We have a couple summer birthdays at our house, and there are so many quintessential birthday themes that are all about summer. My son Ellis has the first summer birthday in June, followed by Miles in late August. Ellis is a ball of energy- incredibly playful, loves to to run and all the sports. A theme has to involve running and play for it to be successful for him. Since he already had a ball themed party last year, nothing says summer birthday like a splish-splash party with lots of water game activities. Read more for all the water party ideas and free printables at the end!
To give you an idea of what to expect from my birthday parties. These are real parties that I try to keep under a certain budget, be kid centered and have some creative theme details, but never the perfection seen on other parties on Pinterest. No knock on those parties- there are some beautiful parties, but it’s not what I strive for. There are creative details I enjoy doing, but most importantly, I love creating a magical scene for the kids. Since our budget does not include Disney World or international vacations at this point, birthday parties are their special events. 🙂
Before we go any further, all of these pictures were taken by Pinky Promise Pix. I’ve taken my own photos at parties, but with all the setup and everything going on- it’s hard to get good shots and remember to keep taking them. If you are in the Chicagoland area, I highly recommend Pinky Promise Pix for your next event or family photos! And if you aren’t in this area, consider hiring a photographer or assigning family and friends the task of capturing the event.
I’ve shared my philosophy in other posts about how to approach birthdays. Decide what works best for you and your family. It’s not everyone’s jam to throw a big party. It doesn’t have to be at the most extravagant place or spend the most money (unless you want to do that!). You can get together as a family, small group of friends or bigger. As long as it comes from a place that you are happy with. Ok, enough about that! Let’s talk about all the water party ideas. It was not too expensive, and with a little planning- our backyard was transformed into a small water park.
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Games & Activities
Lots of Inflatable Pools
For toddler parties, I have found that stations work better than organized games. They can wander around and do what they want. We set up stations with different pools and a water table for the younger kids. These are all the items we had: one pool with a slide going into it, another with a basketball hoop and the green pool had the water balloons in it (that get used very quickly!). The water table was closer to the eating tables so the younger babies could be near their parents.
- First inflatable pool
- Second inflatable pool
- Inexpensive inflatable pool– perfect for water balloons
- Basketball hoop
- Water table
- Sprinkler pad (another great option!)
Other Water Party Ideas
The sprinkler is the main event for sure. And yes, having a larger than life dinosaur was necessary. 🙂 Elevated the scene from just another day out playing in the sprinkler. I’ve also seen unicorns that are adorable. I went back and forth on the water/squirt guns, but glad I got them. The water balloons- even though we had over 400- were used sooo quickly! The kids were able to squirt each other for the whole party though. And they didn’t leave tons of itty bitty pieces in the grass. Kids love the balloons just be ready for the clean up!
Kids Mural Art
This was my favorite part of the party. Ever had an idea, but not sure how it would actually transfer in real life? This was one of those things that actually worked exactly as I imagined. Maybe even better.
A water splash party is a perfect type of party to integrate messy art because the kids are already in bathing suits. They can wash off any paint they got on themselves in the sprinkler.
Basically, we hung up a huge canvas on the side of our garage, laid out plenty of different painting supplies and the kids made a huge mural together. Afterward, I took some of the mural and made a gallery wall for the boys’ playroom.
Supplies for Art Project
- Canvas drop– comes in multiple sizes depending on where you can hang it/how big you want it. We got the 12×15 and it was bigger than the wall, which is what I wanted.
- Washable paint– because kids. We pretty much used all the paint in this set. It was perfect.
- Spray bottles– pack of 12 ( I used 8). I added about two tablespoons of water to these to make them easier to spray and adds a different texture. Do not add too much water though because it will drip more than you want.
- Squeeze bottles
- Paint rollers and sponge brushes
- Trays (I used two cookie sheets from Dollar Tree to place bottles on)
Invitations & Signage
We send digital invitations, but these can also be printed. I’ve included a free download file at the end. The invitation and signs were designed in Canva.
With this kind of party, the activities make up the majority of the decor. The food table is the one place where I put some DIY touches. The splish splash sign was transferred onto a foam board (one of the downloads available!) I used the same method for making signs that I did in the Wild Things party. The sand buckets and shovels I snagged at Walmart- perfect for snacks. Beach balls we had from the ball themed party. Finally, I cut up a bunch of pool noodles. Made a cupcake stand and a garland out of them. Also from Walmart and Dollar Tree. All about the budget friendly decor!
*Cupcake stand: Cut 3 pool noodles into 3 inch pieces and assemble for the bottom row. Glue together outside circle, stuff the middle with loose pieces and secure with a ribbon or goggles. Top row: cut 3 pool noodles in 5 inch pieces and assemble the top row the same as the bottom.
Accessories & Goody Bags
Final water party ideas were some accessories and items kids can take home. One basket was filled with bubble wands and sunglasses – used in place of goody bags. Another basket had towels and sunscreen for anyone that needed any during the party.
I didn’t want to throw away the entire canvas. But you can if you want to! 🙂 I cut out 16×20 pieces and used them as a mat for picture frames. Since it’s so colorful, I used plain black and white pictures of the boys. It’s hanging in their craft/play room and fits in perfectly.