Ideas for the Party Human

Posts Tagged ‘atmosphere

Interrupting the Games segment to insert a baby shower which we gave for my daughter.  She’s having a boy, but this could easily be adapted for a “little princess.”

THEME:  “Someday my [little] prince will come.”  (Disney Princes)097

INVITATIONS:  We designed a sort of “royal proclamation” which we printed on parchment paper.  You can see the wording here:

Publication1

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Envelopes and pens; plain onesies in different sizes and fabric markers;  sheets of stationery; small notebook for advice; team number centerpieces, Jeopardy-style game on bulletin board, and prizes; place to put gifts and notebook to record them.

FOOD:  We decided to try to find a food from each of the Disney movies with a prince involved.  This was a little difficult, and some are kind of a stretch, but you can see our layout here.  Some of the ones we thought of:  Pumpkin Cookies (Cinderella), Crackers (Aladdin), Nutella (Tangled), Watermelon (The Princess & the Frog), Fishy  Crackers (The Little Mermaid), Gummy Worms (Lion King), Berries (Bambi), Apple slices (Snow White) and Grapes (Hercules).  The cake and punch fit in with several of the other movies.

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The focal point is the castle cake.  Since I am not a great cake decorator, we kept it simple.  I borrowed a friend’s sheet cake pan and made a round layer cake to put on top of it.  Ice cream cones for towers, sugar cubes for crenelations, wafer cookies for windows, chocolate Neccos for siding, and Hershey bar and licorice for drawbridge and door.

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DECORATIONS:  For colors we used royal blue and red, since those are good boy colors.  We borrowed the white tablecloths, then cut plastic dollar-store tablecloths in half for the toppers.  We found these cardboard crowns at Hobby Lobby and spray-painted them and decorated them with stick-on jewels.  On the other side we wrote the team number for that table.  The wrapped boxes are just for looks.  We also put a few of the letter sheets (see Blow-by-Blow) and pens on each table as well.  102

At the front of the room, we placed a borrowed wooden cradle with a decorative pillow and crown in it.  The canopy I had from my daughter’s wedding reception.

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We also found pictures of every Disney prince online, printed them out and put them up around the room.  We created the banner on our computer and strung it together with ribbons.  As a gift, two of my younger daughters put together a “diaper cake,” which didn’t turn out quite as we hoped.103

A few costume pieces of armor or swords set around the room finished the decor.

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BLOW-BY-BLOW:  As guests arrived, we had them put their address on an envelope to help us with the thank-you’s.  Their gifts were placed in or around the cradle.  104

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Then they could decorate a onesie, write a piece of mothering advice in the little notebook, or write a letter to the little prince.  We decided to have letters for every birthday until the baby was as old as his mother is now.  So we placed sheets of stationery around the room, and each one had a different year written in the corner.  They were to write a letter to Baby Charles that he would receive on that birthday.  We also had people get food and visit while this other stuff was going on.  After people had finished these activities, we played a Jeopardy-style game with questions about the different Disney princes.  The winning team received a bag of Hershey’s Treasures to share.  We then cut the cake and served it.

After the game, Queen Sara sat up by the cradle and opened her presents.  We gave her a crown and a sash to wear.  One of her sisters recorded the givers and gifts, so she could write her thank-you’s.107

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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.

* * *

THEME: Treasure hunt for gifts

INVITATIONS: Cut invitations in the shape of a treasure chest, with a lid that opens up to reveal the message. Let the guests know that they need to arrive earlier than the bride-to-be, so the gifts may be well hidden by the time she arrives.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES: Large trunk or box; clues (see below for suggestions); large trash bag; pad of paper and pencil.

FOOD: One idea is to make a large sheet cake and decorate the top to look like a treasure map of the journey through life. Various points on the map could be labelled with short phrases like “Wedding Day,” “First Child Born,” “First Home Bought,” etc. Small plastic figures appropriate to these phrases could be placed at those particular points (such as a bride and groom, baby, house, etc.). Instead of mints or nuts, you could fill a dish with gold foil-covered chocolate coins for the guests to sample.

DECORATIONS: Try to create a tropical island atmosphere. Use decorating ideas from the Hawaiian Luau and perhaps the Pirate Party.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:     As directed, the guests arrive early, and you (the hostess) hide the gifts in a large trunk or box in a pre-chosen place. You then set up a trail of clues (usually little notes written in rhyme) hidden as in the usual method for a treasure hunt. Some sample clues might read:

Straight up the stairs

In the bedroom ahead

You’ll find information

(Look under the bed!).”

