No-Camp Camping Party - Nature Walk
Lisa in Alameda, CA, USA
CAMPING THEMED BIRTHDAY PARTY (best if hosted between 5-8 pm):
INVITATIONS: Write up a brochure describing your "camp" activities menu dates and directions and print on hour home printer. Leave a "mailer" section on the back of the brochure and you can just tape/staple the 3-fold brochure up address it stamp it and send it in the mail with no envelope required.
SNACKS: Hot dogs Big jug of Lemonade and Ice Water (optional ice chest with Beer for grown-ups) Potato Salad Sliced watermelon Chips and Dip
CAKE: You'll Need: Cupcakes frosted in grass-green color. Crushed black part of Oreo cookies. Pretzel sticks and candy rocks. Instructions: On each cupcake create a "fire ring" of candy rocks fill the middle with crushed oreo cookies to look like dirt stack the pretzel sticks in a tee-pee formation to look like firewood. In the birthday kid's cupcake push appropriate number of candles all the way down into cupcake firepit so just the top of the candle sticks out. Light it and voila! A real campfire to blow out!
DECORATIONS: Red & White checked picnic tablecloths from dollar store Lots of plastic bugs and snakes scattered around (get these at www.orientaltrading.com) Camping lanterns on tables Set up your real camping tent and camping shade canopy Firepit Galvanized metal buckets and/or camping coolers for drinks Balloons (in red/dark blue/dark green) Noisemaker with cricket sounds outside turned up Paper plates rollup utensils in napkin and hemp string Set up camping chairs for guests to sit on Picnic/camping tables Banner with "CAMP [your name]" printed on it. (I found a super-cute cheap one at www.vistaprint.com)
ACTIVITIES AND GAMES: 1. Recruit some adult family/friends to act as camp counselors (to help run games). Consider buying them t-shirts with "CAMP [your name]" printed on them. I found some very cheap at www.vistaprint.com. Get a box of cheap prizes from www.orientaltrading.com 2. Set up a tent for impromptu pretend play. 3. Hide plastic bugs and snakes around your back yard. Have a camp counselor set a timer for 3 minutes and set kids off to see who can find the most. Kid who finds most gets a prize all kids get to keep the bugs/snakes they find. 4. Create a "Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt." Break kids into groups send each group with a counselor to find nature items on a list (ex: something green something you can eat something alive etc). Each member of the group with the most items gets to pick a prize from the prize bin. People who found the most "creative" version of certain items gets to pick a prize too. 5. Have a friend who plays guitar lead a sing-a-long around the firepit while everyone roasts marshmallows at the end of the party just before time to go home. 6. Optional: Create a "Camp Grown-Up" area. I used a shade awning with lawn chairs underneath coolers with beer iced music and a grown-up game like a card table with poker chips and cards.
FAVORS: Try to strike a balance between fun and practicality. Most birthday party treat bags are filled with too much sugar or junky toys that just fall apart/make a mess. Too socially conscious / practical ideas just aren't any fun (one party host gave out apples as the gift bag ... healthy but not a big hit with the kids). Here's what I did for the camping theme (everything on the list was purchased from www.orientaltrading.com and my local Walgreens on sale). Each giftbag cost under $5. Hand these out just before SMORE time toward the end of the evening when the sun is starting to go down: 1. Camo drawstring backpack filled with 2. Mini-flash light 3. Glowsticks (so we could see the kids after dark) 4. Stainless Steel "canteen" (really a drinking bottle they could use in their lunch box) with their name written on it and a carabeener for clipping it to their belt. 5. Nature-themed (bugs etc) temporary tatoos 6. SMORE kit for later in the evening (ziplock back with graham cracker chocolate bar marshmallows)