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Some of my best childhood memories are messy. Playing in the mud, cracking the eggs myself when we were baking, shaving cream beards — and no one chasing me around with a Wet Wipe or a spit-soaked tissue. Awww, MOM.
So hosting this paint-fight at the Epic Playdate was nostalgic for my inner kid, and troublesome for my outer parent. How would we convince everyone to play along? What about staining, and overzealous kids, and staining? The answer is, shhh. This will be fine.
Here’s how to put everything together.
1. PREPARE YOUR AMMUNITION.
Use water-soluble tempura paint, like the kind you’d find in a preschool classroom, and then mix with water. You’re essentially making brightly colored water. Offer three different ammo options:
Fill paint trays with your water-paint solution, and then cut up colorful sponges. Kids can grab them by the handful and throw, or squeeze them over each others’ heads, or squeeze and flick the paint off, then re-dip in the trays.
Use an eye-dropper or turkey baster to squeeze in a little paint, then fill and tie as usual and shake them up to mix the paint in.
We had mini squirt phasers, which were the most appealing options to the kids. However, we filled them way beforehand, so the paint dried a bit and clogged most of them. If I were to do it over, I’d use those plastic squeezeable squirt guns, which you can find in animal shapes. Just fill a bucket with a paint/water ratio that suits your level of messiness and fill beforehand, and then keep buckets on hand for refills.
2. OUTFIT YOUR TEAM.
Warn everyone beforehand that they’ll want to wear their scrubby clothes and non-stainable shoes like flip flops. Then pass out disposable ponchos or garbage bags with holes cut in the top and sides, so heads and arms can poke out. You might also want to ask guests to bring swim or snow goggles or cheapie sunglasses.
4. OUTLINE THE GAME PLAN.
Once everyone is ponchoed up, clap a few times until you have everyone’s attention, and then use your authoritative big-person voice to explain exactly how things will go down. Tell everyone what types of ammo are available, where to go for paint refills, and how much time they’ll have. Speaking of which…
4. MAKE IT SHORT AND FIERCE.
If you have little ones in the mix, you’ll want this to last about five minutes. You can blow a whistle to start. Yell instructions and encouragement as the fight goes on, reminding kids where to soak their sponges and refill their water guns. Yell when you’re a minute out from wrapping it, and then blow the whistle again to stop before you have any criers in the mix.
5. KEEP IT CLEAN.
Once the fight is over, ideally you’ll have a garden hose on hand to rinse everyones faces, shins and forearms. But if you don’t, remember what I said about no one chasing you around with Wet Wipes? Well, forget that. If you keep water to paint ratios sane, wet wipes will suffice if you don’t have ready access to a hose.
This is so easy and fun, I hope you attempt it this summer. And if you’re feeling less ambitious about the mess factor, remember you can host exactly the same event with all water and zero paint. No judgement. Coward.
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