Ideas for the Party Human

Posts Tagged ‘performance

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: Christmas spirit, service, giving

INVITATIONS: Any Christmas-style invitations will do. One idea is to make them look like miniature songbooks, using colored construction paper for the covers and plain white paper for the pages. On the front, paste Christmas pictures cut from old cards or magazines and letter the words “Christmas Caroling Party.” Bind the “book” with staples, or punch holes and sew with colored yarn or thread. Inside, write some notes on a staff, perhaps the melody to a carol, and write the message as the words of the carol, written in a rhyme pattern and rhythm appropriate to the carol. For instance, if you choose “Jingle Bells,” you could write something like:

“Come and sing! Come and sing!

Caroling we’ll go!

Oh, what fun it is to spread

Some Christmas cheer, you know!”

In the message that follows, ask the guests to dress appropriately for the weather and to bring a funny white elephant gift wrapped for giving. You might also ask them to bring food items, if you desire. Start the party early, right after dinner, so there will be plenty of time to carol before visiting hours are over at the facility you have chosen to visit. This party is wonderful for any kind of group, except possibly for very small children.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES: Materials for making Christmas cards or decorations for the patients, such as old cards, Christmas magazines, colored paper, yarn, glue, glitter, scissors, crayons or markers, stencils and paint, ribbons, pine cones, etc.; hospital or nursing home to visit (Get permission to carol to a certain ward, floor or the whole building, and find out how many patients are there, so you will be sure to have enough cards or decorations to give out.); photocopies of words to desired carols; Christmas tree (small, tabletop variety is fine); clear area and music for dancing.

FOOD: Any kind of Christmassy dessert items will do, particularly warm dishes and drinks. Some examples: Hot Cocoa, Wassail, Christmas Crullers, Pumpkin-Spice Bread, Frosted Cinnamon Icebox Rolls (warm and fresh), Sour Cream Pumpkin Coffeecake, Popcorn Wreath, Festive Caramel Bars, Kringla, Pumpkin Cookies. (Recipes available.)

DECORATIONS: Just make your home as Christmassy as possible. Have a touch of Christmas in every room. Besides the tree, put lights outdoors and in the windows. Set up your creche; hang up your wall hangings; place centerpieces everywhere–on coffee tables, end tables, countertops, pianos, entertainment centers, dining tables, buffets, etc. If you would like to add to your collection of decorations, check out flea markets, second hand stores and garage sales. Or, try your hand at a new craft and make your own new decorations. Magazines, craft books, fabric/craft stores and bazaars offer many ideas. Just make sure the atmosphere in your house says, “Christmas!”, and you will need no other party decorations.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:  When the guests arrive, you (the hostess) put them to work immediately making cards or small decorations to give to the patients at the facility you have chosen to visit. When enough items have been made, place them in a big bag–perhaps the one carrying the bag could wear a Santa cap–and the carolers head for the hospital or convalescent home.

Entering the facility, you give them all copies of the words to favorite carols, and a talented guest accompanies everyone on a guitar as they sing through the halls, stopping to give out their handmade mementos to each patient. When the last patient has been serenaded, the carolers return to the house for the rest of the party. (If weather and distance permit, they might walk to the house, caroling to the neighbors on the way.) Once inside, the guests fall upon the refreshments, then gather around the Christmas tree for the exchanging of gifts. Set the gifts under the tree, and let each guest take a turn choosing a gift and unwrapping it. After the first guest has unwrapped his gift, the next guest may choose either to take his or pick a new gift. If she takes the first guest’s present, then he may choose another. This continues, until the last guest has the choice of all the previous gifts or the one still wrapped. This “swiping” of gifts is all done with plenty of good-natured banter. Since the presents are all white elephants or gag gifts, no one is upset if someone takes his gift away.

After the gift “exchange,” the music starts up, and guests may eat, talk or dance, as they choose. (If necessary, a dance gimmick–such as the snowball, dance card, etc.–may be used to get things rolling.) The evening may end with a last carol sung, if desired.

