Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

WFMW: How to Throw a Messy Party (The Best Summer Kids’ Gathering You’ll Ever See!)

June 2nd, 2010 · 32 Comments · Special Situations

27 kids.  12 adults. Jello, flour, chocolate syrup, and lots of cream – both whipped and shaving.

IMG_3785 The goal? To make a mess.

The end result? More fun than we even expected.

Many of you appreciated the servitude my son showed with his 5th birthday party, and rightfully so.  If you’ve got a wild side, you will more than appreciate the party we threw the summer he was two.

My tiny backyard was host to 27 kids ages one through eleven, and amazingly, there was fun to be had for every age group.

I billed it as a “Messy Party” in the invites.  Children (and adults too!) were asked to wear clothes or a bathing suit that could get totally sloppy, and parents signed up to bring all the items we would need for the morning.  It was a potluck of goop!

We started with body painting as everyone arrived:

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Mix flour and water OR the cornstarch “glue” below with food coloring; use Q-tips to apply.  Only the blues and reds stained.  :)

Gooey Glue

3 Tbs cornstarch
4 Tbs cold water
2 cups boiling water

Mix the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the boiling water in a glass measuring cup, stirring constantly.  Allow to cool; store in the fridge.

I opened up the party with some instructions like these:

  1. There will be nobody remaining clean at this party.
  2. You are not to smile, laugh, or even giggle! (give snake eyes to the kids, then grin)
  3. You will be kind.  Absolutely no hitting, or eating other people’s faces or anything that might be on their face.
  4. You are required to have fun.

Then I broke the ice by styling my hair in front of everyone – with shaving cream!

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The kids had to do a “treasure hunt” around the yard for dixie cups of colored Jello (hidden in sandwich bags to keep out the bugs).  This divided them into teams, used only to rotate evenly through the activities.  No spoons, but some great tongue exercises getting the Jello out!

I set up ten stations all the way around the outside of our house, as follows:

1. Bubbles Awaaayyy in a kiddie pool with hangers, string, and hula hoops to make huge bubbles.
2. Edible Finger Paint whipped cream colored with food coloring; kids could paint on plates and eat!

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3. Wiggly Water water balloons were fun for littles to hold and bigger kids to throw down the hill or play catch with.
4. The Powder Room the swings came off our swingset and mini donuts hung from strings for kiddos to eat.

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5. Dino-Flour Dig each child dug for a few M&Ms in oatmeal canisters filled with white flour (it was cheaper back then), and each group unburied a certain number of pennies in a dishpan of flour.


6. Sand castles a simple break for the little ones

7. Take a Dip, Little Squirt! wash off in the kiddie pool with toys for the youngin’s, and a target on the fence with squirt guns or bottles for the big kids.IMG_3768

8. Messy Tarp Art partiers squirted “ketchup” and “mustard” and sifted flour over the edge of the deck onto a big tarp (for a later activity).  The bottles were filled with inexpensive cornstarch and boiling water solution.
9. Bob-a-Choc fruit doused in chocolate syrup in bowls…but no spoons! The kids couldn’t get enough of this bobbing for apples, the messy version.

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10. Playdough Station another familiar activity for the littles, and homemade playdough could be tossed after its outdoor adventure.

You bet even the big kids got into this party!

IMG_3778 The grand finale, before a messy lunch of tacos, watermelon and popsicles, was a slip and slide with extra shaving cream on our “Artsy Tarp” from number 8 above:

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Do you think the other parents realized what they were getting themselves into subjecting their families to a messy party at the Kimballs’?  Honestly, I can’t believe I did this, looking at these photos.  Our neighbors are still asking my son if we’re going to have another one!

In spite of all the craziness you witnessed above, my two favorite memories from this adventure encapsulate my son’s two-year-old cuteness just perfectly.


I took this picture right about the time I finished up instructions…and noticed my two-year-old son was nowhere to be seen.  After a minute of frantic searching with other moms helping, the little dear came traipsing around the corner from the front yard, carrying as many cool whip tubs as he could carry (from station number two).  When he was helping me mix in the colors the day before, I had told him, “These are for the party.”

Just brimming with pride, my son beamed and called to everyone present, “I got the party!”  Later, once the realization that he did not get hit by a car in the front yard on our busy street all alone at only two years old sank in, this was really, really hilarious.

For weeks, probably months afterward, and even a few times the next summer when he was three, my son would stand on the huge rock in our yard, tell me to sit on the hill (see photo above, again) and play “Messy Party,” his best rendition of my silly rule-sharing and instruction-giving.

Disclaimer: This was before my big change to a real food lifestyle, but you know what?  My husband is quick to point out that nobody died from the sugar or food coloring or whatnot.  I think I’d do it again almost precisely the same (except we’d order pizza instead of juggling tacos with little kids).  Real Food needs a vacation sometimes, too!

Are you brave enough to throw a messy party? Click here for a free download of my activity station signs, which are so old that the borders and fonts no longer load on my computer.  Sheesh.  You can get the idea, though, and jazz them up with your own favorite techie bangles.

The catch?  If you do it, I want to see your photos, too!


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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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