Calling all cadets and future generals! You’ve been recruited for a day of non-stop action, games, and giggles at our army adventure party. There will be obstacle courses to navigate, team challenges to conquer together, and pretend missions just waiting for valiant little heroes!
An army theme works for all kinds of celebrations: birthdays, summer fun, patriotic holidays like Independence Day and Memorial Day, and more. At our party, you’ll learn to construct planes, devour mess hall snacks. and earn medals for battle bravery (like sharing and taking turns!).
Your training begins right here, right now. Unleash your imagination, let laughter reign supreme, and get ready for unforgettable memories. Now fall in, little cadets!
1. Craft the Invitations
Any army themed party needs to start with amusing invitations. Create requests for young recruits to report for duty on the day of the party. Address the messages to “Private Sarah” and “Private Brayden.”
The copy inside can read something similar to the following:
“You have a mission. If you choose to accept it, you will report to basic training from 1400 to 1600 hours on 10 March 2020. That’s 2-4 p.m. civilian time. The training will take place at the Family Military Base at [address]. We will serve birthday rations in the Mess Hall. Uniforms are not required, but please feel free to wear your best camo gear. RSVP to Base Commander [parent’s name and phone number].”
A cute idea would be to send the invitations in brown envelopes and stamp “Top Secret” on them. To add a bit more flair, print out the army seal and glue it to the invitation.
Another idea is to use a photo editing program to superimpose your child’s face on a picture of Uncle Sam. Include this on the front of the invitation, and write, “Uncle Sam wants YOU to come to a party!”
If you want to create a snappy rhyme, take some notes from the army chant as a basis for your invitation. On the front, write, “I don’t know what you’ve been told… John is turning nine years old.”
Some army terms that you can use in your invitations include:
- You’ve been deployed
- Reporting for duty
- Attention, Troops!
- Basic training
- Chow (party food)
2. Ask for Donations
One of the best ways to prepare for an army-theme birthday party is to get authentic gear. At least one month before the party, call a local army recruit office. Ask if they have anything that they’d like to donate. You might end up with mugs, shirts, hats, bags, and other items.
These could become awesome prizes for games. If you have sufficient supplies for each guest, consider gifting everyone a delightful goody bag to take home. It’s a thoughtful gesture that adds an extra touch of joy and excitement, and ensures that each attendee leaves with a special memento.
You might even be lucky enough to have a soldier come in uniform. If your recruiting office can’t provide this, find out whether a friend would be willing to show up to answer kids’ questions.
Take plenty of pictures, and if you decide to post them online, maybe tag them as well. Who knows, next year might be even richer in contributions.
3. Make a Care Package
A heartfelt activity that you can do is to create a care package for a soldier. Organizations such as Operation Adopt a Soldier send care packages overseas. For your event, ask guests to bring items that they can donate for the box. The Operation Adopt a Soldier website has suggestions for popular items.
A thoughtful activity at your army themed celebration is to have young guests write letters to soldiers currently serving. Provide markers, paper, and envelopes for kids to pen notes of appreciation and support to the brave men and women in the armed forces. Not only does it instill gratitude in children for those who serve, but it also teaches them the value of selfless acts of giving, even at a party meant for receiving gifts and enjoying treats. With a simple thing like homemade cards, your army bash can leave a lasting positive impact beyond the day’s festivities.
4. Make Uniforms
Here’s what you need for your own unique uniform. Buy a variety of T-shirts in drab colors, such as khaki, army green, and brown. Then, get your hands on stick-on letters, numbers, and patches that children can use to decorate their shirts. They might put an American flag patch on their uniform or write their names across the back of their shirt.
If you are playing games with teams, consider purchasing just two colors of shirts. After the kids design their uniforms, they can wear them for “basic training” and to easily split up into groups. Team T-shirts are a great way to keep the event structured.
5. Set Up a Recruiting Station
When guests come in, have them leave their gifts and find their gear at a recruiting station. Set up a table with a poster of Uncle Sam that says, “I want YOU for U.S. Army.” Decorate the table with military gear, such as combat boots and helmets. A camouflage backdrop would work well here.
The recruiting station is also a great place to hand out any items that kids will wear during the party, such as T-shirts or dog tags. You can post the training schedule for the party, which will include meal times, activity times, and any other details that you want the guests to know about.
6. Make a Mess Hall
One of the most fun parts of this gathering will be setting up the mess hall. That’s where everyone will get to chow down. You can serve the courses on metal platters. Wooden crates also work well for decorating the mess hall.
If you’re having the party outside, then set up the mess hall under a tent. For something indoors, use canvas drop cloths or camouflage tablecloths to create the right atmosphere.
Using plates and serving items with camo decorations would work well in the mess hall. When those aren’t available, use various shades of green, brown, gray, and black.
