Ideas for the Party Human

Posts Tagged ‘cooking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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: 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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THEME:  Our pioneer heritage

INVITATIONS:  Cut construction paper into shapes of covered wagons and write the messages on them.  Or, if you are hand-delivering the invitations, make miniature covered wagons from matchboxes, wire, tissue and cardboard.  Write the message on slips of paper which you fold up and place inside the wagon.  Ask guests to dress in pioneer garb, if possible.   This party could work for teens, young adults, adults, or families.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  At least two homemade “covered wagons” or handcarts (made from children’s red wagons or packing crates); guitar or harmonica player; copies of the lyrics to some old songs, such as “Oh, Susanna,” “Old Folks at Home,” “The Old Chisolm Trail,” “Home on the Range,” “All is Well,” etc.;  meadow with campfire area; logs for the fire; folding chairs; props and script for the melodrama.

FOOD:  At this party, you can choose to serve a full chuckwagon dinner or just some simple refreshments.  For the dinner, try to make it as authentic as possible.  For the main dish, try Wild Game Chili or Venison Stew.  If game meat doesn’t sit well with your group, use conventional beef.  Cook the dish at home but keep it warm over the campfire.  You could also try foil-pack dinners, cooked right in the coals.  To accompany the meal, serve Pioneer Crackers or baking powder biscuits.  Top off with Bachelor’s Pudding, mincemeat pie or homemade taffy.  Drink herb tea, or water from canteens.

            If you’re just rustling up some light refreshments, you won’t need so much authenticity.  In addition to the desserts mentioned above, you could have everyone roast marshmallows for s’mores or just by themselves.  If you prefer a saltier snack, beef jerky and fried pork rinds are possibilities.

DECORATIONS:  Only those that Nature provides are needed, but some outdoor lighting to supplement the campfire might be nice.

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:         As guests arrive, you, the host, take them around and introduce them to the others, using quaint and rustic speech.  Then divide them into teams, one for each “prairie schooner” or handcart.  Lining up at a starting line, the guests run a relay where the team members must push or pull their team’s vehicle to a finish line and back, until all the team members have completed the “trek.”  The first team to do this wins the honor of being called “The Trailblazers.” 

            If you are serving dinner, then the guests now gather around the campfire and partake.  If not, pass out the lyrics to the old songs, and the guitarist or harmonica-player accompanies a sing-along.  Next, it is time for some Charades, using only pioneer words and names.  The last activity of the night is a pioneer melodrama.  You draft certain guests to play the starring roles, and the rest will act the important part of audience, complete with participation–heckling, cheering, booing, hissing and the like.  The participant who will be the narrator takes a moment to look over the script, while you prepare the other players with costumes and props.  When all is ready, the narrator begins and the actors and actresses follow his cues, improvising and ad libbing as inspiration strikes. 

            When the drama concludes, the guests settle down before the fire again to eat dessert (or other refreshments) before heading home.


Variations and Comments: You may wish to use some alternative activities, such as dancing the “Virginia Reel,” or playing old-fashioned games like Musical Chairs or Wink.  Another idea is to have the handcart teams take their vehicles on an obstacle course through the woods, where Indians (well-placed helpers) ambush them.  Time each team with a stopwatch, and give a prize of beef jerky to the team with the best time.  Or, eliminate the competitive element and take everyone on a trek fraught with dangers and difficulties, ending by “circling the wagons” around the campfire.  You could also interject a bit of real history to educate your guests a little!  There are loads of possibilities.

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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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THEME:  Olympic-style competition, family unity, teamwork

INVITATIONS:  This event would work best as a church or neighborhood social or a family reunion.  In this case, publicity and preparation must come several weeks in advance.  The upcoming activity is announced and publicized with posters, etc.  Ask families to sign up, and those who do so are given a plain, white piece of material,  and a handout.   The handout should identify the date, location and time of the event; it might also include instructions like this:

             “This week, get your whole family together and sit down to fill out the section below, listing any events you feel members of your team could compete in.  Use your imagination and think of each member’s talents.  Feel free to go outside the “traditional Olympic events.”  Possible events could include:  Baby Crawling Race, Mini-golf, Water Pistol Dueling, Hula Hooping, Relay Races, Frisbee Throwing, Bowling, Baking Contest, Free-Throws, etc.  Be sure to list at least one event for each individual and one team event.

