Idea No.


Unfortunate Event -9yr- Daring Disguises Game



July 2004


Kristi in Washington, Oklahoma, USA

Honorable Mention

Book Reading Party

My daughter loves the Series of Unfortunate Events book series by Lemony Snicket and decided she wanted her 9th birthday party to be an Unfortunate Event -- in a good way!

Using a scanned photo of the cover of the first S.U.E. book, The Bad Beginning, we made invitations with the headline, It would be an Unfortunate Event to miss Karly’s Birthday Party.  In keeping with the doom and gloom nature of the books, this is the wording we used for the invites:  If you are hoping for an entertaining evening in a room decorated with colorful balloons and streamers, full of cheerful youngsters having a jolly time playing games and eating treats, you should plan now to stay at home. If, however, you are the odd sort of person who enjoys wallowing in unpleasantries and despair, come to Town Hall at 6:30p.m. on Thursday, April 15. You no doubt will want to save yourself from a heapful or horror and woe and make other plans for that evening. If not, you may R.S.V.P. at 555-1212. With all due respect, Lemony Snicket. 

At the party we played creepy music and used black and dark purple balloons and streamers to decorate the room. Her birthday cake was Count Olaf’s symbol, one giant eyeball. Other snacks were lemon drops (Count Olaf’s favorite) and Black Crows licorice candy (book four, The Vile Village, features a flock of crows). 

We played several party games with S.U.E. themes. In Laugh, Count Olaf the players stand in a circle except for one girl in the middle, who is it.  It is blindfolded and holds a broom. The players move in a circle until she tells them to stop. She then points the broom handle out and the person nearest it grabs it. It then says, Laugh, Olaf! and the person holding the broom handle gives her best sinister, Count-Olaf-type laugh. It tries to guess who laughed. If she’s correct, that player becomes the next it.  In the game What’s the Time, Count Olaf? one person is chosen to be Olaf. He stands at the head of the room with his back to the other players, who are 20 or  25 feet away. The other players call out together, What’s the time, Count Olaf? Olaf turns around to face them and shouts a time, such as, Ten o’clock! then turns back around. The players then take the same amount of steps toward Olaf as the amount of hours in Olaf’s time (3 o’clock=3 steps, 7 o’clock=7 steps). When Olaf thinks the players are getting close to him, he answers their question with, TIME TO DIE! Then he runs after the players, who run as quickly as possible back to the starting line. If Olaf tags a player, he or she becomes the next Count Olaf.

In the S.U.E. books Count Olaf is always wearing disguises, so we came up with the Daring Disguises game for the party. It’s a simple, easy game similar to Musical Chairs. Fill a paper sack with hats, masks, and all sorts of other costume apparel. Play creepy music, and when the music stops the player holding the bag must reach in with their eyes closed and pull out one piece of a disguise. He must put it on, whatever it is, and the music begins again. By the end of the game the kids should all have some interesting combinations. We awarded a First Prize for Wretchedness award to the player with the best disguise at the end of the game. In the Revolting Reptile Room Romp the kids all tie a long, thin balloon around their ankle (like a snake). At the word Go! Each player tries to stomp and burst the other players’ snakes while keeping theirs safe.

The girls loved all the games, but their favorite was the Foul Fungus Fill.  I made a batch of goo from a mixture of cornstarch, water, and food coloring and poured it into a big plastic container. The mixture looks and feels like a solid until you pick it up, then it turns to a sloppy slime and drips between your fingers.   About 25 feet away I put two black plastic cauldrons. The girls were split into two teams, and we had a relay race to see which team could fill their cauldron with foul fungus first. (We went outside for this game, of course!)

Before the girls left they each reached into a bucket of Count Olaf Eyeballs (big plastic googly eyes) and pulled one out. On the back of each one was written a phrase like, The Ghastly Gift, The Putrid Present, or The Terrible Treat.  On the treat table were wrapped gifts with tags that matched the phrases on the eyeballs. Each girl found the package that matched what was written on the eyeball she chose, and that was her party favor. Inside the packages were Series of Unfortunate Events Magic 8-Balls, S.U.E. jigsaw puzzles, or S.U.E. Perilous Parlor board games. 

My daughter had a lot of fun planning this party, and it actually was almost one literal series of unfortunate events after another (a birthday cake dropped upside-down in the car, the party place locked with no available key, etc.), but we got through it and had a great and really Fortunate--time!

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