Monday 30 April 2018

CHILDRENS PARTY: Having Fun with Messy Senses

CHILDREN'S PARTY: Having Fun with Messy Senses
When I started planning Isabella and Poppy's joint birthday party I wanted to concentrate on finding the perfect entertainment that would appeal to both of them. Last year, for Isabella's second birthday party, we hired a bouncy castle and I really wanted to think of something a bit different this time. After researching what was available in our area, from parties at restaurants to soft play centres, it became evident that there wasn't anything suitable for both a 10 month old and three year old. I know that Poppy wouldn't really mind what we were doing, but as it was a joint party it only seemed fair to find something they'd both love.

Then it hit me...Messy Senses! We had been going to their classes since January and both girls really enjoyed getting messy, splashing around and discovering different textures. If you're not familiar with Messy Senses then it is a family run business set up by the lovely Louise, which brings together all five of our senses to create unique and fun sensory stations. During the classes there are seven different stations set up, which the children are free to explore and discover. They get messy, taste new things, feel new textures, listen for interesting sounds and use their creative imagination. During the sessions we've been to some of the girl's favourite activities have been a unicorn themed station with rice, rainbow drops, touchy feely books and numbers to find buried in the rice and a monkey themed station with yellow cornflour gloop, bananas and blow-up monkeys. The imagination of Louise and her team to come up with the ideas is inspiring and really do help children to access all five of their senses, as well as learn new things.
When it comes to planning a Messy Senses Party there are a few things to consider - how suitable is your party location? (i.e. no carpeted areas, access to a kitchen/water etc.) How long can you hire your location for? The length of time you need has to include setting up/tidying away time. Luckily, the place we had Isabella's party last year was perfect, so we went ahead and booked that. Louise was so flexible when it came to finding a suitable date and always very prompt in replying to messages. A lot of our communications were over Facebook, as the Messy Senses Facebook page is filled with the latest information and messenger is such an easy way to keep in contact. Once Louise gave our location the thumbs up for suitability it was onto planning the activities.
Prior to the party you have a consultation with Louise, so that you can discuss activity ideas (perhaps your child's favourite one if you've been to their classes), any theme you may be having, timings and logistics. A Messy Senses party is typically 45 minutes long, with 10-15 minutes for the children to get dressed/undressed before and after. We found this to be the ideal length of time to keep all of the children interested, entertained and was enough time for everyone to explore all of the stations. During our consultation I said that we were going to an ice-cream themed party and almost instantly Louise was able to list loads of activities that would be perfect. It was so exciting throwing ideas back and forth, as you really start to get an image of what the party is going to look like.
One of my main requests was to have as many edible aspects to the stations as possible, mainly because that's Isabella's favourite part! Usually in a class there would be one edible stations, but we managed to put together three specifically for the party. I loved how adaptable and accommodating Messy Senses is as a party entertainment option, as it allows you to cater for your guests needs (any allergies/intolerances are taken into account) and a lot of their activities are also Special Educational Needs friendly too. All of their activities use non-toxic materials, so if your child accidently takes a lick of the paint then reassuringly they'll be ok.
After we had decided on the seven activities (and a bonus adult activity kindly thrown in) all we had to do was to make sure that there was enough space left at our party location on the day. It saved so much preparation time or worrying about how the children will be kept entertained. We did also write a little note on everyone's party invitations asking them to come in clothes they didn't mind getting dirty, a towel and a spare outfit to get changed into. If you are throwing a Messy Senses Party then it is worth also taking a few extra towels and maybe even spare clothes, as inevitable some guests will forget.
When the party day finally rolled around Louise came to set up about 45 minutes before the party was due to start, which was ideal as I had already had a good chunk of time setting up the rest of the room. Also, because they set up all the activities for you it meant I could carry on doing the final bits of food preparations which took a lot of the stress of throwing a party away.
We had invited our guests to arrive around 15 minutes before the Messy Senses session was about to start, which gave everyone enough time to put their bags away, take their children's socks off and go and sit on the welcome mat with musical instruments. While we were waiting for everyone to sit down the children enjoyed playing with the array of musical instruments and excitedly looking at the different activities waiting for them. To begin the party we sang the Messy Senses song, Louise explained the different activities and then the children were let loose!

