Firefighter Party

Kids have always been fascinated with firefighters, and now the whole country loves them. These ideas highlight the classic kid-friendly aspects of the job, from water to Dalmatians to big trucks.


Inviting Ideas

+ enlarge image You may be able to have the party at a local fire station.
  • Draw black spots on white paper and write the party details with a bright red marker.
  • On the front of the invitations, write something like "Burning to See You!" or "Red-Hot News!"
  • Take a photo of your local fire station, and use the photos as postcards, writing the party information on the back.
  • Write your invitations on red construction paper. Your child can draw a firehouse or fire trucks.

Decorations

  • Hang a ladder, construction paper axes, firefighter hats and construction paper hoses around the party table.
  • Place a stuffed Dalmatian on the table as a decoration.
  • Use lots of red balloons with yellow and orange ribbons.
  • Make a small cardboard house and put dry ice in the center to make it appear that smoke is coming out. (Look in the phone book under "Dry Ice" or Ice." You'll need to get it the day of the party. Place it so that the children are not able to touch it.)
  • Call your local fire department to find out if they can do a presentation or a drive-by. If not, they may give you fire hats or fire safety coloring books. Some fire stations will even let you use a room at the station for the party.
  • Use chalk to write fire safety messages on the driveway or sidewalk leading to the front door (i.e., "Stop, drop and roll... the party starts here!")

From the bhg.com Recipe Center, we've pulled together four kid-friendly menus that can be served at any birthday bash:

All-Munchies Menu

Classics with a Twist Menu

Hearty Bites Menu

Ultimate Favorites Menu

More Hot Bites

For delicious food that ties into the party theme, try these suggestions:

Rent a cotton candy machine and make red and orange cotton "flame" candy.

Serve Dalmatian cookies by cutting chocolate-chip cookie dough into a dog shape. Or make bone-shaped cookies.

Make a fire truck cake. Bake or buy three small pound cakes (8x4x3). Trim the cakes to make the ends even. Ice one cake with red frosting and stack another cake on top to form the back of the truck. From the third cake, cut off one third and set aside. To form the cab of the truck, stand/lean the remaining two-thirds on end against the stacked cakes. Place the final one-third piece in front of the "cab" to make the engine of the truck. Ice the cakes all over. Use large pretzel logs to form a ladder on the side. Use licorice strings to make a fire hose at the back and to form the windows and grille. Use "Bugles" (snacks) to make the horns. Cookies or peppermint candies make cute wheels. Use orange gummy candies to form the headlights and siren lights.

Choose two or three relatively calm activities for a two-hour party. Have a few extra ideas ready just in case. Alternate crafts and other sit-down activities with active games to keep the pace of the party moving.

Transitional Activity

Reading is great between activities. It can be used to keep children occupied while a parent sets out the tableware and cake. Also, reading can be effective at the end of the party, when children are waiting for their parents to arrive. Books for preschoolers and early-elementary age children should be easy to find in your local library or bookstore. Here are some suggestions:

  • Jobs People Do -- A Day in a Life of a Firefighter by Linda Hayward (DK Pub Merchandise, 2001)
  • I Am a Firefighter by Cynthia Benjamin (Barrons Juveniles, 1995)
  • F is for Firefighter by Dori Hillestad Butler (GHB Publishers, 2001)

Craft Ideas

Having a craft activity set up as guests arrive is a good way to corral the excitement in a positive way, since each person can start working immediately.

Candy Fire Hydrants

Ages: 4 and up

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Playing time: 20 minutes

Players: Any number

What you need:

  • 2-inch Styrofoam balls, 1 per guest
  • Red posterboard
  • Stapler
  • Black licorice twist candy
  • Red "fruit by the foot" (available at most grocery store kid snack sections)
  • Red Lifesavers candy, 3 per hydrant
  • Tube of red frosting
  • Scissors

Before the party:

1. Spray paint the foam balls with red spray paint. Let dry.

2. Cut the red posterboard into 4-inch x 8-1/2-inch rectangles, one per guest.

3. Follow the remaining directions to make one sample of the finished product to show at the party.

At the party:

4. Roll the length of each piece of posterboard around a foam ball so that the ball sits at the top of a posterboard tube. Staple closed.

