Knights Party -7yr- Slay the Dragon
Jennifer in Highland Park, IL, USA
My son wanted a Knights-themed party to celebrate his 7th birthday. I got many of my ideas from this website but adapted them and added some of my own. My son wanted to invite his entire 1st grade class (about 22 kids in all). We opted to rent a reasonable party-room available through the local park district at their nature center. The room was large and spacious which meant we could divide the space into areas for different activities. The room was roughly split into 3rds - the cake tables, the craft tables, and an open area for games.
COSTUMES. My mother and I sewed costumes for all the kids. Our party was in early February and I began preparations after Christmas. The post-Christmas sale at our local fabric & craft store was a great help. For the boys, I sewed simple tunics in red with a blue wolf emblem on the front and faux-chain mail helmets in a silvery fabric. Gold-braid trim made rope belts. My mother sewed purple capes for the girls. I wanted the costumes to look good because this was the major thing that each child could take home after the party.
CRAFTS. DECORATE A SHIELD. My husband cut out wooden shields out of thin plywood. These were sanded to smooth out rough edges and then painted white. Handles were made out of gold braid trim attached with wire. My husband did this task and was careful to make sure there were no sharp edges. I don't really know how he accomplished this but just know that it can be done. I provided an assortment of templates, tempera paints and clip-art images printed on white label paper. The boys could use a variety of these to decorate their shields.
DECORATE A CONE HAT. The girls were given pink poster-board cone hats with ribbon ties to decorate. I provided glittery markers to draw with and faux craft-store gems and sequins to glue on. [TIP: Make the conehats in advance. I thought I should measure the girls individually but it takes too long and all the hats ended up about the same.]
ROYAL COLORING BOOKS. Using tracing paper, I traced several illustrations from library books about King ARthur and his knights. Then I xeroxed them to create individual coloring books. The kids could color during a pause in the action or take their book home for later.
GAMES. SLAY THE DRAGON. My son and I painted a large dragon on two sheets of butcher paper measuring about 5' x 7'. We then cut out green construction paper blobs to repesent dragon's blood-n-gore. I sewed a blindfold out of fabrics scraps from the tunics. This game was a variant on the old-fashioned pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Each child was blindfolded and spun and given a blood-n-gore blob with painters tape on one side to stick on the dragon. I wrote each child's name on the paper to identify the slayer. The child who got their blood-n-gore blob closest to the dragon's heart was the champion dragon slayer.
SIEGE THE CASTLE. My son and I painted large pieces of cardboard (from a washing machine box and a door box) to look like a castle wall. We used a dark grey base coat. After that dried, we used a large sponge dipped in lighter grey to make bricks/stones. After that dried, we cut out three holes in the center wall piece. These faux walls were attached (painter's tape again) to my son's freestanding, 3-sided puppet theater. I sewed beanbags (more fabric scraps from the tunics) and my son stuffed them with lentils and beans. This game was a variant on a bean-bag toss. The object was to get your bean bag through one of the holes in the castle wall.
DRAGON TAG. Kids form a line with hands on the hips of the child in front of them. The kid at the front of the line is the dragon's head and the kid at the end is the tail. The object of the game is for the head to catch the tail.
PARTING GIFT. My son gave each friend a bag of chocolate coins with a note thanksing them for celebrating with us. Kids took home their costumes and craft and a coloring book.
TIPS & SUGGESTIONS -
1. Most rental places object to taping anything to their walls. I was able to convince them that my painter's tape would not mar their painted walls. It didn't. Painter's tape is more expensive but useful in this case.
2. For safety and security, make sure the kids know that they need to stay in the party room. Two of our guests tried to take an impromptu game of tag into the hallway. We supervised a group expedition to the restrooms to wash hands before the cake.
3. You cannot do this alone. You will need help. We hired two teenage babysitters to assist and we gratefully accepted a parent's offer to stay. This meant we had at least one person in charge of a craft table or game at any given time. My husband photographed the party and maintained a head count of all the kids.
4. Involve the birthday child in the advance preparations.
5. We chose not to have swords present, plastic, infatable or otherwise. One of our guests asked about this, and I replied, "This is a peaceful kingdom."
6. Our local grcoery store bakery did not have a "knights-themed" cake and I did not want to bake. Instead, I ordered the "Barney" cake without the figurines because it had a green-meadow base. Then my son picked out a PLaymobil dragon and knight to stand on the cake.
7. After the cake, we had all the kids pose for a group photo in front of the dragon painting. We printed several copies and included it with my son's thank-you notes.
8. The length of the party was 1-1/2 hours. I'd budgeted 10 minutes for arrival/getting into costumes, 30 minutes for crafts, 30 minutes for games and 20 minutes for cake. Needless to say, crafts and games went by much quicker than anticipated. I was glad to have made the coloring books and to have "dragon tag" as a back-up game.
9. Warning about the games and 7-year old boys. The bean bags were the party favorite but most of the boys tried to "destroy the castle" or see if they could knock it over.
PARTING THOUGHT. I am glad that I did this. My son was ecstatic about the party and had a great time. It was a lot of work though worth the effort. I don't believe that I will do anything like this again.