Ideas for the Party Human

Posts Tagged ‘sociality

Since there are so many games in this category, I’m going to just post a few at a time.

Active Adverbs (T, A)–Have the players form two teams of ten or another even number.  One team will be the Actors, and the other, the Askers.  Teams sit facing each other about twelve feet apart.  Team members participate in pairs, so give each pair on each team a slip of paper on which an adverb has been written, which they must keep secret from the other team.  The first pair of the Actors will perform any task the Askers requests in the manner of the adverb written on their paper.  The Askers try to discover the adverb by asking the Actors to demonstrate the adverb through their actions.  For example, the first pair of the Actors may have the adverb “briskly.”  If the first pair of the Askers asks them to pace the floor, they do so briskly.  If the adverb is not guessed, then the second pair of Asker may ask them to shake hands, which they do in a brisk manner.  Each pair of Askers will make a request until someone guesses the correct adverb.  Then the Askers score two points, and the Actors get one point for trying.  If, after five attempts to guess the adverb, the Askers fail, the Actors announce the adverb, and each team scores one point for trying.  Roles are then reversed, and the games continues with teams alternating roles of Actors and Askers until every pair has a chance to present an adverb.  The team with the highest score wins.

Animal (T, A)–The guests sit in a circle and each one chooses the name of a different animal.  The leader starts the game off by being “It,” and he holds a rolled-up newspaper in his hand.  He calls out the name of an animal, and the person representing that animal must quickly stand and say the name of another animal in the group before It hits him on the head or shoulder with the newspaper.  The person representing that animal must do the same, and on it goes until It succeeds in hitting someone.  That person then becomes the new It.

This game can be adapted to fit many party themes by having the players choose names other than animals, such as flowers, cities, etc.

Animals on the Loose! (YC, C)–Mark off two corners of the playing area as “pens.”  Break up the players into groups of three or more and designate each group with a different animal name–dogs, sheep, rabbits, bears, etc.  One person, called the Chaser, stands outside the pen where all the others are standing.  The Chaser calls the name of any animal group, and all of the players in that group must run for the opposite pen.  Any “animals” caught must help the Chaser to tag other “animals.”  The game continues until the first pen is empty.

 Animated Proverbs (T, A)–Divide guests into small groups and give each group a slip of paper on which a proverb has been written.  Allow each group a few minutes to prepare its presentation of the proverb, either in pantomime or acting out with spoken lines.  (They must say the proverb itself, of course, or any significant part of it.)  As each group performs, the others watching must guess the proverb the group is portraying.

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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

THEME:  Honeymoon destination

INVITATIONS:  If the happy couple will be honeymooning in Hawaii, for instance, you can use that as the theme.  Shape the invitation like a pineapple, and suggest that the guests bring a gift suitable for taking on the honeymoon trip.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Materials for games  or activities desired (see below for suggestions); prizes, if desired, such as fresh pineapples or plastic leis for a Hawaii honeymoon theme; large trash bag; paper and pencil. 

FOOD:  Serve food from the location of the honeymoon.  For instance, to indicate a Hawaiian honeymoon, serve a huge fresh fruit salad in a hollowed-out watermelon, and an exotic tropical punch.

DECORATIONS:  Decorate like the honeymoon destination, using travel posters, souvenirs, etc.  For the Hawaiian honeymoon example, try to create an island atmosphere, using some of the ideas for the Hawaiian Luau party in an earlier post.

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:    After the guests have arrived, deposited their gifts and been introduced to each other, you’ll want to play a few fun games. 

            For the Hawaii Shower (as an example of the honeymoon-place theme), you might use the Hawaiian word game found in the description of the Hawaiian Luau (earlier post).  Another word game is the old children’s game, “I’m Going On a Trip.” For this version, each guest would have to think of an item that would be appropriate to take on a honeymoon trip to Hawaii, in alphabetical order, of course.  (They might be called upon to defend some of their choices!)  You might also try the Hula Contest from the Hawaiian Luau party, or any of the games from the Indoor Beach Party (earlier post, see archives).  Award prizes, if desired. 

            After the games, it’s time to open the gifts.  Be sure to record who gave the bride-to-be what.       When the gifts are all opened, you can serve the refreshments, and you might want to show  slides or a travel video showcasing Hawaii while everyone eats, to help the bride get excited for her trip.

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: Neighborliness, South-of-the-Border Christmas Customs

INVITATIONS: Cut construction paper in the shape of a sombrero (or other Mexican symbol) and color appropriately. Write the message on the back, using a sprinkling of Spanish words, something like:

“Holá, Amigos! Come to our casa on (date) at (time) for una fiesta buena, Southwestern-style. We’ll have a supper buffet, then a piñata for the children, so bring the whole familia and celebrate for a Feliz Navidad!”

This is designed as sort of a block party, but you could invite relatives, co-workers and their families or friends from church as well. The idea is basically that it be for families.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES: A piñata filled with candies and small toys; ceiling hook and string; blindfold; plastic baseball or whiffleball bat; small paper sacks; parting gifts of food or crafts, wrapped or in decorative tins, jars or baskets.

FOOD: Some ideas for the Southwestern buffet might be salsa with flour tortilla and blue corn chips, chicken enchiladas,  Black Beans, and tamales. The best beverage might just be ice water or seltzer, to help combat the spiciness, or perhaps some sparkling apple cider or grape juice. For dessert, try cinnamon crispas, Mexican Wedding Cakes, Three Kings Ring, or oranges with peppermints stuck in them.  Serve this help-yourself buffet in rustic pottery with colorful Southwestern fabric as a backdrop.

DECORATIONS: Line the walk to your door with luminarias. These can be purchased or made out of paper sacks 1/3 filled with sand. Cut out a design in the sacks, if desired. Place votive candles in the sand and light.

Inside, have everything very colorful and festive. Be sure to have poinsettias about, but out of reach of small children. You could use a decorating motif like the Three Kings, creches or poinsettias. Hang colorful streamers and balloons in the large clear area where the piñata will be broken. The piñata itself may be purchased or made using strips of newspaper and wheat paste to cover a large, inflated balloon or other shape framed with wire, newspaper and masking tape. When the paper maché is dry, cut a hole on the top just large enough for putting the candy and toys in. Fill, then tape the cover back over the hole. Decorate with paint and/or crepe paper.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:  When the neighbors arrive, you (the hostess) take their coats and hand them plates to fill up at the buffet. After dinner, give each of the children small paper sacks to take into the piñata room. The piñata is hung on a string, run through the ceiling hook. Stand back, holding the other end of the string so you may raise and lower the piñata at will. Blindfold the youngest child first and give her the bat. Everyone stands well out of the way as the child gets five chances to break the piñata. If she doesn’t break it, then the next youngest tries and so forth until the oldest gets unlimited chances. When the piñata breaks, everyone cries ” Olé!” and the children scramble to fill their sacks. As the guests leave, give each family a homemade parting gift, such as a jar of jam or a crafted decoration.

Variations and Comments: We remember our parents giving a party similar to this for the neighborhood when we were small. For the piñata, we covered a large balloon with papier maché, then painted a Santa Claus face on it when it dried. We added a cotton ball beard and a red paper hat, and the result was charming and original.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

                                                                          * * *


[*]Dian Thomas, Today’s Tips for Easy Living, Holladay UT:  The Dian Thomas Company, 1982, p. 73.


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