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This post originally appeared on Today’s Parent, who seems to like the way we party. We like that they like the way we party. Our Today’s Parent blog is called Bunch Likes to Party.

There’s something special about hosting your kid’s birthday party in his or her own backyard but what the heck are you going to do to entertain the hordes until their parents come pick them up? Look no further, friends. We’ve got your back.

1. Designer T-shirt Lab

You know what’s awesome about the backyard? No carpets. No upholstery. Throw a tarp down if you’re worried about your lawn and buy a whole bunch of plain white t-shirts, some oversized men’s button downs from your local Sally Ann to use as smocks (note, we have a ton of these at Bunch HQ and after years of use, they are wildly splatter painted and look totally awesome) and let the kids make their own tees. We like to use Speedball fabric paint, which you can heat set in the dryer. Buy some interesting stamps and stencils or grab random objects from around the house and use them as stamps. Get kids to apply a thin layer of paint to an old cassette tape with a roller. They’ll have no idea what it is but the imprint looks way cool. Flicking paint onto a shirt with a brush gets a nice splatter effect going. BUT if you’re too faint of heart to give paint to a whole whack of kids, Pentel makes a great fabric pastel that you can use instead.

T-shirt design at Bunch’s Mexx Kids Design Lab

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2. Angry Birds Water Balloon Game

Kids love Angry Birds. Kids love water balloons. Therefore kids will really love the Angry Birds Water Balloon Game invented by Allison McDonald of No Time For Flashcards . In a nutshell, you inflate the balloons with water, get kids to draw birds on the balloons, get kids to draw pigs with chalk on your driveway or sidewalk and then let them hurl the water balloons at the pigs. Genius, no? For a more complete how-to on this, visit Allison’s site.

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3. DIY Bubbles

There are many random objects in your house that work great as bubble wands. Toilet paper rolls, colanders, tennis rackets, mesh baskets and slotted spoons, to name a few. Drinking straws and cheese graters produce bubbles of varying sizes. You can even make a bubble blower with a pipecleaner or a loop of string. Bunch did a great activity as part of the Luminato Festival a couple of years back that involved filling an inflatable kiddie pool with homemade bubble solution and letting kids experiment with household and found objects to make bubbles of varying shapes and sizes.

The fun is in the experimenting and that’s what keep kids engaged and engagement is critical when you’re trying to provide a posse of Grade 2 boys with something to do other than beat each other up. Hold some implements back and bring them out when the kids start to lose interest, they’ll get right back in to it while you relax in a lawn chair.

Ground rules like no blowing bubbles near someone else’s face, don’t blow into the bubble devices (cause it spreads germs) rather wave them in the air, and keep the soap in the pool make this activity run smooth.

Have your camera ready to go, this activity makes for great photo opps. but you gotta be quick.

The bubble pool at Bunch’s Luminato Block Party

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Using a toy tennis racket as a bubble blower

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4. Cardboard City

Bunch has a long-standing obsession with the cardboard box city and it works great as a backyard birthday thing. The hardest part of organizing this activity is finding a couple of nice big boxes, like big enough for a kid or two to get inside. Sounds dumb, but it’s actually difficult. To make life easy, you might consider just buying 3-4 tall boxes from U-Haul and then collecting an assortment of smaller boxes from the grocery or liquor store. You’ll need objects that make great accessories like cardboard rolls from paper towels, kleenex and shoe boxes, etc. The more variation the kids have to work with, the more imaginative they’ll be able to get. Another way to enhance the activity is to give the kids markers or better yet, paint, to decorate the exterior of the boxes/city. Give a grown-up a box cutter and have him/her ask the kids where they’d like doors and window to go. Give someone else a roll of duct tape or rip off a bunch of pieces and designate a tape area where kids can come grab some sticky stuff to turn a toilet paper roll into a chimney or a periscope. Then stand back. And let the grown-ups play, too. This is super fun. Bunch built an enormous cardboard city at in event back in 2009 and the urban planners and architects who were there to facilitate had as much fun as the kids.

A cardboard creation from Bunch Salon: Kids Dream the City

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5. Sprinkler Croquet, Bocce Ball, Golf or whatever sport you like but with sprinklers

Anyone can buy a croquet or bocce ball set and call that a birthday party activity but only a really cool mom or dad will understand that if you add the surprise element of sprinklers to the mix, you’ve created a birthday party that will go down in history for its greatness. It’s this simple: Game + sprinkler aimed at kids playing game = way more fun game. The level of awesome increases exponentially with the number of sprinklers you aim at those little monkeys and nowadays, there are a lot of neat sprinkler options out there, so get creative.

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Photo by popofaticus via Flickr

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