Ideas for the Party Human

Archive for the ‘Outdoor 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: Christmas spirit, service, giving

INVITATIONS: Any Christmas-style invitations will do. One idea is to make them look like miniature songbooks, using colored construction paper for the covers and plain white paper for the pages. On the front, paste Christmas pictures cut from old cards or magazines and letter the words “Christmas Caroling Party.” Bind the “book” with staples, or punch holes and sew with colored yarn or thread. Inside, write some notes on a staff, perhaps the melody to a carol, and write the message as the words of the carol, written in a rhyme pattern and rhythm appropriate to the carol. For instance, if you choose “Jingle Bells,” you could write something like:

“Come and sing! Come and sing!

Caroling we’ll go!

Oh, what fun it is to spread

Some Christmas cheer, you know!”

In the message that follows, ask the guests to dress appropriately for the weather and to bring a funny white elephant gift wrapped for giving. You might also ask them to bring food items, if you desire. Start the party early, right after dinner, so there will be plenty of time to carol before visiting hours are over at the facility you have chosen to visit. This party is wonderful for any kind of group, except possibly for very small children.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES: Materials for making Christmas cards or decorations for the patients, such as old cards, Christmas magazines, colored paper, yarn, glue, glitter, scissors, crayons or markers, stencils and paint, ribbons, pine cones, etc.; hospital or nursing home to visit (Get permission to carol to a certain ward, floor or the whole building, and find out how many patients are there, so you will be sure to have enough cards or decorations to give out.); photocopies of words to desired carols; Christmas tree (small, tabletop variety is fine); clear area and music for dancing.

FOOD: Any kind of Christmassy dessert items will do, particularly warm dishes and drinks. Some examples: Hot Cocoa, Wassail, Christmas Crullers, Pumpkin-Spice Bread, Frosted Cinnamon Icebox Rolls (warm and fresh), Sour Cream Pumpkin Coffeecake, Popcorn Wreath, Festive Caramel Bars, Kringla, Pumpkin Cookies. (Recipes available.)

DECORATIONS: Just make your home as Christmassy as possible. Have a touch of Christmas in every room. Besides the tree, put lights outdoors and in the windows. Set up your creche; hang up your wall hangings; place centerpieces everywhere–on coffee tables, end tables, countertops, pianos, entertainment centers, dining tables, buffets, etc. If you would like to add to your collection of decorations, check out flea markets, second hand stores and garage sales. Or, try your hand at a new craft and make your own new decorations. Magazines, craft books, fabric/craft stores and bazaars offer many ideas. Just make sure the atmosphere in your house says, “Christmas!”, and you will need no other party decorations.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:  When the guests arrive, you (the hostess) put them to work immediately making cards or small decorations to give to the patients at the facility you have chosen to visit. When enough items have been made, place them in a big bag–perhaps the one carrying the bag could wear a Santa cap–and the carolers head for the hospital or convalescent home.

Entering the facility, you give them all copies of the words to favorite carols, and a talented guest accompanies everyone on a guitar as they sing through the halls, stopping to give out their handmade mementos to each patient. When the last patient has been serenaded, the carolers return to the house for the rest of the party. (If weather and distance permit, they might walk to the house, caroling to the neighbors on the way.) Once inside, the guests fall upon the refreshments, then gather around the Christmas tree for the exchanging of gifts. Set the gifts under the tree, and let each guest take a turn choosing a gift and unwrapping it. After the first guest has unwrapped his gift, the next guest may choose either to take his or pick a new gift. If she takes the first guest’s present, then he may choose another. This continues, until the last guest has the choice of all the previous gifts or the one still wrapped. This “swiping” of gifts is all done with plenty of good-natured banter. Since the presents are all white elephants or gag gifts, no one is upset if someone takes his gift away.

After the gift “exchange,” the music starts up, and guests may eat, talk or dance, as they choose. (If necessary, a dance gimmick–such as the snowball, dance card, etc.–may be used to get things rolling.) The evening may end with a last carol sung, if desired.

