Marching Band Parade (3-5yr) Neighborhood Parade
Michelle in Sunnyvale, CA, USA
Marching Band Parade Party This is a simple and really enjoyable birthday party for kids 3-5 years old. Before the party: - Invitations: take a picture of your child marching with an instrument (e.g., tambourine, maracas, drum). Alternately, use a "baton" made out of a paper towel tube decorated with foil, stickers, paint. Make enough prints to use one on each invitation. Using plain cards or postcards (from stationery stores or office/computer supply stores), attach one picture on front. On back, customize this example for your party:
You and your parents are invited to participate in a Marching Band Parade in honor of Veronica's 4th birthday! Saturday, May 21, 2005 11:00 am - 1:00 pm Parade Route: Begins at our house, 1122 Boogie Woogie Avenue, around the block, and ends back at our house. (Note: I think this party is easiest when it begins and ends at the same place - you only need to set up and maintain one location.) Pizza, popcorn, fruit kabobs, and birthday cake will be served! In lieu of gifts, please bring a wrapped musical instrument for a gift exchange to be held before the parade. RSVP by May 14th at 555-1212.
Mail the invitations addressed to the child being invited. Include a party horn in the envelope. This will cost a little extra postage, but kids get a big kick out of getting their own mail with a gift inside. And it kicks off the theme. Print out (or draw, if you're artistic) images of instruments on 8.5x11 paper, one per child. Print matching instrument on return-label stickers. These will be for the gift exchange game, described later. - remember to buy and wrap a musical instrument for your child to contribute to the gift exchange.
Prepare a banner made of butcher paper and empty giftwrap tubes. Make it triple-thick and seal the edges with duct tape for stability. Tape the tubes to the banner for carrying it. Write largely, "<child's name> Marching Band" in markers or paint. Decorating this banner will be the entertainment for guests as they arrive. - make a round layer cake and decorate it as a drum. Use pretzel sticks or red licorice vines for the zigzag pattern on the sides, and dry bread sticks for the drumsticks. Maraschino cherries work well as the tops and bottoms of each zigzag.
Alternately, buy a cake from a baker decorated with a marching band theme. Make or plan to buy fruit kabobs. Get a cooler or tub with ice for drinks. Popcorn in white lunch bags can be placed out for snacks. Decorate the bags with red stripes of electricians tape if you like. Order pizzas to be delivered at the end of the parade (using an 11:00 start for the party, say 12 noon for the pizzas). Make a salad to go with the pizza for the parents. - buy or make a CD or tape of marching band music. MP3s can be downloaded free online, then burned onto a CD if you have the means. Otherwise, buy a CD or tape of marching band music. You'll also need a boombox to carry with the parade.
Party Day: - Before guests arrive, put the banner on a dropcloth with markers, paints, stickers. Put it where you'd like guests to gather when they arrive. If it's outside, set out seating (lawn chairs, kid chairs, etc.) to keep with the parade theme.
Put out popcorn in bags, and fruit kabobs for snacks. Have drinks available. As guests arrive, take their wrapped instrument and put one of the musical instrument stickers on it and place it on a table with your child's wrapped gift. Be sure to put one sticker on every gift. Let the guests know you'd like them to decorate the banner for the parade.
When everyone has arrived, lay out the 8.5x11 musical instrument pages in a circle. Announce to the guests that the parade festivities are now beginning. Instruct them how to play "Musical Squares." - Each child stands on a picture of an instrument. When you begin to play marching music, they march around on the pages. When the music stops, they all stop on one page. Do this twice for practice, then let them know that they are all marching so well, it's time to play the game. This time, when you stop the music, each child takes his or her paper and goes to the gift table to match the instrument on the page to the sticker. Once everyone has their gift, let them know that this is their new musical instrument to play in the parade and to take home after the party.
After the gift exchange, bring everyone to the start of the parade route. Ask a couple of parents to carry the banner up front, and another to carry the boombox with the marching music playing. This is the main event: march, playing instruments, around the neighborhood or to wherever your parade route ends. Get someone to take pictures of each child marching with their instrument to use as the thank-you note. At the end of the parade, let them know what a smashing band they made! - Guests can eat popcorn and fruit until the pizza arrives. After eating, have cake and sing Happy Birthday to the guest of honor.
After the party: - Print a photo of each guest playing their instrument in the parade and attach it to a blank card or postcard. Write a thank you note on the back and mail it to the child. That's it!