Are you looking for a distinctive and affordable way to celebrate your little book lover’s birthday? A book-themed birthday party might be the perfect option.
The party ideas suggested below would be best suited for ages 4 to 8. Books such as my picture book “One More Year,” which is all about birthdays, would be appropriate, but you could use other books that include magical creatures such as fairies, elves, dragons or wizards.
Step 1: Start with a group story reading.
Gather kids in a circle for a story reading. It’s helpful to have an energetic adult lead the reading. Point out details in the illustrations and ask the kids questions along the way to encourage engagement. If you can, sit on the floor with the children rather than in a chair. After all, it’s a party, not a school lesson.
Ask the following questions as you read the story:
• This story is all about make believe. Do you like to play make believe? What do you like to pretend to be?
• Does this character remind you of anyone you know?
• What do you think this place would smell like?
• What kinds of sounds do you think you would hear here?
• Which magical character would you most like to meet?
Step 2: Get creative with book-themed crafts and games.
After you finish reading the book, it’s time to play games and have some fun.
• Dragon Egg Scavenger Hunt: Fill plastic eggs with prizes and hide them around the house or yard.
• Pin the hat or beard on the wizard.
• Magical Freeze Tag: One person is designated as the grumpy elf and the other the sweet fairy. If tagged by the grumpy elf, you have to freeze. Only the sweet fairy can unfreeze you.
• Fairy Wands: Create fairy wands using paper towel rolls, ribbons and construction paper.
• Dragon Puppets: Use brown paper sandwich bags or tube socks to create dragon puppets.
• Wizard party hats: Decorate white or solid-colored party hats with markers, colored cotton balls or sequins.
• Elf Banjo: Wrap rubber bands around an old jar lid and tape them to the back so that they don’t come loose. Tape a large ice pop stick to the back and decorate the stick.
Step 3: Prepare book-themed snacks.
Every good party needs tasty snacks. Ask parents to notify of you about any allergens or dietary restrictions before the party so that you can accommodate any kids with dietary considerations.
• Wizard hat cupcakes: Make traditional cupcakes and use decorated sugar ice cream cones for the hats.
• Wizard hat pizza: Serve individual plain cheese pizza slices. Who doesn’t like pizza?
• Cheese and Pretzel Broomsticks: Use pretzel sticks, string cheese and chives. Spread the cheese into thin strands to make it look like a broomstick end. Find the skinniest chives that you can obtain and tie them neatly around the cheese. Use your fingernails to pinch off the ends.
• Elf snack mix: Combine Chex Mix with melted chocolate. Mix in pretzel pieces, marshmallows and candy.
• Elf’s horse (snail): Make a snail using celery sticks filled with peanut butter or yogurt for the body. Use apple slices, cucumbers or round butter crackers for the shell, and press pretzel pieces into play for the antenna.
• Elf house (toadstool): Bake a batch of traditional chocolate cupcakes. Decorate the cupcakes with red icing and marshmallows to create a toadstool.
• Elf doughnuts: Use any colorful round cereal.
• Dragon family: Bake dino-shaped nuggets.
• Dragon tears: Serve pomegranate arils from a bowl.
• Fiery trees and logs: Serve broccoli, carrots and roasted red pepper hummus.
• Dragon treats: Swedish fish make natural sweet bites here.
• Dragon nest: Create a dragon nest treat by preparing a classic dirt pudding and adding egg-shaped candy for dragon eggs.
• Pixie dust popcorn: Cook or purchase popcorn. Drizzle melted white chocolate candy coating over the popcorn and top it all with decorative sprinkles.
• Fairy wands: Prepare cake pops and decorate them with sprinkles.
• Fairy wings: Orange and apple slices make healthy and fun snacks.
Step 4: Make sure guests leave with parting gifts.
One of the greatest joys of a book-themed birthday party is being able to share your child’s favorite book with others. Sending children home with copies of a book is a superb party favor that parents and kids will appreciate.
Just like her readers, author Allison Ione Ballenger grew up loving books and silly stories. The youngest of three children (and somewhat gullible by nature), Ballenger was the perfect audience for her older siblings’ hijinks and tall tales. They taught her to always be on the lookout for magic, which is a gift she enjoys sharing today.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in literature and creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. When she is not writing children’s books, she manages communication efforts for a water-focused civil engineering firm. She also volunteers as a coach with the Miracle League of the Triangle, helping children and young adults with special needs play baseball. “One More Year” (Warren Publishing, 2020) is her first children’s book.
Learn more about Ballenger and her work by visiting aiballenger.com.