Medieval Europe Party 6yr - Sword in the Stone
Stacy in Fairfield, CA, USA
May 2007 Winner
Our son's 6th birthday party had a medieval theme.
INVITATIONS: We sent out invitations printed on nice stationary that had gold accents and gold lined envelopes (purchased for very little at our local paper outlet). It was written as a proclamation stating that the kingdom had been without a king for many years so a tournament would be held where the champion would be crowned. We used ribbon and sealing wax on each (I used faux sealing wax in a glue gun which was somewhat translucent so you could see the ribbon below. I would use real wax if I had it to do over.) then sealed with a decorative letter R sticker and stamped with the latest Madonna & Child Christmas stamps (these are usually works by Medieval or Renaissance painters). On each I made the first letter of the names an illuminated letter colored in by hand with sharpee pens and then outlined in an ultra fine tipped metallic gold pen. They came out really nicely!
DECORATIONS: My husband got a new tool kit from Sears for Christmas so he made most everything from old plywood in our yard and we bought some foam insulation sheets at Home Depot to cut shapes from also. He made lots of banners and flags. He made trumpets from the tops of 2 liter bottles and PVC pipe (painted them gold). He used the same idea to make lots of torches throughout the house (just painted them black and made them shorter). Outside he made a 10 foot tall dragon to put in front of our shed. We had planned to put a red light bulb and a fog machine inside his head, but his head was already so heavy it wouldn't stay put on the shed so we couldn't use the other things. He fitted cardboard sheets in all our windows then cut out shapes in them and taped colored cellophane to it so we had stained glass windows. Our computer room he transformed into a chapel with an alter. It had lots of crosses, candles, and flowers. We also meant to have a bowl of holy water, but used all our nice bowls for the food.
The table was laid with gold chargers we got at Big Lots and Target after Christmas 75% off. I got some beautiful goblets, napkins, and flatware at a Pier 1 outlet store. We set the table as if guests would be seated there, but then put the food out buffet style on the plates. Don't know if that makes sense to you, but it looked neat. Inside the goblets we put little things like red and green grapes, black and green olives, walnuts and almonds. Our laundry room became a dungeon complete with a skeleton hanging in chains, cast iron skeleton keys, skulls, rats, bats, and stone/skull plastic scene setters from Oriental Trading co. Around the house, my husband put little fairy tale nuances. We had Little Red Riding Hood's basket of goodies (the cookies were placed inside), Rapunzels braid extending from our attic window to the ground, Puss in Boots (a dressed up stuffed animal), the Gingerbread man waving in a window (made out of Styrofoam), etc. We had asked everyone to bring their patents of nobility (handmade family trees), but not one person brought it. My husband did a very nice looking one for our son, but of course he was ineligible for the prize. The prize we had that was to be awarded for the most decorative ended up going to the person who could name the most fairy tale references throughout the house.
GOODY BAGS As soon as the guests arrived I gave the boys tunics I had made from felt and ribbon. The ribbon I got 75% off after Christmas at K-Mart and Target. I gave the girls princess hats I had made from Oriental Trading Co's make your own big paper hat kit and their juggling scarves. I also handed out paper grocery bags with their names on them printed out on a scroll. Inside was only a schedule of events and a checklist of everything they should get in their goody bag before they go. MUSIC We were able to find 4 different CD's of music from the Middle Ages at our library and played them throughout thre party. We also found a record of a Punch and Judy show that I recorded onto cassette tape and played by the puppet theater when the live show was not in progress. The puppets we just displayed in front of the theater when not in use.
FOOD: The first thing the guests were directed to do on arrival was eat! I checked out some Medieval Cookery books at our library and then picked the recipes I thought would be best for today's pallates.The menu: Appetizers Cheeses -- 5 kinds Almonds Walnuts Drinks Root beer (labeled beer) Ginger ale (labeled ale) Grape juice (labeled wine) Apple cider (labeled cider) Punch (labeled wassail) Main Courses 6 Rotisserie Garlic Chickens (ready made from grocery store) Game pie (supposed to be rabbit, chicken, & bacon but no rabbit available) Ember Day Tart (like quiche) Mushroom tart Ribs (ready made from grocery store) Roast Beef (sliced thin for sandwiches) Bread Rolls All kinds sliced to use with cheeses Condiments Butter for bread Ranch dressing for veggies Mustard for roast beef sandwiches Veggies All kinds of finger crunchies Canel cucumbers (sliced cucumber sprinkled with cinnamon sugar) 2 salads (May Salat & Herbs with Vegetables) Fruits All kinds for fruit salad Desserts Birthday cake Ice cream Custard pie Castle sugar cookies Fortune cookies (in the gypsy tent)
ACTIVITIES: While everyone was eating, my husband and I performed a Punch & Judy puppet show. We found the script online (just search for Punch & Judy scripts). We found a non-violent one appropriate for kindergarteners, but you can find many for different ages. My husband built a puppet theatre out of old picket fence pieces. It looked great since he alternated colors on each picket for a striped effect. Then it was time to start the tournament. We had 3 events: archery, sword, and joust. My husband made signs with the emblems for each to hang so that the kids could tap them to indicate which they would participate in (this is straight out of the movie, A Knight's Tale).
