Ideas for the Party Human

Posts Tagged ‘peers

Animal Blindman’s Bluff (YC, C)–One child is blindfolded and stands in the center of the circle of players.  In his hand he holds a cane or plastic baseball bat.  The children dance around him till he taps on the floor, when they must stand still.  The Blindman then points his cane at some player, who takes the other end of the cane in his hand.  The Blindman commands the player to make a noise like some animal and then tries to guess who the player is.  If the guess is correct, they exchange places.  If not, the game continues, with the Blindman trying again with some other player.  The children may disguise their voices or their height.  With a large crowd, two or more Blindmen may be used at once.

 

 Apple-biting Contest (C, T, A)–Tie apples by the stems on strings attached to a heavy cord which is held high by posts (or whatever works).  Each contestant arranges his apple so that he can reach it with his mouth by standing on tiptoe.  At the signal to go, each player tries to get a bit of his apple.  Use of the hands is not allowed.  The first player to get three bites wins.

A variation is to use doughnuts instead of apples.  This time, the first player to get a bite wins.

Balloon Battle (T, A)–The guests are arranged in couples, and each girl has a blown-up balloon tied to her left ankle with a yard-long string.  The couples must keep their arms linked all during the game, the guy with the girl to his right.  Each man tries to protect his partner’s balloon while he, at the same time tries to step on and pop all of the others.  This goes on until only one couple’s balloon survives, and that couple wins the game.balloons

 Birthday Month Charades (T, A)–The group is organized by birthday months.  Those born in January get together, those in February, and so on.  Each group is given about 5 minutes to brainstorm and plan their pantomime.  When the time is up, each group in turn presents a pantomime of something about their month, such as the presentation of a Valentine for February, an Easter egg hunt for April, the signing of the Declaration of Independence for July, or the first Thanksgiving for November.  The groups not performing must watch and guess the month and the meaning of the charade being acted out.

Blind Postman (E)–One guest is blindfolded and stands in the center of a circle of chairs, as the Postman.  The leader (usually the host or hostess) is the Postmaster and has a list of cities which have been assigned to the players (who are seated on the chairs), one to each person.  The Postmaster calls the names of two cities, such as “Los Angeles to Houston.”  “Los Angeles” and “Houston” must immediately exchange seats while the Blind Postman tries to catch one of them or sit in a vacated chair.  The player who is caught becomes the Postman.  Players may crawl, run, walk, dodge or dive to escape the Postman, but they may not step outside the circle of chairs.  If the Postman seems to have trouble capturing someone, the leader may call four or five cities at a time, making it easier for someone to be caught.  When the Postmaster calls “Parcel Post!” all players must exchange seats.  Play continues as long as the Postmaster desires; a specified time limit is a good idea.  If the group is small, play until everyone has had a chance to be Postman.  It is possible to adapt the basic concept of this game to fit many party themes.

Careers (T, A)–Couples are formed, each couple draws from a box a slip of paper.  On the paper is written some occupation, and each couple must act out the profession given them.  The rest of the guests try to guess what it is.  For instance, a doctor might give his patient a physical, or an actor might play a scene from a well-known play or film.  Unlike charades, the couples may speak, but they must not say the name of the career or any derivative of it.

“Farmer in the Dell” (YC)–The children join hands and walk around in a circle, while the player chosen to be the Farmer stands in the center.  They sing the song, and when the lyrics indicate, he chooses a partner for a Wife.  Each player, in turn, selects another to represent the Child, the Nurse, the Dog, the Cat, the Rat, and the Cheese.  During the last verse, they all gather around the Cheese and clap their hands.  The Cheese becomes the Farmer for the next game.  The lyrics to the song are as follows:

1.         “The farmer in the dell, the farmer in the dell,children playing a game

Heigho! The derry-o! The farmer in the dell.”

2.         “The farmer takes a wife,” etc.

3.         “The wife takes a child,” etc.

4.         “The child takes a nurse,” etc.

5.         “The nurse takes a dog,” etc.

6.         “The dog takes a cat,” etc.

7.         “The cat takes a rat,” etc.

8.         “The rat takes the cheese,” etc.

