Throw an Art {Messy} Party for Kids

There are many different creative ways to celebrate a 4-year-old’s birthday. The atmosphere of fun, free expression and creativity, easygoing, and lots of laughter – here is my happy formula for a birthday party for a 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.

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From a 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 organization that helps children express their creativity by combining dance and visual art. There are so many emotions, thoughts and feelings raised when you watch children feel and understand creativity through movement, music and visual arts. Process. Not the result. Freely expressing yourself creatively is a great part of building strong self-esteem. It benefits kids on many various levels – emotional, social, mental, and physical.

Animals and their homes montessori nature sort matching free printables sign up
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As soon as I saw it I knew that this is exactly the type of theme my child would enjoy. I had to adapt it to our format and resources, but in the end, the sheer excitement and joy written on the kids’ faces were all I needed to see that the 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 few rules as possible and let children get loose with art and party tools, simply have fun. Everything 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”. 

Activities

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

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It began with kids sprinkling some glitter on our Birthday girl as they were saying birthday wishes and progressed into covering everybody with glitter.

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I made a DIY canvas by cutting out pieces of board from an old cardboard box and wrapping it in 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 making 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 bodies. 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 a very simple recipe:

Super simple DIY paint recipe:
1 part of flour mixed with 1 part of water and food coloring depending on desired color 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 a reaction.

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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, and 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 encouraging 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 despite 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 was 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.

Invitation

I designed a 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.

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About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.