What's not to love about water parks? The rides, the fun, the food, the sun, the expense...Okay, so maybe there are a couple of things not to love about water parks, like the outlandish expense to get in and the fact that a plain hot dog and a small drink cost $7 apiece (if you’re lucky).
Why not try your hand at bringing the entertainment to your own backyard this summer? Granted, you may not have time to get a wave pool going through your yard or construct a two-story water slide. But with a little creativity, you can have a backyard party that's both exciting and memorable, and considerably easier on your wallet.
Planning a Water Park Party
Party preparation should start at least a month in advance, if not more so. This will give you plenty of time to shop for supplies, and allows for delivery time for any items that you have to order. It also gives you time to send invitations and get responses. Get creative with invitations. You can include "VIP passes" or "Family passes" to your water park with your invitations and a list of "attractions." Make it a family project too. Your kids can add a personal touch with water-themed stickers and stamps. Set up an assembly line for addressing, closing and stamping envelopes.
All the Fun Without the Lines
People can get creative enough with just a water hose and a sprinkler. Add a couple of wading pools, a Slip-n-Slide, and a cache of water balloons and water guns, and you've got a miniature water park in your own yard. Kids can run, splash around, and have water fights without having to spend most of their time waiting in line for rides or getting yelled at to slow down. Consider the age groups you’ll be inviting. Depending on your crowd, you might want to set up separate wading pool stations for toddlers and let the older kids have run of the rest of the yard. This way you can avoid inevitable mishaps with younger tagalongs getting underfoot in the older siblings area.
Organize team games and events. Assign fun names to the teams such as Pirates and Swashbucklers. Here are a few game ideas:
- Blind man’s bacon: This is a variation of '"Steal The Bacon." Two teams of players form a circle, half on one side, half on the other with two squirt guns in the center of the circle. When a number is called, the corresponding player for each team puts on a blindfold. At a signal, the two blindfolded players move toward the center where a squirt gun is located. The object is to reach the squirt gun and squirt the other guy before he can make it back behind the protection of his team. Teams are allowed to shout instructions to the blindfolded players.
- Water balloon toss: Gather your two teams into straight lines facing each other, about two yards apart. The players in line one each toss a water balloon to opposite players in line two. Any players who have a balloon burst are out. After each balloon bursts, a new balloon is brought into play, both lines take one step backward and toss again. Repeat until only one pair of players remain.
- Water balloon race: Gather four or more players into two teams. On the word "go," the first player on each team puts a water balloon under his chin then races to the end of the course and back. When he gets back to his team, he has to pass the water balloon to the next player without using his hands. If the balloon breaks, the player has to go get a new balloon and start over. The first team to finish wins.
Instead of the normal water-park fare of grease-soaked pizza and funnel cakes, offer healthy snack alternatives. Popcorn machines are one way to add water park flair to your backyard party without the usual butter and salt overdose you’d expect at an amusement park. Popcorn machines create easy, healthy snacks, and can be reused for an event after event, whether it's a neighborhood block party, family reunion, church gathering or birthday party.
Young guests will enjoy creating coral reefs out of Cheetos and Cheese Whiz, or making octopi out of marshmallows and peeled licorice sticks. Kids can also create individual beach scenes in bowls. Mix vanilla pudding with blue food coloring and add crushed vanilla wafers on one-half for sand. Add a tiny umbrella and gummy fish for personality.
Memories That Will Last a Lifetime
Remember to take pictures of the kids with their masterpieces. With a digital camera, a printer and some inexpensive blue frames, these can also make great party favors.