Ideas for the Party Human

Posts Tagged ‘winter

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:  Summer fun at the beach

INVITATIONS:  Cut round circles and color one side like a beach ball.  On the other side, use California beach slang, such as:

            “Hey, dudes and dudettes–slap on your best beach gear and come hang out at the Indoor Beach Party.  Don’t let winter chill you out!  There’ll be a prize for the baddest beach threads, and we’ll have some really rad activities!  Bring your fave beach snack for munchin’ and blow off this winter scene–totally!”

     This is a fun party for all ages, from teens to adults.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Two surfboards or plain wooden boards of similar size; two large bowls; wrapped hard candies; two plastic pitchers; two clear plastic glasses; two or four rolls of Life Saver candies; large box of sand; 20 pennies; blackboard and chalk or whiteboard (or poster) and marker; team prize for the competitions, such as kiddie sunglasses for each team member; prize for best beach outfit, such as a pair of underwater goggles; music for dancing, if desired (Beach Boys, etc.) and stereo; prize for dance contest, if desired, such as a beach ball or water wings; video of old beach movie and VCR, if desired.

FOOD:  The guests will bring snacks, and you can provide the cold pop–six-packs in various flavors, packed in an ice chest.  You might also provide something more exotic, like a fresh pineapple.  Set the food out on a table covered with a beach blanket or large beach towel.  Serve in creative containers, like large seashells, a diver’s mask, little plastic boats, etc.

DECORATIONS:  First of all, have the party room warm and well lighted, as the guests will be wearing summery clothing.  In two clear corners, create two famous beaches, such as Malibu, Waikiki or Palm Beach.  If you have local beaches, you could use those names.  Label the beaches with signs and try to recreate something that beach is famous for.  Borrow some potted palms for Palm Beach, or make palm trees on the wall with colored construction paper.  For Malibu Beach, you might spark some laughter by setting up a scene with Malibu Barbie and Ken in their beach buggy, etc.  Light blue cloths or curtains could hang on the wall as an ocean backdrop.  You could display diving or surfing gear, if you have access to it.  In other areas of the room hang colorful swimsuits, beach towels, beach posters and Beach Boys album covers.  Near the refreshment table, you might set up beach blankets and umbrellas on the floor.  Have Beach Boys surfin’ music playing softly in the background during the competitions.

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:            As guests arrive, assign them equally to the two (or more, if the group is large) different beaches.  Each beach team then uses this time to come up with its own cheer.  When the teams are complete, they each give their cheers, and the competitions begin.

Surf's up!

            The first competition is the Surfing Race.  It will require three people from each group, usually two boys and a girl.  The teams choose their contestants before the race is explained.  Give the boys from each team a surfboard or similar piece of wood, and they hold it between them while the girl sits on it.  On a signal, the groups race to the end of the room and back.  The team to arrive first gets a point on the board.

            The next contest is the High Dive, which requires one representative from each beach.  You (the host/hostess) provide the contestants with one pitcher of water each.  On the floor are two empty glasses.  These they must fill at least two-thirds full from the position of standing on chairs.  The one who spills the least water on the floor gets the point for her team.

            The next event is the Underwater Swimming Race.  One contestant is chosen to represent each beach.  Give each one a deep bowl filled with water at the bottom of which are several wrapped candies.  He is seated at a table or may kneel on the floor in front of the bowl, keeping his hands behind his back.  At the signal, the contestant must bob for the candies, getting them out with his mouth.  The first one to get all the candies out wins the point for his team.

            The next event, the Life-Saving Contest, is announced, and two representatives are chosen from each beach.  The two partners stand four or five paces apart, facing each other.  Give one side several Life-Saver candies, which they must toss, one at a time, to their partners.  The other side must catch them with their mouths.  The team which catches the most wins the point.

            For the last event, the Buried Treasure Race, one contestant is chosen from each group.  (Make sure that every person on each team has the chance to compete in at least one event.)  This could be the tie-breaking event!  A large box of sand is placed at one end of the room; the representatives line up at the other.  Twenty pennies are buried in the sand, ten for each team.  On a signal, the contestants race to the box, dig their ten pennies out with their hands, and race back.  The first one back with all ten pennies wins the final point for her team.  The beach with the most points on the board wins a team prize.

            After this, you  award a prize to the guest with the best beach outfit.  Then serve the refreshments, and turn the music up.  Guests may dance, if desired, or, after eating, you may show a video of an old beach movie.  If you choose to dance, a spontaneous dance contest–whether ’50’s style or the current craze–adds to the fun, and you may award a prize to the winning couple.