Variations and Comments: If the dancing doesn’t go over too well, have some fun parlor games in mind. Choose any familiar game and adapt to a Christmas theme. Perhaps you could have some word games using carols, or whatever. Another idea is Christmas Charades, where you divide your guests into groups and ask each to present a short pantomime about something directly related to Christmas. Onlookers must try to identify each scene, as in Charades.

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THEME:  Halloween, harvest time

INVITATIONS:  One idea is to make lollipop ghosts to carry the message.  Use spherical suckers like Tootsie Pops or Dum Dums.  Write the invitation on one side of a piece of white tissue, paper or fabric (or use a white handkerchief).  Place it message-side down over the lollipop and tie a string around the “neck” of the ghost.  When the guest uncovers the sucker to eat it, he will see the message.

            Another idea is to use “ghostwriting.”  Write the message on a plain piece of heavy white paper or an index card with an invisible ink, such as diluted lemon juice, ordinary cow’s milk, sugar water (about 1 teaspoon to a glass of water), orange juice, grapefruit juice, onion juice, honey water (about 1 teaspoon to a glass of water), or vinegar.  Use a toothpick or fine paintbrush to write the message in the secret ink.  Below the invisible message, write in regular ink something like:

                        “Ghostly writing you cannot see,

                        But on this page a message be.

                        To work the magic, have no fear;

                        Warm the page; see words appear.

                        A hot iron or stove will work just fine;

                        Use care, and you’ll soon read each line.”

            The inks are affected by heat quicker than paper, and thus the compounds in the inks break down to form carbon before the paper does.  The writing will usually appear brown.

            In the message, ask the guests to dress in Halloween costumes which do not restrict vision and movement.  Tell them to meet at a certain place, which is where the hayride will begin.  They may also be asked to bring food items, if you so desire.  This party works well for teens or young adults.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Truck or wagon filled with bales of hay; old barn; materials to make a short “spook alley,” such as cardboard, fabric, crepe paper, black lights and florescent paint, dummies, sound effects, etc.; prizes for costumes (Scariest, Most Original, etc.), such as oranges with jack-o-lantern faces painted on them, packets of roasted pumpkin seeds, or more ghost suckers; square-dance caller and/or music and stereo.

FOOD:  The way you serve the food can add as much to the party as the kind of food you serve.  Suggested beverages are homemade root beer or apple cider.  Mix the root beer in a big black cauldron and add dry ice.  Try serving the cider in a well-cleaned, chilled pumpkin with a face painted on it.*  (If you like sparkling cider, you could put  dry ice in your apple cider, too!)  For food, serve fresh doughnuts, popcorn balls and apples, and maybe a Halloween Pumpkin Cake (two bundt cakes put together to form a pumpkin).

DECORATIONS:  Decorate the spook alley area of the farmhouse or barn to be as scary as possible.  Use your imagination to create ghostly scenes, jack-o-lanterns, coffins, cobwebs, spiders, skeletons, witches, monsters.  You can make floating ghosts by covering large balloons with white plastic garbage bags, tied at the “neck,” decorated with eyes and mouth and hung from the ceiling with thread to match the background.  Or, you can dip cheesecloth in a stiffening compound, such as sugar-water or thinned glue, and drape it to dry in the shape of a ghost.  In the dark parts of the spook alley, make the most of different textures, sounds and smells.  A piece of cardboard shaken back and forth sounds like thunder, and raw rice dropped on a pie plate imitates rain.  A few flashes of a strobe light and you have a full-fledged “dark and stormy night.”  Haunted houses are most successful if they provide lots of surprises, sudden jolts when things appear out of nowhere or very loud noises sound without warning.  Before planning it all out, stop and think about what really frightens you!

            Decorate the barn dance area more in a harvest-time style.  You can arrange scarecrows, cornstalks, pumpkins, squash and Indian corn at the entrance and in the corners of the room.  Some black and orange streamers might be desired, or you could hang a giant spiderweb (complete with giant spider) in a corner.  Place bales of hay around the room for seating, and you might use lanterns for some of the lighting.  Keep the middle of the room  clear for dancing.

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:         When the guests arrive at the appointed place, take them by hayride to the place of the spook alley.  On the way there, you (the host) lead them in singing or tell scary stories.  Helpers may sound creepy noises from the woods. 

