Have you ever been to Michaels? It’s an Arts and Craft store that promotes itself as a ‘place where creativity happens’. If you’re looking to get your little one into some type of regular activity then this is a place worth exploring. Once more, most Michaels offer a regular art and craft class on Saturdays at very little cost.

Now I’m not writing to promote Michaels, I’m merely setting up this article to talk about birthday parties that promote some creative thinking. First of all – a winter birthday requires some problem-solving anyway, especially when you have temperatures well below freezing and frozen snow over a foot deep. Luckily, we live in a location that has a number of in-door possibilities for kiddie parties, but they’re really really expensive once you break over ten people. More importantly, they all start to become the same experience, so I really wanted to find something a little different, and perhaps a little cheaper seen as my youngest has his birthday only a few weeks later. So, I started to look for alternatives and came across Michaels in Brookfield, CT. I popped into the store and found the staff to be polite and extremely energetic. Booking the room is simple because it doesn’t appear to be a prime location for parties so we literally could choose any day, time, and even throw in a snow day. The toughest part of the experience is identifying an age appropriate craft. The staff offers some advice, but I wasn’t feeling their suggestions as I was on my ‘I want to be different’ kick. As Lucas is currently into space, planets, and learning about the solar system, it seemed appropriate to propose something space related. After looking around the aisle I saw some small polystyrene balls that are used to create models of atoms. As my science days are far behind me I just looked at them and saw plants. Now, I started to think about a 3D space scene and immediately began looking for some type of box, which I quickly found on sale. I purchased twenty, gathered some paints, stars, spaceships, and we were ready for launch.

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The only down side with my planning was running out of time to explore how the planets might best be hung in the box. Luckily some clever parents quickly solved this challenge on the day, and I think for the most part it was a great experience, that offered a little bit of originality, creativity, and at significantly less money than other alternatives – it even engage the parents in some creative thinking. So, for anyone planning a children’s party in the near future I encourage you to get creative and explore some art and craft options. With a simple activity, room, and materials, there’s an endless array of possibilities.

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Matthew Worwood
Matthew Worwood is an educator, Creative Studies scholar-practitioner, and co-host of the Fueling Creativity in Education podcast. He is a professor of Digital Media Design at the University of Connecticut and a husband and proud father to three young boys.

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