You can set out name tags for each child. Give each one a title, such as Major or Sergeant. Then, use only their last name on the tag.
Collect some plain tin cans to hold silverware. Place forks, knives, and spoons in separate containers.
You can dress up juice boxes to look like walkie-talkies. Cover them in black or camo paper. Stick the straw in, and surround it with aluminum foil so that it looks like an antenna. Glue a label that reads, “Walkie-talkie” on the front of the box.
7. Army Food
One way to make mealtime fun is to buy cheap plastic trays with dividers for the different types of food. Lay your meals out in a buffet style. Ask the kids to line up and move down the table as you plop the grub onto their plates.
Sloppy joes are a great idea for an army theme party. So are baked beans, mashed potatoes, chips, veggies, and dip.
You can make any type of food more fun by putting up signs that indicate what you’re serving. Play around with puns here. For example, corn on the cob can become “grenades”. Ravioli with red sauce can look like bandages. Meatballs can be tiny bombs.
Some other creative ideas for food for an army theme party include:
- Cannonballs – Whopper candies
- Green and brown “camo” M&Ms
- Large pretzel sticks tied with red string – TNT
- Red licorice – rescue rope
- Doritos or tortilla chips – battle chips
- Round brownies – brownie bombs
- Spiral tortilla wraps – ration wraps
- Green lollipops – ammo
- Warhead candies
- Pixie Sticks – gunpowder
- Pop Rocks – explosive devices
- Gum balls – bullets
If you’re holding the party outside, consider turning it into an army camp. Make a fire and roast hot dogs on sticks. Have the kids toast marshmallows for dessert.
8. Cake Ideas
The sky is the limit when creating army-themed cakes. Simply buying small toys, such as army figures and tanks, and placing them on top is the quickest way. You don’t even need any special decorating skills or utensils. Just make sure that you wash any plastic toys thoroughly before they come into contact with the food.
With a bit of green icing and a plastic toy soldier, you can make some terrific army cupcakes.
If you’re not good at decorating cakes, but you want to make something special, consider dyeing the batter to make it look like camouflage. To make these camouflage cupcakes, start with a box of chocolate cake mix and a box of white cake mix.
Mix up the batter separately. Then, divide it into four bowls as follows:
- White batter in one bowl
- White batter with green food dye and a dollop of chocolate batter in one bowl
- An equal mixture of chocolate and white batter in one bowl
- Chocolate batter in one bowl
Use a spoon or pastry bag to fill cupcake liners with the various colors of batter. Place all four colors into each liner, but don’t mix them together. As they bake, they’ll come together and look like camouflage.
You don’t even have to ice these cupcakes because they look so good. If you do want to, just swirl white, brown, and green frosting to match the camo look.
For something a little more creative, try your hand at building a tank out of different cake sizes and shapes. The largest rectangle will become the base, a second smaller one for the body, and an even smaller round cake for the turret.
Frost the whole thing with green icing. Then, break up a Hershey’s chocolate bar into small rectangles, and line them up along both sides of the bottom rectangle to look like treads. Press round chocolate cookies, such as Oreos, into the sides to look like wheels. Stick an army man into the top level to make it look as though he’s coming up out of the tank.
9. Build a Firing Range
What army themed party would be complete without some fun activities?
Here are some ideas on how to make an at-home firing range:
- First thing you should do is gather a bunch of Nerf guns. Second, buy some helium balloons and attach the ends of the strings to golf tees. Make sure to drive them into the ground firmly. Use a pool noodle or tape to create a line on the ground where the soldiers will stand. Then, have attendees test their skills by firing at the balloons.
- Stack plastic cups into pyramid shapes and place army figurines on top. Position the cup stacks on tables so kids can take turns standing to shoot at the targets. Or place cup pyramids on the ground to be shot from a prone position.
- Place ping pong balls on top of open disposable water bottles. Fill the bottles with water or sand to help them stay in place. Kids can try shooting the balls without toppling over the bottles.
Spinning Nerf targets are also fun to make and play with.
Use a large cardboard section or buy a trifold display (this will look tidier). Cut rectangular openings in the center of the board, then wrap the cut edges with duct tape to help them hold up.
Cut cardboard circles small enough to fit inside rectangular openings. Tape straw segments to the backs of circles. Decorate circle fronts as targets.
Thread bamboo skewers through straws, fixing ends to cardboard.
Tape a penny to the back of targets to provide extra weight and make them hang straight. This will also help them spin when hit with foam darts.
By setting up different types of military-inspired targets and firing ranges using common household items, you can create an engaging activity for kids and adults alike.
10. Have Training Games
One of the most entertaining things to do at an army theme party is to hold various training games.
A tug-of-war is an easy activity to get everyone involved. Place a long rope on the ground. You can knot it at various sections to make it easier for the kids to hold onto. Put a cone a fair distance away from each end of the rope.
