You can't get too punchy when planning a party for the six- to nine-year-old crowd. At this blessedly uninhibited age, no trick is too silly, no joke too dumb. (Why don't cannibals eat clowns? Because they taste funny!) Our Clown School party is a mix of the finest circus games, events, and snacks--just the right atmosphere for a hilarious, if over the (big) top, birthday afternoon.
What better herald of an arriving circus than bright balloons? To make your invitations, blow up one pair for each guest and write the relevant information on the outside with permanent markers. (Don't knot the balloon; instead, try closing the end in a fat book or a drawer for easy handling, or have someone hold the balloon neck closed.) Deflate each pair and place them in a bright envelope with a handful of confetti.
In honor of the legendary hobo clown, favors and prizes can go in a bandanna on a stick. Simply knot an inexpensive scarf on the end of a straight stick. Guests can then load it up with gag gifts, small joke books or jokes handwritten on slips of paper (a good project for the birthday child or an older brother or sister), clown and circus animal stickers, noisemakers, candy, and funny dress-up items, such as bulbous clown noses or fake eyelashes.
When splashed with red, blue, and yellow balloons, streamers, and tablecloths, an ordinary room or outside porch takes on all the gaiety of the big top. A clown doll or a big stuffed monkey, sitting up in a chair, can hold a bouquet of helium balloons. If you have time, custom-made circus posters portraying each guest as a three-ring circus performer are a welcoming touch (and can be taken home later as favors). Using poster board or heavy white paper and markers or paints, draw a picture of each guest doing an act and add in large print his or her specialty. For example: "Ladies and Gentlemen ... we bring you Paul the Fire-eating Birthday Kid!" and "Come one, come all to see ... Kelly the Trick Rider!"
YOU LOOK LIKE A CLOWN When guests arrive, direct them to a dress-up area where they can undergo their transformations. You will want to have a big box of play clothes that kids can choose from --oversize shorts, shirts, and jackets, gloves, suspenders, bow ties, and any other clown-like items you can beg or borrow. A parent or teen can run a face-painting table, where each child receives the necessary red nose, arched brows, pink cheeks, and exaggerated smile or frown. (Tiny crescent moons, stars, and teardrops look wonderful on cheeks, too.)
A HAT-MAKING WORKSHOP A hat-making workshop is another warm-up craft activity that keeps kids occupied while newcomers settle in. At a newspaper-covered table, set out precut, cone-shape paper hats. (To make the pattern for these hats, roll a large square or a rectangular piece of paper into a cone, hold down the seams, and trim the edges for an even brim.) The kids can then jazz up one side of the hats with glue, glitter, pom-poms, and markers. Be sure the creators write their names inside, as well. When a hat has dried, staple it on the bottom and seal the seam with tape. Staple on an elastic cord to slip under the chin.
Next: Clown School Games and Activities