Ideas for the Party Human

Posts Tagged ‘mermaids

THEME:  Pirates, Buried Treasure

INVITATIONS:  These could be shaped like a pirate ship or at least with a picture of a pirate on them.  Message should be couched in typical seaman’s language, such as something like this:  “Ahoy, all ye pirate lads!  ‘Tis time to hoist anchor and set sail in search of Blackbeard’s Treasure.  It’s  (child’s name)  birthday, and the adventure happens on  (date)  at  (time) .  Don’t be a landlubber, but come in your best pirate’s garb to  (house, address, etc.) , or you’ll be made to walk the plank!”  This party is ideal for boys aged 5-10.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Extra costume accessories for those who might need them, such as sashes, one-of-a-kind clip-on earrings or earrings made from string and small canning rings, newspaper pirate hats, head bands and black construction-paper eye patches; treasure chest filled with candy, toys and trinkets; padlock and key for chest; various clues written on pieces of parchment paper; cellophane tape; swimming pool and large rubber raft (if no pool is available, a child’s wagon could be decorated like a clipper ship and the children pulled over land to find the hidden clues and key); small shovels; paper and crayons and/or pirate story; kerchiefs or small bags to put “loot” in.  (You can make a treasure chest from a sturdy cardboard box by gluing fancy-shaped macaroni on it and spraying it with gold paint.)

FOOD:  Cake can be divided into sea (blue frosting or decorator’s gel) and beach (white or tan frosting sprinkled with brown sugar for sand).  A plastic ship sails on the sea, while palm trees, pirates and a treasure chest are placed on the beach.  Drink root beer and serve birthday child’s favorite ice cream with cake.  Miniature treasure chests could hold candy and nuts to nibble on.

DECORATIONS:  The outdoor area will not need much decoration, but the indoor area (if used) should be graced with various nautical items:  compass, fish nets, shells and starfish, plastic fish, toy boats, pictures of pirates, crossed swords, a globe or large world map.  Somewhere there should be a flag (or large poster) with the skull and crossbones on it.  You can also use bright-colored streamers and balloons.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:            The guests should arrive dressed as pirates, but you (the parent/host) have on hand extra accessories, such as those described in the MATERIALS section above, to help out those who forget.  When all have arrived, a helper dressed as a scurvy old pirate tells a tale of buried treasure and presents the children with the first clue to the whereabouts of this famed treasure.  This is a little riddle or rhyme on an odd-shaped piece of parchment, which hints at the location of the next clue.             

            The group of little pirates goes from place to place, collecting all the clues.  When they find the last one, they put them together like a puzzle to form a map.  (Tape is for holding it together.)  Reading the map, they decipher where the treasure is buried. 

            Provided with shovels, they then dig it up, discovering to their dismay that it is locked with a heavy padlock.  But wait!  There is a note attached to the chest telling how the key was thrown in the lagoon and can only be retrieved with the help of a mermaid.  (If pool and raft are not used, the key can be hidden somewhere else outdoors and can only be found with the help of a gypsy and her crystal ball.) 

            The pirates then board the raft and a swimsuited helper (such as an older sister) guides them slowly through the water to the place where the key lies.  She dives and retrieves it for them–in return for something, like a piece of the birthday cake!  Now, at last, they can open the treasure chest.  Inside they find dime store trinkets and toys, candy necklaces and chocolate gold coins.  Give everyone small bags to hold their shares of the loot.  The pirates then settle down for the opening of presents (if desired) and the eating of cake and ice cream. 

            If the children are old enough and there is plenty of supervision, they could swim in the pool until their parents come to get them.  (Be sure to ask them to bring suits and towels.)  If this is not desirable, they can go indoors to hear a pirate story and/or draw pirate pictures until time to leave.

Variations and Comments:        Another game that could be played is Capture a Pirate:  Merely Blindman’s Bluff with a pirate theme.


     I have always loved mermaids, and this is the fantasy party I never had.  The idea for the mermaid tail is not proven, so if anyone has ever made one, I’d love to hear about it.  This party description was written long ago, before Disney’s The Little Mermaid, so it could be changed to contain references to that movie in the invitations, activities and decorations. 





THEME:  Mermaids

INVITATIONS:  Regular card-type with a picture of a mermaid on the front, or shaped like an oyster shell, opening to reveal a plastic pearl glued to the inside.  Ask guests to bring swimsuit and towel and any other apparatus they might require for swimming (such as ear or nose plugs).  This party is recommended for slightly older girls, aged eight to 12.  Some swimming skills are necessary to play the games.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Mermaid tail(s)–described below; mermaid story; stop watch; whistle; treasure article(s) for diving; air mattress or inner tube for floating; prizes (if wanted) and favors such as small seashells, plastic leis, or candy necklaces; paper and crayons.  Oh, yes–and you’ll need a swimming pool, too!

