Ideas for the Party Human

Posts Tagged ‘dancing

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:  It seems that someone long ago has already picked out themes for wedding anniversaries.  Here’s the list:

1 year              Paper

5 years            Wood

10 years           Tin

15 years          Crystal

20 years          China

25 years           Silver

50 years           Gold

75 years           Diamond

INVITATIONS:  Take your cue from the theme, and if you can’t make the invitations out of the medium suggested, then use pictures of crystal, china, etc.  Silver or gold paper could be used for those anniversaries, and invitations to a Diamond Wedding could be diamond-shaped.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  The point of an anniversary party is to honor the couple who have kept their marriage alive for a number of years.  The most common anniversary celebrations given are those referred to as the Golden Weddings.  Previous to the 50th anniversary, it is perfectly acceptable to give a party for the couple, but it is usually not as large an affair as the Golden Wedding.

For those smaller celebrations, it may be best to invite a small group of family members and perhaps some very close friends.  Try to choose games that might go with the theme, such as word games for Paper, a nature walk and tree identification game for Wood, a hobo party with appropriate games for Tin, fortunetelling in a crystal ball for Crystal, a Chinese party with authentic games from China for the China anniversary, and games involving silverware such as Potato Relay and Spoons for the Silver Wedding.

For the more common Golden Wedding anniversary, there are usually quite a large number of people in attendance.  For this reason, games like those suggested above are generally impractical.  The traditional anniversary celebration is something like a Mock Wedding Reception.  For this type of celebration, you don’t need very many materials for activities.  You’ll need a decorated area for the reception line, a table for gifts, chairs and tables for food and guests, and equipment needed for musical numbers and/or speeches.

FOOD:  For the smaller gatherings, try to serve some favorite food of the honored couple, especially if you are having a dinner.  Often, a specially decorated cake is served for dessert, and these can be made to fit the theme.  For paper, bake the cake in the open-book pan available at craft and cake-decorating stores; it can be the book of their life together.  For Wood, try decorating a sheet cake with a family tree.  Tin could mean small, individual cakes baked in tin cans.  For Crystal, try decorating a wedding-type cake with little crystals from chandeliers.  For China, bake a round layer cake and decorate the top to look like their first china pattern.  For Silver, decorate with silver paper leaves and the little silver balls used on wedding cakes.  For Diamond, cut cake into a diamond shape before frosting.

For the Mock Wedding Reception at a golden wedding celebration, have a large cake much like a wedding cake, accented with gold decor.  You might have a golden punch made with apple juice and ginger ale, and, instead of colored mints, you could have lemon drops in the candy dish.

DECORATIONS:  For the smaller, earlier celebrations, take your decorating cue from the theme.  For Paper, use lots of paper streamers, etc.  For Wood, gather and display as many wooden objects as possible.  Set potted trees around.  For Tin, decorate with tin cans, shorn of their labels.  For Crystal, be sure to display wedding crystal and decorate with crystal prisms.  For China, display different patterns of china–or, for a play on words, decorate in Chinese style.  For Silver, display silver items and use silver-colored decorations.  For Diamond, you can again use lots of prisms, such as those hanging from chandeliers.

For the Mock Wedding Reception, decorate in gold and white, with plenty of flowers, paper wedding bells, or whatever suits you.  Be sure to have a backdrop, such as a lattice garden archway, for the reception line.  Perhaps you could have the couple’s favorite love songs playing softly in the background during the reception line.  Set up an elegant table for refreshments and another for gifts, if gifts are expected.  Also, set the appropriate number of round tables and chairs around the room.  Centerpieces could be single white roses in bud vases tied with gold ribbons.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:       If you wish to play games at your anniversary celebration, choose any that suit you. (Later posts will detail a number of games.) However, if your party is an intimate, “family only” affair, we can suggest one activity that will assure a heartwarming, memorable time with loved ones.

We call this activity “Reverie,” for that is just the type of mood it is meant to create.  It is basically a time of sharing old memories, but if you need some help jump-starting the trip down memory lane, you can write some words or phrases of people, places, things, animals, and actions on 3″x5″ cards and have participants draw cards and think of a memory about the word(s) on their cards.   You can get these from dictionaries, other games, books or your own imaginative memories.

A Mock Wedding Reception is very much what it sounds like:  The honored couple stands (or sits) in a reception line, with children and grandchildren if possible, and welcomes the guests as they come through the line.  Gifts are piled on a gift table.  After going through the line, guests get something to eat and mingle.  Musical numbers may be presented as solos or duets.  When the reception line has ended, the honored husband and wife cut a cake, and they may open their presents as well.  Sometimes a dance is held.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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THEME:  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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