The card found under the bed might read:

Pinned on a tree

In the yard down below

You’ll see some directions

About where to go.”

The card on the tree will hold another message leading to another clue, and so forth and so on. The last clue, sitting atop the trunk holding the presents, might read something like this:

“Just like this hunt

Your marriage will be,

Some ups and downs

And uncertainty.

Hold on to the end,

And you’ll see it’s true

That success comes only

By following through.”

You may elect to invite the groom-to-be to help his fianceé find her way to the treasure. When the guest(s) of honor arrive(s), make sure everyone is acquainted, then give the bride-to-be the first clue and explain that she’s going to have to work a little for her presents. The guests then follow the bride-to-be from place to place as she reads the clues aloud, but they give her no help! When she reaches the “treasure,” they gather round to watch her open the gifts. Be sure to have a recorder and let everyone admire each gift, then finish with refreshments.

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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:  Gypsies, folk dancing and folkloregypsy fortune teller

INVITATIONS:  Cut a good-sized triangle out of bright-colored construction paper and make many narrow snips along two sides to make it look like fringe on a gypsy shawl or scarf.  On the paper, in your best calligraphy, write:  “Look into the crystal ball, and you will see yourself having a wonderful time at the Gypsy Party.”  Then write all the necessary information, including the fact that they should come dressed in their best gypsy attire.  Also, you may ask guests to bring a mess kit or metal pie plate.  Fold and place in an envelope with a small marble for the “crystal ball.”

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Meadow and campfire pit (backyard and barbecue grill could be substituted); buffet table or gypsy wagon; hanging cast-iron kettle or Dutch oven; fuel for campfire; “fortunetelling” tent, if desired; folk dance music and caller or instructions; portable, battery-operated stereo; materials for any games desired.

FOOD:  The menu we suggest is Hungarian Goulash, hot dogs (bratwurst or sausages might be better than regular wieners) with all the trimmings, crackers or soft breadsticks, a variety of cheeses, apples and a fruity punch.  (You might ask guests to bring some of the smaller items.)  For dessert, you could make S’Mores or Banana Boats.  This is a menu teenagers should enjoy, but if you’re throwing the party for adults, you may want to do some research and have some more authentic Romanian or Hungarian food, as long as it can be cooked in the fire.

DECORATIONS:  Since this is an outdoor party, you need very little decoration.  If you can round up a portable refreshment stand, you might decorate that to look like a gypsy wagon and serve the food from it. 

            Some lanterns hanging from tree branches will add atmosphere as darkness approaches.  Burning “tiki torches” and buckets of citronella candles serve for extra light as well as for keeping the insects away.  Be sure to keep the main campfire burning constantly. 

            The gypsy “fortunetelling” tent, if desired, should be the old army type and could be created with old blankets, ropes and poles.  Inside, have a place for the “fortuneteller” to sit by a small table covered with a fringed shawl.  There should be a hanging lantern or a battery-operated candle.  The gypsy may use a “crystal ball” (a bowling ball covered with a handkerchief would be funny) for her “revelations,” or she may simply do “palm-reading.”  There should also be a chair in which the “victim” may sit.

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:         As the guests arrive, they may visit the “fortuneteller” and receive silly information about their “future.”  (The gypsy fortuneteller should be someone who knows each guest well, has a great sense of humor and a flair for the theatrical.  No one should be led to believe that they may take these “fortunes” seriously, so the more hilarious, the better.)  If the fortunetelling is not desired, the guests may help with building the fire and setting up the food for cooking.  Then, when all have come, a helper takes over at the campfire, and the gypsies are asked to sit in the meadow.  They listen as an instructor teaches them a simple folk dance, then they dance to the music played on the portable stereo.  They may learn several simple dances and enjoy practicing them until the food is ready.

            To signal dinner, the helper bangs loudly on a pot, and everyone comes to fill up their mess kits or pie tins.  You, the hostess, can provide paper cups and plastic silverware.  After the meal, if it is still light enough, the guests may adjourn to the meadow for some old-fashioned outdoor games.  When darkness falls, the fire is stoked up, and one guest who plays guitar well begins to strum some familiar folk songs, and everyone joins in.  After the songs fade, another guest, who is a good storyteller and has come prepared, begins to tell some spooky stories.  When everyone is sufficiently nervous, the guitarist plays one last soothing song, and the fire is put out.

