Ladybug Party

Ladybugs, butterflies, and flowers make this party fun for ages 1 to 10. To make the party more boyish, use fewer flowers and ladybugs and substitute ants and caterpillars.

Inviting Ideas

Although invitations with a garden or ladybug theme won't be hard to find, here are two ideas for making your own:

These girls are ready to go on a ladybug hunt!
  • Pass out helium-filled red polka-dotted balloons with a note attached. Or, blow up red balloons by hand, write the party information on them and add black polka-dots, then deflate the balloon and mail. Recipients blow the balloon up again to read the details.
  • Cut a 4-inch circle from red construction paper or posterboard, draw a black line down the center, and add 3 half-inch spots on each "wing." Punch two holes near the top and thread through a pipe-cleaner antennae and add 2 large "wiggle" eyes. Write a poem about ladybugs or just write the invitation information on the back.


Ladybug headbands turn guests into decorations.
  • Lead guests to the door by using sidewalk chalk to decorate the driveway or sidewalk with large black and red polka dots.
  • Decorate red balloons by adding black spots with a permanent marker. Tie with black or red ribbon.
  • Turn each guest into a bug with headbopper antennae headbands.
  • Make origami butterflies and tissue paper flowers (see Crafts page) with pipe-cleaner stems.
  • Fill a dish garden with great butterfly and ladybug plants such as shasta daisies, marigolds, cosmos, allium, statice, lavender, phlox, coneflower, sunflowers or globe thistles. Exlain to the children that these are plants these garden creatures love.
  • Make a display of butterfly nets, children's or antique gardening tools, gardening gloves, and flowers -- potted or cut.
  • Order ladybugs or butterfly larvae from your local nursery or the Web site Put your guests of honor in the center of the action. Ladybugs arrive in their adult form. Butterflies arrive as larvae and take 17 to 21 days to emerge, so order them far enough in advance so they will be hatching on party day.

From the 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

Garden Delights

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

Ladybug cupcakes: Frost cupcakes with red icing, add black licorice string in center to indicate wings. Add chocolate chips or brown M&M's for spots.

Caterpillar cake: Place cupcakes in a wiggly line and ice them together. Use licorice strings for antennae, and candies for legs and eyes.

Painted butterfly cookies: Make a sugar cookie dough. Either cut the dough with a butterfly-shaped cookie cutter, or cut round cookies and place the circles on a baking sheet two by two, and push each pair gently together. Then you can paint the unbaked cookies with a wash of egg yolk and food coloring, and bake until done but not browned. Add licorice string antennae just before baking is complete. Or bake, frost, then decorate.

Sugar Cookie recipe

Egg Paint Recipe (for decorating cookies)

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 such as a game and cake time. 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. Some suggestions:

  • The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle (Harpercollins, 1999)
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Putnam, 1984)
  • Miss Spider's Tea Party by David Kirk (Scholastic, 1994)

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.

"Origami" Butterflies

Butterflies are also beloved garden residents.

Ages: 3 and up

Preparation time: None

Playing time: 10 minutes

Players: Any number

What you need:

  • Origami paper (2 sheets per child)
  • Pipe cleaners (two per child)
  • Pencil or thin dowel

1. Fold two brightly colored pieces of paper accordion-style.

2. Coil one of the pipe cleaners around a pencil to form the body. Slip coil off pencil.

3. Use the second pipe cleaner to secure the two folded pieces of paper together at their middles, and form an antennae with the two ends.

4. Use one end of the coiled body to attach the body to the wings at the center.

5. Spread out the wings.

Chocolate Bugs

Ages: 4 and up

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Playing time: 15 minutes

Player: Any number

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or colored baking chocolate per guest
  • 1 small zippered plastic bag for each guest
  • Scissors
  • Candy decorations such as sprinkles, licorice strings, stars, edible confetti
  • Raisins, small pieces of cereal, chow mein noodles, and other crunchy or sweet items
  • Waxed paper

1. Fill plastic bags with chocolate candy and seal. Microwave for at least one minute (or until melted). You may have to do this in batches. Don't let the chocolate get too hot to handle.

2. Remove the bags and cut a small hole in the corner of each bag.

3. Place a piece of waxed paper in front of each child. Set out bowls of candy, raisins, and so on.

4. Show children how to squeeze a blob of chocolate through the hole in the bag onto the waxed paper. Adding raisins, licorice legs, M&M eyes, and other items turns the chocolate into an edible creature.

5. Let chocolate cool until hardened and remove from waxed paper. "Bugs" can be eaten at the party or wrapped in plastic as a party favor to take home.

Ladybug Finger Puppets

Ages: 6 and up

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Playing time: 15 minutes

Players: Any number

What you need:

  • Red knit gloves, 1 pair for every 4 or 5 guests
  • Black pipe cleaners
  • Wiggle eyes, two per puppet
  • Red posterboard
  • Black washable markers
  • Sequins (optional)
  • Low-temperature glue gun or crafts glue
  • Stapler

Before the party:

1. Cut 3-inch circles from red posterboard, one per puppet.

2. Cut each of the fingers off the knit gloves. (You may not be able to use the thumbs.)

3. Using a low melt glue gun or fabric glue, affix the back of each knit finger to the center of a red circle. Let dry.

At the party:

4. Help children staple pipe-cleaner antennae to each ladybug circle of paper.

5. Use markers to draw faces and spots on the posterboard circles.

6. For very fancy ladybugs, glue on sequins and sparkles.

Take-Home Garden

Ages: 2 and up

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Playing time: 10 minutes

Players: Any number

What you need:

  • Small clay pots, no more than 2 or 3 inches across
  • Soilless seed mix, moistened (but not muddy; follow instructions on bag)
  • A few small stones or styrofoam peanuts to cover the holes in the pots
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rubber bands
  • Plastic spoons
  • Permanent marker
  • Flower seeds: Some good choices include marigolds, which grow quickly; butterfly flower (Schizanthus Pinnatus), which looks like a butterfly; or seeds for flowers that supply nectar for butterflies, such as bee balm (Monarda didyma), black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia) or purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Before the party:

1. Make a copy of the growing instructions (from the seed packet) for each child to take home. Transfer potting soil from large bag into several low containers.

At the party:

2. Cover the hole in pot with small stones, spoon in soilless mix, and sprinkle a few seeds following planting instructions on packets.

3. Cover each pot with plastic wrap and secure with a rubber band for the trip home.

4. Write each guest's name on pot or plastic wrap.

5. Tuck the growing instructions under the rubber band.

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.

Pin the Spot on the Ladybug

Ages: 3 and up

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Playing time: 15 to 20 minutes

Players: At least 3

What you need:

Have fun making up more ladybug garden games.
  • 1 large piece of red posterboard
  • Black construction paper
  • White construction paper or printer-weight paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Marking pens
  • Blindfold or bandanna
  • Invisible tape

Before the party:

1. Cut a large ladybug shape from posterboard.

2. Use construction paper or markers to decorate, leaving one open space on which to "pin" the missing spot. (You could put a white spot in that place.)

3. Cut additional circles from black construction paper, the size of the white spot. Cut at least one per child. Write each child's name on a circle.

4. Hang the poster at child's-eye level.

At the party:

5. Guests line up in front of the poster.

6. One at a time, blindfold each child, give each child their paper spot with a loop of tape on the back, spin the child around, and aim him in the direction of the poster.

7. The winner is the child who places her circle closest to the missing spot.

Caterpillar Races

Ages: 5 and up

Preparation time: Less than 5 minutes

Playing time: 10 minutes

Players: At least 4

What you need:

  • Chalk, spray paint or rope to mark the play area
  • At least 30 feet of open space for children up to age 5; up to 60 feet for kids 6 and up

Before the party:

1. Mark a finish line (preferably on grass) with chalk, spray paint or rope.

At the party:

2. Divide children into two teams of 4 to 7 players (such as "Caterpillars" and "Inchworms," or "Monarchs" and "Painted Ladies").

3. Line up the players in two straight lines directly behind each other, facing the finish line (adjust the distance for the age of the children).

4. Have each child put his hands on the waist of the child in front of him, forming a "caterpillar."

5. When you say, "Wiggle," each team must run, staying connected, to the finish line.

6. If a team becomes disconnected, the players must stop and reconnect before they can advance.

7. The first team to cross the line wins.

Indoor variation: Have children race on their knees or adapt the game so that the child at the back of each line crawls through the legs of the children in front of him and becomes the leader. Children at the back continue to crawl through to the front and the line advances in this fashion to the finish line. Course can be shortened to 15 or 20 feet.

Cocoon Wrap

Ages: 5 and up

Preparation time: None

Playing time: 15 minutes

Players: At least 6

What you need:

  • Rolls of toilet tissue, one per team

1. Divide the children into teams of 3 or 4.

2. Each team selects one player to be the caterpillar.

3. Hand each team a roll of toilet paper.

4. At the signal, each team works together to wrap their caterpillar in toilet paper as quickly as possible. Remind the teams not to wrap the caterpillar's face! If the children start wrapping too fast, the paper breaks, causing more confusion and fun.

5. The first team to use all of their toilet paper, and in the process get their caterpillar wrapped into a cocoon, wins.

Nature Hunt

Ages: 5 and up

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Playing time: 15 minutes or more, depending on length of list

Number of players: At least 4

What you need:

  • Paper bags, one per team
  • Plastic spoons and small zippered sandwich bags
  • Copies of the list of items to be found
Mesh "bug carriers" make it easy to bring back prize specimens.

Before the party:

1. Make a list of 10 to 20 items that can easily be found around the party site. Some suggestions: A leaf, something yellow, a flower, a piece of clover, a bug, a twig, something shiny, something soft, something that starts with an "R," something white, something that makes noise, a blade of grass, something that rolls, a seed, something red or purple, something made of wood, something very small.

2. Make enough identical copies of the list so each team has one.

At the party:

3. Divide children into teams with two to four children per team.

4. Hand each team a copy of the list of items, plastic spoons and bags (for collecting a bug), and a paper bag.

5. Explain the need to work together as a team and some simple safety precautions, such as:

  • When looking for bugs, if you turn a rock over, always flip it so that the exposed side is facing away from you.
  • Use a spoon to pick up any bug that you are unsure of.
  • Describe poisonous plants in your area, explain where they may be, and how to avoid them.

6. When each team finishes, you can give them a small prize or let them make a collage out of their items (except the bug!).


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