            At the farmhouse (or separate section of the barn), all is dark.  A silent, cloaked figure leads the guests through the “haunted barn.”  He may break the silence to offer information or stories to make it all the more eerie.

            The guests exit the darkened spook alley into a well-lit barn.  You or some parents then judge the costumes and award prizes for Scariest, Most Creative, etc.

            With the costume-judging done, the square-dance caller begins teaching simple dances, and everyone joins in.  He takes a break for refreshments and ends with more square-dancing.

 

Variations and Comments:  If you feel the costumes might be too much of a hindrance in the dancing, you can omit the costume-judging and ask the guests to come dressed Western, country-style or in Halloween colors.

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[*]Dian Thomas, Today’s Tips for Easy Living, Holladay UT:  The Dian Thomas Company, 1982, p. 73.

THEME:  Independence Day (4th of July), preserving history

INVITATIONS:  One idea is to take a miniature flag, place the message written on a small, folded piece of paper in the middle of the flag and fold it in the traditional triangular form.  It can then be mailed in an envelope or hand-delivered.  The guest will unfold the flag and see the message. 

            In the message, be sure to ask guests to bring swimsuits and towels, as well as an item to place in the time capsule, to be preserved for future citizens to discover.  This can be anything they deem significant to their lives and the times.  You may also wish to ask guests to bring food items for the barbecue.  This party will work well for families, teens or adults.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Mock “Declaration of Independence” guest register and feather-quill pen, if desired; swimming pool or lake; necessary equipment for playing desired water games, such as beach balls, inner tubes, net, trinkets for diving, etc.; barbecue grill; picnic table(s), benches, etc.; paper and pens; time capsule (This must be a sturdy, watertight container that will resist decay, such as the plastic containers used for wheat or other food storage.); simple fireworks, if allowed by area law.

FOOD:  Old-fashioned picnic “vittles” are the rule.  You may ask guests to bring their own meat for barbecuing, or some other items, but a very American menu might be something like this:  Hamburgers, hot dogs or steaks, corn-on-the-cob, potato salad, baked beans, chips or crackers, watermelon and root beer.  For dessert, homemade ice cream is a must, and you might serve it alongside  a cake decorated like a flag.  Beside each plate, you might also have little nut-cups filled with red, white and blue cream mints.

DECORATIONS:  Of course, red, white and blue will be the color scheme.  Since this is outdoors, you will need to rely on your landscaping, etc. to help hold up decorations.  Streamers, balloons and flags may be hung from trees, shrubs and around the deck.  Use appropriate colors of paper plates, cups, napkins and tablecloth(s).  A basket containing an arrangement of red, white and blue carnations with a small flag standing in the middle might make a nice centerpiece for the picnic table.  Have buckets of citronella to keep the bugs away, if your area has need of such precautions.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:  When guests arrive, they give their items for the time capsule to you, the hostess, and you may ask them to sign a mock “Declaration of Independence” for a guest register.  The fun starts with swimming.  Plan several water games, if the guests are interested. 

            When the swimmers are tired out, fire up the grill, and let the good old-fashioned barbecue begin.  As guests finish eating, give each one paper and pencil to use in penning some thoughts to include in the time capsule.  When everyone is done, they may share their writings with each other if they so desire, before placing them in a watertight bag or box to go in the time capsule.  When all items are in the time capsule, it is sealed and placed in a previously-dug hole.  A date is agreed upon for digging up the time capsule, and everyone helps to bury it. 

            If time permits, there may be some more swimming before dessert.  After the cake and ice cream, a musician in the group accompanies a sing-along of patriotic songs on the guitar, piano, keyboard, harmonica or whatever.  As a finale to the evening, the guests clear a space of dirt, cement or gravel for the lighting of fireworks.  (If private fireworks are illegal in your area, you might take everyone to the fairgrounds [or wherever] to watch the public fireworks display.)

