Ideas for the Party Human

I’m going to interrupt this thread of Anniversary Parties to insert a description of my daughter’s 14th birthday party.  She is a fan of the book and movie series “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins.  After a few peeks at Pinterest, this is the party we came up with.

THEME:  The Hunger Games books/movies

INVITATIONS:  We found a printable image we liked, printed it on cardstock and cut it out in a circle, with the message inside.  We assigned each guest a different District and invited them to dress in the style of that District.

Our invitations

Our invitations

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  District badges (images from the internet printed and cut out); toy bow and arrow sets and targets (we used stacked paper cups); colored tissue paper, streamers, ribbons, bows, scissors and tape; small Post-It notes; enough chairs for each guest minus one; party favors of your choice.

FOOD:  We decided to have a Capitol Feast, and we brainstormed on what to serve.  We set the table with a lace tablecloth and nice china and labelled all the food.  Here’s what we had:  Capitol Pizza, Katniss’ Wild Strawberries, Peeta’s Breadsticks, Fishy Crackers (from District 4), sparkling cider (the Capitol’s Best Bubbly) and Nightlock (Poison Removed).  I made the cake (my daughter’s choice) and tried to duplicate the symbol on the invitations with my (very) limited skills in cake decorating.  

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We also had ice cream with the cake.

 

 

 

 

DECORATIONS:  We put up a few yellow and black balloons and streamers, but did not feel the need for more than that.  As mentioned, the feast table was set very nicely.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:  As the guests arrived, they were given a badge to wear stating their District.  While waiting for others to arrive, they practiced their archery skills.

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Then they sat down for the great Capitol Feast.

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There was, of course, a toast to the Mockingjay (in this instance, the birthday girl).

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After the Feast,  we brought out boxes of ribbons, packages of colored tissue paper, scissors and tape.  We paired up the girls, and they went to work creating  fashion costumes for the Grand Parade, something relating to their district.  They took turns being the Designer and the Tribute.039

 

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When the first batch was done, we had them model their costumes, while their Designer narrated.

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Then they switched, and the Tribute became Designer for their partner.

 

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After those costumes had been modeled, we went outside to play “How Did I Die?”  This is simply “Who Am I?” with a mode of death on the post-it note on their back, instead of a person.  We used deaths from the Hunger Games books.

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Then we played “District Switch.”  This is the same as Fruit Basket, but everyone is assigned their District number, instead of a fruit.  The chairs were placed in a circle, and the person in the middle was It.  She called out two district numbers, and those two girls had to switch seats before It could steal one.  Whoever was left out was the new It.  When It called “District Switch,” everyone had to scramble for a new seat.  The girls had a lot of fun with this one.

 

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After this, the birthday girl opened her presents–many of which were Hunger Games-related.

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Then there was cake and ice cream, and the girls went outside to play some more District Switch while they waited for their parents.  When they left, we gave them bookmarks and cookies from the “Mellark Family Bakery.”  I dressed as Effie Trinket and served and coordinated.066

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Everyone had a great time!

THEME:  Golden Wedding Anniversary Ball, for a large group

INVITATIONS:  These should look formal, printed on parchment paper in gold lettering, if possible.  Be sure to tell the guests what type of dress and whether dinner will be served.  (A fun idea might be to make it a costume ball and have everyone try to dress in formal attire of 50 years ago.)

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  You will need a ballroom or cultural hall, of course, and some type of music, preferably a band.  You will also need seating and tables for gifts and food.  If you are serving dinner, you should have tables for the guests as well.  Be sure to have a small table with a guest register.  You might have a specially decorated place for the guests of honor to sit, and you may need some props or instruments for the floor show.

FOOD:  If you are serving a dinner, it should either be the honored couple’s favorite food or food typical of the year they were married.  Use the same guidelines when serving simply refreshments, but also consider using gold color wherever you can, such as in a punch made with cider or ginger ale.  Whatever you do, be sure to have an elaborate wedding-style cake in gold and white.

DECORATIONS:  Keep them elegant and keep them gold.  Of course there are balloons and streamers, but perhaps you could also make flowers with gold tissue paper, or cut hearts and bells out of gold paper.  A mirror ball with golden lighting on it would be effective for the dancing.  If you have tables for the guests to sit at, cover them with simple white cloths, but let your centerpiece be gold.  Perhaps a gold rose or carnation in a clear glass vase, or a medium-sized box gift-wrapped in gold, sitting on a mirror tile and littered with gold curly or wired ribbon and gold confetti.  Or, if there is a particular subject or hobby that the couple is known for, try to use that in your centerpiece.  You may want an archway for the couple to walk through as they lead the Grand Promenade.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:   As the guests arrive, ask them to sign the guest register and add any comments they would like to make.  If you are serving dinner, start out with that, and when it’s time for the dancing, begin with a Grand Promenade around the ballroom, led by the honored husband and wife, followed by their children, grandchildren and other guests.  Then the honored couple leads off the first waltz (or whatever dance they prefer, perhaps “their song”).  During the dancing, refreshments are available, and when the band takes a break, the couple’s family members could give an entertaining floor show or present a special award to their esteemed progenitors.