 Variations and Comments:  This party was originally given for teenagers at a church camp.  We soon learned that the area was too large for the number of youth that we had, and it was difficult to keep everyone together and participating.  For this reason, a backyard or a park area with clearly defined limits might be best for an adolescent party.  Adults, however, would probably enjoy space and would be less likely to sneak off to go exploring.

            Additional activities can be added according to the features of your party area.  You might have the gypsies meet in one place and go “begging” at designated back doors in the neighborhood for handouts, until everyone reaches the place of the party.  (Make sure the neighbors are willing to cooperate, first.)  Perhaps you might like to take a short, night-time hike with candles in lanterns or flashlights.  Or, maybe there is a stream, and you could float tiny, candlelit boats down it.  (Be sure to have a place downstream where you can collect them and remove them from the river.)  You could have the gypsy fortuneteller dream up some wild “gypsy legend” and tell the guests about it, then have helpers do little unseen things to make it look like the legend is coming true.  A little brainstorming could bring up even more ideas!

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Here is the first of the variations on the basic idea in the previous post.

THEME:  Fantastic genre exemplified by J. R. R. Tolkien’s and J. K. Rowling’s novels, i.e. elves, wizards, dwarves, giants, etc.

MacGonagall and Dumbledore

Party guests dressed as Professors MacGonagall and Dumbledore

INVITATIONS:  Elaborate, rune-like calligraphy on a parchment scroll should inform guests of pertinent information, as well as assigning each guest a chosen identity on one of the two teams (good or evil).  Ask guests to dress in costume and bring an appropriate dish for the finale feast.  These invitations should ideally be hand-delivered.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Large, wooded area such as a park or private acreage (make sure permission for use is granted); one “magic talisman” or “amulet” for each team, such as a ring or pendant; maps of the land (such as found in fantasy novels) and/or any other props desired (such as ropes, magic wand or potion, spyglass, etc.); long table(s) and chairs.

FOOD:  In the invitations, give guests an idea of what types of dishes you might like them to bring.  The fantasy theme suggests two different directions you could go with your feast:  simple, traditional British Renaissance fare; or a more exotic, health-food type of repast, with ingredients found largely in nature.  You might want to supply the entree, such as a roast goose or a hearty stew, and have the guests bring side dishes, salads, vegetables, fruits, breads, desserts, etc.  Grape juice or apple cider would make good beverages to serve.

DECORATIONS:  As this is an outdoor party, very little need be done to create the atmosphere.  However, you can set up whatever props you need to help designate the two territories.  You might prepare the two “headquarters” ahead of time, or you could allow the teams to choose their own hideouts as long as you send them off in opposite directions.  You may wish to mark off the dividing line between the two territories, or use a natural border, such as a creek.  Or, you may simply give a general idea of the middle of the area and allow the guests to wander more freely–but carefully–“behind enemy lines.”  The table and chairs should be set up in an open, neutral area.  Table covering and centerpieces should follow the theme for the feast.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:            As guests arrive, seat them by teams in an open space near the feast table.  (Generally–for this genre–elves, wizards, dwarves, “hobbits” and humans such as warriors and huntresses are on the “good” team.  Sorcerers, witches, goblins, trolls, wraiths and the like are on the “evil” team.)   When all have arrived, each guest introduces himself or herself as the character he or she was given in the invitation.  You, the host or hostess, then bestow upon each guest either a “magic” prop or a special talent or power. 

            The teams then choose leaders, and you give the leader of each team its treasured talisman, explaining as you do so the nature of the conflict between the two teams.  (Perhaps the wicked sorcerer plans to use his powerful amulet to enslave all dwarves and turn them against their allies to wreak war and conquer the whole land.)  Explain the rules, stating that, when one team has captured the talisman of the other, both teams will then come to the feast table.  If neither team accomplishes the task in a specified amount of time, call a stalemate and let the feast  begin. 

            You will  also need to give each team a map of the area or explain the division of the land.  Then direct them to their hideouts to form their plans, or send them in opposite directions, giving them ten minutes or so to find a “headquarters” and set up operations. 

            From here on out, the imagination of the players takes over!  Plans are formed, missions carried out.  Perhaps prisoners are captured and rescued.  Quests succeed or fail, all dependant upon the creativity and wit of the players.  If you are not yourself on one of the teams, you may wander the woods as an “invisible” referee, making sure that all rules are obeyed, powers respected, and that roughness is avoided.

            When the teams have returned to the feast table, a “treaty” is signed and the props are returned to you.  The feast begins in celebration of magic, and during or after the meal the players relate the epic tales of their exploits.

 


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