I love throwing birthday parties for kids. I love to find a theme and throw myself into it with reckless abandon. When my son decided he wanted a Mad Science Party to celebrate his upcoming 8th birthday I approached it with the same tenacity I had previous parties. I will tell you, that although I’m kind of a crazy person when it comes to planning themed parties, I’m also very frugal. This party took a lot of prep work (mostly to have the experiments ready for the kids) but it was not expensive. So here are some of my favorite highlights and a few tips from our party.
Invitations: We decided to send all the little scientists a padded envelope that included the invitation, a mini magnifying glass, and a small test tube filled with candy. The Thank You Notes you see pictured were created in using a free Periodic Table Writer. I also used this program to create the banner we hung to decorate for the party.
Pro Tip: Do NOT place stickers on the outside of the envelope that read “toxic”. The post office does not think this is cute and they will question you as if you are on the terrorist watch list and possibly even make you remove them. Trust me on this.
Lab Gear: When the kids arrived we had a lab coat, badge and safety goggles waiting for each of them. The lab coats are nothing more than men’s dress shirts with the sleeves cut off. Since I sew, I hemmed the sleeves to be the correct length but you could easily just roll them up. I asked our friends and family to give me any white dress shirts that they weren’t using and the rest I found at Goodwill for just a few dollars a piece. The badges were printed out at home and put in holders from the office supply shop.
Pro Tip: The goggles we got for free when the kids attended a Lowes Build & Grow Event (also free). We just kept putting them away until we had enough for the party. You can always buy them, but remember I’m frugal, so free works for me.
Checking In: Once the kids were all decked out in their lab coats and goggles it was time for them to officially check in to the party. I downloaded a Fingerprint Security Scanner app for our iPad (it’s also available for the iPhone) and set my nephew up at a station either allowing or denying access to the party. The rule was he had to allow access to all the little kids, but he could have fun denying the adults.
Pro Tip: Pay the $.99 for the ad free version of the app.
Graphics: Although I usually like to create my own graphics, I decided to purchase some digital images off Etsy. The nice thing about purchasing a set of graphics is that you can use them for various different items at your party. I printed water bottle labels, stickers and even made cupcake toppers using the same set of graphics.
Pro Tip: Before you purchase images do a search for free clip art and see if there’s anything you can use.
Experiments: After all the kids arrived we began the experiments. This was the highlight of the party for everyone. I had premeasured and prepped all the ingredients ahead of time so that each experiment was ready to go when we got to that station. If you’re having a party for older kids (I would say 6 and older) then check out my post of science experiments, complete with ingredients and directions. If you’re having a party for younger kids (under age 6) then take a look at some of the experiments in Nicole’s post.
Pro Tip: If it’s in your budget, purchase some test tubes with lids and use those to premeasure some of your ingredients for your experiments. It made the kids feel like they were real scientists.
Decorations: Our decorations for this party were a piece of cake. The banner I made using graphics from the Periodic Table Writer. On the tables were jars that I filled with colored water and random plastic snakes, spiders, brains, etc. The dollar store was a great resource for animals that “grow” when you soak them in water. I added dry ice to our juice containers before serving and the kids thought it was amazing.
Pro Tip: Dry ice is an awesome special effect, but it should be handled with care and is NEVER to be ingested. I used it in containers with spigots where I knew the kids would not be able to drink it. Many Publix stores sell dry ice, and you can use the dry ice finder site to see where you can buy it in your area.
Favors: Now I would say that sending the kids home with their lab coat, ID badge and goggles would be enough and a party bag isn’t necessary. We had ordered some items before I realized we were going to be doing the lab coats so I went ahead and did party bags.
Pro Tip: Skip the party bags and just send the kids home with their lab coats and goggles.
Overall, the hardest part of this party was coordinating all the experiments. Enlist the help of a few other adults to help you set up and move the kids from station to station.