Ideas for the Party Human

Pioneer Party

Posted on: January 25, 2010

THEME:  Our pioneer heritage

INVITATIONS:  Cut construction paper into shapes of covered wagons and write the messages on them.  Or, if you are hand-delivering the invitations, make miniature covered wagons from matchboxes, wire, tissue and cardboard.  Write the message on slips of paper which you fold up and place inside the wagon.  Ask guests to dress in pioneer garb, if possible.   This party could work for teens, young adults, adults, or families.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  At least two homemade “covered wagons” or handcarts (made from children’s red wagons or packing crates); guitar or harmonica player; copies of the lyrics to some old songs, such as “Oh, Susanna,” “Old Folks at Home,” “The Old Chisolm Trail,” “Home on the Range,” “All is Well,” etc.;  meadow with campfire area; logs for the fire; folding chairs; props and script for the melodrama.

FOOD:  At this party, you can choose to serve a full chuckwagon dinner or just some simple refreshments.  For the dinner, try to make it as authentic as possible.  For the main dish, try Wild Game Chili or Venison Stew.  If game meat doesn’t sit well with your group, use conventional beef.  Cook the dish at home but keep it warm over the campfire.  You could also try foil-pack dinners, cooked right in the coals.  To accompany the meal, serve Pioneer Crackers or baking powder biscuits.  Top off with Bachelor’s Pudding, mincemeat pie or homemade taffy.  Drink herb tea, or water from canteens.

            If you’re just rustling up some light refreshments, you won’t need so much authenticity.  In addition to the desserts mentioned above, you could have everyone roast marshmallows for s’mores or just by themselves.  If you prefer a saltier snack, beef jerky and fried pork rinds are possibilities.

DECORATIONS:  Only those that Nature provides are needed, but some outdoor lighting to supplement the campfire might be nice.

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:         As guests arrive, you, the host, take them around and introduce them to the others, using quaint and rustic speech.  Then divide them into teams, one for each “prairie schooner” or handcart.  Lining up at a starting line, the guests run a relay where the team members must push or pull their team’s vehicle to a finish line and back, until all the team members have completed the “trek.”  The first team to do this wins the honor of being called “The Trailblazers.” 

            If you are serving dinner, then the guests now gather around the campfire and partake.  If not, pass out the lyrics to the old songs, and the guitarist or harmonica-player accompanies a sing-along.  Next, it is time for some Charades, using only pioneer words and names.  The last activity of the night is a pioneer melodrama.  You draft certain guests to play the starring roles, and the rest will act the important part of audience, complete with participation–heckling, cheering, booing, hissing and the like.  The participant who will be the narrator takes a moment to look over the script, while you prepare the other players with costumes and props.  When all is ready, the narrator begins and the actors and actresses follow his cues, improvising and ad libbing as inspiration strikes. 

            When the drama concludes, the guests settle down before the fire again to eat dessert (or other refreshments) before heading home.

 

Variations and Comments: You may wish to use some alternative activities, such as dancing the “Virginia Reel,” or playing old-fashioned games like Musical Chairs or Wink.  Another idea is to have the handcart teams take their vehicles on an obstacle course through the woods, where Indians (well-placed helpers) ambush them.  Time each team with a stopwatch, and give a prize of beef jerky to the team with the best time.  Or, eliminate the competitive element and take everyone on a trek fraught with dangers and difficulties, ending by “circling the wagons” around the campfire.  You could also interject a bit of real history to educate your guests a little!  There are loads of possibilities.

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