Ideas for the Party Human

Archive for the ‘Children's Parties’ Category

THEME:  It seems that someone long ago has already picked out themes for wedding anniversaries.  Here’s the list:

1 year              Paper

5 years            Wood

10 years           Tin

15 years          Crystal

20 years          China

25 years           Silver

50 years           Gold

75 years           Diamond

INVITATIONS:  Take your cue from the theme, and if you can’t make the invitations out of the medium suggested, then use pictures of crystal, china, etc.  Silver or gold paper could be used for those anniversaries, and invitations to a Diamond Wedding could be diamond-shaped.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  The point of an anniversary party is to honor the couple who have kept their marriage alive for a number of years.  The most common anniversary celebrations given are those referred to as the Golden Weddings.  Previous to the 50th anniversary, it is perfectly acceptable to give a party for the couple, but it is usually not as large an affair as the Golden Wedding.

For those smaller celebrations, it may be best to invite a small group of family members and perhaps some very close friends.  Try to choose games that might go with the theme, such as word games for Paper, a nature walk and tree identification game for Wood, a hobo party with appropriate games for Tin, fortunetelling in a crystal ball for Crystal, a Chinese party with authentic games from China for the China anniversary, and games involving silverware such as Potato Relay and Spoons for the Silver Wedding.

For the more common Golden Wedding anniversary, there are usually quite a large number of people in attendance.  For this reason, games like those suggested above are generally impractical.  The traditional anniversary celebration is something like a Mock Wedding Reception.  For this type of celebration, you don’t need very many materials for activities.  You’ll need a decorated area for the reception line, a table for gifts, chairs and tables for food and guests, and equipment needed for musical numbers and/or speeches.

FOOD:  For the smaller gatherings, try to serve some favorite food of the honored couple, especially if you are having a dinner.  Often, a specially decorated cake is served for dessert, and these can be made to fit the theme.  For paper, bake the cake in the open-book pan available at craft and cake-decorating stores; it can be the book of their life together.  For Wood, try decorating a sheet cake with a family tree.  Tin could mean small, individual cakes baked in tin cans.  For Crystal, try decorating a wedding-type cake with little crystals from chandeliers.  For China, bake a round layer cake and decorate the top to look like their first china pattern.  For Silver, decorate with silver paper leaves and the little silver balls used on wedding cakes.  For Diamond, cut cake into a diamond shape before frosting.

For the Mock Wedding Reception at a golden wedding celebration, have a large cake much like a wedding cake, accented with gold decor.  You might have a golden punch made with apple juice and ginger ale, and, instead of colored mints, you could have lemon drops in the candy dish.

DECORATIONS:  For the smaller, earlier celebrations, take your decorating cue from the theme.  For Paper, use lots of paper streamers, etc.  For Wood, gather and display as many wooden objects as possible.  Set potted trees around.  For Tin, decorate with tin cans, shorn of their labels.  For Crystal, be sure to display wedding crystal and decorate with crystal prisms.  For China, display different patterns of china–or, for a play on words, decorate in Chinese style.  For Silver, display silver items and use silver-colored decorations.  For Diamond, you can again use lots of prisms, such as those hanging from chandeliers.

For the Mock Wedding Reception, decorate in gold and white, with plenty of flowers, paper wedding bells, or whatever suits you.  Be sure to have a backdrop, such as a lattice garden archway, for the reception line.  Perhaps you could have the couple’s favorite love songs playing softly in the background during the reception line.  Set up an elegant table for refreshments and another for gifts, if gifts are expected.  Also, set the appropriate number of round tables and chairs around the room.  Centerpieces could be single white roses in bud vases tied with gold ribbons.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:       If you wish to play games at your anniversary celebration, choose any that suit you. (Later posts will detail a number of games.) However, if your party is an intimate, “family only” affair, we can suggest one activity that will assure a heartwarming, memorable time with loved ones.

We call this activity “Reverie,” for that is just the type of mood it is meant to create.  It is basically a time of sharing old memories, but if you need some help jump-starting the trip down memory lane, you can write some words or phrases of people, places, things, animals, and actions on 3″x5″ cards and have participants draw cards and think of a memory about the word(s) on their cards.   You can get these from dictionaries, other games, books or your own imaginative memories.

A Mock Wedding Reception is very much what it sounds like:  The honored couple stands (or sits) in a reception line, with children and grandchildren if possible, and welcomes the guests as they come through the line.  Gifts are piled on a gift table.  After going through the line, guests get something to eat and mingle.  Musical numbers may be presented as solos or duets.  When the reception line has ended, the honored husband and wife cut a cake, and they may open their presents as well.  Sometimes a dance is held.

