work of art or just love to load up their cookie with as many goodies as possible, all kids love this ice breaker.
Don’t forget to have enough candy decorations on hand for the munching, which also keeps them busy.
This is a better ice breaker for older kids, especially if its funny like adlib games.
Whether you hand out activity pages or a book that they can start on now and take home to finish, activity sheets with mazes, coloring pages, or word searches this is a way to keep them entertained. (Or at least contained. If you sit older kids at a table with nibbles and activity pages they may just sit and talk.)
Kids of all ages love bubbles. Yes, even tweenagers! Just let the bubbles fly and they’ll be drawn to them.
Want to pump up the fun factor? Turn on a video camera with a monitor so they can watch themselves chasing bubbles. Tape them for a minute and then play it backwards. Laughter ensues! Especially fun if they are in costume.
Costumes or Face Painting
There is nothing like a costume to get kids in the mood for your chosen party theme!
You can choose something as simple as fairy wings, a mask or a luau skirt made from strips of a green plastic garbage bag – or go all-out with a rack of cute costumes.
Older girls may want to paint their nails. Older boys may be happy with military, cowboy or their team’s ball cap.
Another idea is to use the costume as a chair decoration at the party table – makes a great photo. A feather boa wrapped on the chair, sunglasses on the table, and then on each child as they arrive.
Face painting is something all kids love, but requires a talented volunteer to do it so you can be free to greet guests.
A photo booth is a great way for the birthday girl or boy to greet their guests.
Have props ready like hats, feather boas, hair band props and printable cutouts to hold up. Think about the background too, like this foil fringe.
Have a volunteer take a photo of each guest with the birthday boy or girl and then print it off for them to take home – or you can mail it to them with their thank you card.
You can combine a craft with the photo booth by giving them a photo frame to decorate.
These ice breakers get the party started before the party’s started!
You know the kids who are coming to your party. You know if there’s that one mom who is always early, early – and that one who is always get there oh-so late. How many icebreaker ideas do you need? How many volunteers? It’s a good idea to devote part of the party budget to your ice breaker.