Knight Party -3yr- Joust the Ring
Gail in Federal Way, WA, USA
Knight Party (3 year old) I made invitations myself - the cover had a fleur de lys on a yellow background (our young knight's favorite color) and the wording inside read "Hear ye, hear ye...You are hereby invited to Castle (our family name) to celebrate the 3rd birthday of Sir (our young knight). Celebrations will taketh place on the 2nd day of (month) between the hour of 3 and half past the hour of 4." I used the Edwardian font in Word to achieve an "olde" look, and all guests were addressed as either Sir ... or The Lady ...
The house was decorated with purple and yellow, and I drew a coat of arms for the birthday boy (there are some interesting web sites where you can design your own, if you can't find one relating to your family).
When the guests arrived we had them draw a "knight" picture - it was interesting to see how the boys drew knights, dragons and horses; while the girls drew princesses! When everyone had arrived they were told a story about how our little knight had been asked by the King to guard a magical item, but a naughty dragon had stolen it, and the help of all the guests would be needed to get the item back. If they agreed to accompany our knight on his quest they first had to pull the magic sword from the stone - this was a box covered in a grey tablecloth, with a hole in the back for an adult to put their hand through to hold the sword to present the children with a bit of a challenge - easy for the younger kids and quite hard for the older children.
When they had pulled out the sword they were presented with a knight's helmet or a purple "princess" hat. They were then asked to go and sit on one of the chairs that had been placed in a circle with a small round table in the middle (not quite as big as King Arthur's!). They then played musical chairs. Each child was awarded a gold covered chocolate coin for their efforts, which was placed in a purple money bag for them. (The money bags were made from pieces of pre-cut felt from a craft store, with gold colored ribbon through the top, and the children's name written on in gold glitter glue.}
After this they had to learn how to "arm" a knight. I had drawn a picture of a knight on a horse, and had cut out an appropriate number of yellow shields with the childrens' names on and sticky tape on the back; and they were to stick the shield on the knight whilst wearing a blindfold - the older the child the more times they were turned before guiding them to the picture (at this age they were too young to feel for the other childrens' shields to guide them!). Another gold "coin" was awarded for their efforts.
Now that they knew how to arm a knight, it was time to practice. They had to "tilt at the ring". We had cut out a cardboard circle about 18" in diameter, and had cut a hole in it about 12" in diameter. The children had to ride on a hobby horse (horse's head on a stick), holding the sword, and catch the ring (which was being held by an adult so it could be made a little easier for the younger children). More gold "coins" were awarded. When they had all had a couple of turns, it was time to face the dragon! I had drawn a large dragon (about 70" aby 35"), covered it with contact paper and then pinned it to a wooden board. It was raining on the day of the party, so I stood outside the garage (wearing waterproof clothes!) holding the board upright and the children were inside - with a container of pre-filled water balloons. And we let them have a melee, trying to put out the dragon's fire with the water balloons.
My husband had actually filled enough balloons for two containers, so when the children were a little disappointed that all the balloons had been used, he was able to bring out the "strategic reserves", much to the delight of the children. On receiving the signal that the balloons had all been thrown, I let the board fall to reveal a package behind it. The package was retrieved, more gold coins were awarded, and the children all went back inside to play "pass the parcel" with the package. I had wrapped stickers into the layers of paper to keep the childrens' interest as a lot of them were quite young. (The stickers were put into each child's little bags as they were found.) At the center of the package was the magical golden cup stolen by the dragon (a gold goblet purchased from a party store). The children all then came up to the table to discuss their quest - and to have some fruit and crackers. I had put on coffee for the adults, and put out some nibbles for them.
Then we gave the children some juice, with the winner of the pass the parcel game drinking from the magic cup, and brought out the cake. The bakery department at out local grocery store had done an awesome job - I had taken in a toy dragon and knight, and a Christmas tree decoration in the shape of Cinderella's castle, and asked them to do what they could - it was awesome - the dragon was sitting in front of a cave, and the castle was set up on a hill to give it the necessary perspective - they did a great job. The children each handed the birthday boy his gifts, and then it was time to leave - whilst they had been eating snack I had topped up their little bags with more stickers and a small coloring book.
Each child took home their individual bag, in which they had gold "coins", stickers, and a coloring book. They also took one of the helium filled balloons used to decorate the house and kept their knight/princess hat. (I purchased the hats, stickers and coloring books from Party Express - everything else was purchased locally or was already around the house. Oh, and Clip Art proved an excellent source for pictures to copy for the artwork.) And my son's favorite part of the party - eating cake!?!?!?!?