DIY Roald Dahl-Themed Party

As the 13th September was Roald Dahl’s birthday, the fab people at Roald Dahl HQ created a whole host of party and dressing-up ideas to celebrate the great man and raise money for his eponymous charity. If you’ve not seen the website, it’s definitely worth a look – it’s got brilliant ideas for teachers too.

…We did our own celebration, with the main event being the food:

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… to be fair though, it was more ‘concept cooking’ (or ‘assembling’) than haute cusine.  Here’s what we served (and what the labels said):

  • “The Fleshlumpeater’s favourite snack” – an entire baguette made into a colossal ham sandwich, which was then cut into individual portions at the table
  • “Miss Honey’s favourite sandwiches” – normal sandwiches!
  • “Danny’s Dip of Champions” – humous
  • Labelled as: “Imported from Giant Country” – long, thin breadsticks
  • “From The BFG’s vegetable patch” – raw carrots, peppers, tomatoes, served BIG
  • “Snozzcumber (does not contain human beans)” – partially peeled, hollowed-out whole cucumber, with cream cheese inside (cut into portions at the table)
  • “The Enormous Crocodile’s toothpicks” – ‘French Stick’ crisps
  • “The BFG’s dream jar” – a Kilner jar, with mandarin pieces suspended in different coloured layers of jelly
  • “Wonker’s Chocolate (mixed by waterfall)” – chocolate fondue with strawberries, marshmallows and honeycomb for dipping
  • “Whizz-popping Frobscottle” – bottle of sparkling apple juice (relabelled!)

After lunch we had some party games, starting with the Quiz from the Roald Dahl Party Pack, along with ‘Hunt the Dream’, where the kids were told in letters from the BFG to help him hunt for the golden Phizzwizards (sweets wrapped in gold paper) around the house.

Then we played some home-made games, starting with Bingo, made using Gobblefunk words that I found online, boosted with some characters and other memorable phrases. The answers were all put in a mixed bowl, so the Bingo Caller could also play.

… one of the Bingo cards:

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Everyone then took turns to act out a character in Charades, which worked well (until my youngest refused point-blank to be Mrs Trunchbull!).  The following characters were written on individual pieces of paper and mixed up in a bowl for us to pick at random:

  • Mr Victor Hazel
  • Mr. Willy Wonker
  • Matilda
  • Mrs. Trunchbull
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • The Enormous Crocodile
  • The BFG

It was pretty quick and easy to do and there seems to be loads of mileage in Roald Dahl’s books for different games and fancy dress.  In fact, I think I’ll find out when Lewis Caroll’s birthday was and perhaps do an Alice in Wonderland-themed one – although with two boys, I’ll have to call it “The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” to get any takers!!

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Easter Parlour Games – retro-inspired family fun

In the days before TV, families would often play parlour games after dinner.  If you have different generations coming to your house this Easter, why not try some of these games for a change?

1.Funny Bunny

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This was originally ‘Bunny or Funny?’, but got renamed by my youngest.  It’s an Easter-version of a game we played at Halloween which fused the idea of ‘spin the bottle’ with ‘trick or treat’.

This time we had a broken-up chocolate Lindt bunny in one bowl (the ‘bunnies’) and folded up forfeits (the ‘funnies’) in the other bowl.  We then sat in a circle and took turns to spin the arrow (which was just a covered kitchen roll with two arrows stuck to it).  After each spin, whoever was closest to ‘bunny’ would get a piece of chocolate, whilst the person closest to the other end would pick a ‘funny’ (forfeit).

As with Halloween, rather surprisingly, our kids ended up being keener to do the forfeits than getting the choc – probably because the forfeits were pretty silly and therefore right up their street.

