Boys birthday party ideas: beach party

Throwing a boy's beach-themed party is fun and easy. From seashell invitations to a sand cake, it'll be a party he'll always remember.

Grab your sunglasses and a beach hat - it's time to throw a boy's birthday beach bash!

A fun way to entertain kids of all ages is to bring the beach to your own home. Exciting for any time of year, a beach party is a simple way to give a boy a birthday he'll never forget.

First on the list are the invitations. Some original invites include putting a message in a little bottle. These bottles can be bought at craft stores and you can even burn the edges of the paper to give it a "weathered" look. Just be sure to either have the neck of the bottle wide enough for fingers to grab the message, or make the paper just a tad longer than the bottle so it sticks out and guests can grab the invitation easily. Another easy invitation that your child can help make is to take a stencil of a starfish, sunglasses, or even a surfboard and cut out the invitations in that shape to send. You can also purchase shells at craft stores and write the party details with a magic marker on them. The invitation will catch their attention with an original phrase like, "Surf's Up! Hang Ten with Benjamin on his 7th Birthday!" or "Ride a Wave over to 123 Oceanview Drive for Johnny's 5th Birthday Party!"

Once all of the RSVP's have been received, you're ready to get your decorations. The great thing about a beach party is that you can get great decorations on even a tight budget. Cover your main table with an inexpensive aqua or green vinyl tablecloth. You can attach a grass/raffia table skirt as a border and maybe put a few fake flowers into the grass or on each corner. If you have a hanging lighting fixture over the table, you can put blue and silver streamers to look like water. Use beach colored (aqua, green, yellow) crepe paper around the party area as well. A few beach towels hung on the wall also add to the atmosphere. Get an inexpensive net and hang it on the wall or place it on a table and put more shells, starfish, sand dollars around it.

Food is festive and easy. A large fruit boat carved out of a watermelon and filled with melon balls (honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon), mandarin oranges, blueberries, etc. If you use apples, pears or bananas, be sure to drizzle a bit of lemon juice on them to prevent too much browning. You can also make fruit kabobs and have them sticking out of the fruit boat. A few cocktail umbrellas on each side of the watermelon shell also adds that tropic touch. Bowls of goldfish crackers are always a hit with little ones. You can make sandwiches or even a pizza and cut out fish with a fish-shaped cookie cutter. For a refreshing punch, use a large punchbowl and make a sherbet punch. Using a ½ gallon of sherbet (any flavor, but orange-pineapple-raspberry mix makes an awesome tasting one) and 2 quarts of ginger ale, you get a nice frothy punch on which you can even float little toy sailboats or surfers. The cake can be decorated with an ocean scene with lots of colorful coral and fish or you can go for something unique like a "Bucket of Sand" cake in which you place into a clean sand pail alternate layers of pre-baked cake and other things like applesauce, pudding, and top with graham cracker crumbs. Serve with a plastic shovel. Another fun cake is the "Dive-In Cake." Using a regular cake mix, make a rectangular cake. After it cools, use a knife to cut out a smaller rectangle in the center leaving about a 1 ½" -2" border. Then cook some blue raspberry gelatin and pour it into the center of the cake, all the way to the top. Put it in the refrigerator and cool for about 4 hours. Frost the rest of the cake with cream or tan colored icing and place little umbrellas and frosting beach towels, starfish, etc. around the "sand" border.

Depending on the ages of the children, there are a variety of games and activities to please. For the very young, you may want to get a couple of small blow-up swimming pools and put little toys in one that have magnets on them. (A roll of sticky magnet tape can be found at your local craft store and can be cut to size.) Then attach a string to a pole and put a magnet on the end of the string to let them fish for prizes. Another pool can be filled with sand (if you have an outdoor area) and small toys hidden in the sand for them to dig and find. There is also a fun game that takes its roots from musical chairs. Kids sit in a circle and a beach ball is passed from one child to the next while music (your favorite Beach Boys song) is playing. When the music stops, the child holding the ball is out. Another calm activity is making leis. You can buy a bunch of plastic flowers and remove them from their stems ahead of time. Then take some colored drinking straws and cut them into 1-2" pieces. With yarn or string and maybe a blunt plastic needle, the kids can string their own leis by alternating flowers and straws. You can also get some inexpensive wooden frames and have kids glue colored sand or shells onto them. Then take each child's photo with a Polaroid camera and tape it to the frame. For older kids, you can hand out paper and pencils with the letters of the alphabet written down one side and give them 3 minutes to write down anything related to the beach starting with that letter. Whoever comes up with the most words wins the game. You can give extra points if someone uses a phrase with the same letter like, "Mighty Monsoon" or "Beach Bum". A pinata is always fun, too. You can find fish-shaped ones at party stores or even a large yellow smiley face that you attach yellow and orange streamers to make a sun.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. When your guests leave, you can give them a little something to keep the fun going like a beach ball with their name written on it with permanent marker; a swim noodle, a plastic beach chair with their name on it; plastic sunglasses; a bag of small shells; pail/shovel set; or even a beach towel. They'll be smiling all the way to the shore"¦.

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