            “Also, when you have your family all together, have fun designing and creating your own Family Flag.  You can use anything to decorate the material–crayons, markers, paint–whatever you want.  You can design your flag any way you wish; it will be yours to keep as a family treasure, and the only requirement is that it have your family name somewhere on it.”

            Ask the families to bring the handout back to you by a specific date, about a week later, so your committee can consider their suggestions for events.  Make it clear that you won’t be able to feature every event suggested, but you will do the best you can.  Also, ask them to bring their Family Flag to you by a certain date, about a week before the event, so you can display it at the Games.  (If that doesn’t work, they can bring it early to the Olympics and hang it up then.)  Lastly, let them know where and when to bring their team on the date of the social, and suggest they all try to wear something of the same color, if possible.  Be upbeat and positive–make sure they know this is an event they won’t want to miss!  At the bottom of the handout, have a place for them to list the members of their team by name, the names of the individual and team events they suggest, and the name of a well-known song they wish to designate as their team song. 

            Decorate this handout with appropriate drawings or clip art.  We also suggest you might use an adaptation of the colorful Olympic symbol of five linked rings by using a logo of five linked hearts, like the sample below*:

 T-shirt logo for a family reunion


After you have collected the completed handouts, you choose the events and send out a flyer to notify them so they can begin “training.”  (If you do not receive enough suggestions, you may need to choose the events yourself.)  The flyer should remind every one of the date and time of the Olympics and then list the events that will be featured.  That list might read something like this: 

 TODDLER EVENTS (three & under)

                        1.         3 yd. Dash                                                                   

                        2.         Rolling Race                                                                


                       1.  Kangaroo Dash                  

                       2.  Tossing Accuracy (Block Toss)


                        1.  Whip Cream Bob                           

                         2.  Obstacle Course                                                     


                        1.  “Underwater Swimming” Race        

                        2.  Free Throw Contest

                        3.  Lemon Golf                        

                        4.  “Discus” Throw

                        5.  “High Dive”                         

                        6.  Water Pistol Accuracy


                        1.  Egg Toss                                        

                        2.  “Domestic” Obstacle Course                                   

                        3.  Nail Pounding Contest                    

                        4.  “Name That Tune”

                        5.  Baking Contest (Cakes or Cookies)   

                        6.  Horseshoes

TEAM EVENTS– (All teams may enter)

                       1.  Barbershop Race (Balloon shaving)   

                        2.  Potato Relay

                        3.  “Hot Air” Balloon Races

Total team scores at the Games will be divided by number of team members to make judging fair for all teams. 

            Be sure to include your phone number on the flyer, should the families have any questions. 

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Microphone, if possible; materials for group game at beginning; event schedules and index cards for each participant; torch (if you cannot use a real torch, try covering a large flashlight with foil, fastening red cellophane at the lighted end, and setting it on a pedestal); pencils for judges; materials for all events; silver, gold and bronze medals (look-alikes to the real things can be ordered at a trophy store); ribbons for all participants (paper ribbons with the logo and the words “Family Olympics Finalist” printed on them); platform; piano, keyboard or guitar to play winning team’s song.

FOOD:  If you do have a baking contest, then the entries will serve for refreshments.  Of course, you do not know how many entries there will be, so it would be best to ask those not entering to each bring one dozen cookies, or something similar.  If you do not have a baking contest, then ask each team to bring two dozen cookies.  Then serve a drink, such as homemade root beer.  Your local dry ice distributor may also sell root beer extract and a recipe.  Use disposable napkins and cups in red, white and blue or primary colors.