9.         “The cheese stands alone,” etc.

Floating Feather (C, T, A)–Divide guests into groups of not more than eight.  The players join hands in a circle and try to keep a feather in the air by blowing.  They must not break hands.  The group which can keep the feather up longest wins.

Human Bingo (T, A)–Give everyone a sheet of paper divided into twenty squares.  Each player must get a signature of someone present in each square.  Meanwhile, the hostess writes down all the guests’ names on small slips of paper and places them in a hat.  When everyone is ready, she draws these names out one at a time.  When she called a guest’s name, that persons stands and turns around slowly, so everyone can get to know him and have a chance to check their bingo sheets for his name.  Each guests with that name on his sheet marks an “X” in that square.  When a player gets four X’s in a row, horizontally, vertically or diagonally, he shouts, “Bingo!”  He may be given a piece of candy or some other reward.  Continue until four or five players achieve Bingo.

Humility Contest (A)–Give each guest six ribbons of various colors, or something similar, to pin on their lapel.  No person is to say “I” for the rest of the evening.  If one guest catches another saying “I,” he or she may take one of that guest’s ribbons.  The one having the most ribbons at the end of the evening receives a prize for his or her contribution to the cause of humility.

Initials, Please! (T, A)–Give everyone a sheet of paper and a pencil.  Ask the guests to write down on the left-hand side of the paper a pre-determined word associated with the theme of the party.  On a signal, the players search for persons whose first or last names begin with one of the letters in the selected word.  When a player finds a person whose first or last name begins with one of the letters, he ask the person to sign his name to the right of the letter.  Although the person signs both his first and last name, he writes them in the order that they are needed.  The first player to find the people whose first or last names begin with the letters in the selected word reports to the leader, who then calls a halt to the game.  The leader reads the name appearing next to each letter, and asks the person whose name is read to raise his or her hand.  If the complete list is correct, the player wins the game.  If his list is incorrect, the leader calls for the person with the next highest number of names.  In the event that no ones first or last name begins with one of the letters in the word, everyone may write next to the missing letter, “Miss Nobody.”  Then the player with the most complete correct list wins the game.

“I’ve Got Your Number” (T, YA)–Give each guest a number which is to be pinned on them in plain sight and worn throughout the game.  Now give each player a list of instructions, such as the following:  “Introduce 5 to 2”; “Shake hands with 7 and 8”; “Find out the color of 10’s eyes”; “Ask 3 what he (or she) likes best for dessert”; “Ask 1 why good men (or women) are hard to find”; “Give 9 a ‘high five'”; etc.  It might simplify matters if you give only even numbers to men and odd numbers to ladies–or vice versa.

Marshmallow Race (C, T, YA)–Thread a large marshmallow to the middle of a string two feet long.  Two players take the ends of the string in their teeth.  At the signal to go, each player starts chewing the string.  The first one to get to the marshmallow wins.

Murder (T, YA)–Each guest is given a piece of paper which he must not show to the others.  He disposes of it after reading what is on it.  All but two slips of paper are blank.  Of the two, one reads “Murderer” and the other, “Detective.”  The Detective leaves the room, and the lights are turned out.  The players move around in the middle of the room until the murderer puts his hands on someone’s neck.  That person screams and falls to the floor.  The lights are turned on, and the Detective enters to question the guests.  Everyone must answer the questions truthfully, except the Murderer, who may lie if he wishes.  The Detective tries to discover who the Murderer is by interrogating the witnesses.

Number Call (T, A)–One player is designated as “It,” and the other guests are numbered.  “It” is blindfolded.  (Players may now change seats to confuse It.)  “It” calls from two to four numbers, and the guests with those numbers must change seats.  “It” tries either to tag a player or to get a vacated seat.  When the guests exchange seats, they move quietly, dodging as may be required to keep from being tagged.  If a guest is caught, he must take Its place, and the old It takes the number of the caught player.  The game proceeds as long as desired or until everyone has had a chance to be It.

Pass the Orange (T, YA)–Line up five to ten players on a side and give each side an orange of approximately the same size.  The race starts by each team having its first player place the orange under his chin, holding it there against his neck and chest.  From this time on, the hands must not touch the orange except to pick it up off the floor if it’s dropped.  He then passes the orange to the next player, who grabs it with her neck and chin in the same manner.  The first team to get the orange all the way through to the end wins.