Variations and Comments: If the dancing doesn’t go over too well, have some fun parlor games in mind. Choose any familiar game and adapt to a Christmas theme. Perhaps you could have some word games using carols, or whatever. Another idea is Christmas Charades, where you divide your guests into groups and ask each to present a short pantomime about something directly related to Christmas. Onlookers must try to identify each scene, as in Charades.

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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:  History, with a twist    

Recreating History

"Fourscore and seven years ago . . ."

INVITATIONS:  Write in longhand on parchment and roll in a scroll, sealing with wax or an official-looking sticker.  The idea is to make it look like a historical document.  Use officious language, such as:  “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to find some diversion unrelated to that which has been our wont, we, (host and friends), have hit upon a plan which we believe will provide well beyond the required amusement.  Therefore, we hereby announce the Hysterical History Party, to be held on (date) at (time and place), to which you are most cordially invited.  Whereas this event is in celebration of history, we respectfully request your person to be attired in full regalia of any historic person of note.”  (And so on, and so forth . . .  get the idea?)

     This party works well for college students and adults.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Random props from famous tales from history, such as hatchet, old flag, lanterns, toy rifle, etc. (or you may prefer to let them pantomime their props); equipment to play folk games from history in ours or other lands; words and music to old folk songs, both foreign and domestic.

FOOD:  Famous foods from history will do here.  Search old cookbooks or history books for ideas.  You could do a whole formal dinner or just have desserts.  Some suggestions might be Cherry Pie, Lincoln Log, Lindy’s Cake, or Sweet Potato Pie.  This is where some actual learning might come in!

DECORATIONS:  Decorate the party room with anything that looks historical–antiques or pseudo-antiques, flags from different countries or items significant to the history of ours or other countries.  You could use tapestries, Native American blankets, Japanese lanterns, African masks, or other curios.  Some fake cobwebs leftover from Halloween could make the stuff look really old.

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:          As guests arrive, you (the host/hostess) have them play an icebreaker game similar to “Who Am I?“.  As they mingle, they ask yes-or-no questions of each other to detect which historical figure each person represents.  When everyone is acquainted–historically speaking–seat them for the dinner.  If not doing a dinner, begin the activities by dividing the guests into several groups and giving each group an assignment to reenact a famous historical event.  You may give them props, if desired, but ask them to act out the story as they think it might have really happened!  (The emphasis is on humor here.)  Give each group about ten minutes to plan their skit, and then–lights, camera, action!  (Actually, making a videotape of this is not a bad idea.)

            After the rewriting of history, you may wish to play some old folk games from ours and other lands.  (Look for some in future posts on this blog, or you may want to do some research at your local library.) 

            Cool off with some refreshments, and finish the evening by singing some old folk songs, accompanied by piano or guitar, if possible.

THEME:  The Future

INVITATIONS:  These should have a spacey, ultramodern look.  You could do something simple, like a cutout of a spaceship decorated with glitter.  Or, you could get more inventive and try unusual materials or different media, such as audio or video cassettes, computer disks or electronic mail.  Watch some sci-fi shows to get ideas.  Use high-tech language to give details.  Pick a year sometime in the future and substitute it for the current year when you give the date.  Ask guests to dress the way they think fashions will look in that year.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  A box of common contemporary objects found around the house (such as toothpaste, pencils, paper sacks, etc.), a different item for each guest; paper and drawing supplies, such as crayons, pencils, markers, colored pencils, etc.; table or clipboards or other hard surfaces for guests to use for drawing; prizes, if desired; recordings of ultramodern music as well as popular music; numbered tags to pin on guests (a different number for each).

FOOD:  If hearty food is desired, provide every imaginable sandwich fixin’ possible and let the guests create their own space-age sandwiches.  If mere refreshments are required, go for the creative and unusual.  Try creating your own newfangled candies or cookies in strange shapes.  Also cut bite-sized pieces of fruits and vegetables in interesting shapes and serve on toothpicks with appropriate dips.  Concoct a party punch of an unusual color, such as blue, and serve in plastic cups wrapped in foil or colored cellophane.  Or, ask guests to get in on the creative act and bring their own future-fantasy hors d’oevres.