DECORATIONS:  Most likely, this will be a combination indoor-outdoor social.  Wherever you have everyone assemble at the beginning and end of the party, you should hang the family flags on display.  Near the microphone should be the stand with the torch, and above that you might hang a giant set of linked hearts, like the logo.  Fashion these from wire and tape.  Then, using colored crepe paper streamers–red, yellow, blue, white–tape the streamers to the wire to give the hearts alternating colors.  Hang the whole thing with fishing line.  You may also want to decorate the winners’ platform and walls with red, white and blue streamers and balloons.  Make sure there are plenty of chairs around the edges of the room, and have several large trash cans on hand for cleanup.  Also, have signs labeling the location of each event.

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:         As the teams arrive, they involve themselves in a group game–such as Cooling the Cotton–to be played until everyone has arrived, but for no more than about ten minutes.  They may also enjoy looking at the other family flags.

            When the Group Game is over, you, the committee chairperson or host, use the microphone to explain procedures to the participants.  Ask everyone to pick up a schedule and index card and to write their names on the cards.  Each time they enter an event, they must have the event judge write their scores on the cards.  At the end of the competition, the family team will take one card, write their names on it and the sum total of their scores, and turn the card into the judges.  The judges will then average the scores according to the number of team members.  Briefly go over the schedule and answer any questions, then an honored guest emcee–like the leader of the organization–lights the torch and proclaims, “Let the Games begin!”  The participants then go on to compete in their events as listed on the schedule.  A sample schedule might look something like this:

                                                        SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

 Time                            Event                                                  Location

(about 20 min.) Toddler Events                         (room or area)

                                    3 Yard Dash                                         ”

                                    Rolling Race                                         ”

                                    Jr. Children’s Events                        

                                    Kangaroo Race                                    ”

                                    Block Tossing Accuracy                  ”

                                    Sr. Children’s Events                         

                                    Whip Cream Bob                                 ”

                                    Obstacle Course                                  ”

(about 25 min.) Youth and Adult Events 

                                    “Underwater Swimming Race”       ”

                                    Free Throw Contest                           ”

                                    Lemon Golf                                            ”

                                    “Discus” Throw                                     ”

                                    “High Dive”                                             ”

                                    Water Pistol Accuracy                      ”

                                    Egg Toss                                                  ”

                                    “Domestic” Obstacle Course            ”

                                    Nail Pounding Contest                       ”

                                    “Name That Tune”                                ”

                                    Horseshoes                                             ”

                        (Baking Contest entries should be brought to kitchen before start of Games.)    

(about 25 min.) Team Events                                         (room or area)

                                    Barbershop Race                                     ”

                                    Potato Relay                                              ”

                                    “Hot Air” Balloon Races                         ”

(remaining time, Refreshments, while judges tally scores about 30 min.) 

                                  Awards Ceremony                                     ”

                                    Clean-up–pitch in!                                                      

                                 THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATED!!!

            At each event, a helper acts as judge and gives participants scores on a scale of 1-10 for their performances.  These he writes on the participants’ score cards before they go on to another event. 

            The judges are people who want to be a part of the activity but who do not wish to compete in the games, such as the elderly, disabled, etc.  No one should be asked to be a judge unless he or she states that he or she does not want to compete.  It may be necessary to look outside the organization for helpers to be judges.  The children’s events can be done one or two at a time, lessening the number of judges needed.  The older family members can watch and cheer for their younger participants; then, the children can go watch and cheer for the teens and adults. 

            At the appointed time, all the judges close their areas, and the teams return to the main room for the Team Events.  These are done one right after the other, with the judges watching and scoring the teams as a whole. 

            When the Team Events are over, the head of each team adds the allowable scores from each member and writes the total on his card.  He then writes the names of all the team members on the card and turns it in to the judges.  The judges retire to another room to average the scores.  (A calculator would be helpful at this time.)  The winners of the baking contest are announced, and the refreshments are served while the judges tally. 

