As my son Javier’s 8th birthday approached this year, he had a bevy of party ideas to kick around. Party at a water park! A trip to Disney World! It all sounded fun, but mama can’t afford to take 10 kids to all these pricey hotspots. I thought I scored when I found a farm nearby where we could take up to 20 kids on a hay ride for a pretty fair price, but that didn’t jazz him, so we decided to grill burgers and hot dogs at a local park. To make the most of his competitive spirit, my boyfriend, Mark, and I decided to make an obstacle course and let the kids go crazy racing around the park. At the very least, we’d wipe them out and they’d go home ready for bed, earning us the adoration of their parents.
Javier was OK with this idea, but he also wanted a little superhero action thrown in, so we picked up a Spider Man piñata at Party City and ordered a Batman cake from our local grocer. We emailed these adorable racing shirt invitations from Paperless Post to set the mood and alert everyone that they would need a pair of sneakers to race. Next we ordered race-themed party décor from Oriental Trading, a site filled with affordable party goods, including most of what we needed for the obstacle course. In fact, unless told otherwise, it’s safe to assume just about everything in the following how-to came from Oriental Trading. The final cost was right around $100, which isn’t bad when you consider that we got to keep the obstacle course for backyard fun. So far, it’s been built an additional four times outside of Javier’s fiesta and each time, pint-sized neighbors we didn’t know existed have appeared on our lawn. Who knew the obstacle course would lure new friends? Here’s the how-to on each station we designed for what we like to call Javier’s Awesome Obstacle Course Birthday Party:
Station #1: Warm Up
We placed orange cones in a zigzag pattern to get kids racing right from the start.
Station #2: Hurdles
We built three hurdles with PVC pipe from Home Depot for less than $15. The super easy how-to is in the October 2013 issue of Family Fun magazine.
Station #3: The Skinny Ring Run
The kids stepped into six plastic rings, one foot at a time.
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Station #4: Balance Beam
We nailed together two 2x4s we had in the shed in an “I” pattern, and we used it as a balance beam.
Station #5: Jump Rope
The kids had to jump three times in a row before they were allowed to move on to the next station. I don’t want to diss the dudes, but the boys had the hardest time with this! It was funny to hear so many of them ask if they could skip it.
Station #6: Bean Bag Toss
Each child had to toss bean bags into a green wastebasket until three made it in before they were allowed to move on to the next station.
Station #7: Inflatable Tires
These colorful tires were easy to blow up at the park—and hard to run through one foot at a time.
Then it was a mad dash to the finish line! Don't these kids look happy? What are your birthday party how-tos?