Ideas for the Party Human

Posts Tagged ‘capture-the-flag

     This is another variation of the Capture-the-Flag Party posted earlier.

THEME:  A space-age setting, such as in the “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” movies

INVITATIONS:  Try to use the “highest-tech” format you can for inviting your guests, which would probably be something through email.  If this is not practical, the invitations could be computer printouts rolled or folded up, placed inside very small containers and delivered.  You could choose familiar characters from popular science fiction movies, television shows or books (such as members of the Alliance and the Empire, as in the “Star Wars” movies), or you can make up your own space-age characters in two opposing sides.  This party would be best for teen or young adults.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Similar to the Mystery variation, posted earlier:  Large area of varied terrain; symbolic items such as flags or secret weapons, etc.; any other props desired, such as “ray” guns or other toy weapons, “communicators,” space helmets, binoculars, listening devices, etc.; long table(s) and chairs.

FOOD:  Since no one knows what space-age food will be like, try to serve the most exotic, modern dishes that you can.  The meal should be elaborate enough to qualify as a small banquet.

DECORATIONS:  For the most part, these will be restricted to the banquet area, though you could set up high-tech command centers for each team, if desired.  Decorate the table in an elegant and very modern way.  Let your imagination take hold!

BLOW-BY-BLOW:         Follow the same format as in the other variations, posted earlier.


     Though this party has some things in common with the Mystery Mansion Party, the activity format is based on the Capture-The-Flag Party posted earlier.

THEME:  Secret agents, international intelligence and espionagesecret agent

INVITATIONS:  If the guest list is very small, the invitations can be rather elaborate, imitating the “Mission:  Impossible” television show.  Inside a plain manila mailing envelope, you could include an audio-cassette tape giving the details of the party (“mission”), a photograph of the host and/or the party area, and a paper with the guest’s given character described in code.  You should also include the key to the code or at least a clue about how to decipher it.  (The two opposing teams could be CIA and KGB, or some similar organizations.)  The tape will not “self-destruct,” but you can request that the guest return it to you when  he or she arrives at the party.

            If the guest list is long enough to make the above invitations impractical, then a simple coded message would suffice.  Check out a book at your local library for descriptions of many different ways to encode a message.  Some ideas are:  Ciphers, such as the Civil War Cipher or an alphabet box; Braille; a scrambled message; invisible inks, etc.  Whatever you use, be sure to follow up in case a guest was unable to decipher the invitation!  This party is best for teen and young adults.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Similar to the versions posted earlier:  Large area of varied terrain or a large building with several floors and many rooms; symbolic items such as secret papers or blueprints, secret (toy) weapons, etc.; any other props desired, such as rope, toy guns or other weapons, disguises, play money, walkie talkies, binoculars, listening devices, etc.; long table(s) and chairs.

FOOD:  The meal should be fairly high-class; perhaps you might serve some foreign delicacies.  Use your most elegant china and set the table as for an important banquet of state. 

DECORATIONS:  Whether the party is held indoors or outdoors, you will probably need nothing more than an elegant table setting.

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:         Follow the same format as in the variations posted earlier.  The conflict between the two teams might involve something like obtaining important secret papers or retrieving stolen blueprints.  At the end of the “game,” a treaty is signed, and the banquet is served.  Perhaps helpers in appropriate costumes might act as waiters and waitresses.

     Another variation on the Capture-The-Flag Party–

THEME:  The wild, wild west; Cowboys and Indians or Good Guys and Outlaws

INVITATIONS:  If you choose the Cowboys and Indians motif, you could write invitations on paper and tie them around arrows to send to the cowboys.  For all other invitations, tie message around a rock.  Hand-deliver or leave on doorsteps.  Use appropriate language in the invitation, and ask guests to dress according to their given identities.  You may also ask them to bring food for the supper.  (Again, use horses only if most of the guests are quite familiar with them.)  This is a good theme for teens and young adults.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Similar to the versions previously described:  Large area of varied terrain; symbolic items such as a peace-pipe or headdress for Native Americans, a cowboy hat or flag or mailbag for the “good guys,” and a bank bag of play money for the outlaws; shelters at each team’s headquarters, if desired, such as tents, tepees, huts or covered wagons; horses and saddles, if desired; any other props desired, such as rope, toy guns, neckerchiefs, toy bows and arrows, etc.; long table(s) and chairs.

FOOD:  Should be typical western fare–hearty stew, biscuits, baked or fried potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, etc.   Sarsaparilla would be great for a beverage.  Serve watermelon or apple pie for dessert.  If possible, you should cook the meal over a campfire (or in a Dutch oven in the hot coals).  Try to round up tin mess-kits for the guests to eat on.  (Aluminum pie plates will work, too.)

