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My friend Michelle tweeted that she would love ideas for her son’s 4th birthday party, so it wasn’t long before I created a Pinterest board just for her. But Pinterest is really only a part of my party planning. It’s where I start. It’s a source of inspiration, but no one can use all of the ideas on Pinterest. You have to pick your favorites. And you have to make it your own.

Michelle’s son is turning four. The party is at a playground with a sand feature, so she wanted a beach theme. A 4th birthday party needs sweets, snacks, and other food; games; and decorations at a minimum. Some of the many things you could include in a beach birthday party are sand castles, seashells, surfboards, fish, sharks, octopus, beach umbrellas, beach balls, palm trees, sunglasses, shovels and pails, grass skirts, sailboats, the sun, flip flops, and lifesavers/lifeguards. This theme really leaves so many options! These are some of my favorites, but Michelle can see all of the other ideas on Pinterest also to make her son’s party truly unique!

Activities & Games

  • Seashell Search – You could use actual seashells if you have them at home or can pick them up easily, but for four year olds, I would print and cut out drawings of seashells for them to gather.
  • Beach Ball Obstacle Races – From The Body Smart Blog… Beach balls can be purchased anywhere at this time of the year or get them in bulk for cheap at Oriental Trading Co.
  • Beach Ball Beach Towel Toss – Two children pair up on either end of a beach towel and use the towel to toss the beach ball – or water balloon – to another team of two children who catch the beach ball – or water balloon – with their beach towel then toss it back.
  • Musical Towels – Use the beach towels, rather than chairs, for a rowdy game of musical chairs towels. If you hadn’t already pulled out the Beach Boys music for this party, this is the perfect opportunity. “Round, round, get around….”
  • Wet potato – Play hot potato with a water balloon. You could either have the last child throw the balloon at someone (everyone else best to run) or at the end of each turn the child left holding the balloon got to throw it at someone.
  • Sharks & Fishes – Have the kids play tag, but rather than being “it” one of the kids gets to be the “shark”
  • Go Fish – In a bucket or a baby pool, wet or dry; Minieco has great instructions for making your own fishing game
  • Sailboat Craft – Crafts are another way to keep kids busy and give them something to take home. This popsicle stick sailboat craft came from Martha Stewart.
  • Drip Castles – If sand castles seem a bit technical for your age group, consider these drip castles which require less skill and only a funnel.

Food & Drink

  • There are lots of watermelon carving ideas on Pinterest. Michelle’s favorite was the shark. Unfortunately, the link has been removed, so she is left to figure out watermelon carving on her own.
  • Another great way to integrate fruit is through a beach ball fruit tray. Hungry Happenings posted a beach ball fruit pizza, but I would eliminate the extra sugar and just arrange fruit in the shape of a beach ball.
  • I would save the sugar for the Cake of course! My favorite cake for this theme was the sandcastle cake. My guess is they used graham cracker crumbs on icing for the sand. I found lots of cute cupcake ideas from creating individual beaches to these adorable suns to the sharks that I think Michelle’s son would probably love.
  • Punch is something that I really only do for parties. Technically, Martha Stewart’s recipe is for a gelatin fish bowl, but there are other fishy punch ideas. I really liked the idea of using Nerds candy as the rocks at the bottom of the fish bowl (beware this is an Adult beverage recipe).  I would try to combine these ideas to come up with something refreshing and kid-friendly.
  • For veggies, this octopus is a must.
  • Most kids love hotdogs, so the octopus hotdog is a sure to be a hit.
  • Another fun idea is fish shaped cookies in bags marked “Catch of the Day” – these could also be used for favors.
  • Part decoration, part food – I think serving snacks in plastic pails with shovels is essential to a beach theme. Any favorite snacks will do, but you might consider swedish fish, goldfish crackers, or gummy sharks.

Decorations & More

The first task in decorating a party is choosing a color theme. Some themes lend themselves to a specific color theme (like my Super Mario Brothers Birthday), but the beach theme could be primary colors or brights or neons… I like sticking to 2-4 colors.

  • I would want to use surfboards as a backdrop either for the food table, the park pavilion, or for fun photo opps.
  • A baby pool near the sand feature will help everyone stay cool and add to the beach theme.
  • Oriental Trading Company sells several items that could be great for decorating – paper parasols that can be hung upside down, 9’x6′ beach scene backdrops, and even beach ball mylar balloons if you don’t want to figure out how to hang a bunch of beach balls from the rafters.
  • It probably doesn’t fit for a four year old’s birthday party, but I like the idea of using twine to tie lifesaver (candies) to napkin/utensil wraps. Instead, I really want the birthday boy to wear this lifeguard t-shirt in red.
  • Favors – I think my favorite idea is giving out sunglasses for favors. These could easily be personalized by writing each child’s name on the arm of the glasses. Oriental Trading Company sells beach play sets, beach balls, sunglasses, flip flops, and more in bulk for cheap. A fancy tag or other personalization makes for a fun gift for four year olds.

I’m excited to see what Michelle does. Maybe she’ll even let me post photos…?

P.s. While I was in the midst of typing this blog Sarah asked for help coming up with decoration ideas for a bridal shower just four days away. I created a Pinterest board for her too. I thought I was just doing all of this for fun… I’m not really trying to start event planning.