Ideas for the Party Human

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     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. 

ARIEL

 

 

 

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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