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THEME:  Children’s Nursery Rhymes

INVITATIONS:  An invitation for this shower could have a picture of a nursery rhyme character on the outside, and the message could be written in rhyme, adapted from a Mother Goose rhyme, such as:

“Hey, diddle, diddle, the cat with the fiddle

Is playing a lullaby;

So come to the shower for  (woman’s name) ,

Whose baby’s coming is nigh.”

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  A chair for each team; a baby doll and blanket for each team; prizes, if desired, such as candles, plastic rings or small bells.

FOOD:  Serve food from the nursery rhymes, such as tarts, plum pie, homemade bread and butter, pudding pie, curds and whey (cottage cheese), plum cake and sugar candy, etc.  Try to serve them in appropriate dishes.

DECORATIONS:  The Mother Goose Shower can work with any colors you choose, especially bright ones.  Trace pictures of nursery rhyme characters from children’s coloring books and enlarge them at your local copy center.  Then color them and use them on walls, tables, etc.  Streamers and balloons are fine, but you can also set out items that will recall familiar nursery rhymes, such as a cat and a fiddle, a dish and a spoon, a miniature lamb, a candlestick, a pumpkin shell, a pail of water, a pipe and bowl, a large shoe, a plastic spider, a clock and toy mouse, a hard-boiled egg with a face drawn on it, etc.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:  When all the guests have arrived and you have stowed their gifts, make sure everyone knows everyone else and then divide them into two teams for the first game.

To play the Diddle Diddle Dumpling Relay,  the two teams line up on one side of the room.  Opposite each team, at the other end of the room, is a chair.  On a signal, the first player on each team runs to the chair, takes off a shoe and puts it back on before running back to tag the next player.  The second player does the same, and the relay continues until every player on one team has completed the action.  That team is the winner and may be awarded a prize.

Next is the Baby Bunting Relay.  This is similar to the relay above, except the  players on each team must run to a doll and swaddle it correctly in a blanket, before tagging the next player who must then un-swaddle it, etc.  The first team done wins, and you may choose to give them a prize.

The players can relax a bit for the next game.  For the ABC-Nursery Rhyme Game, you can keep the same teams, but the players get to remain seated with their team during the game.  You might flip a coin to decide which team will go first, and then the other team sings the alphabet while the starting team quickly chooses a nursery rhyme.  At the end of the alphabet song, the starting team must sing a nursery rhyme, then they sing the alphabet while the second team decides on a nursery rhyme for their turn, and so on.  The first team to be unprepared with a nursery rhyme to sing on their turn, or to sing a rhyme already sung, loses.  You may choose to give the winning team a prize, if desired.

Now the guest of honor may open her presents.  As always, have someone record each gift and who it was from on a piece of paper for the mother-to-be.  Pass the gifts around to be admired, and then serve the refreshments.

Variations and Comments:  With a little ingenuity, you might create all kinds of games from nursery rhymes.  You could have an egg toss (to commemorate Humpty Dumpty)  or a relay going up and down a hill with a pail of water (no tumbling required).  Or, you could have  a quiet game where players have to fill in the blanks with the correct words from nursery rhymes.  The possibilities are endless!  But you might want to get a hold of a good book of nursery rhymes before you start planning.

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THEME:  Gender-related for baby girl

INVITATIONS:  Use pink construction paper and decorate by gluing on cinnamon sticks and hard candies.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Paper and pencil for each team; baby doll with diaper and two diaper pins for each team; clothesline or string stretched across all or part of the room, doll clothes, clothespins, a small basket and a stopwatch; prizes, if desired, such as bags of candy or jars of spice.

FOOD:  Anything sweet will do.  Perhaps you could serve a spice cake with pink frosting, decorated with candies or flowers.  Also set out bowls of mints or other small candies.

DECORATIONS:  Like the boy’s shower above, decorate in distinctive feminine style.  Pink should be the main color, and you can use pictures or posters of little girls, as well as large (real or artificial) lollipops.  Set out dolls and other girlish toys.  Bouquets of flowers would be a nice touch, too.  Be sure to keep a table or corner clear for the gifts.  If the baby has been born, have a pretty, frilly place to put her as the real guest-of-honor.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:   When all the guests have arrived, introduce everyone and seat them in two teams lined up for the first game.

