Need to shake up your summer with a little fun? Have a mini party that celebrates the chaos of childhood! This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FreeToBe #CollectiveBias
Life with kids can be incredibly messy, especially during the warmer months. My family spends a ton of time outdoors between April and September, and with two little tornados in the form of children buzzing around all over the place, it’s a wonder anything ever gets clean at all. Before kids, things weren’t necessarily immaculate, but it is safe to say that it was a stark difference to the perpetual muddy shoe tracks, dirt covered clothes, and craftsplosions that happen here these days. But, since I’m all for embracing chaos, I went all in for a “Fun in the Sun” day to celebrate it all. It was basically a mini party with a whole summer camp/carnival vibe going on, and it turned out great!
Okay so first things first. I know setting up parties can be a lot of work, but this party was a total breeze! I worked smarter by choosing snacks and activities that didn’t have a lot of prep work, and with the theme being summer fun, the outdoor nature of it lends itself to the unstructured. And, since the whole thing was about embracing the mess and being free to have fun, I really didn’t want to do the whole immaculate tablescape shebang. There is definitely a place for those types of setups, but just not this party. Here, it’s about the fun. And the frivolity. And everything in between.
I wanted the party to have a casual “kids takeover” feel, so I set up some stations around the yard for things like fishing, sprinkler play, hula hoops, and then a craft/snack table. Each station took minimal preparation, but they were all big on fun.
DIY Fish Pond: I crafted the rods and fishes myself, but it was super simple – all I did was tie string to some plastic poles, then on the end of the string I hung 3 paper clips each. For the fishes, I cut fish shapes out of foam and then superglued a magnet on each as the eye. I filled a small plastic pool halfway full of water, dropped the fish in, and let the kids try to lift them out with their rods. They loved seeing who got the most!
Dip Dye T-Shirts: This was by far the favorite of the day, and the results were absolutely adorable! For this, I set up a station at the end of the craft table that included all the supplies required, and then let the kids do the painting and dipping, with a little help from my husband. *This craft takes a few hours. It is perfect for a sleepover type party, since you have to wash/dry before they can be worn.
Since this was the star of our party, here is a detailed how-to. It isn’t very difficult, and it is perfect for kids! Here is what you need:
- 4-5 white t-shirts (prewashed)
- 1 packet dark pink fabric dye
- 1 packet lime green fabric dye
- black fabric paint
- small paint brush
- rubber bands
- pinch of salt
- a place to let shirts sit overnight
Set up your work area so that you have everything within arm’s reach. You will be working with dye, so you don’t want to have to walk away and drip it all over the place. Also, it is helpful to pre-wash your shirts before you start in a detergent like all® free clear detergent that doesn’t leave behind any dyes, residues or chemicals that might prevent your dye from saturating. (Don’t let the kids do this part!)
To make these dip-dye watermelon shirts, here is what you do:
- Lay each shirt flat and paint black “seeds” throughout the top 3/4 of your shirt. This doesn’t have to be perfect, especially when kids are doing it. Let sit in the sun for at least 15 minutes to dry.
- Bunch or roll up each shirt longways and secure 2 rubber bands a few inches above the bottom hem. This will be your boundary between colors.
- Get some gloves on and mix your fabric dye according to instructions.
- Carefully dip the small end of your shirt roll into the green dye and work it through the fabric with a gloved hand.
- Take it out of the dye, squeeze tightly so there are no drips, and dip the other end into the pink dye.
- Repeat the same thing with the pink side – slowly raise it out of the liquid, then squeeze out excess.
- Repeat each step if needed to fully saturate.
- After that, set your wet shirt on a clean surface for at least 4 hours. Overnight is good, but not necessary.
- Next, thoroughly rinse out your shirt with cold water until it runs clear.
Lastly wash again with detergent and dry. I personally use both all® free clear liquid detergent and all® free clear mighty pacs because of Kaia’s sensitive skin, and because it removes 99% of everyday seasonal allergens (including cat and dog dander, dust mite matter, ragweed, grass, and tree pollen) which is essential for my family who suffers from seasonal allergies. It is the #1 detergent recommended by Dermatologists, Allergists, and Pediatricians for Sensitive Skin. It was also the Seal of Acceptance by the National Eczema Association which is pretty great. *This detergent is not intended to prevent or treat allergies. Make sure to follow directions for use on packaging exactly.
After going through all your steps, you will have some absolutely adorable watermelon t-shirts that are perfect to wear all summer long!
Art station: I also included a little art station with markers, stickers, stencils, and glue-ons for making silly faces. It wasn’t as big a hit as the t-shirts, but it was something!
When thinking about the food for my party, I wanted to stay in that outdoor/camp/carnival mood, so I set up a s’mores station with different toppings for customization, and also offered my famous rainbow candy coated popcorn. Now, I normally offer healthy options, but hey, you gotta let go sometime! Anyway, you can check out my recipe for the popcorn here. And of course the s’mores are self explanatory.