Tips for hosting a book-themed kids birthday party
If you are looking for a unique, affordable way to celebrate your little book-lover’s birthday, a book-themed party might be the perfect option!
Author Allison Ballenger shares her picture book, One More Year, as an example, because it is all about birthdays; however, you can follow a similar structure using your child’s favorite book. The party ideas suggested below would be best suited for ages 4 to 8, and would be appropriate for other books that include magical creatures like fairies, elves, dragons, and/or wizards.
Step 1 – Start with a group story reading.
Gather the kids in a circle for a story reading. It is helpful to have an energetic adult lead the reading. Make sure to point out details in the illustrations and ask the kids questions along the way to encourage engagement. Sitting on the floor with the children (rather than in a chair) is encouraged – after all, it’s a party, not a school lesson!
Sample questions to ask as you are reading:
- This story is all about make believe—do you like to play make believe? What do you like to pretend to be?
- Does this character remind you of anyone you know?
- What do you think this place would smell like?
- What kinds of sounds do you think you would hear here?
- Which magical character would you most like to meet?
Step 2 – Book-themed games & crafts
After you finish reading the book, it’s time to play games and have some fun! A few game/craft ideas might include:
- Dragon Egg Scavenger Hunt: Fill plastic eggs with prizes and hide them around the house or yard.
- Pin the hat or beard on the wizard.
- Magical Freeze Tag: One person is designated as the grumpy elf and the other the sweet fairy. If tagged by the grumpy elf, you have to freeze and can only be unfrozen by the sweet fairy.
- Fairy Wands: Create fairy wands using paper towel rolls, ribbons, and construction paper.
- Dragon Puppets: Use brown paper sandwich bags or tube socks to create dragon puppets.
- Wizard party hats: Decorate white or solid-colored party hats with markers, colored cotton balls, sequins, etc.
- Elf Banjo: Wrap rubber bands around and old jar lid and tape them to the back to that they don’t come loose. Tape a large popsicle stick to the back and decorate the stick.
Step 3 – Serve book-themed snacks.
Every good party needs tasty snacks! Ask parents to notify of you of any allergens or dietary restrictions before the party so that you can accommodate any special needs.
Snack ideas might include:
- Wizard hat cupcakes: Make traditional cupcakes and place decorated sugar ice cream cones for the hats.
- Wizard hat pizza: Plain cheese pizza slices served individually. Who doesn’t like pizza?
- Cheese and Pretzel Broomsticks: Use pretzel sticks, string cheese, and chives. Spread apart the cheese into thin strands to make it look like a broomstick end. Find the skinniest chives that you can possibly find, and just tie it neatly around the cheese, using your fingernails to pinch off the ends.
- Elf snack mix: Combine Chex mix with melted chocolate. Mix in pretzel pieces, marshmallows, and candy.
- Elf’s horse (Snail): Make a snail using celery sticks filled with peanut butter or yogurt for the body, apple slices, cucumbers, or round butter crackers for the shell, and pretzel pieces for the antenna.
- Elf house (Toadstool): Make a traditional chocolate cupcake. Decorate with red icing and marshmallows to create toadstool.
- Elf doughnuts: Any colorful round cereal.
- Dragon family: Serve dino shaped nuggets.
- Dragon tears. Serve pomegranate arils.
- Fiery trees & logs: Serve broccoli, carrots, and roasted red pepper hummus.
- Dragon treats: Swedish fish.
- Dragon nest: Make a dragon nest treat by making a classic dirt pudding and adding egg shaped candy for dragon eggs!
- Pixie dust popcorn: Cook or purchase popcorn. Melt white chocolate melts and drizzle it over the popcorn and then top it all with decorative sprinkles.’
- Fairy wands: Serve cake pops decorated with sprinkles.
- Fairy wings: Serve orange and apple slices.
Step 4 – Parting gifts
One of the greatest joys of a book-themed birthday party is being able to share your child’s favorite book with others. Sending each child home with their own copy of the book is a unique party favor that parents and kids will appreciate.
About the author:
Just like her readers, author Allison Ione Ballenger grew up loving books and silly stories. The youngest of three children (and somewhat gullible by nature), Allison was the perfect audience for her older siblings’ hijinks and tall tales. They taught her to always be on the lookout for magic, which is a gift she enjoys sharing today.
Allison holds a B.A. in Literature/Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. When she is not writing children’s books, she manages communication efforts for a water-focused civil engineering firm. She also volunteers as a coach with the Miracle League of the Triangle, helping children and young adults with special needs play baseball. Allison currently lives in Cary, NC, with her husband, Travis, and their two silly dogs. One More Year is her first children’s book.