Every children’s party is different – indoor, outdoor, tons of guests or a sleepover for a few close friends – but at some point, adults start looking for ways to control the chaos. All that energy needs to be directed somewhere! But after coming up with the party’s theme, invitations, decorations, food and drinks plus favors, your creativity can be tapped out when it comes time to plan party games. You want something self-directed that doesn’t need tons of adult assistance. And, of course, it must be quick and easy to clean up.

Kids anticipate games and activities as a big source of party fun. Party games make parties come to life! I like to offer open-ended activities during my parties. They free up the the host from social director duties and feeling like the party must be kept on a specific schedule. They also give children an opportunity to work together and play independently of adults. Today I’m sharing my go-to ideas for fun party activities that work for boys and girls of practically every age.

Coloring Pages: There are unlimited sources online to download free coloring sheets. Google search any character, theme, movie or holiday and you’ll find what you’re looking for. If you don’t want to be bothered with the internet, grab a kids coloring book and make copies of your child’s favorite pages. Throw in a couple packs of washable crayons or markers and you’re good to go.

Dot Art: These can be found online or at craft stores like Michael’s or Jo-Ann’s Fabrics (make sure to use one of their coupons!). Double check that they are washable so you can relax while the little artists create. Provide plain white paper or construction paper that color coordinates with your theme.

Play-Doh: Whether homemade or store bought, this is a classic. Be sure to choose colors that tie into the party’s decor. Take inspiration from the ice cream store and include add-ins to your Play-Doh. Glitter or cookie sprinkles bring extra flair to Play-Doh time. Throw in inexpensive toys, plastic figures, little tools or cookie cutters and those small hands will be kept busy.

Stickers: Kids love stickers. If you’ve ever gone to Trader Joe’s with your “helpers” you know this is true. A quick search on Amazon will yield packs of pretty much any variety sticker you can imagine. Like the dot art, set out plain white paper or construction paper. Have extra stickers? Use them as party favors!

Bubble Station: This awesome activity requires little to no adult supervision. I created one for my daughters’ My Little Pony party last Fall. Dispense bubble solution into smaller cups that coordinate with the theme. Making do-it-yourself bubble wands from pipe cleaners is a fun project that can be included during the party, too.

Letter Beads: Guests can make necklaces or bracelets with their name, a friend’s name or a favorite phrase. Baker’s twine or pipe cleaners are great to use for threading and is another opportunity to color-coordinate with your party. Plus, you have a built-in favor when guests take their creations home.

Treasure Hunt: Hide small, budget-friendly treats and toys in a disposable foil baking pan filled with dried beans or uncooked rice (much easier to clean up than sand). Provide small sifters or strainers and allow kids to dig for the treasure. This is also a creative way to give guests their party favors.

A few tips to remember:

Try to avoid single player or elimination games. This can help reduce any tears and frustrations.

Don’t rush – you just need to set it up, the kids will make it happen. Allow time for the children to not only connect with the activity but with each other, too.

Crafts are a great way to include all party guests.

Remember, the activity itself is more important to the kids than any prize or reward.

Once your party starts, relax, roll with it and have a good time.

When planning your party entertainment, you’re faced with two options: pay an arm and a leg for a professional (and get the exact same act as tons of other families) or do a little research, make a plan and handle it yourself. Party activities don’t have to be stressful – just keep it low key so the focus stays on fun. This list will help you prepare some super cool kid activities that will make your next party a success. And remember…every day is a chance to have a party!