     This party would work well for teens or young adults.

DECORATIONS:  You can really let your imagination soar with this.  Watch a few sci-fi films, if you like, to get the ideas flowing.  Start with aerospace, technology or science posters.  Then experiment with different lighting techniques, swathes of fabrics (draperies, sheets, blankets, etc.), cardboard boxes and spare parts.  If you’re real ambitious, you can even recreate a set from a science-fiction film or television show.  If you own some hi-tech equipment, show it off.  The future’s the limit, so break away from the norm and try unusual angles and color combinations.  Do things with plastic, modeling clay, building blocks, erector sets, foil or colored cellophane.  Anything goes when no one knows what the future will truly be like.

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:    As guests arrive in the future, you (the host or hostess)  make introductions and run an impromptu fashion show to display the fantasy creations they are wearing.  Seat the guests and give each one a different common household item, along with paper and drawing supplies.  Ask everyone to design a futuristic look for his or her particular item.  For instance, if the party theme year is 2099, a guest with a toothbrush will design–on paper–the toothbrush of the year 2099.  Award prizes, if desired.

            Next, you give out the number tags–even numbers for ladies, odd numbers for gents–and the guests pin them on their sleeves.  This event will be a dance contest of the future, so ask the guests to improvise futuristic dance steps to the space-age music.  You and some helpers will act as judges and call out four numbers at a time (two odd, two even).  The guests wearing those numbers come to the center of the floor and dance for two minutes; then new numbers are called, and the judging continues in this manner until everyone has had a chance to dance.  You then award prizes for Most Creative Dance, Most Stylish, Best Suited to Music, etc.

            Now everyone breaks for refreshments, after which they finish out the evening by dancing to the “oldies” (current hits).

 Variations and Comments:  An alternative to the drawing game might be a contest to design completely new inventions for the future.  These might be done on paper, or with modeling clay, Tinker toys, snap-fit blocks, construction paper, etc.  Each guest would have to tell what his invention was, how it was supposed to work and what it was supposed to do. 

            Another idea might be to hand out the common household items and ask the guests to pretend they are archaeologists of the year       .  They are to analyze these objects from the “past” and write a summary of what they believed the “ancients” did with them.

            An artistic group of guests might enjoy creating ultramodern art as another activity.

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THEME:  Circus, Clowns

INVITATIONS:  Shaped like a clown, perhaps holding an unfilled balloon that the child can keep.  Or, send a balloon invitation:  Blow up a jumbo balloon.  Pinch end closed with one hand; with the other, write your invitation around the sides of the balloon with a waterproof oil-based felt-tipped pen.  After the ink dries, let the air out.  Insert balloon in envelope and mail.  The guest blows up the balloon to read the message and keeps it as an early party favor.  Ask the children to come dressed as their favorite circus performers (including animals) and to be prepared to imitate that performer for 1-2 minutes.  This party is good for children aged 7-10.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Circus “set” described in DECORATIONS section, perhaps a “fishing” booth and/or a silly fortune-telling tent, circus music, rented clown or magician (or capable parent disguised as such), favors (such as bags of peanuts or popcorn, small boxes of animal crackers, or circus-type souvenirs).

FOOD:  Birthday cake can be made in a special clown-shaped pan, or a sheet cake could be decorated with a frosting or plastic clown, holding balloons.  Another idea could be to make a round layer-cake into a Balloon Cake:  Decorate frosted cake with gumdrop balloons.  You will need 15-20 flat, round, fruit-flavored gumdrops.  Cut end of gumdrop off to give balloon a bright fresh color.  Arrange on cake, add short strands of black or red shoestring licorice for strings on each candy balloon.  To make the cake an exciting centerpiece, anchor strings of one or more colorful helium-filled balloons around it.  Or use a Bundt-shaped cake and anchor strings to center of cake.* 

            Perhaps the easiest thing, for those mothers who are not cake decorators, would be to buy small plastic figures of clowns and animals and place them on top of the cake.  Colorful ring-shaped candies make good birthday candle holders.  Neapolitan ice cream or the orange sherbet/vanilla ice cream combination might be good choices, if the birthday child agrees.  Drink pink lemonade (or child’s favorite punch).  If you’re going to serve an entire lunch–which might be a nice idea–what better than good ol’ hot dogs for a circus party?  Potato chips, carrot and celery sticks (with or without peanut butter) could round out the meal.

