Do you want to throw your child a party filled with games and excitement no matter what the weather or time of year? Look no further than your nearest bowling alley! Bowling parties are a great choice for busy parents, as they require minimal preparation and almost everything is provided for you by the establishment. Best of all, they’ll clean up after you too!
If you want to score a perfect “300” at your little kingpin’s party, then read on… We have some helpful suggestions to throw a bowling birthday party your guests will never forget!
Bowling Party Invitations
Send the perfect invitation to let your guests know about your bowling party! Bowling parties are a very popular theme and there are many fun designs to choose from, including cute cutouts of bowling palls and pins to charmingly “retro” bowling alley signs. You can even add a personal touch by sending a personalized photo invitation with a picture of your little bowler on the lanes complete with bowlin ball, shirt and shoes.
Be sure to include all of the party details, particularly if your guests will be meeting at the bowling center. Most parents will expect you to take care of all of the costs of the party, and to avoid misunderstandings later make sure to indicate if they will need to bring money for refreshments, shoe rentals, etc. Additionally, you may want to let the parents know they are welcome to stay throughout the party to bowl with the children… After all, you can always use the help!
We would also recommend telling guests to arrive at least fifteen minutes before the bowling begins. This will let you rent shoes and make preparations without dipping into paid-for time on the lanes.
Bowling Party Preparation
The most important aspect of planning a bowling birthday party is, of course, finding the perfect location. If you’re fortunate enough to have several centers in your area we’d advise you to do your homework and visit each ahead of time to see which can best accommodate your party. Speak with the managers about the birthday packages that they may offer, as different businesses will have different deals and amenities.
Of course there is the price of renting the lanes, but you will also want to ask if food and drinks are included in the package, if there is a party room for cake and presents and if the cost of shoe rentals is included or discounted. If there will be younger bowlers you may also want to see if the alley will put rubber bumpers along the lanes to prevent gutter balls. In general, most bowling alleys will love to host your party and do whatever they can to accommodate you!
You will also need to consider whether the party will begin and end at the bowling alley, or whether you’ll take the party to your house or another location. For example, you may want to serve cake and open presents at your house instead of bowling. If the party is in the evening, you may want to have the guests over for a slumber party afterwards.
Bowling Party Favors
A wonderful way to let your guests feel like part of a team is to give each a t-shirt made especially for the party. There are many online and retail shops that can help, or you can even do it yourself with bowling-related clip art. Buy enough shirts to go around (make sure they’re big enough for the kids to wear over their clothes) and print your design on iron-on transfer paper that works in your inkjet printer.
By the way, having all of your little partygoers wear the same colorful T-shirt is a great way to keep track of them in the busy bowling alley!
Bowling Party Decorations
Decorations at a bowling alley party won’t be nearly as elaborate as they would be at home. Your lanes should look festive but don’t over-do it as you’ll have limited time to put them up and take them down. Black balloons with “holes” drawn in silver or white Sharpie marker look like bowling balls and white balloons with red streamers resemble pins. Tie the balloons into bouquets that can be tied to the back of chairs, or weigh them down with bowling pin centerpieces. If the establishment doesn’t provide tableware, choose red, black and white colors or bowling related designs. Tablecloths should be paper for easy disposal.
You can make a birthday banner to mark your lanes (it can even look like a fun “retro” bowling sign), and if your guests are meeting at the alley ask if you can place a sign at the entrance welcoming them.
Bowling Party Activities
Bowling is the activity of the day, of course! Remember that the main objective of the party is to have fun, so try not to make the bowling too competitive. You may want to hand out trophies and prizes for accomplishments beyond the highest score, such as the person who bowls the slowest, fastest, or even gets the lowest score. You can also set numbers for them to try to reach like “50” and “100” and give prizes to the child who comes the closest.
As your guests will likely be of varying skill levels we recommend alternative standard games with fun variations. Before the party begins prepare slips of paper with “crazy” challenges for the bowlers to draw from a hat. For example, ask the children to bowl backwards, with their left hand if right handed, in slow motion or with their eyes closed.
You can even have them make animal noises, waddle like ducks or twirl like ballerinas. Use your imagination and remember, the sillier, the better! These games are a great way to spice things up and to make the game more fun for the kids who aren’t champion bowlers. Be sure to catch it all on video, as the kids will have a great laugh watching it later!
Bowling Party Refreshments
The bowling alley will most likely include pizza, nachos, hot dogs and pitchers of soda from their restaurant or snack bar as part of the package, so all you will need to worry about is the cake.
As bowling parties are always in style, it is quite easy to find a pre-made cake to fit the theme. If you’d rather bake it yourself try making a bowling ball-shaped cake by baking in a round pan, icing with dark brown or black frosting and drawing “eyes” in white. Or, make a rectangular cake frosted to look like a bowling lane with small toy bowling balls and pins!
After the Bowling Party
When the bowling party is over, send the children home with goody bags as a way to say “thank you for coming.” For containers try painting black paper lunch sacks with “eyes” to look like bowling palls, or white bags with painted red stripes (or wrapped in red tape) to resemble pins. Fill with novelty bowling toys, bouncy rubber balls, colorful shoelaces, gumballs and stickers with sticker books. You may even consider giving each child a small “thank you” trophy with their name on it to make them all feel like winners.
Be sure to ask the bowling center if they provide souvenirs, as well. They may have their own goody bags for children’s parties or coupons or even free passes for future visits. Many establishments will give the birthday child a commemorative bowling pin for all of their guests to sign. If they don’t offer a pin, it never hurts to ask!