Quick-Draw Relay (C, T, A)–Each of several groups chooses an artist and sends him to the leader.  This leader whispers to these representatives some item to draw, and they rush back to their groups to draw it.  As soon as an artist’s group guesses what’s being drawn, the members yell it.  The artist mustn’t give them any hint except by his drawing.  He may not write anything.  Each time, a new artist must be sent to the leader.  The first team to have each member complete a turn as artist wins.

Quiz ‘Em (T, A)–The hostess hands each guest a pencil and a handout.  Each person is asked to read the handout carefully and do as it directs.  Allow 10-15 minutes for this mixer.  The hostess then signals the end and asks all to be seated to check for the winner.  The player with the most complete list is the winner.  The handout may read something like this:

Please get the signature of the guests meeting the descriptions listed  below.  Get the name of a:

1.         Person born out of the state.                                       

2.         Person with initials that spell a word.                             

3.         Person who has a pet bird at home.                                  

4.         Person with a friendly smile.                                       

5.         Person whose last name could be a first name.                       

6.         Person with a hearty laugh.                                         

7.         Person who is left-handed.                                          

8.         Person wearing something brand new.                                 

9.         Person with dimples.                                                

10.       Person who plays a guitar.                                          

A variation of this game is to square the paper with four lines down and four across, making 16 squares.  Write a question within each square, leaving enough space at the bottom of each square for the signature.  Start everyone writing at the same time and the first person to get four in a row (like Bingo or Tic-Tac-Toe) is the winner.

Story Mix-up (C)–Take two short stories, like “The Little Red Hen” and “Little Red Riding Hood,” and copy them sentence by sentence on separate slips of paper, a sentence to a slip.  Mix them up in a bowl and then have each child draw a slip or two, according to the size of the group.  Indicate one player to begin the story by reading her first sentence.  The child to the right of the starter reads his first sentence, and so on it goes around the circle.

Ways to Get Partners (T, YA singles)–One way is to pass long strings through a large decoration which goes with the party theme–such as a heart for Valentine’s Day or a paper football for a Super Bowl party.  They should hang down evenly on either side.  The girls take hold of the ends on one side and the guys on the other.  At a signal they pull and locate their partners.

Another way partners may be formed is by matching valentines, numbers, split quotations, questions and answers, states and capitals, etc.–whatever fits the theme of the party.

Still another method is to write the names of composers, writers, artists or poets on one set of papers and the names of their musical numbers, books, artwork or poems on another set.  Distribute one set to the ladies and one to the men, if you are pairing in couples.  On a signal, the guests set out to match the names of the creators with the titles of their creations.  When the two meet, they become partners.

A more lively way of finding partners is the names of various common animals or birds on duplicate slips of paper (two of each animal or bird).  Give a slip of paper to each person, making sure that there are always two slips in circulation for each animal or bird.  On a signal, everyone begins searching for his or her partner by giving the characteristic call of the creature on his paper.  When two of the same kind meet, they are partners.

Who Am I? (T, A)–As the guests arrive, pin a slip of paper to each one’s back, making sure the person doesn’t see what is written on the paper.  Write the name of a famous person, whether contemporary, historical or scriptural.  As the guests move from person to person, they ask questions about the mystery person on their paper, trying to find out who it is.  As soon as a player is successful in guessing the name, he may remove the paper and sit down.  Other players try make their answers vague enough that the one asking won’t be able to sit down before they do.

One variation is to allow players to ask only those questions which can be answered by a “yes” or a “no,” or to ask only the question “What made this person famous?”.  You could have the people asked pantomime what made the person famous, instead of answering.  Another variation is to use names of well-known products, instead of famous people.