5. Using the red frosting, decorate as follows: Attach a Lifesaver to the center of the posterboard cylinder. Attach a Lifesaver to either side. Trim the upper and lower edges of the posterboard hydrant with strips of fruit leather.

6. Wrap one end of the licorice twist with a small piece of fruit leather to form the end of the "fire hose."

7. Using a pencil, an adult should poke a hole through the posterboard behind the Lifesaver in the center of the hydrant. Gently insert the other end of the licorice twist.

Douse the House

Ages: 4 and up

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Playing time: 5 to 10 minutes

Players: Any number

What you need:

  • Water balloons
  • Large cardboard box
  • Paint and/or markers
  • Crafts knife or box cutter

Before the party:

1. Decorate the cardboard box to look like a burning house. Use a knife to cut windows and doors. Use paint and/or markers to decorate with flames.

At the party:

2. Equip each firefighter with plenty of water bombs (at least 6 to 10 per person).

3. Tell the children that the fire is burning down the house, and it is up to them to douse the fire with water to put out the flames.

4. Commence the attack! This should be great fun until the balloons run out and/or the house gets soaked. If desired, you can offer small prizes for throwing water balloons through windows or for hitting other targets you draw on the house.

Dalmatian Headbands

Ages: 2 and up

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Playing time: 15 minutes

Players: Any number

What you need:

  • White felt, purchased by the yard if available, and black felt; OR faux fur with black-and-white spots
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Crafts glue
+ enlarge image Click to enlarge pattern. You may want to make it even larger on a photocopier.

Before the party:

1. From white felt or fake fur, cut two ears for each child using the ear pattern.

2. Cut one 24-inch x 2-inch strip of white or black felt for each child's headband. If you can't buy felt by the yard, you may need to glue two smaller strips together using fabric glue (or use a stapler to staple the strips).

3. Cut darker black felt spots to add to ears.

At the party:

4. Wrap a felt strip around each child's head for size; holding the two overlapping ends together, remove from child's head and staple the overlap to form headband. Cut off excess.

5. Attach ears to the sides of headband with the stapler.

6. Let children glue on their own "spots." Let glue dry before headbands are worn.

Big Fire Trucks

Use these trucks for the Fire Truck Relay Race (see next page). If desired, complete the two trucks yourself before the party.

Ages: 5 and up

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Playing time: 20 minutes

Players: Any number

What you need: (for 2 trucks)

  • 2 cardboard boxes (a size of 17 x 15 x 15 inches works well)
  • Crafts knife and scissors
  • Red spray paint or red contruction paper or wrapping paper
  • Black construction paper
  • 8 aluminum pie tins
  • 4 disposable yellow plastic drinking cups
  • Aluminum foil
  • Two oblong shirt boxes
  • White paper
  • Glue and/or stapler
+ enlarge image You can make oversized fire engines for guests to have fun with.

Before the party:

1. Cut the bottom out of each cardboard box. The remaining "shells" are the bodies of the two trucks.

2. Cut a 4- x 2-inch hole on each side of each truck, near the top. The children can use these holes as handgrips while racing.

3. Spray the boxes with red paint or cover with red paper.

4. Cut strips from black construction paper to make ladders and grilles for front of trucks.

At the party:

5. Cover the shirt boxes with aluminum foil. Glue 4 or 5 vertical black construction paper lines on each box, to form the grille on the front of the trucks.

6. Glue a grille and two inverted yellow cups (which form headlights) to the front of the trucks.

7. Glue or tie the pie tins to the sides of the boxes for wheels.

8. Glue construction-paper ladders to each side of the trucks; if necessary, glue or staple two ladders together for length.

8. From white paper, cut out small rectangles for license plates. Write "FD 1" and "FD 2" or "Fire 1" and Fire 2" on the license plates and glue into place on the front and/or back of the trucks.

Plan two or three lively activities for a two-hour party. Choose extra so you're prepared for the unexpected. Alternate them with quieter activities, such as a crafts project or reading aloud, to keep the party from becoming too wild.

Fire Truck Relay Race

Ages: 3 and up

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Playing time: 20 minutes

Players: Any number

What you need:

  • 2 fire trucks: toys work fine, or make our Big Fire Trucks (instructions on previous page)
  • Lime, spray paint, tape or string to mark goal lines
+ enlarge image Which team will be first to "put out the fire"?

