Bubble-making is one of the coolest activities (even for grownups) and it's probably also one of the cheapest to put together.
Bubble games set the scene for great photo opportunities. Just imagine the birthday child surrounded by a ring of guests, all holding bubble bottles and wands and blowing a cloud of bubbles, or each guest blowing a humungous bubble, or even a child inside a huge bubble. It's the ultimate thank you card!
To prepare for the bubble games, you'll need some tips on brewing the very best bubble mixtures. A mixture of plain old dishwashing liquid and water just doesn't do the trick, but a few drops of Glycerin can make the difference between tiny, ordinary bubbles to humungous, colorful bubbles.
Joy and Dawn (made in the USA) are considered the best detergents to use in the bubble solution. Ivory and Palmolive are also OK.
But climatic conditions vary and take a big effect, so you'll need to do a bit of experimenting with your bubble recipe a few days prior to the party.
The secret ingredient for sturdy, colorful bubbles is Glycerine (available at most pharmacies). Glycerine is a bit expensive, so you can try also experimenting with Karo Syrup (available at the grocery store).
Soft water is good for bubbles. Any water containing high levels of iron is bad for bubbles. To get the best mixture, try using distilled water. But first try it with the tap water at your house (and you may be one of those lucky people who have a built in bubble water faucet…)
Gently stir the ingredients together (avoid making a lot of foam) and store in a sealed container overnight (the solution seems to get better with age).
Here are a few bubble recipes to get you started:
Now that you've got the potion brewing, you'll need some bubble tools for your bubble games. There's no need to look far. There's a bubble-making device hiding in many of the objects lying around your house.
First, though, take a look at your hands. They're one of the best bubble making devices. Put your fingers together so they form an opening, dip your hands in a bowl of bubble solution to get a bubble film, and if you blow gently, you can make bubbles up to two feet in diameter.
Other tools for your bubble games can include string formed into a loop, a hanger bent into any shape, a tin can with both ends cut off, a straw, a piece of tubing, the plastic holder from a six-pack of soda, cookie cutters, you get the idea… Just about anything with a hole can be used to make bubbles. (The clothes-hanger wand is one of the best, and if you tightly wrap the hoop with cotton twine, it acts as a soap-holding wick and you get Hindenberg-size bubbles!
First off, as an icebreaker, set up a bubble blowing area with lots of tools and a few containers of bubble solution. Make sure you've got extra bubble mixture for later bubble games and activities.
Bubble Designs: Give each kid a piece of cardboard, construction paper or any other thick paper. Have a few containers with bubble solution and to each add a different water-based color (experiment first to see what works best with your bubble solution). Have one or more adults blow bubbles and tell the kids to try and catch the bubbles on their "canvas". As the bubbles pop the paint splatters to make a cool design (which is a great artistic gift to take home)!
Bubble Clouds: Get everyone standing in a circle with their bubble bottles and wands at hand. Choose the birthday child as the first to be in the center of the bubble ring. The kids have 30 seconds to blow bubbles at the birthday child while she twists, jumps, rolls and does everything possible to avert touching the bubbles. When the time's up, have another guest enter the ring and so on until everyone has had their turn. Make sure your camera is loaded before this game as the photo opportunities here are awesome.
Bubble Popping: Choose three kids to be the bubble blowers. Set a time limit and have them blow as many bubbles as they can while the other kids race to pop the bubbles. You can also use a bubble machine for this activity.
Bubble Hoop: Prepare a bucket-full of bubble solution and after it sets for at least a day (the longer the better), pour it into a small kiddie pool. Place a hula hoop into the pool and a small step stool in the middle of the hula hoop. Set a child on the stool and then lift the hula hoop up over the child, as you do this a giant bubble will form around the child. Have your camera ready to take pictures of the child in the bubble!! It's AWESOME!
Bubble Float: Designate a blowing area and separate the kids into teams of 3-4. Get the first team to stand and designate one of the team members as the Bubble Blower. Give the Bubble Blower ten seconds to blow as many bubbles above the heads of his team members. The object of this game is to keep the bubbles floating by blowing upwards. While the other groups are watching, have them count how long the group keeps their bubbles in the air without the bubbles bursting. When the last bubble bursts, it's the next team's turn. The team that keeps their bubbles floating the longest wins.
Bubble Contest: Give the kids a few minutes to choose their bubble-blowing device from a box of bubble-blowing items you've arranged beforehand. You can also hand out bubble bottles so everyone is using the same tool. Now, let's see who can blow the biggest bubble, the longest-lasting bubble. How about getting one bubble inside the other with the use of straws, and the tiniest bubble, etc.
Biggest Lungs: To measure their lung capacity, have your guests take a deep breath and slowly blow through a straw on the surface of a pan of solution, pulling the straw up as they blow (the stronger their lungs, the larger the bubble will be).
Bubble Freeze: Make sure there's room in your freezer… Get the kids to blow bubbles on a paper plate and then, before the bubbles pop, put them in the freezer and you'll all be amazed at how "cool" they come out.