I recently had to take a turn hosting the neighborhood playdate group so I decided to throw a paint and playdough party. It seems like art parties have been all the rage lately (my favorite is Half Pint Party Design’s Picasso Party), but the age range in my play group is just too young for most of it. We get the kids together to socialize, but really it’s us moms who want to chat, and staring at them incessantly while they handle paintbrushes sounds, well, awful. That’s where playdough comes in. We paint, they play, life is good.
How to Throw a Paint and Playdough Party
Get a LOT of Playdough.
Friends, playdough is super easy to make. I like this recipe. It’s probably cheaper in the long run, but even though it’s easy it’s still way more time consuming then loading up your Amazon cart, so here’s a good assortment option of the real Playdoh. The more toddlers you have, the more you’re going to want. Let’s face it, toddlers are not known for their long attention spans. It’s best to distract them with many colors or different size lumps. Oh, and I’ve seen playdough recipes with scents and stuff like that. Don’t do that. If you’re going to get any painting done, you can’t be worried about your kids eating their art.
Find some canvasses.
A while back ago, I wrote up a cheap wine and paint party idea, and it was so fun! But we actually spent more than we had to because it turns out you can use cardboard for your acrylic paint masterpieces. I love pizza boxes for this, which we used on my recent group trip (read about that budgeting experience here) but whatever you find will work. This time we just cut up cereal and Amazon boxes. Obviously you can buy actual canvases, but remember, you’re going to be watching toddlers with art supplies while you paint. Not sure that would be the best use of your money.
Kids on the floor, adults at the table.
My kitchen is set up so that this works very easily, but if yours doesn’t, maybe you want to do it in the backyard or something. Put some trashbags or painters plastic down (tape it down well before the kids get there – you don’t want them thinking that’s part of the fun!) so you don’t have to worry about cleanup. This goes for you grown-ups too. I know I can’t be the only one who’s dropped paintbrushes as I exasperatedly run to pick up a baby. Anyway, if you’re all up high, you get a good look down below. That helps keep your paint and playdough party under control.
Pick easy paintings.
I can’t stress this enough. This is NOT a peaceful paint party. It’s basically a toddler free for all, and you happen to be painting during it. That means you might want to do your own paintings and not even worry about what goes on them. But, you hand some people a paintbrush and they stare at you like they’ve never seen it before. In that case, you need a plan. In my previously mentioned wine and paint party, we did abstracts, which works great with kids running around. The ones you’re seeing in the picture here come from the Art Sherpa on Youtube. I actually watched the whole thing myself first and transcribed it into notes so I could “teach” everyone and we wouldn’t have to stop and start videos each time someone had to get a kid. It went well; if you have only a couple adults, watching a video might work.
If kids want to paint…
My son hates to color. He loves to paint. Loves it! I have no idea why, but when I handed him a paintbrush for the first time he was all about it. He’s 2 1/2, so he’s no Rembrandt or anything, but he seriously enjoys a good scribble. I kept him entertained with playdough for about ten minutes until he started begging for the paintbrush. Luckily I already have kids paints and brushes, but if you don’t, I suggest this method. It works pretty well, and you don’t have to worry about them making a super mess. Plus they don’t really need help. It’s a paint and playdough party, not a preschool class, so I say just give in and have fun.
Serve theme food.
I won’t judge you if you serve literally nothing, but if you want a couple of really easy ideas, I’ve got them. You’re throwing a paint and playdough party, which to me says color, so serve the rainbow! Moms love to give their kids fruit, so fruit rainbow cups or an organized tray will be perfect. Cupcakes can also be rainbow, although then you’re adding a little less nutrition and a lot more work. If you’re doing dinner or lunch instead of just snacks, you can try these hot dog paintbrushes, or perhaps a pizza with a pepperoni picture on it.
A note about decor.
Beth, you say. Where’s all your fancy decorations for your paint and playdough party? Get out of here with that! I barely decorate for adults, so I’m surely not decorating my house for a bunch of toddlers.
Well, that’s about it. Go have fun applauding playdough blobs and making half-finished paintings! 🙂