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How to Throw a Kid-Friendly Party for Grown-Ups

24 tips for making your backyard bash fun and memorable for all ages.

The following was produced in partnership with GM BuyPower Card. When you use your GM BuyPower Card to throw a backyard bash, you can get Earnings towards the purchase or lease of a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle*, or use Earnings towards statement credits of up to $250 a year on qualifying vehicle care and certain GM extras for your current GM vehicle.

Parties are fun. It was true before you were a parent, and it’s true today as your kids revel in their never-ending parade of birthday parties. The problem now is that kids’ parties are usually fun for kids alone. It’s time to remedy this. It’s time to throw your own party,  like you used to in your 20s. The only catch is that this time, you need to find a way to make it more, well, kid-friendly. But with a bit of planning and ingenuity, this is entirely possible. Here is all the advice you need — about everything from gear to games — to make your next all-ages party one that your guests, young and old, won’t soon forget.

  • While kids can mingle with the adults as freely as they want, a clearly labeled “Kid Zone” is a must for the party. Fill the area with building blocks, puzzles, and other activities and toys, and keep it separate from the adults.
  • Create an outdoor obstacle course with household items that will keep the kids entertained.
  • Pro Tip: Give the kids a group challenge. Go out and buy a 300-plus-piece puzzle and task them with finishing this during the party. Once completed, put a coat of puzzle glue on the finished project, and pass around a marker so everyone can sign it. Finally, throw it in a frame and hang it up in the playroom as a memento of the task.
Party Gear: Instant Dance Party
Adults can turn up the music, if everything goes well, and transform the gathering into a dance party. The kids, on the other hand, need a dedicated dance space with their own blaring tunes. For this, get an easy-to-use and great-sounding Bluetooth speaker that can get kicked around. Bonus: Pair it with some smart light bulbs that can flash and change colors along with the music.
  • It seems obvious, but video games can be great fun for a party. Just make sure they’re cooperative. What does this mean? That they involve more than one kid playing at a time (which means less time spent waiting around) and that they’re short and sweet and all about the instant competition. Think, racing games or “party games” — a genre that is a series of mini-games that, yup, is great for a party. Don’t forget to put out a sign-up sheet so everyone who wants to play gets a chance.
  • Pro Tip: Make the whole party a game. Randomly assign folks to teams at the door — give them a homemade badge to foster unity — and assign different teams different tasks, everything from chopping vegetables to setting up dessert. It’s a great way to get people to meet and get to know one another and pitch in.
  • Don’t overthink it: A simple game of soccer can be a real winner.

Party Gear: Movie Time
You can get a portable HD projector that will light up a wall (inside or out). It’s absolutely worth the investment when it is WiFi capable so you can easily stream a movie to the side of your house.
  • Set up a photo booth backdrop with brightly colored tablecloths and string, and provide props like frames, wigs, prop noses, and oversized sunglasses. Station a tablet with a photo booth app (there are ample options) by the booth. Share the pictures with everyone after the party.
  • Keep kid music off your playlist. Make this an upbeat playlist that is, first and foremost, for the adults but also kid-appropriate.
  • Pro Tip: Pair up the adults and have them take turns supervising the kids. It’s a good chance for them to chat. Even better: Have the parents participate in an activity with the kids while they’re there.
Party Gear: Water Gun Battle Kit
Take an old toy chest and fill it with your kids’ water gun collection, put it out in the yard, and put caution tape up around it to give the kids a water battle boundary — and help the guests steer clear of an impromptu water gun battle.
  • To entice the kids to socialize and maybe even trick them into eating a few vegetables, set up an all-ages snack feast, mingling pizza bites and chicken fingers with charcuterie and vegetables.
  • Go out and buy a crate of moving boxes and give a box to each kid as an entry “gift.” Then turn them loose on a castle-building adventure in the backyard, offering up leftover boxes and string and recyclables for them to build together. (Just make sure they don’t dig a moat in your lawn.)
  • Don’t underestimate the power of sidewalk chalk. It’s a great way for kids to draw with a substance that washes away easily. And who doesn’t love a game of hopscotch?

Safety First

If kids are coming to a party, you’ve got to get safety on lock. Here are some common-sense safety rules to follow before getting anything else going.

  • Make the event glass-free, but do better than the plastic cups you used in college and get reusable corn-based plastic cups, then wash them.
  • Kid-proof your house to the level of the youngest attendee.
  • Lock the doors you don’t want kids to wander into. Most indoor locks can be easily unlocked with a coin, and locking them will let kids know they should wander elsewhere.
  • You’ve got a tent in the garage. Why not break it out, throw up some string lights, and create a backyard playroom for the kids? It’s like a treehouse but easier to set up.
  • Pair hangers with a bucketful of water and a dash of soap so kids can make huge bubbles and tons of backyard fun for the kids. If you don’t want kids to get too wet and soapy, buy a bubble machine and set the ambience for everyone at the party.
  • Get a bag of soil, some small pots, and seedlings, and have kids make plants — a party favor that kids will love, especially when their plant starts to grow.
Party Gear: Stargazing Into the Night
After the sun goes down, you can make stargazing a group activity. You don’t have to go crazy and buy a telescope that will let you see the methane lakes on Titan. Instead, look for a travel scope that costs less and still allow you to see moon craters, identify the constellations, and check out the rings of Saturn. Since it’s still a (relatively) big purchase, make sure you charge it to a card that gives you Earning, like the GM BuyPower Card that lets you earn towards the purchase or lease of a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle. Also, don’t forget to look to the growing number of augmented reality apps that turn your phone into a celestial encyclopedia where you can point, tap, and tell a story about the Orion Nebula.
  • Save the babysitter for date night, and hire a kid-friendly entertainer. Think magician, musician, or maybe a “mad scientist” with hands-on demonstrations. It’s a party, after all, and a live performer is a great way to keep everyone entertained.
  • Consider having the party during the afternoon instead of the evening to avoid conflicts with bedtimes (and the adults leaving early).

*BuyPower Card Earnings may not be used with fleet vehicle incentive programs or with some other offers and discounted sale programs such as the GM Employee Discount Program, GM Company-Owned Vehicle Discount and GM Supplier Discount Program. Other exclusions may apply.

Starting August 20, 2019, redeem your Earnings for statement credits of up to $250 per calendar year, January 1 through December 31, for qualifying purchases on vehicle care and GM extras. Qualifying purchases on vehicle care and GM extras include customer paid Certified Service, parts and accessories purchased at an authorized GM dealership, as well as eligible GM subscription services, including most purchased OnStar and Connected Services plans and SiriusXM subscriptions. Does not include data plans. To redeem, log in to your BuyPower Card Earnings account and select the Redeem page. Redemptions must be made within 90 days from the date your qualifying purchase was made. Please allow up to 3 business days after purchase for this transaction to appear on your BuyPower Card Account. Your statement credits are usually applied to your balance within 2 to 3 business days after redemption. All redemptions