For the swords, we purchased inflatable swords on eBay, but decided even that could be dangerous to just let them go at each other so decided to hook up a bubble machine and let them pop as many bubbles as they could in 10 seconds with their sword. They actually enjoyed this a lot! For the joust my husband made 3 stands and strung ribbon between them for the divider. In the center he made a hanger and hung small hoops from them. The lances were swimming noodles with a foam handle. He also made a flag on a stick to start each pair on their way. They ran toward the middle, threaded their lances through the hoops and ran on to the other side. They each wanted to do this several times. For the archery contest, we bought the suction type kiddie sets from KB toys and I wrapped 6 milk and oatmeal cartons in construction paper and put a fleur de lis on each. We set 3 on eachof 2 barrels in a stacked formation and let pairs of children take 3 turns shooting arrows. This was pretty hard for 5 & 6 year olds. Only one child was able to hit a target and a few ended up crying out of frustration. It didn't last long though!
When they were all done they went into a fortune teller's tent we had set up with a cloth covered box on which was a crystal ball, tarot cards, and some fortune cookies. Each child opened his cookie to get his fortune (we didn't have anyone who could sit in there and actually do readings plus there wasn't time). Lots of pillows were strewn on the floor and each child got to take a pillow home. We got these for 50 cents each at Pier 1 on liquidation. Next, we had everyone sit at tables to do some coloring activities while we called them up to receive a small pouch of gold coins (pouches were jewelry bags from eBay and gold coins were from Oriental Trading Co). They designed a coat of arms (copied from a book purchased at a teacher's store), colored stained glass window coloring pages (Dover Publications), and did a crayon rubbing of a knight (from a set called Ultimate Explorer Castles by Portico Publishing). We also did an unwrapping game at this point. I had wrapped 24 layers of Medieval wrapping paper (Dover Publications) around a small book on knights (Dollar Tree). Each layer contained a plastic baggie of all the goody bag items I had gotten (Medieval Master Artist stickers, King Arthur stickers, Knight stickers, Knight paper dolls, dragon tattoo, Suit of Armor postcard -- found at Dollar Tree & Dover) and then the last person to unwrap got the special book too.
My husband had made a sword in the stone. It was a wooden sword set in the base of a patio umbrella stand (very heavy). A hole was drilled into the sword and a bolt placed through the hole in the umbrella stand as well as the sword. As we called each child's name to come up and get his gold and scroll proclaiming him a knight for performing so well in the tourney, we asked each to try just once to pull the sword out with only one hand. Of course, we let our son go last and we pulled a string tied to the bolt out so he could pull out the sword and then we crowned him king. I should say my husband built up foam pieces around the base, painted them to look like rock and even added vines so the string was disguised. As king, Hunter then called out the names of the champions of the bow, sword, and joust. He gave them each a bag of jewels (got at Michael's for a song after Christmas when many ornaments had fallen apart) as well as a medal with the symbol of the thing they had won for.
When this was over, the Blacksmith shop we had set up with just a pop up canopy opened and the children were able to purchase items with their gold coins. We got a lot of armor from the Dollar Tree store at Halloween time and I found Gothic looking plastic goblets 75% off after Halloween at Walgreens. I also purchased silver heart locket necklaces on eBay so the girls didn't have to buy armor! Lastly, it was time to have cake and ice cream and open presents. I made a castle cake from a recipe in an old Betty Crocker Children's cookbook. I know it is online as well as a nice one from Better Homes and Gardens. It was kind of tough and didn't come out as nicely as the picture in the book, but I still got compliments on it.
THANK YOU CARDS For the thank you notes, I used the same stationary as the invitations, but printed an illuminated T" in "Thank" on the front. I should also note that I used a font called "First Order Plain" that I was able to download free online for both the invitations and thank you cards.