To play Add-A-Word, give the first player of each team a pencil and paper.  On a signal, the first player of each team writes on the top of her team’s paper a word associated with babies.  She quickly passes the paper and pencil to the second player, who must write beneath it another such word which begins with the last letter of the preceding word.  As soon as she writes the word, she passes the paper and pencil to the third player, who writes a word beginning with the last letter of the second player’s word.  Play continues until the last player adds a word.  She takes the list and pencil to the head player, who stands and waves the paper to indicate her team has finished.  The first team to complete a correct list wins the game.  The team finishing second checks the first team’s list to make sure the words are spelled correctly, begin with the correct letters and have something to do with babies.  If any word is questionable in one of these three areas, the second team may challenge the first team’s players, who will have to defend the word satisfactorily for it to count.  If the first team makes an error, the second team wins.  You may choose to award a prize to the winning team.

The next game is Diaper Relay.  Use the same teams as in the previous game and have them stand in two lines at one end of the room.  At the other end, opposite each team, place a baby doll, a small diaper and two diaper pins.  On a signal, the first player in each team runs across to her doll, diapers it and carries it to the next person on her team.  The next player runs across the room, unpins and removes the diaper, and runs back to her team, leaving the doll there.  The third player on the team does the same as the first player, diapering the doll and bringing it back.  Play continues in this manner until one team has made use of every player.  The first team finished wins, and you may choose to award them a prize.

The last game is a Laundry Contest.  You will not have teams for this game but will time each person individually.  For the contest, each person must hang all the clothes in the basket on the “clothesline,” then remove them, fold them and put them back in the basket.  The contestant who can do this in the shortest amount of time wins and may receive a prize.

Now it’s time to open the presents.  Seat everyone in a circle so the presents can be passed around and admired.  Record each gift and giver for the new mother.

Serve the refreshments when all the gifts have been opened or while they are being opened, if it’s a large gathering.

Variations and Comments: Instead of doing the Diaper Relay, you may wish to do a Braiding Relay, using two dolls with long hair and a rubber band or other fastener for each of them.  This relay would be similar to the Diaper Relay, except that the players would be braiding and un-braiding the dolls’ hair, instead of diapering and un-diapering as explained above.

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THEME:  Gender-related–for a baby boy already born (or if the doctor has confirmed his sex prior to birth)

INVITATIONS:  You could use blue construction paper, cut  in the shape of a diaper, to write the message on.  Decorate with rubber stamps, stickers or freehand drawings of snakes, snails and puppy dogs.  Then fold like a diaper and tape in place. 

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Several boy’s toys, such as dump trucks and wooden blocks;  small slips of paper on which you have written different  words or phrases having to do with babies–such as an item, like “diaper”, an event, like “labor”, or a phrase, like “bathing the baby”; advertisement puzzles you have made by cutting  out magazine advertisements of well-known baby products, gluing onto cardboard or stiff paper, cutting into several pieces and placing the pieces in envelopes; prizes, if desired, such as marbles, gummy snakes, stationery with puppies on it, etc.; pad of paper and pen.

FOOD:  When planning refreshments for the shower, be certain to ask the mother if there is anything she cannot eat.  Within those parameters, try to carry your theme through into your refreshments.  For instance, you could have a cake decorated with cookies, crackers or candies  in appropriate shapes, like snakes, puppies, cars, etc. Use  blue icing and serve blue mints.

DECORATIONS:  Of course, your theme will dictate the type of decorating you do.  For the Boy Shower, you can use streamers and balloons in blue, pictures and posters of little boys on the walls, and boy’s toys set out on display.  If the newborn guest of honor is present, have a central cradle, bassinet, etc. to place him in to be admired.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:  After the guests have arrived and given their gifts to you (the hostess), the games should begin.  Since the guest of honor at the shower is either well advanced in her pregnancy or still recovering from the delivery, games should generally not be too strenuous.  You can adapt these three as needed.

            Toy Relay is a game you create using whatever boy-type toys are available to you.  One example is for competing team members to roll a dump truck across the room to a pile of blocks, fill the truck with the blocks and return it to the starting point without spilling any blocks.  The next team member in line then repeats the process, in reverse order; the first team through wins and may receive a prize. 

            Next is “Baby Charades.”  Divide guests into small groups of two to four and give each group one of the slips of paper.  Assign an area where each group may plan and practice its pantomime without revealing its assignment to the others.  Allow each group three to five minutes in which to prepare its presentation.  The performers may pantomime by syllables or by acting out.  Request one of the groups to present its pantomime while the other groups try to guess the word or phrase.  Any group that guesses correctly wins the honor of presenting its pantomime.  If the groups fail to guess right, the players announce their assignment and select another group to offer its presentation.