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THEME:  High-school (or college) graduation, memories

INVITATIONS:  One idea is to make up fake, diploma-like documents on parchment paper, rolled and sealed or tied with a ribbon.  Inside, use typical wording for announcing the achievement of the graduate, mentioning the degree and that the person named is now “entitled to all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto, chief of which is the ultimate party of the year, to be held at . . .” etc., etc.  The invitation should specify that guests will need swimsuits and towels, and they may be asked to bring items of food as well. 

            This party is geared toward the teen-age friends of the hosting high-school graduate, but it might be adapted to celebrate a college graduation, as well.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Pool or lake for swimming; equipment to play various water games desired; other outdoor games, such as volleyball, basketball, badminton, or croquet; barbecue grill; paper and pencil for each guest; individual awards for each guest (paper and ribbon badges); deck or clear area for a dance floor; stereo and popular music for dancing; board games, if desired.

FOOD:  Teenagers usually enjoy something a little different, so instead of barbecuing the usual hamburgers and hot dogs, why not try make-your-own shish-kebabs?  (If you’re on a tight budget, you can use chunks of hot dogs instead of steak or lamb.)  Set out plenty of skewers, meat (tender beef cuts should be marinated or partially pre-cooked) cubes, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, small onions, strips of partially cooked bacon, green pepper chunks, pineapple chunks, or whatever you like.  Have barbecue or marinating sauces to brush over the meat and vegetables while grilling.

            Also, have plenty of soda-pop buried in a cooler full of ice.  Other items could include chips and dips, cheese and crackers, fruit salad or fruit pizza, potato salad, soft rolls or croissants.  For dessert, you could have make-your-own banana splits or a special graduation cake served with homemade ice cream.

DECORATIONS:  Since this party is mainly held outdoors, you probably won’t need to do any elaborate decorating.  Perhaps a congratulations banner, maybe some balloons in the colors of the hosting graduate’s alma mater.  Stay with the color scheme with the paper products, also.  Try hanging some Japanese lanterns or use other festive outdoor lighting.  Perhaps some floating candles reflecting in the pool would add a nice touch to the poolside dancing.

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:         When the guests arrive, the first thing they head for is the pool.  Those not interested in swimming can play volleyball, badminton or some other outdoor game.  In the pool, various water sports may be played. 

            After the guests tire of physical activity, it’s time for the food.  They make their own kebabs and grill them, as well as sampling the other dishes.

            When everyone is full, the hosting graduate hands out paper and pencils.  The guests are instructed to write down the names of everyone present and what they think each one might be doing in ten years.  This is a fun, silly activity which allows for some good laughs when the predictions are shared. 

            The hosting graduate then announces that she has some awards to give out.  When she reads off each award, she may explain a little of  the background for it.  (For instance, one award might be the “Gilligan’s Island” Best Fan Award, given to a person who used to spend every afternoon watching re-runs of that particular series.)  The awards are personalized and tend to bring back fun memories.  Each recipient must wear his or her badge for the rest of the evening. 

            This might also be a good time to pass around yearbooks or autograph books for everyone to sign, an activity that can be continuous throughout the evening.  And, while that is going on, the stereo begins to play popular music, and the guests so inclined may dance on the deck for as long as they wish.  Parents have declared that this is one party that, though chaperoned, doesn’t have to end early. 

            At some time during the dancing, the hosting graduate brings out the dessert for a nice break.  The guests enjoy making their own banana splits or cutting a special cake.  The dancing then continues, and, if the music runs out, the remaining guests may enjoy some classic games, such as Monopoly or Uno.

 Variations and Comments:  This party is a fun alternative to the dangerous “traditional” graduation parties which generally feature little besides alcohol.  The chaperoning adults need not be in the way nor “spoil” anything for the teens, as long as they merely remain awake and aware of the proceedings.

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THEME:  Easter, Spring

INVITATIONS:  The simplest would be egg-shaped pieces of colored paper with the message written on them.  However, you could also write on hard-boiled eggs with a fine-tipped marking pen or hide a message inside a hollow plastic egg.  Whether you are inviting children in the family, friends of your children, or children in the neighborhood, you will probably want to ask them to bring their own baskets.  You should also inform them as to alternate plans in case of rain.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Decorated, hard-boiled eggs in the amount desired; baskets, if needed; hollow plastic eggs, if desired; jelly beans or other candy, if desired; slips of paper with scriptural references about Easter or pictures of Jesus Christ, if desired; prizes, if desired.

