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

This post may contain affiliate links, including those from Amazon.com. Your price won't change but it supports our family business here and keeps free content flowing. Thanks!

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:

IMG_3756 IMG_3755

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!

IMG_3761 IMG_3760

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!

IMG_3779 IMG_3777

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.

IMG_3763 IMG_3764

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.

IMG_3766

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.

IMG_3769 IMG_3767

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:

IMG_3782 IMG_3781 IMG_3780

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.

IMG_3758

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!

———————————————

We’re working toward 4,000 readers to get a special giveaway going!  Sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed. You can also follow me on Twitter, get KS for Kindle, or see my Facebook Fan Page.

If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Works for Me Wednesday is a special “Mom, I’m Bored!” edition this week.  Visit We are THAT Family for more summer ideas!  Also see:


Powered by
Click here for my disclaimer and advertising disclosure - affiliate links in this post will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price.

32 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    This is AWESOME! My kids would be happy to do one of those things – let alone all of them – at a party. You win the Best Birthday Party Ideas Award, for sure.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Jen,
    Believe it or not, this wasn’t even a birthday. Just a party for the sake of having fun at the end of summer! ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Monique Reply:

    Awesome idea!!! I can’t wait to throw a messy party!

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. Jelli says

    I love this. I still remember a youth group in my area once held a messy night. We had a greased egg toss (hands covered in shortening tossing an egg back and forth) and some other hilarious games. I think this is a fantastic idea!

    [Reply to this comment]

  3. Ronda says

    So cute! But I do have to know – what did you do with all those messy kids at the end? Hose them off??? LOL I imagine they were not allowed inside or in a car after all that!!!! :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Ronda,
    Actually, that’s PRECISELY what we did. A hose and a sprinkler, and most brought a change of clothes. I threw my son right in the shower, clothing and all!
    ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  4. Johanna says

    GIRL! This is the BEST idea ever! I AM TOTALLY DOING THIS NEXT YEAR! We are having the 2yr bday party this Saturday, with my personal mission to not create any trash [I’m crazy]. The other theme is a non-theme of 7cents clearance price froggy party hats and plates, gluten free zuchinibread cupcakes decorated like frogheads [using chlorophyll, purees and beetjuice crystals]. That’s it. In lieu of gifts we asked for nonperishable donations to local food bank. We have a kid’s musician coming to entertain. And the biggest stress for me is figuring out how to feed with kids without using plastic or making any trash.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Johanna,
    You definitely create waste with this party, but it was SO worth it!
    ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  5. Rachel says

    How hilarious and fun! That seems like something my dad would do. He is known for funny holiday stuff though… Last Christmas, instead of wrapping my little brother’s gifts, he “wrapped his head” (blindfolded him) and took the presents out from another room one by one. Don’t know if any eco-friendly mamas want to try that one to save wrapping paper! *lol*

    [Reply to this comment]

  6. says

    Holy COW! this looks amazing, and i’m almost intimidated to even leave a comment. You may write like a human – but your party throwing abilities are super-hero-esque!
    I am also a real/whole food enthusiast and am looking forward to checking out more of your posts.
    *Blessings*

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Liberty,
    What? I only write like a human? ;)

    Just kidding. Really, I write like a (bad) comedian.

    I’m glad you popped in and hope you found some other things to help you stick around a while! ;) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  7. says

    You are SO FUN!

    I’ve read about how preschools and Kindergartens are having to coax kids into getting messy and feel different textures, because we’re raising them to stay so clean and be indoors…they aren’t getting muddy or slimy anymore.

    I’m glad to see you had no problem getting the kids (and adults) to slip, slide, smear, smudge and squish for hours of tactile, multi-sensory fun!
    .-= Ann Kroeker´s last blog ..Food on Fridays: Humble & Regular =-.

    [Reply to this comment]

  8. Tricia says

    Thank you for this! My son will be 4 on August 1st and we’ve been contemplating his party since last year. This may be just the thing! I have only 2 issues, the heat and insects (ants and mosquitoes/gnats) here in Sicily. I am so inspired by your party!

    [Reply to this comment]

  9. says

    Katie,

    You’re right, I would throw a party like this! We also live on a busy street with a hill behind our house. We’re not neighbors, are we? ;-)

    I’d have to make a few changes though-we’re noticing that our son is sensitive to food coloring/dye. He gets mean, and that wouldn’t be any fun at a party!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Kelly,
    LOL! Maybe some natural food colorings from spinach, beets, blueberries, etc? I think Simple Organic did a post on those around Eastertime or something…
    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kelly Cook Reply:

    I saw that story-or at least one like-it and plan to try that when coloring eggs. We might be moving soon and that might be a great “get to know you” kind of party?!

    [Reply to this comment]

Did you know I answer all questions, even on old posts? The KS community loves comments, so share your thoughts, questions, and related stories from your house – just remember to be respectful as if you were looking me in the eye sitting at my kitchen table.

If you have something to share with another commenter or can answer their question, just click [reply to comment] and they'll actually get an email with your response so you can have a genuine conversation. Thanks for making the site an even better resource!

Take a Bite (of conversation)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *