How to Throw an "End of Summer" Party for Kids

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School may be out for the summer, but not for much longer. Before you get back to the daily grind of dragging the kids out of bed early in the morning, packing lunches and sitting in the dreaded pick-up line, throw one last party to celebrate the end of an epic vacation. But don't stress yourself out with a huge orchestrated event! Keep things simple with double-duty party favors, easy-to-eat finger foods and fun activities that can be used for years to come. When the party is over, your kids will have one last summer memory to cherish as the school year gets underway — and, well, so will you.

(Image: April Anderson | Gillian Ellis)

Decorate Your Space With Confetti-Filled Balloons

Make things easier on yourself by using decor that pulls double-duty, like these confetti-filled balloons. Add pieces of colorful paper to clear balloons and attach adhesive letters to each one to create a fun banner. Hang it as a buffet table decoration or a fun photo backdrop, and these balloons will set the tone for your whole party in an instant.

(Image: Gillian Ellis)

Keep the Kids Entertained With an Outdoor Bowling Alley

No party is complete without fun activities! Turn your backyard into a bowling alley with a few sheets of plywood and a set of unfinished pins that you can paint to match the rest of your festive decor. Include a set of circles on your finished lane, too, so that your little guests know how to set up the pins themselves.

(Image: Kelly Smith)

Transform an Old Tire Into a Colorful Swing

Don't throw out that old tire just yet — you can repurpose it as tire swing that all your guests will love. Add a colorful pattern with bright acrylic craft paints that your kids picked out themselves. And make sure you pick a sturdy branch to hang the finished swing from, because even the adults are going to want a turn!

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Why Blow Regular Bubbles When You Can Make Giant Ones Instead?

It's hard not to smile when you're surrounded by giant bubbles. All you need to make a super-sized bubble wand is two dowels, a washer and a long piece of cotton cord. Dip the wand in standard bubble solution and watch your guests' eyes bulge when they glimpse massive bubbles floating through the air.

(Image: Debbie Williams)

Create a Cool Secret Hideout With a Fabric Canopy

Give the kiddos a place to retreat from the sun, or just an extra place to hangout, by creating a fabric canopy fort in your yard. Fill it with a blanket, pillows and a couple of books and it'll quickly become the hit of the party. Just make sure you know the secret password if you want to be invited in.

(Image: Kelly Smith)

Stay Hydrated With Personalized Painted Glasses

Playing outside all day means you need to have plenty of drinks available to keep your pint-sized guests properly hydrated. Customize plain plastic glasses with summer-themed designs using acrylic paint markers. Everyone will know exactly which cup is theirs!

(Image: Jonathan Fong)

Stick to Easy Finger Foods, Like These Delicious Pizza Cones

Kids love to eat with their hands, and you'll love having less dishes to deal with at the end of the day. So, serving an assortment of finger foods, like these pizza cones, for lunch is a total win-win. Use cone-shaped paper cups wrapped in aluminum foil to make a mold for your pizza dough, and then fill each one with different toppings. Top them with cheese and bake until bubbly.

(Image: Zora Hughes)

Ice Cream Cake is Always a Good Idea

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream... cake! The combination of fresh vanilla bean ice cream, coffee-infused cake and whipped cream frosting will delight all of your guests, both young and old. Run your knife under hot water for a few seconds to make slicing quick and easy.

(Image: April Anderson)

Hand Out Mini Pinatas That Double as Party Favors

Avoid the madness that is a mass of kids fighting over one pinata's treasures and give out handheld pinatas instead. These adorable little watermelons act as your party favors, too, so that's one more thing you can cross off your to-do list.

(Image: Gillian Ellis)

End the Night With a Movie Under the Stars

Wind down after a long day of bowling, swinging and bubble blowing in the backyard with a nice relaxing movie under the stars. With just a few simple supplies, like PVC pipe and white projection fabric, you'll have a movie screen that you can pull out in no time.

(Image: Matthew Ashman)

Have a Seat on a Comfy Floor Cushion

You're going to need a place to sit while you munch on popcorn, and these simple floor cushions are the perfect solution. Made from a vinyl tablecloth, the cushions are both waterproof and easy enough for even a beginner to sew. After the party is over, use them for picnics in the park, trips to the beach and everything in between.

(Image: Beth Huntington)

Set the Mood With Whimsical Fairy Lanterns

Turn your collection of mason jars into a set of whimsical lanterns that'll give off just enough light when it's time to wind down for the night. Cover the inside of each jar with white glue, glitter and a paper fairy design. A few pieces of fake moss and a flameless candle complete the project. When the party is over, use the lanterns as night lights!

(Image: Kelly Smith)

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