Divide the party into teams, and have each one line up at the rope. On the count of three, everyone picks up the rope and begins tugging. The first team to knock over their cone wins.
Another idea is to create an obstacle course. Get some used tires and place them on the ground so that kids can jog through them. They’ll have to make sure that their feet end up in the center of each tire so that they don’t fall.
Hang a net or cloth horizontally, about three feet from the ground. Have kids army crawl through it. If they’re up for getting dirty, wet the ground below to make it muddy. You can also do this across a sandbox.
Make a laser passageway by stringing yarn across the yard. Encourage kids to find their way through without touching any of the yarn. You can put bells on various strings of yarn so that you can hear whether a child brushed against it.
Another obstacle course idea is to tie a rope over a kiddie pool. Have kids swing across the water hazard.
If you have a sandbox, hide some army men in it. Children can dig around to find as many as possible.
11. Time for a bang!
For an energetic activity that gets kids engaged, have a balloon popping activity. Blow up many balloons ahead of time. If indoors, you can contain the balloons against the ceiling using a balloon drop kit.
Release all the balloons simultaneously and encourage the children to pop them by gently stepping or sitting on them. This can provide laughs and amusement. Ensure the sounds do not startle or disturb younger or more sensitive ones, who may be frightened by the noise. Supervise closely to ensure safety and prevent injuries from popping balloons.
12. Make Paper Airplanes
Have kids “train” for the air force by constructing paper airplanes. Provide plenty of stiff, lightweight paper for making the planes. Put out some instructions, if necessary. There are plenty of online tutorials for making paper airplanes. These provide the basic structure.
Children will also have a wonderful time designing their own paper airplanes. Provide markers so that the airplanes can be colorful and easily recognizable. You can hold a contest to see whose flies the furthest or which one creates the most loops in the air. Give the winners a prize.
13. Play Drill Sergeant Simon Says
Most people know how to play Simon Says. Designate a leader to stand in front of the group and shout out commands. The guests need to follow those commands, but only if the leader starts with “Simon Says.”
You can put a twist on this by making the leader a sergeant. That person must start each command with “Sergeant says.” The leader may also instruct the others to do army drills, like marching in place or push-ups. Play it up by having the guests yell back, “Yes sir!” or “Yes, ma’am!” before they perform the move. But only if the leader says, “Sergeant says.”
14. Locate the Trophies
Hold a scavenger hunt at your party by hiding several army toys around the room or yard. These represent trophies that need to be found.
This is an excellent time to encourage the kids to dress up in their costumes or the T-shirts that they made. Send them to find as many of the toys as they can.
You can do this individually or split the players up into teams. Award a certificate to the winner.
15. Rescue the Injured Soldier
This game is fun and will get everyone laughing. Split them up into two teams. Each group will have two “injured” players. These players must stand or lie down while the other kids wrap them in toilet paper. Then, the medics should lay one player onto a beach towel.
Everyone carefully grabs an edge of the towel and transports the injured player to a finish line. They must head back quickly to take care of the other injured soldier, though. Once both of the wounded soldiers are across the finish line, the game is over. The first team to carry both of their battered mates to the hospital is the winner. Award each member of that team with a Soldier’s Medal.
16. Other Army Theme Party Activities
If you want to keep the kids busy but don’t want to referee games, give them some activities to work on by themselves. For an outdoor event, have them make tents to play in for the duration of the party.
Each tent will require five sticks. Drive two into the ground at angles that form a triangle for the front of the tent. Do the same for the back of the tent. Then, lay a stick across the two triangles, nestling it into the spot where the sticks cross. Drape a drop cloth over the sticks and secure it to the ground with stakes.
Another crafty activity involves making ID tags. Set out card stock or cardboard rectangles that have holes punched in one end. Have the children wrap those in aluminum foil. Use smaller rectangles to write their names, and glue those to the foil. Encourage the guests to come up with army-themed nicknames, such as Turbo, Sniper, and Bazooka. String them with yarn to make them into necklaces.
17. Make Goody Bags
There are plenty of options for items to include in the treat bags that kids take home with them. Dog tags are a great idea. So are aviator sunglasses, koozies, foam dart guns, and bubbles.
A fun play on party favors is to offer a survival kit for each soldier who leaves the party. Fill bags with nourishing food to keep them alive on the battlefield. Granola bars and trail mix are both tasty and nutritious.
Perhaps include things like binoculars, a whistle, a flashlight, a compass, and a water bottle. You can use a camo bandanna instead of tissue paper to dress up the goody bag.
Our mission was to inform you about some of the best army theme party ideas, yours was to have fun. Did you transform your home into an amazing tactical base camp that sparked imaginative play and joyful memories for young recruits? Then it was a success for everyone!