Zoo (E)–Peanuts, colored pieces of paper, candies or other things are hidden around the playing area.  Guests are divided into groups, and each group is given the name of some animal.  A keeper is designated for each group, and the players scatter to hunt for the hidden objects.  When a guests finds one, he cannot pick it up but must stand by it and make a sound like the animal he represents.  He continues this noise until the keeper for his group comes and picks up what has been found.  The game goes on until all the objects have been found or a specified time limit expires.  Then the keeper and group with the most items win.  This game can be adapted to fit many themes by changing the type of objects hidden, what or who the players are supposed to represent, and the kind of action they must do when they find the hidden treasures.

zoo animals

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THEME: Treasure hunt for gifts

INVITATIONS: Cut invitations in the shape of a treasure chest, with a lid that opens up to reveal the message. Let the guests know that they need to arrive earlier than the bride-to-be, so the gifts may be well hidden by the time she arrives.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES: Large trunk or box; clues (see below for suggestions); large trash bag; pad of paper and pencil.

FOOD: One idea is to make a large sheet cake and decorate the top to look like a treasure map of the journey through life. Various points on the map could be labelled with short phrases like “Wedding Day,” “First Child Born,” “First Home Bought,” etc. Small plastic figures appropriate to these phrases could be placed at those particular points (such as a bride and groom, baby, house, etc.). Instead of mints or nuts, you could fill a dish with gold foil-covered chocolate coins for the guests to sample.

DECORATIONS: Try to create a tropical island atmosphere. Use decorating ideas from the Hawaiian Luau and perhaps the Pirate Party.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:     As directed, the guests arrive early, and you (the hostess) hide the gifts in a large trunk or box in a pre-chosen place. You then set up a trail of clues (usually little notes written in rhyme) hidden as in the usual method for a treasure hunt. Some sample clues might read:

Straight up the stairs

In the bedroom ahead

You’ll find information

(Look under the bed!).”

The card found under the bed might read:

Pinned on a tree

In the yard down below

You’ll see some directions

About where to go.”

The card on the tree will hold another message leading to another clue, and so forth and so on. The last clue, sitting atop the trunk holding the presents, might read something like this:

“Just like this hunt

Your marriage will be,

Some ups and downs

And uncertainty.

Hold on to the end,

And you’ll see it’s true

That success comes only

By following through.”

You may elect to invite the groom-to-be to help his fianceé find her way to the treasure. When the guest(s) of honor arrive(s), make sure everyone is acquainted, then give the bride-to-be the first clue and explain that she’s going to have to work a little for her presents. The guests then follow the bride-to-be from place to place as she reads the clues aloud, but they give her no help! When she reaches the “treasure,” they gather round to watch her open the gifts. Be sure to have a recorder and let everyone admire each gift, then finish with refreshments.

* * *

THEME:  Type of gifts the bride-to-be needs, such as Kitchen, Hope Chest or Trousseau

INVITATIONS:  These should be appropriate to the theme.  For instance, if it is to be a Kitchen Shower, cut the invitation into the shape of a rolling pin, apron, or other kitchen item.  Be sure the guest knows to bring a gift for the bride-to-be’s kitchen.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Materials for playing your chosen games (see below for ideas); prizes, if desired; large trash bag; seating for everyone; pad of paper and pencil.

FOOD:  For this type of shower, it would be appropriate to serve the favorite dessert and punch of the bride-to-be.

DECORATIONS:  Again, you should follow the theme for the shower in your decorating.  For the Hope Chest Shower, decorate with the bride-to-be’s favorite colors.  For a Kitchen shower, display various kitchen gadgets.  Perhaps you could decoration with fashion advertisements, magazines and posters for a Trouseau Shower. 

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:       Each bridal shower is as individual as the bride herself, so we will not describe a complete shower party in detail but rather give a few ideas for adding just that special touch.  It is important to know the bride-to-be well and try to give the kind of shower that she will appreciate and enjoy.  A good bridal shower should be more than just gift-opening and refreshments; enough activities should be planned to evoke that girlish camaraderie that makes these occasions so fun and full of life.  So, we hope that you may be able to choose from these ideas to create the personalized bridal shower that will be a glowing success.

