by Pam Molnar
When my son turned 10, it seemed like all of his friends had sleepover parties to celebrate their birthday. My son prefers to sleep in his own bed, so I always picked him up from the parties at 10:30 p.m.. The next day I would hear horror stories about a house full of preteen boys on a sugar high. The hosting mom would tell me, “You picked your son up at the right time.”
When his birthday rolled around in the spring, my son asked to have a late-over party instead. He wanted to invite a dozen boys over for food, fun and four long hours. After choosing the menu, my son left the entertainment up to me. Having two older daughters, my birthday party arsenal was filled with spa treatments, karaoke and chick flicks. Thankfully, I came up with some different things for the boys.
Video Games: My son’s favorite pastime is playing video games, and it was easy to incorporate them into a birthday party. Set up a couple of video game stations (borrowing if necessary) in your basement or family room. As the boys arrive, let them play at the video game station and then rotate them around to whatever other activities you may have like foosball, ping pong, air hockey or knee hockey. It gives the boys something to do until everyone arrives and keeps them occupied without supervision while you greet at the door.
Dodgeball: Time to go outside! Gather six cheap poly balls. Line them up in the center of your yard and split the boys into two teams. On go, the boys charge the line and try to get a ball. The object of the game is to throw the balls at each other and try to tag someone out. If the other team catches the ball that you throw, you are out and one of their tagged players may come back in. Play a couple of rounds and get some of that energy out.
Target practice: Save empty plastic water or soda bottles and line them up on the deck railing or table edge. Fill water guns and let the boys try to knock them down. If it is a windy day, add a little water to each bottle to keep them from tipping over. Filling the bottle with a little water also makes them more of a challenge to knock down.
Carnival Game Balloon Darts: Head to the local hardware store and pick up a precut piece of Sheetrock. Inflate 24 balloons and stick them to the Sheetrock using pins or tacks. Determine points for each color and let the boys try to pop the balloons with darts. Note: For safety reasons, I used the rounded darts for this game. Another variation is to fill the balloons with a paper number that the boys turn in for a prize.
Sling shot water balloon bowling: Purchase a sling shot and fill dozens of water balloons. Set up 10 empty plastic two-liter bottles in the street like bowling pins. (Again, fill with a little water to keep them from tipping over in the wind.) Have two boys hold the sling shot while one boy pulls back and releases the balloon. Try to knock over the pins and score like you would for bowling.
Survivor Games: The boys will love to prove how brave they are, so this is a fun time for all. Try challenges like finding a coin in a deep bowl of applesauce or mayo, pick up a key from a jar filled with feeder crickets or see how long you can keep your hand in a bucket of ice water. If there are no food allergies in your group, challenge the boys taste yucky food like a kale smoothie, limburger cheese, liverwurst or creamed spinach.
Paint war: This is a good way to end the night. Purchase goggles, non-toxic paint and white t-shirts for everyone. Fill cups with paint and send the boys to the middle of the yard. Set rules like no paint on the face and set boundaries to protect your yard. Then shout, “Go!” and stand back. It is a good idea to warn the parents before the party so they can send the kids in clothes that can be ruined. Ask the parents to provide a change of clothes for the ride home.
Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and mother of three teens. She enjoys party planning as much as the kids enjoy the party.