            The final game is Advertisement Puzzles.  Each group (keep the same groups as for Baby Charades) should sit at a table or countertop, if possible, or at least have a large, firm surface on which to assemble their puzzle.  Hand out the envelopes to the groups and give the signal for them to remove the cut-up advertisements from the envelopes.  The guests work to reassemble the ads as quickly as possible, and the first group to succeed in correctly completing the puzzle wins the game and may receive a prize.

            After the games, it’s time to open the presents.  As with the bridal showers, someone should sit by the guest of honor and record the gifts (and givers) as she opens them.  After they are recorded, the gifts are passed around the room for all to admire.

            When the gifts are opened, serve the refreshments.  


Variations and Comments:     If the baby shower is for the couple’s first child, it might be a nice gesture to invite the new father or father-to-be as well, to allow him to feel more a part of it all.

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THEME:  Honeymoon destination

INVITATIONS:  If the happy couple will be honeymooning in Hawaii, for instance, you can use that as the theme.  Shape the invitation like a pineapple, and suggest that the guests bring a gift suitable for taking on the honeymoon trip.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Materials for games  or activities desired (see below for suggestions); prizes, if desired, such as fresh pineapples or plastic leis for a Hawaii honeymoon theme; large trash bag; paper and pencil. 

FOOD:  Serve food from the location of the honeymoon.  For instance, to indicate a Hawaiian honeymoon, serve a huge fresh fruit salad in a hollowed-out watermelon, and an exotic tropical punch.

DECORATIONS:  Decorate like the honeymoon destination, using travel posters, souvenirs, etc.  For the Hawaiian honeymoon example, try to create an island atmosphere, using some of the ideas for the Hawaiian Luau party in an earlier post.

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:    After the guests have arrived, deposited their gifts and been introduced to each other, you’ll want to play a few fun games. 

            For the Hawaii Shower (as an example of the honeymoon-place theme), you might use the Hawaiian word game found in the description of the Hawaiian Luau (earlier post).  Another word game is the old children’s game, “I’m Going On a Trip.” For this version, each guest would have to think of an item that would be appropriate to take on a honeymoon trip to Hawaii, in alphabetical order, of course.  (They might be called upon to defend some of their choices!)  You might also try the Hula Contest from the Hawaiian Luau party, or any of the games from the Indoor Beach Party (earlier post, see archives).  Award prizes, if desired. 

            After the games, it’s time to open the gifts.  Be sure to record who gave the bride-to-be what.       When the gifts are all opened, you can serve the refreshments, and you might want to show  slides or a travel video showcasing Hawaii while everyone eats, to help the bride get excited for her trip.

THEME:  Type of gifts the bride-to-be needs, such as Kitchen, Hope Chest or Trousseau

INVITATIONS:  These should be appropriate to the theme.  For instance, if it is to be a Kitchen Shower, cut the invitation into the shape of a rolling pin, apron, or other kitchen item.  Be sure the guest knows to bring a gift for the bride-to-be’s kitchen.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Materials for playing your chosen games (see below for ideas); prizes, if desired; large trash bag; seating for everyone; pad of paper and pencil.

FOOD:  For this type of shower, it would be appropriate to serve the favorite dessert and punch of the bride-to-be.

DECORATIONS:  Again, you should follow the theme for the shower in your decorating.  For the Hope Chest Shower, decorate with the bride-to-be’s favorite colors.  For a Kitchen shower, display various kitchen gadgets.  Perhaps you could decoration with fashion advertisements, magazines and posters for a Trouseau Shower. 

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:       Each bridal shower is as individual as the bride herself, so we will not describe a complete shower party in detail but rather give a few ideas for adding just that special touch.  It is important to know the bride-to-be well and try to give the kind of shower that she will appreciate and enjoy.  A good bridal shower should be more than just gift-opening and refreshments; enough activities should be planned to evoke that girlish camaraderie that makes these occasions so fun and full of life.  So, we hope that you may be able to choose from these ideas to create the personalized bridal shower that will be a glowing success.

            Greet the guests as they arrive and take their gifts to keep on a gift table until time to open them.  Make sure to introduce everyone, so no one will feel like a stranger.  Of course, the main activity will be opening the gifts, but you should have a few warm-up activities to lead into that.              Your activities should follow your theme.  For instance, for a Hope Chest Shower, you might play games to test how well you know the bride-to-be and/or her fiance.  One idea is to cut out pictures from magazines of things like houses, fashions, foods and babies.  Make sure you cut out at least three of each type of item, and they must be obviously different from each other.  Number each picture and pass them around, asking the guests to write down the number from each set that they think the bride-to-be would prefer.  Then have the bride-to-be make her choices and give a prize to the guest who got the most correct.  Another old favorite is to have each guest write some marriage advice on a piece of paper without signing her name.  The bride-to-be must read the advice aloud and try to guess who gave it.