DECORATIONS:  This party is best given in the summer in a large, grassy backyard.  You can go as big as you want to with this; I’ll describe the biggest.  Hang bright-colored posters, flags, balloons and streamers on back of house, on fences and trees.  Have a sign at the entrance:  “Welcome to the Circus!”

            Involve other parents and big brothers and sisters and have them dress as various animals (complete disguise is not necessary), the bearded lady, the sword-swallower, etc.  They can sit at booths or in makeshift cages and do their impersonations as the children arrive.  Or, if you prefer, put family pets in cages and advertise them as ferocious, wild animals.  (You can  let them out when the party gets going.) 

            Booths and cages can be concocted from large appliance boxes or card tables.  A little paint, construction paper and streamers can transform them into circus originals.  You will also need an area for the audience to sit on chairs or benches and an area for the children to perform.  You could make three large rings out of strips of cardboard placed in the grass, but one would probably be sufficient.  Have on hand props for the circus “set” that the performers can use, like a beam of wood for a “tightrope,” a swing-set or tree swing for trapeze artists.  You can make barbells for a Strongman act using a cardboard tube with balloons on each end.  Write “1,000 pounds” on each balloon.*

BLOW-BY-BLOW:                         As the children arrive, they look at the “impersonators” in the booths and cages until everyone has come.  If you use pets in the cages, then the other helpers can dress as clowns and greet each child with a balloon.  The guests might be allowed to feed the animals something.  When everyone has arrived and seen the displays, they take their seats.  (The helpers can sit in the audience, too.) 

            You (or another parent) dress as the ringmaster and invite each child, one at a time, to come up and do his circus act, which you announce loudly and with great fanfare.  Play typical circus music in the background.  The helpers in the audience give support to the performer with cheers, whistles, applause and gasps at the death-defying feats.  When every child who wants to perform has done so, the birthday child opens the presents (if any) and serves the cake, ice cream and drinks.  As the children finish eating, the professional (or volunteer) clown or magician comes out to perform.  At the conclusion of his performance, give the guests their favors to take home.  If necessary, play a game like “Pin the Nose on the Clown” until parents arrive to take them home.

 Variations and Comments:        If you have a large rec room or other such area in your house, this party could conceivably be done indoors.  In this case, it would be possible to rent a video of a circus or magic show, which would probably be less expensive than hiring the performer.  Instead of the large cages with live “animals,” you could set out miniature ones on a table, made from animal cracker boxes.  The animals inside could be made with marshmallows, toothpicks and licorice.  There could be one for each child to take home as a favor.

            Another game the children could play instead of “Pin the Nose on the Clown” or one of the other activities is “Ringmaster.”  One child is chosen for Ringmaster.  The other players form a circle around the Ringmaster without holding hands.  The Ringmaster turns and moves around in the circle, calling the name of some animal.  The players in the circle immediately imitate the animal, both as to its movements and sounds.  For instance, for a monkey, they might walk swinging their arms and making noises like “ooh, ooh.”  The Ringmaster, at his discretion, may announce, “Join the circus parade!”  At this call, each player chooses some animal he would like to represent and gallops around the circle in characteristic movements.

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[1]From Today’s Tips for Easy Living, by Dian Thomas (Holladay, UT:  The Dian Thomas Company, 1982).

[2]From Today’s Tips for Easy Living, by Dian Thomas (Holladay, UT:  The Dian Thomas Company, 1982).

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