FOOD:  If the party is simply for some children, you might like to give them each a chocolate bunny or some such thing as a treat before they leave.  Or, you might like to give them hot cross buns, bunny-shaped sweet rolls or frosted cut-out cookies with some chocolate milk as a snack after the hunt. 

            One thing our family has enjoyed doing on the Saturday before Easter is getting all the relatives together for a brunch.  The adults enjoy visiting and watching the children hunt for eggs either before or after the meal.  Some of our favorite recipes for this event are Breakfast Casserole, Quiche Lorraine, Cheese Blintzes, Fruit Party Pizza, Potato Casserole, French Breakfast Puffs and Grandma Prengel’s Crumb Cake.  Nutbreads and juices are good choices also.

DECORATIONS:  Since the egg hunt is usually done outside, you may like to tie balloons, bows and flowers on the shrubbery and trees.  Hang a lovely spring wreath on the front door.  If you are doing something indoors, such as having the brunch for relatives, you may like to set out other Easter decorations.  The little, wooly-covered wooden sheep that are so popular in country decorating are quite appropriate now.  You can deck them out further by adding a tiny bow or flower around their necks.  Lots of fragrant, fresh flowers, attractively arranged will add to the Spring atmosphere.  Also, an “Easter Tree” might make a delightful centerpiece.  Generally, this is a gnarly branch painted white and anchored in a board or pot.  In an episode of “The Home Show” in March 1991, Dian Thomas gave some tips for fun decorations for an Easter tree.  She suggested saving your broken eggshells, washing them and letting them dry.  When dry, glue a small ribbon “handle” in each one to form a sort of basket to hang on the tree.  In the basket, you can make a tiny baby chick with two yellow pompoms, some felt and craft eyes.  Another idea is to blow out some eggs and wrap small ribbons around them like Christmas ornaments.   Final touches can be added by simply gluing small bows and silk flowers to the branches.  You can even purchase a string of “Easter lights,” if desired.  (A string of your plain white Christmas ones might work just as well.)

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:            You can organize this Easter egg hunt in any way you like, but here are some ideas and tips you might want to try:

            If you have children of varying ages participating, color an equal amount of eggs for each age group in different colors.  Tell each age group to look only for eggs of the color you have assigned to them.  This way the older children will leave the eggs hidden in “easy” places for the younger children to find.  For a special treat, hide hollow plastic eggs filled with jelly beans or other candy along with the regular eggs.

            To add a little spiritual significance to the event, write scripture references about the events leading up to the Resurrection on hard-boiled eggs or slips of paper tucked in plastic eggs.  When all the eggs are found, have the children read aloud the scriptures in order.  You could also put small pictures of Christ inside eggs, as well as hanging some on the walls of your house.

"He Is Risen" by Greg Olson

            Be sure you know the exact number of eggs hidden, so you won’t find some months later by following your nose!

            Try making it a treasure hunt, writing the clues on the eggs.

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THEME: St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), Ireland and Irish traditions

INVITATIONS: A simple invitation would be a shamrock cut out of green paper. Write the message using plenty of Irish phrases, perhaps in a limerick such as:

     “Top o’ the mornin’ we wish to ye;

     On St. Patty’s Day a party be,

     So come for the e’en,

                                                        A-wearin’ the green;

                                                       Shure, and it’s you there we’ll see!”

You may also ask them to bring a dish of green food, if you wish.

This party will work well for teenagers or adults.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES: Several papers with first lines of limericks written on them; pencils; 6 plastic or paper straws; team prizes for the relays, if desired (such as green ribbons); 2 large potatoes; 2 soup spoons; table(s) and chairs (if serving supper); Irish music (for background), if desired; large, partly wooded area for treasure hunt; clues on shamrock-shaped pieces of paper, perhaps 7 in all (one for every color of the rainbow); “leprechaun” helpers, such as your children or younger brothers and sisters; small paper rainbow; large pot filled with small net or cloth bags of chocolate candy coins or butterscotch drops (one bag for each guest).