THEME:  Dog-sleds, Eskimos, Snow

INVITATIONS:  Draw, print or glue a picture of an Eskimo and his dog-sled on the outside of a regular card-type invitation.  Write message inside and ask guests to dress warmly and bring their sleds, saucers, etc.  This party is good for children aged 4-9.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Lots of clear space with plenty of snow, whistle, prizes.

FOOD:  Serve hot cocoa with white-frosted birthday cake.  Decorate cake with an Eskimo scene, if possible.

DECORATIONS:  None needed outside, just set up the snow areas for the various games.  Inside, decorate with toy sleds and posters showing Arctic landscapes, Eskimos, dog-sled races, etc.  You could make it look like an igloo, with sheets of white paper covering the walls and blankets and a fake campfire set up inside.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:             As guests arrive, you (the parent) make sure they all have plenty of warm winter clothing, especially gloves or mittens.  (Have extras on hand.)  When all have arrived, the children choose partners.  Each pair will need a sled, toboggan or saucer, and they will take turns pulling each other, switching at each stop.  The sleds then line up like a train, and you act as leader, blowing a whistle to start them moving.

            You will have arranged the route ahead of time, and it forms a circle (more or less) that will end up back at the house for refreshments.  The first stop will have a large circular path prepared in a clear area of snow.  There are paths crisscrossing it so it looks like a huge wheel with spokes.  (Preparing these stops for the games is an excellent activity for the excited birthday child to do with his parents earlier in the day.)  When the “Eskimos” arrive at the first stop, the leader blows the whistle to signal them to stop. 

            Here the children will play Eskimo Bear Hunt.  Divide the guests into two groups, Bears and Eskimos.  The Bears get a head start, then the Eskimos try to catch them, but everyone must stay strictly in the paths.  Allow no short cuts.  When a Bear is tagged, he is caught.  He then helps his captor catch the other Bears.  When the children begin to tire of this game, you blow your whistle, and lead the group to the next stop.

            At the second place, the guests will play Snowball Tag.  (Omit this game if there is a community ordinance against throwing snowballs in your area.)  Play this in a place where there are several trees or things to hide behind, for the tagging will be done with snowballs.  (A small neighborhood playground might work well.)  Only the player named “It” may try to tag the others with snowballs.  When a player is hit with a snowball, then he becomes “It” and repeats the process.  When everyone has had a chance to be “It,” conduct the “Eskimos” to the next stop.

            The third game is a Sliding Contest.  It will need to be prepared in advance with a long slide of hard-packed snow.  If done the night before, the slide could be sprayed with a fine mist of water.  For this game, the guests must take the dog-sleds apart and take turns sliding down the slide with their sleds.  Mark a starting line a few feet from the beginning of the slide.  Each player may start however he wishes, whether running and jumping on his sled, or having someone push him, but he must be sliding alone when he crosses the starting line.  The object is to see who can slide the farthest or the fastest.  You may give prizes for this contest.

            After the Sliding Contest, lead the Eskimos to an open area where they will have a Dog-sled Race.  Each pair will choose who will pull the sled and who will sit on it.  The sled teams line up at the starting line and, on a signal, race to the finish line, yelling “mush!” as they go.  The first team across the finish line may win a prize.

            When the race is over, the group returns to the “igloo” and parks their sleds there.  The children go inside for some much-needed warmth and sustenance.  After the refreshments, the guests can play games like “Musical Chairs,” or “Simon Says” while waiting for their parents to pick them up. 

Variations and Comments:        A fifth outdoor game can be added, if snowballs are legal in your area and the supervision is adequate to prevent injury.  This would ideally be the last stop and would need to be prepared in advance.  It should be relatively close to home, so the group won’t have far to travel in their wet and snowy condition after it’s over. 

            You will need two barriers, such as ditches or fences.  If these are not available, you can build two walls of snow about two feet tall and a few feet apart.  When the group stops, have the children choose sides for a Snowball Fight.  Each team takes a stand behind one of the barriers and begins the assault on the other team.  Whenever anyone is hit, a point is scored for the other side.  Set a score limit of 10 or 25 points, depending on how long you want the game to last.  When one side gains the score limit, they win the game.  Back at the house, the winning team should receive a prize they all can share, like a box of candy.

            Part of the Flexibility Principle for this party would be to take the children back to the house as soon as they complain of the cold, whether they have finished all the games or not.

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