            Greet the guests as they arrive and take their gifts to keep on a gift table until time to open them.  Make sure to introduce everyone, so no one will feel like a stranger.  Of course, the main activity will be opening the gifts, but you should have a few warm-up activities to lead into that.              Your activities should follow your theme.  For instance, for a Hope Chest Shower, you might play games to test how well you know the bride-to-be and/or her fiance.  One idea is to cut out pictures from magazines of things like houses, fashions, foods and babies.  Make sure you cut out at least three of each type of item, and they must be obviously different from each other.  Number each picture and pass them around, asking the guests to write down the number from each set that they think the bride-to-be would prefer.  Then have the bride-to-be make her choices and give a prize to the guest who got the most correct.  Another old favorite is to have each guest write some marriage advice on a piece of paper without signing her name.  The bride-to-be must read the advice aloud and try to guess who gave it.

            For a Kitchen Shower, you might have a relay race using various kitchen tools or a word game using the names of kitchen appliances.

            A Trousseau Shower might include the old favorite,  the Wedding Gown Contest.  Divide the guests into two or three teams and give each team a box of supplies such as an old white sheet, construction paper, newspaper, crepe or tissue paper, tape, marking pens, etc.  Each team chooses one member to be the model and then creates a fanciful gown on that girl with the supplies given.  Prizes can be given for Most Creative, Prettiest, Silliest, etc.

            It is quite common and therefore appropriate to give prizes to the winners of the games; however, that is entirely up to you.  If you choose to award prizes, try to keep them in line with your theme–such as a scarf or hair trinket for a Hope Chest or Trousseau Shower, a small kitchen gadget for a Kitchen Shower, etc.

            When the games have brought the right feeling to the party, it is time for the bride-to-be to open her gifts.  (This part will be pretty much the same for all the showers we describe.)  Have the guests sit in a circle and pass each gift along to be admired after it has been opened.  If you are busy getting the refreshments ready, ask another guest to record the names of the gifts and the givers to aid the bride-to-be in writing her thank-you notes.  Quickly dispose of wrapping paper as she goes along, so as to prevent a major mess when she is done; another idea is to create a hat from a paper plate and the ribbons and bows that the bride-to-be must wear.

            After the gifts are all open, begin serving the refreshments, serving the guest of honor first, of course. 

                                                                          * * *

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.

* * *

THEME:  Field games

INVITATIONS:  On the outside of the invitation, place a picture of an old-time garden party with the words:  “In days gone by, a lawn party was the height of gentility, but today . . .”  Inside, put a picture of kids playing football, or some other such physical game, with the words:  “. . . things are not quite so civilized!”  Give the necessary information and be sure to tell the guests to wear “grubbies,” as some of the lawn at this lawn party might wind up on their clothes.  You might also ask them to bring sports equipment, such as footballs, etc.  This game would be best for teenagers or young single adults.  If the party is coed, you should plan games that are a little less physical so as not to invite injury.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  A large grassy area; equipment to play desired outdoor games, such as football, volleyball and net, soccer ball and goals, etc.; movie video and player, if desired, or materials to play desired quiet games.

FOOD:  Keep them refreshing.  A good, cold punch is a must, but you might also like to have make-your-own banana splits (homemade ice cream would be super) or some kind of frozen ice cream sandwich bars.  Or, serve a fruity sherbet or sorbet with light, crunchy cookies like gingersnaps or snickerdoodles.  Keep a cooler of water bottles on ice handy.

DECORATIONS:  None needed, but some outdoor lighting might be desirable.  If bugs are a problem, citronella candles or buckets might be helpful.

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:         As guests arrive, you (the hostess) divide them into teams for any team games that will be played.  For instance, the activities might begin with games like Football, Prison Dodgeball or other team games.  These could be followed with games like Tackle! and British Bulldog.  As it begins to get dark, the guests may enjoy Ghost in the Graveyard, Kick the Can or Hide and Seek.  To cool down, they might finished by sitting in a circle in the grass and playing Murder or Gossip.  

            At this point, everyone retires to the house for refreshments and relaxes with a movie or quiet games.

Variations and Comments:  The games should be chosen with consideration of the guests–whether this party is just for “the guys,” “the girls” or the whole gang.  Rough games like tackle Football or Tackle! probably should not be played at a coed gathering (although I did it when I was young).

                                                                          * * *

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!

                                                                          * * *

     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.


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