FOOD: For supper, make a large pot of Irish Stew and some biscuits, then supplement with lots of green side dishes: a green salad, cottage cheese colored green, canned pears colored green, green beans, green jello cut in shamrock shapes with a cookie cutter, etc. Serve ale (of the “ginger” variety) for a beverage. Dessert could be lime sherbet with gingersnap cookies.

If you prefer not to serve supper, ask guests to bring their favorite green snack or dessert.

DECORATIONS: Of course, your main decorating theme will be the color green. Many ready-made decorations for St. Patrick’s Day are available in stores, but you might also consider using other items like green houseplants; Irish artifacts such as old Irish literature, and sheet music like “My Wild, Irish Rose” and “Irish Eyes Are Smiling”; travel posters of the “Emerald Isle”; a small pot full of shamrocks (often available at a florist’s shop), a large rock labeled “Blarney Stone,” samples of Irish lace, and green candles. For candle holders–you could scoop out holes in raw potatoes for long tapers, and votive candles could be placed inside clear glass mugs or on the bottom of inverted mugs.

Drape a long “feast table” with a white sheet, and set places with green paper placemats (available at party stores). Use white plates (china, stoneware,Corellee, plastic or paper) and clear goblets or clear plastic tumblers. Fold green napkins (cloth or paper) into fans and place them loosely in the glasses. Those shamrocks in a brass pot might make a good centerpiece, set between two green tapers in brass (or potato) candlesticks.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:     When guests arrive, pinch them if they’re not wearing green, then divide them into groups of three to five persons. Give each group a piece of paper and a pencil. On each piece of paper is written the first line of a different limerick. Briefly explain the format for limericks, then let each group go to work to finish its poem. Allow about five minutes or so, and at the end of the time have each group reads its limerick aloud.

Next, everyone goes outdoors for some relays. (These games can be played indoors as well.) Group them into two teams and explain the first relay. Legend has it that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland, so this relay will simulate that story (sort of). The two teams line up at a starting line, and the first person in each team is given three straws (to symbolize snakes). They must get down on their hands and knees and lay the three straws in front of them. By blowing at them, they must “drive” the three straws to the finish line, about ten or twelve feet away. They cannot touch the straws with any part of their bodies. When they reach the finish line, they may pick up the straws and run back to the start, giving them to the first person in line, who repeats the process until the whole team has done it. The first team through wins and may be given a prize.

The second relay involves the Irish staple, potatoes, and covers a longer distance than the “snake” relay. The line-up formation is the same, but this time the person must transport a large potato on an ordinary soup spoon to the finish line. If he drops it, he must start over at the beginning again! When he reaches the finish line, he may hold the potato securely in his hand and run back to give the potato and spoon to the next teammate. The first team to complete the relay wins.

Now it’s time for the Irish feast, and the guests eat while Irish music plays in the background.

After dinner, you (the host) will “forcefully” bring in a small helper dressed as a leprechaun, who is kicking and complaining and struggling to get away. “Look what I found!” you call, and you relate a fanciful tale of how you caught the leprechaun. Now you demand that the leprechaun turn over his pot of gold, to which request the wee one replies by grudgingly handing you a small, shamrock-shaped piece of paper. As soon as you stop to read what is written on the paper, the leprechaun disappears to join his “kinsmen” in the woods! On the paper is the first clue to the treasure hunt, written in limerick form. You hand it over to the guests, who take over from there. If you know the whereabouts of the treasure, you do not give any hints.

The guests follow the clues from place to place until they reach the last one. During this time, several small helpers hidden in the woods make noises, play tricks and generally try to distract the guests from their quest. Now, the last clue might read something like this, if the “pot of gold” were hidden in, say, a child’s treehouse:

     “Our treasure ye’ve sought high and low,

     But to find it ye must now go

     Where a child plays high

     Under sparrow’s eye;

     Look at the end of the rainbow.”

A small paper rainbow sits above the door of the treehouse or is placed to mark the spot wherever the pot is hidden. The moment the guests find the treasure, a wailing howl is heard in the woods, coming from the disappointed leprechauns! Each guest gets a bag of golden candy to take home.

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