The seven activities we had were:

Jelly with Party Hats, Party Blowers and Party Pictures
Blue Cornflour Mixture with Boats, Fishing Rods, Magnetic Fish and Shells
Ice-Cream Cups with Dried Rice, Rainbow Drops and Number Matching Shells
Craft Table with Ice-Cream Painting, Stickers, Glitter and Glue
 Cornmeal Sandpit with Buckets, Spades, Sieves and Sand Toys
 Vanilla Ice-Cream with Cones, Sprinkles, Spoons and Ice-Cream Pictures 
Paddling Pool with Bath Toys, Big Sunglasses, Buckets and Boats
Bonus Adult Activity - Origami Ice-Cream
I think you can probably guess which was the most popular with the children...the ice-cream station! They all made their own ice-creams, added sprinkles and enjoyed getting messy while eating it. Isabella spent most of the time going around the different stations eating the various edible aspects, while Poppy loved sliding around in the jelly and splashing in the paddling pool. It's interesting to see how the various ages interact with the different activities and I really like how there are educational twists at some of the stations. 
Once the 45 minutes of playing was up all of the children got cleaned and changed into their party clothes ready for the food, while the Messy Senses team tidied away all of the mess. They were so considerate of not disturbing the meal and were so efficient when it came to tidying away. It meant that we could focus on getting all the children and adults fed and took away a lot of the stress of running our own children's entertainment activities. 
All of the children loved getting messy, discovering new textures and the novelty of being able to get completely covered in ice-cream was a winner with most! If you're interested in also booking a Messy Senses party or attending any of the weekly classes then head over to either their website or Facebook page for more information.

What was your favourite childhood party you attended?

Feel free to leave a comment - I love reading every single one :)

Helen x

*I received a discount on the Messy Senses Party in exchange for this blog post. As always, all opinions are my own and 100% honest.


  1. What a fantastic looking party. Looks like a great time was had by all!

  2. What an amazing idea for a party. Even though Grace is 13 she would still love all that mess and gloop x

  3. Fantastic party idea and more than the usual bouncy castle.

  4. This looks like an amazing party!! I would also have loved the ice cream station. What a lovely thing to be able to do!

  5. Wow the range of activities is amazing! I love that the kids can get messy and creative.

  6. You've reminded us that we need to get our tuff spot out for summer. Love all these ideas and sensory play is so much fun x

  7. I love the idea of Messy Senses and their concept of having sensory stations at children's birthday parties. It sounds like so much fun!

  8. Before becoming a mum, I was an Occupational Therapist and designed activities likes this! A great sensory experience for kids!

  9. Sounds like a perfect kind of party for both your kids and it seems everyone enjoyed it too. I too would have loved making my own ice cream

  10. What a fab party. I'm tempted to book something similar for my son's 4th birthday later in the year.

  11. My kids would love this idea. They love messy play a lot.

  12. Oh wow Messy Senses sounds amazing. I so wish we had something like this near us. I'd definitely book it for my daughters next birthday. She loves messy play so much. Your kids party sounded incredible!

  13. Wow what a unique way of adding entertainment to a party. Messy Senses sounds brilliant and I love how easily it was adapted for the party. I bet its one children's party that won't be forgotten in a hurry!

  14. What a great party idea, I bet they had great fun.

  15. Looks like so much fun. Almost makes me wish mine were little again.

  16. What a fantastic idea to have at a party, my twins loved getting messy as babies so would have loved this

  17. What a brilliant idea for a party!!! Messy Senses sounds brilliant - my little boy would go wild for this!

  18. Oh wow, that's a birthday party with a difference! I love that! Messy Senses sound great and I would have loved things like that with my children when they were younger :)

  19. Oh wow now that looks like fun! My kids would go crazy for it!!

  20. Wow!! That looks brilliant. I had no idea that these type of sessions could run for a party. Clever thinking and what a fab theme :-)

  21. This looks like such a fantastic idea for a kids party. My lot would love it. :D


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