I had some forfeits from Halloween that I re-used and found some more on the internet which gave us the following in total:

  • Say five/ten times rapidly: “Red lorry, yellow lorry”
  • Say five/ten times rapidly: “Three big blobs of a black bug’s blood”
  • Walk across the room on your knees
  • Line three upright chairs side by side. Lie on them with arms folded. Someone removes the middle chair and you must hold yourself stiff in position while everyone counts to ten
  • Say five/ten times rapidly: “Truly rural”
  • Sing a song
  • Dance a jig
  • Give a one minute talk about pigs
  • Give a one minute talk about cows
  • Give a one minute talk about elephants
  • Try to stand on your head
  • Hold one foot with your hand while hopping around the room.
  • Crawl on all fours and bark like a dog
  • Hop across the room on your right leg and return on left leg
  • Put an object on the floor in such a way that no one in the room can jump over it (answer is: put it against the wall)
  • Do 5 star jumps
  • Tell a joke
  • Sing a song
  • Tell us something that we don’t know about yourself
  • Make us laugh
  • Be tickled for a count of 10
  • Do a forward roll
  • Stand on one leg for a minute
  • Make the sound of 3 farmyard animals
  • Pat your head with one hand, while you rub your tummy with the other for 30 seconds
  • You are shipwrecked on an island inhabited by cannibals – explain to the chief why you shouldn’t be eaten
  • Bark like a dog whilst walking around in a circle on tip toes like a fairy
  • Pretend you are an Italian waiter – run through all the varieties of pizza available on your menu – you have to have an accent
  • Give everyone with blue eyes in the room a high five

2.Egg Drop

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I did this game as an ice-breaker when I started my first job.  Now my kids are older, I thought they might like to give it a go.  We split into teams (i.e. me and my husband with one of our boys each) in different rooms, gave ourselves 10 minutes and the same materials to come up with something that would mean the egg would survive intact after being dropped from a height.

Whilst I had in mind standing on a chair, or a ladder in the garden to create the height, my husband decided to lob them out of a first-floor window, when they survived, he did the same out of a second floor window.  The kids loved the idea that he was chucking an un-boiled egg out of the windows (of course they eventually cracked, so added ‘yuk’ appeal).  I waited at the bottom of the windows outside with my sons to watch them come down and inspect the results – the boys loved it.

Materials given to both teams: paper, scissors, sellotape, string, two elastic bands, pedal bin liner, dustbin bag

3.Marshmallow-Spaghetti Tower

This doesn’t have an Easter theme, but is like the Egg Drop in that it lends itself to doing in teams.  Each team had a plate of marshmallows and spaghetti and we had to attempt to build the tallest tower in 10-15 minutes.  It’s a lot harder than it looks!

Other fun ideas for Easter:

Easter Party & Alternative Egg Hunt

Indoor Easter egg hunt with clues

The highs and lows of egg decorating (Minion-style)

DIY Pirate Party

Having two boys means that it’s a pretty much a done deal that pirates are going to enter into the equation somewhere.  They also provide the perfect theme for a bit of fancy dress…

We usually hire a church hall, so that there’s space for all the games.  It’s fun to come up with some original games that match the theme – although you might want to test them out on your kids first to ensure they work.  I had a party once where no one had a clue what they were doing (including the adults!) – whilst it was very funny at the time, the experience was one of chaotic comedy, so perhaps not what you’re looking when hosting a flock of kids.

Invitations & Thank You Cards:

I like having a go at my own cards.  My enjoyment for designing them however waned when I tried (and failed) to get a burnt look around the edges of the invites that I’d originally printed off on plain card (I also tried staining with tea too…).  To cut the story short, don’t bother!

You can get some quite authentic-looking marble-effect printer paper, or google a picture of an ancient scroll to use as a base on which text can be added.  I just layered the text on top of the scroll picture in powerpoint.

I then made similarly-themed thank you notes to be sent out after the party.

After printing, I cut around the ragged edge (which was a pain, but looked good when finished):

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Games:

Treasure Hunt

A great way to entertain early arrival arrivals while you wait for the rest to come.  We found that giving them a challenge to complete worked well, as they could start as/when they arrived.

