How to Host an Open Mic Poetry Party

Having an open mic poetry party is a great way for kids to showcase their talent while encouraging them to keep writing.  Whether the children are budding poets, stand-up comedians, or just need some practice with public speaking, in a few simple steps you can provide everyone with a fun way to enjoy live poetry!

Step One: Decide on a Venue

Think about the type of party you’d like to host.  Will it be a small gathering of friends, perhaps for a birthday or special occasion?  Is it for your class, scout troop, or youth group?  The size of the group, as well as the purpose of the party, will help you determine your venue.

There are many different places that would be great for an open mic night/party.  Libraries have meeting rooms or sometimes stages that can be reserved for free or very low cost.  Book stores and coffee shops often host open mic nights and poetry readings.  Rooms in schools and churches can also provide a nice space.  Even just your own living room can work well for small groups.

Once you decide on a space, you’ll have to call ahead and book it, as sometimes locations require reservations weeks or even months in advance.

Step Two: Create an Invitation

If your open mic is a birthday party, you’ll want to get your invitations out several weeks ahead.  However, if it’s for your class or other organization during regularly scheduled hours, you just need to give your students or members enough time to gather their words.  A week should be fine.

Your invitation should include the name of the event, time, date, location (including map or directions), and a number to RSVP.  Also tell guests to bring a poem to read.  It could either be one of their own, or one of their favorites!

A simple invitation might look like this.

Poetry Party
The party is on.
Cake, games, poems read out loud.
I hope you can come.

What: Celebrate Jack’s birthday with an open mic poetry party!
When: Saturday,  March 10th, 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Where: Smalltown Public Library
Meeting Room B200
West Main, Smalltown, MI  (map included)
RSVP: To Mary at 123-456-7890

Please bring a poem of your own to read, or one by your favorite author!


If you know all of your guests’ mailing addresses, you can send an old-fashioned paper invitation.  If not, an e-mail or online invitation (such as Evite) works just as well.

Step Three: Gather Supplies

Open mic poetry for kidsPrepare for your open mic party by gathering all of your supplies well in advance, except the perishables.  No-one likes stale cupcakes!  You’ll need:

  • A microphone:  This can be hand held or on a stand, plugged into speakers, an amplifier, or stereo.  Think about your space and what kind of acoustics you’ll have.
  • Seating:  Most venues will provide plenty of seating.  But if you’re doing it at home, just make sure there are enough chairs for all the guests and space enough to line them up in rows.
  • Sign-up sheet:  A sheet of lined paper numbered down the side works fine, or you can create a document on the computer.  You’ll want kids to sign up when they arrive so they know their reading order ahead of time.
  • Activities:  If you plan on having games in addition to the reading, make sure you have them ready.  See below for suggestions.
  • If you are serving food, you’ll need cups, plates, napkins, and utensils.

Step Four: Party Time!

On the day of the party, set up the mic and seating.  Make sure all of the food is prepared and supplies are on hand.  Test the microphone to make sure it’s working.  Once you greet your guests, have them sign up for a slot to read.

You can organize your party time any way you like.  If it’s a younger group, you might want to start out with some activities to get their creative juices flowing and help them get comfortable with each other.  If it’s a meal time and you have food, you may want to let them eat first.  That part is flexible.  But it’s best to have everyone get seated at the start, take the mic yourself, explain the course of events, and tell them how “snapping is clapping” at a poetry reading.  Kids love this!

Poetry Activity Ideas

Here are a few ideas to help your guests get excited about poetry!

  • Magnetic Poetry:  Have several sets of magnetic poetry and magnet boards.  The kids have fun creating silly or meaningful poetry, then let them read it to each other.
  • Poem Search:  Gather a bunch of poetry books.  Spread them out among the kids.  Call out a subject  (like “love” or “homework”) and see who can be the first to find a poem about it. The first person to find one gets to be the next caller.
  • Poetry Around:  Put the kids in a circle.  The first person says one phrase, like “My dog is small.”  They can say any phrase they want.  Then they pass a “talking stick” to the next child in the circle, who says another phrase.  When it gets back to the first person, he or she ends the poem.  You can make this more challenging by requiring phrases to rhyme or by doing just one word at a time.  You can also record it on an audio recorder and play it back, or write down their poem as they create it.

Finally, send your guests home with a little blank book as a thank you gift so they can keep their very own poetry journal!