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THEME:  Similar to the old TV show, a review of the couple’s married life–great for 50th Anniversary

INVITATIONS:  Make photocopies of the couple’s wedding picture and send it in a cardstock frame made to look like a television set.  Give particulars on back of frame.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  You will need adequate seating for your guests, facing a stage or performance area.  You might want comfortable chairs on the stage for the honored couple and any special mystery guests.  You may also need stereo equipment or instruments, depending on what you want to do.  Also, make sure to video-record the event.

FOOD:  Most practical is simply to serve refreshments, but make sure they are favorites of the honored couple.  You might try making a two-tiered cake, with bride-and-groom figures on the bottom layer and golden-anniversary figures on the top.  Decorate with gold or the couple’s favorite colors.

DECORATIONS:  Try to give the atmosphere of a television studio. Signs indicating stars’ dressing rooms, Quiet Please, etc.; spotlights, and a director’s chair might help.  But you can also decorate in gold (if it’s a 50th anniversary) with streamers, balloons, flowers, etc.  Gold or silver confetti on the floor might be a nice touch. You might obtain various photographs of the couple taken throughout their marriage, have them enlarged to poster size and hang them on walls around the room.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:  This celebration will take a lot of work for someone (probably one of the couple’s children), but it will be well worth it as a cherished memory is made.  As the guests arrive, seat them in the audience area.  The honored couple take their places in special seats on the stage, and the show begins.  The emcee is probably their oldest child, and he takes his cue from the old television show of the same name, introducing voices and then persons from his parents’ memories.  If the actual people themselves cannot attend, their voices may be recorded over the phone.  The voices do not have to be those of people whom the couple haven’t seen in a long time; children and grandchildren can be involved, too, in helping their parents or grandparents relive some pleasant memories.  After the “show,” give a round of applause for the couple and serve the refreshments.

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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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Wedding Anniversary Celebrations are not as common as other types of parties, but often the family will wish to mark the Silver or Golden Wedding anniversaries.  The following parties are focused toward those types of celebrations, but any of them could be adapted to use for smaller anniversary parties.

THEME:  Class on baby care for a first-time mother-to-be

INVITATIONS:  The invitation should look official, like an invitation to take a college course.  Use calligraphy or a flowing script font on your computer, and print  on a nice bond or parchment paper.  The guest-of-honor is invited to take the course, and the guests may be invited to come and participate as “associate professors of motherhood.”

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Name tags for each guest; a crossword puzzle using names of baby items and pencil for each guest; a baby doll, diaper, stopwatch, two diaper pins and a blindfold; a sheet of blank paper for each guest; prizes, if desired, such as baby items like candy pacifiers, outlet plugs, baby shampoo, etc.; an elegant diploma for passing the course.

FOOD:  Serve foods that babies like:  milk, applesauce, graham crackers, juice, animal cookies, etc.  Another idea is to make nut cups in the shape of diapers.  This is done by cutting small rectangles or triangles of baby-print fabric, folding and pinning them like diapers with tiny safety pins (leaving leg-holes too small for mints or nuts to fall through), and setting them upright as if an invisible baby was sitting in them.  Then grasp each with tweezers and dip briefly into melted wax to coat, setting them out to dry and harden.  These little “diapers” can now be filled with mints and nuts, or whatever small snacks you desire.

DECORATIONS:  Decorate in pastel colors and cut pictures from parenting magazines of mothers doing things with babies.  Make a collage or hang them around the room.  Set out familiar items like bottles, baby powder, diapers, bibs, baby blankets, pacifiers, stuffed animals, baby toys, etc.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:   As guests arrive, give them name tags reading “Prof.   (their name)  .”   Welcome the mother-to-be as a new student, and “orient” her by giving her the crossword puzzle to do.  (All other guests will do it, too, and the first one to correctly complete it may be awarded a prize.)

Next, the “instructors” will demonstrate their prowess in the Blind Diapering Contest.  Set a baby doll, cloth diaper and two diaper pins (closed) in the center of the room.  Each contestant will have a turn to be blindfolded and see how fast she can correctly diaper the baby doll.  You (the hostess) will time each one.   Last of all, the guest of honor will try it–“to see if she has learned anything”–and the contestant with the best time may receive a prize.

Now it’s time to settle down and get a little more serious.  Give everyone a blank piece of paper on which to write some word of advice for the new mother.  (It can be funny or serious, whatever they prefer.)

After the advice is in, present the “successful student” with a lovely diploma (“suitable for framing”!) and celebrate her “commencement” by commencing  to open the presents.  Do this in the usual way, recording the gifts and givers and passing the gifts around to be admired.  You might also suggest the “professors” tell the mother-to-be what each item is used for, perhaps making up silly uses–like putting the diapers on her head during the baby’s bathtime, to protect her from splashes!

To complete the evening, serve the refreshments.

Variations and Comments:  It is important to make sure that this is all done in the spirit of fun.  The mother-to-be should have such a rapport with the other guests that she would never feel she was being belittled, mocked or teased for her lack of knowledge or experience.  In fact, some of the “professors” might not be mothers yet themselves, so they really would not be able to “instruct” her.  If done in the right spirit, the atmosphere will be humorous and light-hearted, and no one will be offended.

 

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