            When the judges have their results, the emcee gets everyone’s attention.  He asks that, as he reads the winners’ names, the winning teams will bring their flags forward and stand in the proper places–Gold on the platform, Silver to the right, Bronze to the left.  The emcee then reads the winning teams’ names, with great fanfare.  (A drum roll or trumpet fanfare would be nice.)  The teams take their places, with the youngest members holding the flags.  An accomplished pianist or other musician plays the Gold-winning team’s family song while the chosen emcee presents the medals.  The committee members then pass out the participant ribbons to all the members of the other teams.  When everyone has finished eating, the torch is doused and everyone helps clean up.  Each team may take its own flag home to keep.

Variations and Comments:        Some of the events listed in the sample schedule above are self-explanatory, but in case you’re wondering what some of the others are, we’ll explain them for you.

            Rolling Race:  Toddlers lie down and roll from starting line to finish line.

            Kangaroo Race:  Children put strong rubber bands around their ankles and hop from starting line to finish line.

            Block Tossing Accuracy:  Children stand on a line and toss wooden blocks into a muffin tin.

            Whip Cream Bob:  Each child is given a pie plate filled with whipped cream.  At the bottom of the pan is a piece of bubble gum.  The first one to get the piece of gum with his mouth and blow a bubble gets a perfect score of 10!

            “Underwater Swimming Race”:  (See Mid-Winter Beach Party in earlier post.)

            Lemon Golf:  Use a lemon or other fruit for the golf ball and a broom or mop for the club.  Using the stick end of the broom or mop, the contestant hits the lemon like a golf ball across the floor.  Holes can be circles made with tape or string on the floor, or an upside down plate can be used for added challenge.

            “Discus Throw”:  Instead of a discus, the participant uses a paper plate.

            “High Dive”:  (See Mid-Winter Beach Party in earlier post.)

            Water Pistol Accuracy:  This can be done using loaded water pistols shooting at a target, or you can stage duels at ten paces.

            “Domestic” Obstacle Course:  This can be done any number of ways.  If you have stairs in the building, one way to do it is to scatter clothes, sheets or towels all the way up the stairs.  The participant is given a laundry basket and must run up the stairs, gathering all the items into the basket as he goes.  At the top of the stairs, he must fold all the items and bring them back down the stairs.  Use a stop watch to time his efforts.

            Barbershop Race:  Each team is given a balloon to blow up.  A helper then covers each balloon with shaving cream.  At a given signal, the team leader shaves the balloon while the other team members hold it steady.  The first team done without popping their balloon gets the 10.  A plastic drop-cloth should be placed on the floor if this is done indoors.

            Potato Relay:  This is a typical relay, transporting a potato on a spoon.  A set number of runs must be made to make it fair for uneven teams.

            “Hot Air” Balloon Races:  Each team stands in a circle and holds hands.  A helper drops a balloon in their circle, and they must keep it in the air using only their breath.  They may move around, but they must not break the circle.  The last team with their balloon in the air gets the 10.

             Our family used this activity for a small family reunion, and it worked wonderfully.  We divided our family into three teams, one for each surname involved.  One team was responsible for obtaining the necessary facilities, one for organizing and overseeing the food, and one for the activities.  Each family team was responsible for making their own flag and for 1-3 events.  Each family bought, cooked and served meals for one day, and we all went in together on the cost of the lodging and T-shirts. 

            We had an Opening Ceremony, where the youngest child brought in a candle, which was passed to each person, in order of age, until the oldest used it to light a larger candle on a stand.  Our father built a little stand to display all three flags.  We scheduled our events in the morning–two or three per day–and left the afternoons free for recreation.  Each night, the dinner was from a different country, but we kept everything simple.  In the evenings, we had optional activities like a Kid’s Impromptu Talent Show, a family trivia game, a sing-along and a new tradition of honoring the newest member of the family.  Some of the events we had were a Three-Legged Race, ‘Round-the-World Ping Pong, a Hammock Race, a Barbershop Race, and Water Balloon Volleyball.  We videotaped the events and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.  We all had T-shirts with the “Linking Hearts” logo on them, as above, each team’s shirts in a different primary color.  We even had gold, silver and bronze medals that looked like the real thing!  It was a wonderful and memorable family reunion.

[*]This was the logo for our family’s family reunion, which we had printed on our T-shirts.

     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.

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