School's Out Birthday Party
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When I was growing up, other kids would get to have birthday parties throughout the school year. I was different in that my birthday fell in July -- while everyone was off on summer vacation. This made party planning tough, since I couldn't pass out invitations at school, and frequently those I could reach by phone were busy with family vacation plans. This made my birthday parties tough to pull off (though there were some memorable ones, thanks to my mother's tireless efforts).

As fate would have it, one of my own children was born in July, and once she was school-aged, I discovered the same summertime phenomenon existed when trying to plan her birthday parties. After a couple of disappointing tries, I created the School's Out/Birthday Bash party. This party is planned for either the last day of school (often a half-day) or the Saturday following and combines a big End-of-School celebration with my child's birthday. Invitations can go out at school, and since family vacations have not yet begun, itís easier for guests to attend.

Games and activities for this party can center around school and summer fun. Of course, thereís a birthday cake and presents as well. Games include Summertime Bingo, where the bingo cards contain common words describing summer break, and Pin the Report Card on the Student, where the one closest to getting the card in the student's right hand gets an "A" (and a prize). The birthday cake can be unrelated or theme-related with, say, a school bus with an X over it or a tropical vacation scene. This theme also lends itself well to a swim-and-BBQ party.

If there are a few students in the class whose birthdays fall over the break and you know the parents, consider working with them to combine all the birthdays. You can invite the whole grade (and the teachers, too!) and hold it at a local park or another large venue. Ask that guests, "to help celebrate Bobby, Jill, and Susie's summer birthdays," bring a gift appropriate for either a boy or girl (if the genders of the birthday children are mixed). At the party, the birthday kids split the gifts by being blindfolded and pointed towards the gift table, where they each take the first one they touch; repeat until divided evenly. If there isn't an even number to split, the remaining gifts can be given as game prizes (or hold a raffle). The raffle can also be used if the parents agree that far more gifts arrive than the birthday children need.

The high spirits of the End-of-School celebration make this a very successful, fun party that your summertime child and his/her whole class will long remember. Let your imagination run wild with the theme, and have a Happy School's Out Birthday!

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