I LOVE throwing fun, yet easy at-home birthday parties for my kids! Over the years I have done a ton of these- but the one I’ve done more than any other is our “Minute To Win It” themed birthday party. It has fun games, it keeps active kids engaged, and it is so simple to put together. But this year, I thought I would create a party around another favorite TV show in our house… “The Amazing Race”! We watch it together as a family on Sunday evenings, and I knew it would make a perfect theme for a birthday party!
If you look online, you’ll see lots of ideas for holding an Amazing Race party that involves teams paired up with Mom & Dad drivers, conducting the race throughout their hometown. But these parties take some more significant set-up time… you have to work with local shopkeepers to help with game participation, plus it means securing help in the way of team leaders/drivers. The other downside is that your birthday party guests are spread out all over the place- playing the game as they race around the town… so you are missing the change to enjoy each other’s company! So I wanted to create an Amazing Race “at-home” party that you can do in your own backyard. (Or- if you want more space, you can hold it at a local park… but it will still be all in one place, no driving around needed!)
The Amazing Race Birthday Party Invitation:
I created these cool party invites which can be printed and mailed or sent out as an email attachment, and I asked the guests to please come wearing sneakers (I don’t want risk game-time injuries due to kids playing in flip-flops!)
I created a blank version of the invite which you are welcome to download and print for your own personal use.
You can either fill in the party information by hand, or upload the image to PicMonkey to add text. (Check out my tutorial on how to use PicMonkey to create birthday party invitations!)
The Amazing Race Birthday Party Order of Events!
When kids arrive, you can draw names in pairs from a hat to make up teams. Hand each team a pair of tee shirts in a different color (blue team, red team, green team, etc). And then ask the players to remove their sneakers and put them into a bin (so that one of the adults can scatter the sneakers throughout the front yeard for the first game!) Lead the kids over to your starting area to kick-off the Amazing Race. (On the show, there is a mat that players stand on to begin and end legs of the race. You can use the mat from your front door, or a piece of posterboard painted yellow and black with the Amazing Race logo!)
Mom, Dad, or an older sibling can serve as the announcer, welcoming the teams and explaining the rules of the game:
“We’d like to welcome our teams to this leg of the Amazing Race, celebrating Jack’s 11th Birthday Party. Let’s meet our teams…. The Blue Team is made up of Jack and Alex- long lost cousins who now attend college at the University of Soccer” (continue introducing the teams, giving them humorous relationships “cross-country truck drivers”, or “Country-Western banjo players”- just like they do on the TV show.)
“Teams will race to find the clues that will give them the instructions for that part of the race. Clues can either be: “Route Info” where teams will need to follow the instructions on the card to receive the next clue, “Detours” where teams are given a choice of two activities to complete together to receive the next clue, or “Road Blocks” where only one team member must complete the task in order to move ahead. Are you ready for your first clue?”
Then hand each team an envelope with this logo on it. (You can pick up a stack of tear-open sealable envelopes for free from the post office (of course, they aren’t exactly meant for this purpose…) and then print the Amazing Race logo below and glue it onto the outside of the envelope).
Inside the envelope, teams will receive their first “Route Info” card…
As teams complete this task, and return to the mat- you can hand them their next clue:
You can make this as difficult as you’d like… making the ribbons on the trees themselves tiny and hard to find or scattering dozens or even hundreds of coins around the tree- allowing only one coin to have the correct birth year on it, etc. Ideally, you want teams to spend 5-10 minutes in the hunt. When they return to the mat with the correct coin, you hand them another Amazing Race tear-off envelope with two cards inside, this one on top:
Ooooo… a road block! Only one team member can perform this task…. they must choose which person continues before reading the second card:
Hand the builder with a box of materials to build the marshmallow launcher (please check out this fab post from Spoonful to see how the launcher is constructed. Before the party, you will need to build one example launcher that the kids can look at as a model, but they will not receive instructions for building their own launcher. They must look at the example and construct their own as best they can.
When they come back to you “for inspection”, try launching a marshmallow to make sure that it works, before giving them their next clue:
Have a stack of plastic beach buckets ready as well as a bag or two of marshmallows and let the kids launch the marshmallows into the bucket! The player with the bucket on their head can move around, but the bucket must be touching the top of his/her head. Once they get three in, hand them their next clue:
Cool- a detour! Teams can decide which of the two activities they would like to do… either the hackeysack juggle or the scavenger hunt! You can use a knit beanbag-ball type of hackeysack, or a traditional Chinese version that looks like this:
When they have completed the detour, you can hand them their final clue:
Take a shoebox and cut a round hole in the lid, just big enough to allow a ping box to shake out if you are shaking the box. Now attach a long piece of fabric to each side that will allow you to tie the box around your waist like a belt. Fill the box with ping pong balls, marking only one with an ‘X’ in each box. (Note: you’ll need a separate box for each player at the party, but you can re-use this game for other parties over the years, I promise!)
Not Into These Games? Change it Up!
You can customize your Amazing Race game to include whatever wacky crazy party activities you’d like! Here are blank route info, detour, and road block cards that you can print and use to construct your own version of the game!
Amazing Race Birthday Party Cake:
A simple sheet cake, iced in yellow with the Amazing Race logo would be perfect. You can use black, yellow, and white fondant and icing to create the logo, or if you’d like an easier way out… take the logo to a bakery and have them create the cake for you!
Amazing Race Birthday Party Thank You Notes:
Kids will go home with their tee shirts, their chocolate bar prizes, as well as their newly made marshmallow shooters! After the party, the birthday child can use these thank you notes:
If you liked this party idea, you might also enjoy these other at-home birthday parties we’ve thrown for our kids: