Ideas for the Party Human

Posts Tagged ‘young children

Dodge-Tag (E)–You will need a soft ball, like a Nerf ball.  One player is “It,” and the rest run as It tries to hit one of them with the ball.  When It hits someone, that person must become It.

Duck, Duck, Goose (YC)–This game is played like the old favorite, “Drop the Handkerchief.”  The children sit in a circle on the floor, and one who is “It” goes around the outside of the circle, tapping the heads of the others lightly and saying, “Duck, duck, duck,” etc., until she decides on one to be the goose.  When she says, “Goose!”, the child then tapped gets up and chases It around the circle, trying to tag her before she gets to his seat.  If she reaches his seat safely, he will be the new It.  If she is tagged, she must try again.

Farmer-and-Crow Relay (C)–Divide the children into two equal teams.  They line up in two single files behind the starting line.  The first player in each line is the Farmer.  The second is the Crow; the third is a Farmer; the fourth is a Crow, and so forth.  Give each team five or more bean bags.  At the signal to go, the Farmer places the bean bags in a straight line about two feet apart, with the last bean bag on the finish line.  He then runs back and tags the next player in his team.  This player, the Crow, must hop on one foot over the bean bags.  When he has hopped over the last one, he may then hops back on the other foot, picking up the bean bags as he comes.  He gives them to the next player in line, and that player repeats the Farmer’s action.  This goes on until each player in one of the teams has finished the course, and that team is the winner.

Featherball (C, T, A)–Play with two to four players, depending on whether you want to play singles or doubles.  Place a small fluffy feather on the floor in the middle of a playing area that’s ten feet long by five feet wide.  The players must kneel with their hands behind them.  On a signal, each tries to blow the feather over his opponent’s goal line.

One variation is to play the same game on a table and allow the players to lean over into the “playing field.”

 Feather Race (E)–Give each contestant a knife with a feather, leaf or some other light object on it.  The idea is to see who can go across the room and back again fastest, keeping the object on his knife.  If the object blows or falls off, it must be replaced before the person can continue.

Fruit Basket (C, T, A)–The guests sit in a circle, with one player chosen to be It standing in the center.  Have the guests number off by fours.  The Ones will be Lemons; the Twos are Oranges; the Threes are Apples, and the Fours are Bananas.  “It” will then call off one of these four fruits.  Then everyone who belongs to that group must change places with some other person of that fruit.  The three remaining fruits stay seated.  While the change is going on, It tries to steal one of the seats.  If he does, the one left without a seat becomes It, and the one who was It becomes one of that kind of fruit.  The play continues in this manner with It calling out the different fruits in random order.  Occasionally, It may call, “Fruitbasket!”  When he does this, everyone must change seats.  This game can be adapted to fit many different themes by changing from fruit to some other category.



Cat and Rat (YC, C)–The players stand in a circle, holding hands.  One player inside the circle is the “Rat,” and another player outside the circle is the “Cat.”  The Cat tries to catch the Rat.  Players help the Rat and hinder the Cat by raising or lowering their arms and not allowing the Cat to break through the circle.  If the Cat catches the Rat, he may then choose a new Cat and Rat.

Circle Touch Ball (C, T)–The players form a circle around one player, who is “It.”  Players in the circle stand two or three feet apart and pass a playing ball–such as a basketball, volleyball or beach ball–around the circle randomly, while It tries to touch the ball.  If It succeeds, the player who had the ball, or last had the ball, will now be It.  The players, of course, try to keep the ball away from It and may use all sorts of methods to confuse It.

A variation is Circle Catch Ball, where the players use a smaller ball, and It must catch the ball, rather than merely touch it.

Cooling the Cotton (E)–You will need a large package of cotton balls; a folded paper “fan” for each player; and something to mark a central circle with, such as a rope, chalk or tape.  Divide players into two teams, placing one team at each end of the room, facing the center.  Mark a circle in the center of the floor, about three feet in diameter or larger if the party is large.  Scatter the cotton balls around in the circle.  At a signal, the players run to the center and try to fan the cotton balls across the opponents’ field to the goal line.  They must also try to keep their opponents from fanning balls to their goal line.  The cotton balls should not be touched by fan or any part of the body.  If a player does so, he fouls out of the game.  Allow about five minutes for the game.  Each cotton ball fanned across the goal is worth five points.

Cotton Ball Race (C, T, A)–Place a number of small cotton balls in a large bowl in the center of a table.  The contestants are seated around the table, blindfolded, each with a small bowl and a soup spoon.  Each player is to try to get an many of those cotton balls as he can into his own bowl.  He must hold onto his bowl with one hand and his spoon with the other hand at all times.  No one may “check” to see if he actually has a cotton ball on his spoon.  At the end of a specified amount of time, the contestant with the most cotton balls in his bowl is the winner.

Cowboys and Indians (YC, C)–Divide the children into two even teams.  The “Cowboys” go into the “woods” and “fall asleep,” leaving one Cowboy to stand watch.  The “Indians” hide in the bushes, behind trees, etc. and furtively approach the Cowboys.  If they can tag a cowboy before he gets up, he is captured.  But, if the cowboy guard sees them, he calls out, “The Indians are coming!”  The cowboys then get up and run after the Indians, trying to tag them before they get back to their “wigwams.”  Every Indian captured becomes a cowboy.  Then reverse the game, letting the Indians go to sleep while the cowboys sneak up on them.

The group names can be changed to fit almost any party theme.

Back-to-Back Race (T, A)–Set a goal line at 25, 50 or 75 yards.  Choose partners, then have each couple stand back to back.  Have them hook their arms together.  Line them up, and at the signal they must make their ways to the goal line, one running forward while his partner runs backward.  After crossing the goal line, they must return, positions reversed.  The first pair across the starting line wins.

Balloon Bust (C, T)–Tie an inflated balloon to the ankle of each participant.  Then the participants try to break the balloons of the other guests by stepping on them, while protecting their own.  The last one left with a balloon is the winner.

balloonsBalloon Race (E)–Give each contestant a ping-pong paddle and an inflated balloon.  On a signal to go, they must bat the balloons through the air to a designated goal and back to the starting line.  If a balloon falls to the ground the player must pick it up and bat it into the air again.

There are several variations to this game.  1.  You could use fans instead of paddles.  2.  You could use brooms and sweep the balloons along the floor.  3.  You could play it as a relay, with teams instead of individual contestants.

Bear Hunting (YC, C, T)–Blindfold two players and place one at either end of a long table.  At the signal to go, they begin to move around the table, each trying to catch the other.  Each player must stay within touching distance of the table.  Absolute silence on the part of audience and hunters is necessary.

Beast and Guard (C)–Choose one player to be some sort of beast (use an animal name that will go with your theme) and another to be his guard.  The beast sits on a chair in the middle of a circle of players.  The guard stands near him, holding on to his chair.  Players in the circle try to tap the beast on the knee, hands, shoulder, etc., without being touched by the guard.  The guard must keep one hand on the chair, but he can move all around it.  When a player is touched by the guard, he must take the beast’s place.  When all have had a chance at being the beast, the last one becomes the guard and chooses a new beast.

Bicycle Polo (C, T, A)–A team consists of four players, each riding a bicycle.  Similar to regular polo, the players try to drive a solid rubber ball into a goal using croquet mallets.  You may call fouls for acts of deliberate charging or ramming, etc.  The players may not touch the ball with their hands.

Blind Leapfrog (C, T, YA)–Divide the contestants into teams of an equal number and blindfold each player.  Every “frog” must leap over everyone in front of him, and the first team through wins.

Blindtown (C)–Set limits and blindfold all players except one.  Scatter the players about the playing area.  The player who is not blindfolded carries a bell which he must ring continuously, while the blindfolded players try to find and catch him.  The player who catches the “bellman” gets the bell for the next round.

Bogeyman (YC)–Choose one child to be the Bogeyman.  He stands at one end of the playing area.  The other children line up at the opposite end.  The Bogeyman steps out and calls, “Are you afraid of the Bogeyman?”  At this point, the other children run toward the Bogeyman’s side, and he tries to tag them.  The players tagged must go with the Bogeyman to the opposite side and help him catch the rest of the runners on their return trip.  The last player caught becomes the new Bogeyman.

Bucket Jousting (C, A)–You will need two buckets of equal size and two mops.  Opponents stand on the upside down buckets and try to cause the other contestant to lose balance and fall off the bucket.  Use the same method of thrusting as in canoe tilting, i.e. the jouster cannot take a swing; hitting any part of the body other than the torso or arms is a foul.

Bull in the Ring (YC, C)–Players hold hands and form a ring around one who is chosen to be the “bull.”  The bull tries to break through by rushing, lunging or pulling.  The bull may not duck under the players’ arms.  If he escapes, the players chase him; whoever catches him becomes the bull next.  (Supervision may be necessary to make sure the bull doesn’t get too rough and cause injury.)

A close variation is called “Bear in the Net.”  The formation is the same, and the object of the game is the same, except that the bear is allowed to duck under or plunge over the extended arms of the players in the ring.

Buried Treasure (C, T, YA)–Divide the group into two teams.  Designate an area for each team to operate in, each totally out of sight from the other.  Then send the teams on their way, giving each a treasure chest to bury or hide within the given area.  They are not allowed to bury the treasure deeper than six inches.  After each team has had a chance to hide its treasure, have them exchange locales and see which team can find the other’s buried treasure first.

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.

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:  Independence Day (4th of July), preserving history

INVITATIONS:  One idea is to take a miniature flag, place the message written on a small, folded piece of paper in the middle of the flag and fold it in the traditional triangular form.  It can then be mailed in an envelope or hand-delivered.  The guest will unfold the flag and see the message. 

            In the message, be sure to ask guests to bring swimsuits and towels, as well as an item to place in the time capsule, to be preserved for future citizens to discover.  This can be anything they deem significant to their lives and the times.  You may also wish to ask guests to bring food items for the barbecue.  This party will work well for families, teens or adults.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Mock “Declaration of Independence” guest register and feather-quill pen, if desired; swimming pool or lake; necessary equipment for playing desired water games, such as beach balls, inner tubes, net, trinkets for diving, etc.; barbecue grill; picnic table(s), benches, etc.; paper and pens; time capsule (This must be a sturdy, watertight container that will resist decay, such as the plastic containers used for wheat or other food storage.); simple fireworks, if allowed by area law.

FOOD:  Old-fashioned picnic “vittles” are the rule.  You may ask guests to bring their own meat for barbecuing, or some other items, but a very American menu might be something like this:  Hamburgers, hot dogs or steaks, corn-on-the-cob, potato salad, baked beans, chips or crackers, watermelon and root beer.  For dessert, homemade ice cream is a must, and you might serve it alongside  a cake decorated like a flag.  Beside each plate, you might also have little nut-cups filled with red, white and blue cream mints.

DECORATIONS:  Of course, red, white and blue will be the color scheme.  Since this is outdoors, you will need to rely on your landscaping, etc. to help hold up decorations.  Streamers, balloons and flags may be hung from trees, shrubs and around the deck.  Use appropriate colors of paper plates, cups, napkins and tablecloth(s).  A basket containing an arrangement of red, white and blue carnations with a small flag standing in the middle might make a nice centerpiece for the picnic table.  Have buckets of citronella to keep the bugs away, if your area has need of such precautions.

BLOW-BY-BLOW:  When guests arrive, they give their items for the time capsule to you, the hostess, and you may ask them to sign a mock “Declaration of Independence” for a guest register.  The fun starts with swimming.  Plan several water games, if the guests are interested. 

            When the swimmers are tired out, fire up the grill, and let the good old-fashioned barbecue begin.  As guests finish eating, give each one paper and pencil to use in penning some thoughts to include in the time capsule.  When everyone is done, they may share their writings with each other if they so desire, before placing them in a watertight bag or box to go in the time capsule.  When all items are in the time capsule, it is sealed and placed in a previously-dug hole.  A date is agreed upon for digging up the time capsule, and everyone helps to bury it. 

            If time permits, there may be some more swimming before dessert.  After the cake and ice cream, a musician in the group accompanies a sing-along of patriotic songs on the guitar, piano, keyboard, harmonica or whatever.  As a finale to the evening, the guests clear a space of dirt, cement or gravel for the lighting of fireworks.  (If private fireworks are illegal in your area, you might take everyone to the fairgrounds [or wherever] to watch the public fireworks display.)

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THEME:  Easter, Spring

INVITATIONS:  The simplest would be egg-shaped pieces of colored paper with the message written on them.  However, you could also write on hard-boiled eggs with a fine-tipped marking pen or hide a message inside a hollow plastic egg.  Whether you are inviting children in the family, friends of your children, or children in the neighborhood, you will probably want to ask them to bring their own baskets.  You should also inform them as to alternate plans in case of rain.

MATERIALS FOR ACTIVITIES:  Decorated, hard-boiled eggs in the amount desired; baskets, if needed; hollow plastic eggs, if desired; jelly beans or other candy, if desired; slips of paper with scriptural references about Easter or pictures of Jesus Christ, if desired; prizes, if desired.

FOOD:  If the party is simply for some children, you might like to give them each a chocolate bunny or some such thing as a treat before they leave.  Or, you might like to give them hot cross buns, bunny-shaped sweet rolls or frosted cut-out cookies with some chocolate milk as a snack after the hunt. 

            One thing our family has enjoyed doing on the Saturday before Easter is getting all the relatives together for a brunch.  The adults enjoy visiting and watching the children hunt for eggs either before or after the meal.  Some of our favorite recipes for this event are Breakfast Casserole, Quiche Lorraine, Cheese Blintzes, Fruit Party Pizza, Potato Casserole, French Breakfast Puffs and Grandma Prengel’s Crumb Cake.  Nutbreads and juices are good choices also.

DECORATIONS:  Since the egg hunt is usually done outside, you may like to tie balloons, bows and flowers on the shrubbery and trees.  Hang a lovely spring wreath on the front door.  If you are doing something indoors, such as having the brunch for relatives, you may like to set out other Easter decorations.  The little, wooly-covered wooden sheep that are so popular in country decorating are quite appropriate now.  You can deck them out further by adding a tiny bow or flower around their necks.  Lots of fragrant, fresh flowers, attractively arranged will add to the Spring atmosphere.  Also, an “Easter Tree” might make a delightful centerpiece.  Generally, this is a gnarly branch painted white and anchored in a board or pot.  In an episode of “The Home Show” in March 1991, Dian Thomas gave some tips for fun decorations for an Easter tree.  She suggested saving your broken eggshells, washing them and letting them dry.  When dry, glue a small ribbon “handle” in each one to form a sort of basket to hang on the tree.  In the basket, you can make a tiny baby chick with two yellow pompoms, some felt and craft eyes.  Another idea is to blow out some eggs and wrap small ribbons around them like Christmas ornaments.   Final touches can be added by simply gluing small bows and silk flowers to the branches.  You can even purchase a string of “Easter lights,” if desired.  (A string of your plain white Christmas ones might work just as well.)

 BLOW-BY-BLOW:            You can organize this Easter egg hunt in any way you like, but here are some ideas and tips you might want to try:

            If you have children of varying ages participating, color an equal amount of eggs for each age group in different colors.  Tell each age group to look only for eggs of the color you have assigned to them.  This way the older children will leave the eggs hidden in “easy” places for the younger children to find.  For a special treat, hide hollow plastic eggs filled with jelly beans or other candy along with the regular eggs.

            To add a little spiritual significance to the event, write scripture references about the events leading up to the Resurrection on hard-boiled eggs or slips of paper tucked in plastic eggs.  When all the eggs are found, have the children read aloud the scriptures in order.  You could also put small pictures of Christ inside eggs, as well as hanging some on the walls of your house.

"He Is Risen" by Greg Olson

            Be sure you know the exact number of eggs hidden, so you won’t find some months later by following your nose!

            Try making it a treasure hunt, writing the clues on the eggs.

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