We did this before our kids could read, so, although they needed their parents to read out the questions, I wanted the answers to be a simple picture that they needed to find.

In order to do this, I printed pictures of the answers on A4 card to put up around the room. I attached an open envelope to each picture, containing smaller cards with pictures of the answer and double-sided sellotape on the reverse, so that they could stick the pictures to their answer sheets.

The party-goers then charged around the room, trying to spot the picture of a ‘sock’ or a ‘door’ etc. The end of the hunt led them to a treasure chest containing chocolate coins.

The questions we used were:

  1. Welcome pirates to [name]’s party – we use these if we’re feeling arty…
  2. We need shipmates to join our crew, you put this on before your shoe…
  3. Thank you for coming from near and far, this is [name]’s favourite car…
  4. The birthday boy is 4 – can you find our front ______?
  5. [name]’s favourite bear may be ‘big ted’, but you will see this when you go to bed
  6. We hope you are having fun – have you seen a currant _____?
  7. If you want your teeth to shine, pick this up and spend some time…
  8. If you want to learn and grow, turn the page, get in the know…
  9. The final clue.  The one we like best, can you find the treasure chest?

This is what the question sheet looked like.  I printed it off in black and white onto marble-effect paper for a more authentic look.  The answer stickers are also shown below.

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Treasure Islands

This is essentially musical chairs, just with cardboard circles on the floor instead of the chairs.  I put pictures of palm trees on them with a blue background to create the ‘island’ look.  As with the traditional game, we had the same number of islands as children to start, then islands were removed after every time the music was stopped (and someone was out) in order to whittle down to the winner.

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Save the pirate from the scurvy

A pirate-version of boule!  We stuck pictures of pirates on a piece of card that we propped up.  We then asked the children to roll oranges along the floor from the ‘start’ point to see who could get theirs closest to the pirates.

Whilst we explained what ‘scurvy’ was, I’m not sure the kids cared – they just liked lobbing the oranges at the pirates.

When we first did it, we tried to give everyone  a coloured sticker to be able to tell their oranges – but no one could remember their colour, so you may not want to bother.

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Walk the Plank

We taped the outline of a ‘plank’ on the floor with masking tape.  Then asked blindfolded children to walk along it and see if they could get as close to the end as possible, without ‘falling off’ the plank at the end into the ‘sea’.  The ‘sea’ was indicated by cards with pictures of sharks put around the end of the plank.

The kids ended up wanting to walk off the ‘end’ after a few goes, because when they did, their forfeit was to be tickled as they were being ‘eaten by the sharks’.

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“Arrgghhh” competition

A simple game, but a great filler if you need a bit of time to sort other things out when the party is in full-swing. Ask the children to all sit in a circle and explain the purpose of the game: to decide who can do the most fearsome, pirate-y “Arrgghhh”.  The children then take it in turns to have a go…

Traditional games with a pirate-y spin…

  • ‘Pin the beak on Polly’ & ‘Pin the patch on the pirate’ – ‘pin the tail on the donkey’:  I drew a picture of a parrot and a pirate on large pieces of paper, then cut pieces of yellow card for the ‘beak’ and black card for a ‘patch’.  The great thing about doing this yourself is that there’s no maximum – you can just make the number to match the number of party-goers you have.  I suggest numbering them though (and asking the children to remember their numbers if possible), so that you can tell who is the winner.  However you do it, it’s impossible to have just one winner, so it’s usually sweets for all…
  • Pass the Treasure – ‘pass the parcel’: you can get pirate wrapping paper to keep it in theme…
  • Peg-legged race – A three-legged race, if you think you’re kids are coordinated enough!  You can by the ties for legs on the internet.

Teams:

In order not to keep the children waiting a long time between goes, we split them into teams.  We’ve not bothered giving the teams names (as team membership tends to be a bit fluid when we’ve done this with younger kids…), however with older children who may like a bit of competition, you could name them ‘Treasure cove’, ‘jolly roger’, ‘princess pearl’, or ask them to make up their own.