Throw an Art {Messy} Party for Kids

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There are many different creative ways to celebrate 4-year-old’s birthday. The atmosphere of fun, free expression and creativity, easy going and lots of laughter – here is my happy formula for a birthday party for the free-spirited child like ours. It was the first party when we invited her friends. I wanted to make sure that she felt comfortable in her skin.

From the very early age, I always encouraged her to get messy. Well, I pay for it dearly – every single painting activity ends up with my munchkin covered in paint from toe to the very tip of her hair. But her delight and grin from ear to ear, happy squeals make all my stress of cleaning up disappear. Just like  Michael J. Fox said, “A creative mess is better than idle tidiness.”

Our Birthday Party was inspired by Segni Mossi (Moving Signs)- an Italian organisation that helps children to express their creativity by combining dance and visual art. There are so many emotions, thoughts and feelings raise up when you watch children feel and understand creativity through movement, music and visual arts. Process. Not the end result. Freely expressing yourself creatively is a great part of building strong self-esteem. It benefits kids on many various levels – emotional, social, mental, physical.

As soon as I saw it I knew that this is exactly type of theme my child would enjoy. I had to adapt it to our format and resources, but at the end, the sheer excitement and joy written on kids faces were all I needed to see that party was a success. To say it was a “messy” birthday party is an understatement. So this is something to keep in mind and make very clear to parents of your beautiful guests what they are going to experience. My goal was to have fewer rules as possible and let children get loose with art and party tools, simply have fun. Everything really went down to “have as much fun as you possibly can, but make sure not to spray, paint or glue anything on anybody’s face”. 


Decorating party with silly strings 
Each child gets a bottle each and then they go crazy spraying each other and everything they see around.
Get as many of these as you can. Kids will LOVE it and they are very easy to clean up, do not stain or stick to surfaces.

Glitter sprinkle 
It began with kids sprinkling some glitter on our Birthday girl as they were saying birthday wishes and progressed into covering everybody with glitter.
Painting on canvas. 
I made a DIY canvas by cutting out pieces of boards from an old cardboard box and wrapping it in the white paper. Each child used their fingers to mix two colors – blue and yellow which obviously turned into green. I squeezed paint on each child’s canvas. Another way to do it is to dilute the paint with water and ask children to paint by inclining the board from side to side without touching it and make sure the paint does not drip on the ground.
Painting on a white bed sheet. 
This was a great final messy fun activity to do. I offered kids to paint sheets using their body. I used a white bed sheet for children to use their feet and hands to paint. We had tent pegs to secure the sheet to the ground. Instead of buying buckets of paint I used the very simple recipe:

Super simple DIY paint recipe:
1 part of flour mixed with 1 part of water and food colouring depending on desired colour intensity. I used around 500g of flour for our paint. Normally you would add 1 part of salt to the recipe but I don’t recommend it. Children use their hands and feet to paint – salt may aggravate their skin and cause reaction.

A couple of things to remember if you decide to throw “messy”, “artsy” kids party

  • make it clear that children WILL get messy and you have an area and plan for washing off paint and whatever else that WILL get stuck to their hair, feet, hands.. etc
  • make sure you’re really, like really, good friends with kids’ parents because the party like this will test your friendship like nothing else. I mean for some it took 5 washes to clean off all the glitter.
Why did I go through all this trouble?
  • I love seeing children in their element. So often kids are told what to wear, how to talk, what to think, how to behave, there is such a desire for “perfection” in our society. Allowing children to be free to create a mess is a part of removing borders in their minds and encourage them to think and act outside these frames.
  • The parents of my daughter’s friends and our family are incredible! They were very supportive and seemed to enjoy the whole process in spite of all the cleaning and washing that had to be done afterward.
  • Most importantly, I value having special moments with friends and family and creating happy memories for my children.
Party favors
I thought handmade soap is a great and useful party favor to give to guests. You can make your own, however, I ordered a couple of packs of samples which smelled divine by the way.
I designed birthday party invitation we sent out to friends with a bit of color. Feel free to download it, print it out, and fill in details in blank spaces. You may also like to download it in .png format and use programs like picmonkey to fill in blank spaces to send out to friends.

Art Resources You Might Find Helpful in Your Classroom

Art Appreciation Montessori Resources and Books for Children

  About Anastasia. Anastasia is a former Early Childhood Teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature, a blog about Montessori - inspired and Nature-based explorations. She taught in a Montessori setting for 10 years and has been practicing the Montessori way of learning and living for the last 20 years. She loves designing engaging educational printables for children. Browse Anastasia's educational resources on Teachers Pay Teachers.

3 thoughts on “Throw an Art {Messy} Party for Kids”

  1. I loved your ideas to use a white bed sheet for kids to use their hands and feet to paint with and to make sure to secure it to the ground. My twin daughters are turning 7 this year and love all things art. For their birthday party, I think it could be fun if we found a spin art party service!

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