Dogs make a great party theme for kids of all ages. Start by thinking about what food you could serve:
- Hot dogs! They are a choking hazard, though, so it would be wise to reserve those for the older kids at the party.
- Meatloaf or a bean dip, presented in a (new, clean) dog-food bowl.
- Another fun food to serve in dog-food bowls is people puppy chow. It resembles real dog food, but is a sweet snack mix.
- The cake could be shaped like a dog or you could bake a 3-D dog house and place a plastic dog figure outside.
- The book Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson (compare prices) contains instructions for making darling doggy cupcakes. You can see them on the book's cover, which is pictured above.
Decorate your house with brown, white, black and yellow party supplies. Martha Stewart has a cute tutorial on her Web site for making animal balloons. Although dog balloons aren't pictured there, you could easily turn the bear into a dog by giving the balloon floppy ears instead of round ones.
Another dog-decorating idea: cover your floors and walls with paper paw prints.
What activities can kids do at a puppy party? Of course, it depends on their age. If all the guests are 1 year old, like Janessa's child, you don't need to organize any fancy party games. They'll be happy crawling around and on top of each other.
Older kids might enjoy some of these activities:
- A friendly game of tug o' war
- Pin the tail on the dog
- A few rounds of musical chairs, set to a dog-themed song, such as "How Much is that Doggy in the Window" or "B-I-N-G-O." Play other songs about dogs throughout the party.
- Speaking of Bingo, play a game of Puppy Bingo with the kids. Make cards that spell P-U-P-P-Y across the top, then randomly fill the squares below with photos of dog breeds you print off the Internet. Have someone draw the dog breeds randomly out of a sack (clearly showing the picture since, depending on age, kids might not know the difference between a cocker spaniel and an English sheepdog).
- Hire a balloon artist to twist balloons into dog shapes.
- Here's an activity that's a little more complicated but would make a neat party favor for kids to take home. Have the kids make dog-breed silhouette T-shirts, similar to the famous Black Dog shirts sold on Martha's Vineyard. Follow instructions for making freezer-paper stencils. You could make all the stencils that same, perhaps using the birthday kid's favorite breed (if the birthday kid is old enough to express this). Or, make a variety of breeds and let the guests choose. Make the stencils ahead of time, then have other adults at the party help you help the kids paint their T-shirts toward the beginning of the bash. That way, the shirts will be dry before it's time for everyone to go home.
One final idea for a dog party: If your birthday kid is willing, consider asking guests to bring a bag of dog food in lieu of gifts and then donate the food to a local animal shelter.