When deciding what kind of birthday party to have for our toddler, I was stumped. He wasn’t really into too many cartoon characters. He did enjoy tools, dinosaurs, and building – but none were a huge interest right now.
I started to think about how he spent most of his playtime and realized how often he gravitated toward puzzles. He enjoyed putting things together, he relished in accomplishment when completing a puzzle, and he loved staring at the pictures he put together.
So, a puzzle party it was! 🙂
There weren’t too many ideas on Pinterest or google for puzzle parties, which was great because I got to start with a blank canvas. Sometimes there are too many ideas out there, and it gets so overwhelming.
Now usually I’m a super crazy organizer and planner, but I have to be completely honest and say that I didn’t start planning this party months or even weeks ahead of time. I was super behind and quite a bit pregnant, so the entire party came together in just a week and a half. However, I took my own party planning advice and kept everything extremely simple.
I also created printables each step of the way, so I can easily share them with you!
Making Puzzle Decorations
My favorite part of every party is working on the decorations because you can take one little idea and run with it. To your guests, it will look like you went overboard, when really you are using the same item over and over.
Puzzle Piece Cut-Outs
Used for Goody Bags, Food Labels, Banners, and Balloons
Since the theme of the party was puzzles, I just cut a bazillion puzzle pieces out – and used them everywhere. (I have puzzle piece cut-outs in our free resource library in two different sizes, so you can efficiently use your paper).
I used large puzzle pieces for the birthday banners. Then, I cut medium-sized ones out of card stock (I love using bright color colored card stock.) With the medium sized pieces, I decorated the goody bags, labeled the food, made puzzle banners, and decorated the balloons.
I found the cute striped paper bags at Michaels and used my 40% coupon – then I simple taped a puzzle piece on. Simple and pretty, right!?
What’s inside the goody bags?
Inside the goody bags, I included blank puzzles (gotta love Amazon!) with crayons or markers, depending upon the age of the party guest. I also put in small wooden puzzles that I found at the dollar store for the younger kids. For the older kids, I included puzzle pair puzzles that I found at the dollar section of Target.
I also threw in some other things – bubbles are always a thrifty yet fun summer choice, and I found a few puzzles-in-a-bag at the craft store too.
To save money, I definitely recommend going to the dollar store, dollar section of Target, and the craft stores to find items that work. 🙂
Puzzle Piece Banners
For the puzzle banners, I simply glued a bunch of puzzle pieces to fishing line and then strung them on our shade sail outside.
I had my son work with me on counting and patterns as I put the banners together.
Balloons and More
You can use the puzzle pieces that you cut out for pretty much anything – decorating entrances to the party, taping a few to the balloons or pom-poms. Just cut out a whole bunch when you’re watching some mindless TV, and you’ll be surprised at how much you have to decorate with 🙂
If I had a little extra time, I would have done pom-poms too, but when you are short on time and super pregnant, something gets cut from the list 🙂
Download the Puzzle Party Pack
To make your puzzle party or puzzle activity planning simple, I created this party pack for you! It includes puzzle piece cut-outs in two sizes, all of the below game signs and activity descriptions, blank puzzle piece signs, and more. Simply join our mailing list 🙂
Painted Puzzle Pieces
Used for banners, party hats, and party crowns
For other decorations, I wanted to use smaller puzzle pieces, but didn’t want to spend the time cutting out such tiny pieces. So, I bought a bunch of dollar store puzzles (24 or 30 pieces seem to provide the best size pieces). I flipped them over and painted the back of the pieces. It helps if the back of the puzzle piece is white and not brown cardboard.
I then used these puzzle pieces to glue to party hats and to our little guy’s “Puzzle Prince” crown, and I even made a few fishing line strings of puzzle pieces to decorate the DIY photo booth.
This is a great pre-party activity that kids can help with too!
Making Puzzle Party Games
For the little ones, I love having party games that are more like activities or centers. Kids can freely move around and play at the stations – it’s perfect for toddlers and little kids.
Here’s a list of puzzle party games that I put together, and I have the signs and descriptions available to you in our free resource library.
Almost every game was super, super simple, but all together the array of activities was perfect.
1.) Puzzle Dig
This puzzle party game was simply a “sandbox” with puzzle pieces. I just took an under-bed storage container (with a lid) and filled it up with rice.
Then, I hid puzzle pieces from the dollar section at Target in the rice and tossed in some scoopers and sand toys from the Dollar Store.