FOOD:  Round layer or oblong cake of child’s favorite flavor, decorated as follows:  Most of the top of the cake will be a beach; simulate sand with brown sugar sprinkled over off-white frosting.  One small area will be frosted blue, to represent the ocean (blue decorator’s gel can be used).  On the beach place a small, nude fashion doll (5-7 inches tall is best), sitting up.  Using blue-green icing and a shell decorator tip, create a mermaid tail covering from the waist to the feet of the doll.  You can also appropriately place frosting seashells on the doll’s chest for modesty.  Other decorations on the beach might include tiny seashells (real or icing), a treasure chest or a plastic palm tree.  For ice cream, use lime sherbet or child’s favorite flavor.  Lemonade or a tropical fruit punch would serve for drinks.

DECORATIONS:  Try to create a seaside atmosphere.  Hang large fish nets strung with seashells, starfish, driftwood and the like.  Set a large potted palm on the deck, if available.  Hang a large sign near the pool reading “Mermaid Lagoon.”  Perhaps you could make use of a sandbox for a mini-beach.  You could also display island artifacts, like native masks or costumes.  Large posters of ocean beaches and skin divers over coral reefs would be excellent.  If you or a friend has a nice fish tank, that would make a good display also.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:            The guests arrive and sit in the shade on the deck.  You (the parent), dressed in tropical island style, read a short, exciting mermaid story and then explain that today each girl will get a chance to be a mermaid.  (If there are boys present, they can be mermen.)  The guests go change into their swimsuits and return for the first activity.

            First, you must teach the children how to swim like mermaids, so tell them all to jump in the shallow end of the Mermaid Lagoon (a.k.a. swimming pool).  (If you don’t have your own pool, you can reserve the pool at a local club or public park.  A shallow lake with a good beach would work, also.)  Having now donned a swimsuit, you or the child hosting the party demonstrate the method of swimming with legs together, kicking as if with one leg.  This is most effective underwater, but can be done with almost any stroke.  The guests now try it, and you act as a watchful lifeguard.  The child who appears to have the most mermaid ability has earned the right to wear the mermaid tail for the next activity.  (If you have made tails for all the guests, they can now put them on.)

            (The mermaid tails can be made simply in the following manner:  Have your child lie down on a large piece of butcher paper and draw a pattern of a simple mermaid tail on the paper around her, leaving about a 6″ border around her body.  Gauge your child’s size relative to her friends and leave generous room for the tail to fit everyone.  [If you love sewing and want to make tails for all the guests, then it might be wise to get waist and waist-to-foot measurements from their mothers.]  Cut out the pattern and pin it to the folded, right-sides-together fabric [any blue-green material suitable for swimsuits].  Cut out and sew around edges, leaving waist open.  According to your desire, you can put in an elastic or drawstring waist, or simply hem it and have large diaper pins available to pin the tail to the child’s swimsuit.  Or, if you’re inviting boys, you may want to make suspender-like straps to keep the tail on.)

            Now comes a series of contests to determine who may wear the tail.  (Or, give prizes for the winners, if you’ve made tails for everyone.)  There is more than one parent supervising, to ensure safety during the games.

            First will be an Underwater Living contest.  Using the stopwatch,  time each guest to see who can stay underwater the longest.  (This contest should be done in water that is not over the children’s heads.)  The winner gets to wear the tail (or receives a prize).

            The next activity is the Mermaid Race.  The children gather at one side of the Mermaid Lagoon and get set.  On the signal, they swim to the other side using the mermaid swimming technique.  The first guest to reach the other side receives the mermaid tail (or a prize).

            The winner of the Mermaid Race is now given the honor of being the Queen (or King) of the Floating Island.  Set her adrift in the Mermaid Lagoon on the air mattress or inner tube.  The other children jump in the pool and try to relieve her of her throne.  This is a water version of King of the Mountain, and the first player to knock the Queen into the water and climb onto the Floating Island is the new Queen and may wear the mermaid tail.  Play this game as long as the guests enjoy it.

            When the children tire of the Floating Island game, they get out of the pool for Diving for Treasures.  Toss a string of plastic pearls or some other such trinket into the deeper area of the pool (deep enough to dive in safely).  Tell the children they must use the mermaid swimming technique or be disqualified, and  then signal them to dive for the treasure.  (If your group is large, you might throw in three different treasures and give first, second and third place prizes in order of retrieval.  Another way might be to give each guest a turn at diving for the treasure and use the stop watch to see who returns it the fastest.)  Again, the winner gets to wear the mermaid tail (or receives a prize).

            After these games, allow the guests free swimming time, if they have any energy left.  After a specified amount of time, close the Mermaid Lagoon, and ask the children to dry off and change clothes.  They gather on the deck or in the house for the birthday cake and presents.  If there is extra time while waiting for parents to pick up their children, the guests may use paper and crayons to draw mermaid scenes.

 Variations and Comments:  If you have just one mermaid tail, make sure that every child gets a chance to wear it at least once.  Try to make it with good, stretchy swimsuit material that dries fast, so they won’t cringe putting on a sopping wet tail.  If you have made tails for all the guests, those can be their party favors to take home. 

            If the pool used is indoors, a different decorating scheme might create the atmosphere of an underwater lair.  Use mood lighting with blue and green spotlights.  Drape seaweed (real, plastic, tissue or crepe paper) around the walls and over doorways.  Use the fish nets, shells and starfish as well, and maybe add a cardboard silhouette of a sunken ship off in a corner.  Use your imagination; what would the underwater domain of the mermaids look like?

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