            For a Kitchen Shower, you might have a relay race using various kitchen tools or a word game using the names of kitchen appliances.

            A Trousseau Shower might include the old favorite,  the Wedding Gown Contest.  Divide the guests into two or three teams and give each team a box of supplies such as an old white sheet, construction paper, newspaper, crepe or tissue paper, tape, marking pens, etc.  Each team chooses one member to be the model and then creates a fanciful gown on that girl with the supplies given.  Prizes can be given for Most Creative, Prettiest, Silliest, etc.

            It is quite common and therefore appropriate to give prizes to the winners of the games; however, that is entirely up to you.  If you choose to award prizes, try to keep them in line with your theme–such as a scarf or hair trinket for a Hope Chest or Trousseau Shower, a small kitchen gadget for a Kitchen Shower, etc.

            When the games have brought the right feeling to the party, it is time for the bride-to-be to open her gifts.  (This part will be pretty much the same for all the showers we describe.)  Have the guests sit in a circle and pass each gift along to be admired after it has been opened.  If you are busy getting the refreshments ready, ask another guest to record the names of the gifts and the givers to aid the bride-to-be in writing her thank-you notes.  Quickly dispose of wrapping paper as she goes along, so as to prevent a major mess when she is done; another idea is to create a hat from a paper plate and the ribbons and bows that the bride-to-be must wear.

            After the gifts are all open, begin serving the refreshments, serving the guest of honor first, of course. 

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THEME: Neighborliness, South-of-the-Border Christmas Customs

INVITATIONS: Cut construction paper in the shape of a sombrero (or other Mexican symbol) and color appropriately. Write the message on the back, using a sprinkling of Spanish words, something like:

“Holá, Amigos! Come to our casa on (date) at (time) for una fiesta buena, Southwestern-style. We’ll have a supper buffet, then a piñata for the children, so bring the whole familia and celebrate for a Feliz Navidad!”

This is designed as sort of a block party, but you could invite relatives, co-workers and their families or friends from church as well. The idea is basically that it be for families.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES: A piñata filled with candies and small toys; ceiling hook and string; blindfold; plastic baseball or whiffleball bat; small paper sacks; parting gifts of food or crafts, wrapped or in decorative tins, jars or baskets.

FOOD: Some ideas for the Southwestern buffet might be salsa with flour tortilla and blue corn chips, chicken enchiladas,  Black Beans, and tamales. The best beverage might just be ice water or seltzer, to help combat the spiciness, or perhaps some sparkling apple cider or grape juice. For dessert, try cinnamon crispas, Mexican Wedding Cakes, Three Kings Ring, or oranges with peppermints stuck in them.  Serve this help-yourself buffet in rustic pottery with colorful Southwestern fabric as a backdrop.

DECORATIONS: Line the walk to your door with luminarias. These can be purchased or made out of paper sacks 1/3 filled with sand. Cut out a design in the sacks, if desired. Place votive candles in the sand and light.

Inside, have everything very colorful and festive. Be sure to have poinsettias about, but out of reach of small children. You could use a decorating motif like the Three Kings, creches or poinsettias. Hang colorful streamers and balloons in the large clear area where the piñata will be broken. The piñata itself may be purchased or made using strips of newspaper and wheat paste to cover a large, inflated balloon or other shape framed with wire, newspaper and masking tape. When the paper maché is dry, cut a hole on the top just large enough for putting the candy and toys in. Fill, then tape the cover back over the hole. Decorate with paint and/or crepe paper.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:  When the neighbors arrive, you (the hostess) take their coats and hand them plates to fill up at the buffet. After dinner, give each of the children small paper sacks to take into the piñata room. The piñata is hung on a string, run through the ceiling hook. Stand back, holding the other end of the string so you may raise and lower the piñata at will. Blindfold the youngest child first and give her the bat. Everyone stands well out of the way as the child gets five chances to break the piñata. If she doesn’t break it, then the next youngest tries and so forth until the oldest gets unlimited chances. When the piñata breaks, everyone cries ” Olé!” and the children scramble to fill their sacks. As the guests leave, give each family a homemade parting gift, such as a jar of jam or a crafted decoration.

Variations and Comments: We remember our parents giving a party similar to this for the neighborhood when we were small. For the piñata, we covered a large balloon with papier maché, then painted a Santa Claus face on it when it dried. We added a cotton ball beard and a red paper hat, and the result was charming and original.

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