This entertained my son for DAYS before the party, and the kids loved it!
2.) Puzzle Pitch
This party activity was simply a ball toss with a puzzle spin on it. I bought two foam boards from the dollar store and drew a huge puzzle piece on them.
Then, I did a little taping and then painted it with acrylic paints that I had laying around the house. After that, I cut a few holes for the bean bags or balls to go through. Last, I taped it to wooden dowels, so it would stand firm in the ground.
I tossed a few balls and bean bags in a bucket, and voila! The puzzle pitch was ready to go 🙂
3.) Puzzling Obstacle Course
This was another super simple party activity. I grabbed six pool noodles (another Dollar store find you can reuse) along with a few cones and threw together an obstacle course suited for little ones.
Then, I used duct tape to shape each pool noodle into a circle and then taped the circles together.
I spread the cones out to elongate the obstacle course. Also, I put out a few soccer balls, so kids could kick around the cones.
4.) Puzzle Island
This was by far the easiest of the puzzle party games. I just filled the water table up and threw in some foam puzzle pieces (yet another dollar store find!). If you are having a backyard toddler or kid party in the warm weather, a water table is the perfect thing to keep kids occupied and entertained.
Every year, I’m impressed at how much time the kids spend playing in the water table at our summer parties. It’s definitely a must-have for easiness and entertainment!
5.) Giant Jigsaws
This was by far my favorite of the games, and it made our little guy the happiest! With his love for puzzles, he couldn’t have been more excited that instead of building shelves and painting walls that Mommy and Daddy were building and painting a puzzle for him!
We shaped it into a dog and painted it with acrylic paints. We used…. but more details will be forthcoming on a future post 🙂
6.) Puzzle Palace
I also placed a Puzzle Palace sign on the little playhouse we have in the yard and tossed some more foam puzzles in the little kitchen area.
I was going to add a craft station, where kids could decorate their own puzzle crown, but I figured this age group was a little young for that.
This was the perfect example of how something so simple (hanging a sign and tossing in some puzzle pieces) makes for another cute touch at a child’s birthday party. See, you don’t need to go crazy to throw a great party. Simple ideas and activities can tie everything together nicely.
And for the grown-ups…
With Ash and my large immediate families, we always have a decent amount of adults at our little kid parties. I thought it would be fun to throw a bunch of puzzle pieces in a container and have party attendees guess how many pieces were in the container. And, of course the prize was…. a puzzle!
It was super cute, and I had my son stand on a chair and announce the winner. He was really excited – and it gave him the opportunity to give someone else a gift on his birthday. 🙂
Making a DIY Puzzle Banner
For every party or small celebration we have, my go-to banner is this simple one that I made – which is available in our free resource library. I love it because it’s easily customizable (no printing extra letters) and you can easily glue the letters to any kind of background.
For this banner, I used card stock that I cut into puzzle pieces. I simply taped the Happy Birthday letters to the puzzle pieces. Then, I used fishing line and hot glue to attach the pieces.
It was quick and worked like a charm!
As far as food, I love a good theme party, so I can label all of the food after the theme of the party. (Check out the amazing menu from our Beatles party). However, not only did the puzzle party theme give me less to work with – but our eating has really changed the past year or so.
Our family has moved into a gluten-free, high fruit and vegetable-based diet. We love eating this way, and we want our parents and sisters to be eating well too. So chips, sugary cakes, cheesy pastas, and hot dogs won’t be found on our table. Instead, we made a really healthy spread (that went over really well!), and as far as creative food labels, we just used the puzzle pieces to label what everything was. It wasn’t as creative as our past parties, but it tied everything together well.
So, I guess you are probably wondering about the cake. We did have a cake of some sorts – it was chocolate coconut fudge that I last-minutely shaped into a puzzle piece. Perfect for a puzzle party!
There was some sugar in the chocolate chips, but overall it was a pretty healthy dessert that we were comfortable with and everyone loved!! It’s our new go-to birthday treat in our house – check out the recipe here 🙂
So, why did my super pregnant self still throw a party this year?! Because there’s nothing more special than seeing that smile on your child’s face when they see the decorations and games you made for them 🙂
And, through keeping the DIY party decorations, games, and preparation easy, it was completely manageable. If you were wondering if you can pull off a DIY party, the answer is yes!
Just keep it simple and reuse the same decorations again and again.