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10 DIY At-home Birthday Decor and Activity Ideas from Museum at Home with The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Top 10 Easy At-Home Birthday Décor and Activity Ideas

By Skylee Campell and Melissa Mattingly.

As Birthday Party Coordinator at The Children’s Museum, nothing makes me happier than to see the child’s face light up when they enter their decorated birthday party room. Décor and theme play a big part in making the day special and memorable for the child. While we are all social distancing and quarantining it’s still important make a birthday special. Melissa and I put together a list of ten simple DIY activities and décor ideas to make any birthday party extraordinary.

1. DIY Paper Crown

DIY birthday crown idea from Events and Rentals for Museum at Home with The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

What you'll need:

  • Gift bags or wrapping paper
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Tape or stapler

Using your gift bag or wrapping paper cut a rectangle that is 20” long and 5” tall. Fold the strip in half long-ways with the printed sides together (your strip should now be 10”x5”). Using your ruler measure 2” down from the top and draw a straight line horizontally across your paper. Then take your scissors and cut a triangle shape from one end to the other (do not cut past the line you drew!) in order to create the crown points. Open the strip back up and lay flat with printed side up. If you want to add any other decorations (glitter, pom poms, ribbon, etc) do that first. Once decorating is complete bring the ends around to each other, creating a circle. Use your tape or stapler to connect the ends and your crown is complete!

2. Tassel Garland DIY

DIY tassel garland idea from Events and Rentals for Museum at Home with The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

What you’ll need:

  • Yarn
  • Scissors
  • Book

This is a simple DIY that adds pizzazz to the space that you are celebrating the birthday party. You will need yarn a book and scissors.

  1. Cut a piece of yarn long enough to tie, hold this at the spine of the book.
  2. Begin wrapping the yarn (from roll) around the book, I wrap the yarn 35 times around the book to get a full tassel.
  3. Cut the yarn from the roll of yarn. With the string at the spine double knot to secure the yarn that has been wrapped around the book. Opposite the spine along the pages cut the yarn.
  4. Cut another piece of yarn from roll and tie this close to the top of the tassel.
  5. Repeat this process until you have enough tassels for the space you plan to decorate. Then you will string the tassels, at the top of each tassel. I just poke a piece of neutral yarn through.
  6. Once this is complete you can tie the garland to the space you plan to decorate.

3. Mail Mob

What you'll need:

  • Cards from family and friends
  • String (optional)

Put an advance request out to family and friends (or even your social media accounts if you feel comfortable with it) to mail cards and letters to your birthday child. Children love receiving something in the mail with their name on it and they will have fun running to the mailbox every day to see what may be for them.

As an added bonus, you could string all the cards to create an easy DIY birthday decoration.

4. DIY Balloon number or Letter

DIY balloon number or letter birthday idea from Events and Rentals for Museum at Home with The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

What you’ll need:

  • Balloons
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • String
  • Blank wall/space
  1. Plan your number or letter with the string.
  2. Tape the string to the wall in the number/ letter you plan to make.
  3. Blow up balloons that will be for your number or letter. If you need more you can blow up more later.
  4. After tying off the balloon, I ripped a piece of tape and put it on the tail of the balloon.
  5. I taped the balloon on the string on the wall.
  6. Repeat these steps until the number or letter complete.

I added some tassels to the edge to make the number more exciting!

5. DIY Terrarium

DIY terrarium centerpiece birthday idea from Events and Rentals for Museum at Home with The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

What you need:

  • Any plastic toys on hand
  • Kinetic Sand
  • Glass container

This idea comes from the centerpieces that we use for the dinosaur theme birthday party at The Children’s Museum. It's a perfect DIY activity for kids involved in Zoom birthdays. Each one will look a little different and will be a keepsake to remember the birthday party. Start by gathering toys, greenery, jar, and play sand that will fill the jar. It will be important to let other parents know that you plan on doing this simple DIY so they can have their materials prepared.

  1. Open the jar and fill with sand.
  2. Start adding the plastic toys and plants. This is where you get to be fun and creative. I used dinosaurs for the jar with a little bit of plastic plants.
  3. I finished mine off by putting the lid on the jar.

This DIY could be used as the centerpieces if you set up a birthday table.

6. Picture Garland

DIY picture garland birthday idea from Events and Rentals for Museum at Home with The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

What you'll need:

  • String
  • Printed pictures
  • Clothespins
  • Scissors
  • Tape

This DIY is a way to decorate and talk a walk down memory lane. I used photos from previous birthday celebrations over the years. It was interesting to take a walk down all memory lane with all the photos.

  1. I started by gathering photos picking the number of clothes pins.
  2. I hung the string and clipped the photo the it with clothes pins. 

7. Mystery Sensory Bag Game

What you'll need:

  • A paper or cloth bag
  • Five random objects from your home

At-home birthday games can be hard if you don’t live with a lot of people. This game is fun because you only need two people and it can be easily led by the child or the grown-up so you can take turns. 

  1. Fill a bag (make sure you can’t see through the bag) with five random objects found around your home.
  2. Without looking inside the bag, have the birthday child use their hands to try and guess what’s inside.
  3. Try changing it up by only placing “red” or “outdoor” objects in the bag.

8. Educational Present Scavenger Hunt

DIY educational present scavenger hunt birthday idea from Events and Rentals for Museum at Home with The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

What you'll need:

  • Index cards or paper cut into squares
  1. Give the birthday person age-appropriate questions. They could be math or geography related...or any other subject you choose!
  2. Your birthday child has to answer correctly in order to earn letters that will reveal the location of their present. For example, if their present is hidden in the garage then you’ll need to ask six questions (because garage has six letters).
  3. Depending on age of child, you could give them the letters in order of the spelling. For a harder challenge, give the letters to them out of order so they have to rearrange them in the end to figure out the location word.

9. Dessert Decorating

What you'll need:

  • Dessert decorating tools

Whether cupcakes, brownies, cookies or a cake, give the birthday person control of decorating their own birthday dessert. This will take the pressure off the grown-up and double as yummy “art time” for the child. It's a win/win!

10. DIY Water Xylophone

DIY water xylophone birthday idea from Events and Rentals for Museum at Home with The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

What you'll need:

  • Drinking glasses
  • Water
  • Spoon
  • Food coloring (optional)
  1. Fill glasses with water at different levels to make the xylophone.
  2. I added food coloring to the water for an added pop of color.
  3. Use a spoon to try to play happy birthday with the xylophone.

This is a nice sensory activity. It's fun to hear the different sounds the glasses make at different levels depending on water level and whereyou tap the glass.

Be sure to share your at-home birthday décor and activities by using #TCMatHome on social media! 

Melissa is the Event Producer in the Events & Rentals department at The Children's Museum. For more information on hosting private events at the museum (once in-person gatherings are safe, of course!) please visit www.childrensmuseum.org/visit/events and fill out an inquiry form.

Skylee is the Birthday Coordinator at The Children's Museum. For more information on hosting a party at the museum (once in-person gatherings are safe, of course!) please visit https://www.childrensmuseum.org/visit/birthdays for all of the details.

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