Before the party:

1. Draw two goal lines, 25 to 40 feet apart.

At the party:

2. Divide the children into two teams. Assign each team to a firetruck. Team members should form a line starting at one goal line.

3. When you shout, "Fire!," the first member of each team runs with the truck to the opposite goal line, turns around, runs back and hands the truck off to the next player on each team.

4. Play continues until all the members of one team have returned to the starting line.

Red Light, Green Light

Ages: 3 and up

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Playing time: 15 minutes

Players: At least 4

1. Select one person to be the leader. Have all of the other players line up, side by side, 30 to 40 feet from the leader. Explain that players can only move when the leader's back is turned.

2. To begin the game, the leader turns his or her back to the rest of the players and shouts, "Green light!" The other players walk or run toward the leader.

3. Whenever he wants to, the leader yells, "Red light" and quickly turns around to face the other players. The players freeze as soon as they hear "Red light." If the leader sees any of the other players moving, the player in motion must go back to the starting line.

4. The game continues with the leader alternately yelling "green light" and "red light" until one of the other players touches the leader. The first player to touch the leader wins, and/or becomes the new leader.

Fire Brigade

On a warm summer day, this is the perfect outdoor activity! If weather forces you indoors, try our variation, as noted.

Ages: 3 and up

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Playing time: 10 minutes

Players: At least 6

What you need:

  • 4 large buckets
  • Large plastic cups (4 to 5 per team)
  • Water, Styrofoam peanuts, or crumpled pieces of newspaper (if you're playing the game indoors, choose something that won't be too messy for you to clean up!)

Before the party:

1. Fill 2 of the buckets with water or other material. Crumpled newspaper should be small enough to fit into the plastic cups.

At the party:

2. Divide players into two teams.

3. Line up each team, with each person arm's-length from his or her teammates. Place one bucket full of water at one end of each team, and place an empty bucket at the other end.

4. Explain that the goal is to move all of the water from the full bucket to the empty bucket, using the cups to pass the water down the line. In other words, each team makes a fireman's brigade -- handing the cups from player to player.

5. When you yell, "Fire!" teams start to work. The first team to move all of their water from one bucket to the other wins. You may want to play several rounds so everyone can get the hang of the game -- players will need teamwork to send empty cups back down the line as full cups are moving the other direction.

Firefighter Dress-Up Relay

Ages: 3 and up

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Playing time: 10 to 20 minutes

Players: At least 4

What you need:

  • 2 firefighter hats
  • 2 garden hoses or hose attachments
  • 2 pair large (adult sized) rubber boots
  • 2 yellow, red, or black rain slickers or overcoats
+ enlarge image Your party guests will have fun dressing like a firefighter.

Before the party:

1. Collect the dress-up items, enough for two teams. Substitute or omit items as desired.

2. Mark two goal lines, approximately 25 to 30 feet apart. You may need to adjust the distance according to the ages of the children.

At the party:

3. Divide players into two even teams. If you have an uneven number, you may want to have an adult or older child join in.

4. Half of each team lines up at the first goal line, and the other half at the opposite line. Hand one set of firefighter's garb to the first member on each team.

5. When you yell, "Fire!," the first member on each team must put on the clothing, run to the other line, remove the firefighter outfit, and hand the clothes off to the next "firefighter" on his or her team. Then the second team member gets dressed, runs to the start line, removes the gear and hands it to the next player, and so on until every team member has had a chance to race.

Note: For children under six, you will need an older assistant at each goal line to help the teams get dressed and undressed.

6. The first team to have all of its members complete the race wins. Prizes could be firefighter hats for everyone.

More Ideas:

  • Have a Dalmation Hunt: Hide a stuffed Dalmation, and write clues on bone-shaped pieces of paper for the children to follow (like a treasure hunt). Tell the players that the firehouse's dog is missing, and they need to find him. When they succeed, reward your sleuths with cake.
  • Play a variation of "Hot Potato" with music and a stuffed Dalmatian toy. When the music stops, the person holding the toy is out of the game. The last player left is the winner.
  • Stop, Drop and Roll Tag: This is a firefighter version of traditional tag. When a player gets tagged, he or she must stop, drop, and roll: freeze in place, drop to the ground, and roll over. Set a time limit for each child to be "It," so players can take turns.
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