DECORATIONS:  Cover the dinner table with a red checkered cloth, with perhaps a western-style arrangement of dried flowers for a centerpiece.  Set up a good campfire, and a chuckwagon to serve the food from would be very effective.  If you use horses, decorate the Indian’s horses with feathers, blankets and beads.  Be sure to have a place to stake them with plenty of food and water.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:         Follow the same format as in the posted variations:  The guests form teams and introduce their characters; the teams choose leaders; you, as host, present each leader with his team’s symbolic item and explain the motives of the conflict between teams.  You then delineate the division of the area and give each team an equal number of horses (if desired). 

            The teams set off, with ten to fifteen minutes to set up their stomping grounds and work out their plans.  The play continues on wit and creativity until one team takes possession of the symbolic item of the other or the specified amount of time is up.  The guests are then called to the dinner table by a cowbell or triangle, make peace (a pretense of smoking the peace pipe might be enacted between Cowboys and Indians) and boast of their brave deeds as they eat the “chow” provided.

     Here is another theme variation for use with the basic Capture-the-Flag Party mentioned in an earlier post.

Guests dressed in medieval costume

Guests dressed in medieval costume

THEME:  Middle Ages, Knights and Ladies–inspired by tales of King Arthur and books like Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott

INVITATIONS:  These will be very similar to the Fantasy version.  Write the message in Olde English lettering (stencils and fonts are available) on parchment scrolls.  Again, assign each guest a character on one of the two teams (Black Knights, Ladies and Hags vs. White Knights, Princes, Princesses and Maidens).  Ask them to come in costume and bring an assigned dish for the feast.  (If  the majority of your guests are good riders and you are going to use horses, let them know in the invitation so they can dress in clothes that will not hamper their riding.)  Tie with a ribbon or seal with sealing wax stamped with a ring, and deliver. 

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  These will be much the same as for the Fantasy version:  Large, wooded area; one flag or other symbolic item for each team; maps of the land and/or any other props desired; horses and saddles, if desired; long table(s) and chairs.

FOOD:  The feast should be traditional English fare from the period, such as roast fowl, corn on the cob, savory breads and cakes, potatoes, meat pies, Yorkshire pudding, “Toad in a Hole,” pastries and steamed plum pudding.   Again, serve grape juice or apple cider for drinks.

DECORATIONS:  Similar to Fantasy Version.  At the feast table, a large canopy festooned with ribbons and flags would be effective.  You might choose symbols for each team and put them on flags or signs at each team headquarters.  If you use horses, deck them out with lots of ribbons, and have a place to stake them with feed and water.

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:         When guests arrive, separate them into their teams by their given characters.  Follow the basic preliminary procedure as in the Fantasy Version:  Guests introduce themselves; teams choose leaders; you give leaders flags or other symbolic items (swords, crowns, shields, goblets) and explain conflict between teams.  (Perhaps the Black Knight believes he is rightful heir to the throne and determines to kidnap the Princess and hold her for ransom until he is given the King’s sword.)  Then explain the division of the land and give each team an equal number of horses (if desired). 

            The teams now take off and are given ten or fifteen minutes to set up their domains and plan their strategies.  Imagination takes over until one team captures the symbolic item of the other or a stalemate is called after a specified amount of time.  The guests return to the feast table, sign a treaty and eat the meal while relating their deeds of derring-do.

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.


            This is a unique party idea that can be used with endless variations, only five of which I will describe in future posts.  This type of party will succeed best with teenagers or young adults who are imaginative and dramatically oriented.  An ideal group might be a Thespians’ Club or a number of avid readers and/or would-be writers who are particularly interested in a certain genre, such as one of the variations listed below.  The more creative and uninhibited the guests are, the more fun this party will be.

            This party is based on a game called “Capture the Flag,” which, stated simply, works something like this:  There are two teams, each of which has its own “headquarters” and “flag” (or other symbolic item).  The object is to steal the flag from the other team’s headquarters–without being tagged–and bring it to the players’ own headquarters.  When a player is tagged, he is either put in “prison” or made to become a member of the other team.  Generally, one team sends several players out to create diversions–chasing and tagging, etc.–while one or more players attempt to capture the coveted flag.  Of course, a guard always remains at the “home” headquarters to protect their own flag.  When one team is successful in the above-stated object, that team wins.

            This basic format for play is enhanced with a theme variation and any extra rules you, as the host or hostess,  may wish to invent.  Amplify the theme chosen by using appropriate costumes, props and setting.  In the following posts, I will share examples of five variations on this theme:  Fantasy, Medieval, Western, Mystery and Science Fiction.  Other variations could come from any period in history, whenever there are two well-identified opposing sides, such as Yankees and Confederates, Revolutionaries and Redcoats, Gangsters and Police, etc.  Or, use some purely fictional enemies found in literature.  The key is to choose a theme that the guests are keenly interested in, so they will be more likely to let their imaginations take fire.

Favorite Game Type Poll

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 11 other followers



Post Calendar

July 2018
« Jul    
%d bloggers like this: