The only problem was that every single messy party I saw was done in the summer ...outside...where the kids could just get hosed down afterwards and sent home! With Levi's party being in January, obviously that wasn't going to be an option. But I decided to trudge ahead anyway.
Over the next few months, I came up with several ideas of things we could do, hoping that when the party rolled around it would be nice enough to do at least some things outside. And when I sent out the invitations, I made sure to warn parents that the children would indeed be getting messy and therefore they may want to bring a change of clothes with them (no one really heeded my warning though).
The day of Levi's party was actually pretty freezing for Virginia Beach standards, so I decided we would just have to make everything work in our house (brave...or stupid...I know!). We laid out a couple cheap plastic tablecloths on our kitchen floor and crammed a whole bunch of fun in there:
Whipped Cream Finger Painting (just whipped cream mixed with food coloring). I covered a table with wax paper and let the kids go to town! I also put out some pretzels and marshmallows if anyone wanted to be a bit less messy.
Jello Fishing. I bought some plastic fish from the Dollar Store and threw them into a kids' pool topped off with a bunch of Jello (I made four boxes, but should have probably made more). The idea was to just dig in with hands (and even feet if they wanted), but my boys ended up bringing out some fishing rods and using those with them!
Pudding Car Races. I filled a tub with some chocolate pudding and put some cars in there. Considering 3/4 of our guests were boys, they were thrilled and immediately got to pushing their cars around in there...and sampling the pudding!
Gak (or oobleck as we called it when I made it with my first graders).
I also had some rainbow spaghetti outside that I had thought the kids could throw around at each other (mainly because the cold weather forced me to nix my first-choice activity: this paint fight). Don't get me wrong: they loved flinging the colored noodles at each other, but it only lasted about 3 seconds before it was all thrown and they were on to other activities, like running around our yard!
I must admit that after putting so much planning into the activities, I was a bit surprised that the kids didn't stick with them longer. They LOVED them while they lasted, but as soon as they had a chance to get outside and run, it was game over for my messy activities. A couple of them went back to them periodically, but I guess when you have a bunch of boys, outside time always wins out...even if it's freezing outside!
Decorations: check! Activities: check! Next up: food (my favorite!).