DIY Party Ideas – 80’s Style!

It is the start of December and I find myself once again trying to organise my son’s birthday party (I swear it comes around more often than once a year). His birthday is at the end of December so it is always a tricky time finding a venue and choosing a date people can actually make. It also brings the cost of our children’s parties to the forefront of my mind, given all the other expenses at this time of year.

A few years ago while organising my daughter’s third birthday party I discovered an old St Michael’s party book my mum had given me. I remember her using it to plan our parties and make our birthday cakes (the hedgehog was a particularly good one). It is brilliant. Aside from the wonderful photographs of children in their Laura Ashley dresses (so 80’s I love it!) it has some really wonderful party ideas. One of my favourites was a suggestion to consider any elderly people living near you who you often bumped into at the shops with your children and to invite them along (I have literally been scouring our neighbourhood for friendly looking elderly people to invite to my children’s parties since I read that).

The suggestions for fancy dress are equally brilliant. Fancy dress ideas include a blazing fire, a poodle, a domino, night time and a wet day (?!?!?!). I also particularly love the invitation making tips, especially the one to write the invitation with invisible ink or lemon juice (just don’t forget to include instructions at the bottom for how it can be read). I am totally doing this for my son’s party!

Then there is the food.  Who remembers angel bread? This is bread with butter on, covered in hundreds and thousands (I know it sounds disgusting!).  Nowadays we all worry about making sure that there are some healthy options.  Every children’s party I have been to has had carrot and cucumber as a minimum, sometimes the parents even include peppers and baby corn.  The parties of our youth were very different.  We used to have hula hoops, bowls of smarties, cheese chunks with apple, Krispie cake, ice cream and jelly, and of course angel bread.  The Book (it deserves capitals) also suggests other delicacies such as jam sandwiches, ginger snaps, black treacle flapjacks and meringue nests filled with sweets.

While I do not suggest that we bring back angel bread (as much as my daughter would love me to), there are some fantastic suggestions for party entertainment.  Aside from the usual games and activities, such as pass the parcel, musical statues, musical bumps etc., The Book suggests a number of games that I recall from my childhood and had totally forgotten about:

  • Hunt the thimble – it is fairly straightforward – hide a thimble and set the children off hunting for it. If you do not have a thimble (me!) you can swap the thimble with sweets.
  • Ring-a-ring of roses – I know, I know, this has fairly morbid origins, but the children love having to suddenly fall down at the end! Just don’t get into a conversation with any of them about what the song means….
  • img_7698Oranges and Lemons – two children make an arch by holding hands. The other children form a queue and make a procession under the arch as they all sing the song. When the children sing “head” the arch comes down to trap a child that child then stands behind one of the children making the arch and the game is repeated until all the children are out. (Again a bit morbid, but hopefully the children will to notice – we certainly didn’t.)
  • Dead lions – all the children lie still on the floor and one child has to try to try to make them move by verbal means only (e.g. “there is a spider crawling up your arm”). They cannot touch the dead lions.  Whoever moves then helps that child to make the other dead lions to move.
  • Give the dog a bone – on one side of a large piece of card stick a picture of a dog (you can draw it if you are artistic!), on the other side write the word bone somewhere. Cut out a “bone” for each child with their name written on it. Each child has a turn to stick their bone on the dog side, where they think the real bone is hiding. The child whose bone is closest wins.
  • What’s the time Mr. Wolf – designate a safety zone such as a sofa, a rug etc. the wolf (it can be an adult or one of the children) walks round the room with the children following. As they walk around they ask the wolf the time. If the wolf says “dinner time” the children must rush to the safety zone. If the wolf catches one of the children they can have a turn at being the wolf.
  • Grandmother’s footsteps – one child is the granny, they stand with their back to the rest of the children. The other children must creep up behind the granny and touch her without the granny seeing them. If the granny turns round the children must stand stock still. If anyone moves they are out. The first to touch the granny wins and becomes the next granny.
  • Sardines – one child hides and the others look for him/her.  When a child finds the hiding child, they cram into the hiding space with them.  Eventually the whole party ends up in a giggling group under a bed or behind a door.

My all time favourite party game, however, is the chocolate game.  It is just genius.  You place a few bars of chocolate, a knife and a fork on a plate.  The children sit in a circle around it and take turns to throw a dice.  When they throw a six they are allowed to dash into the centre of the circle and eat as much of the chocolate as they can until the next person throws a six (at which point they then dash into the middle to eat the chocolate).  But they must use the knife and fork, no hands allowed at all.  When they get older you can add some gloves, hats and scarves which they have to put on before they are allowed to start trying to eat the chocolate.  Like I say, genius.  In fact I might introduce this to adult dinner parties instead of pudding!

I hope you find these useful. It is fair to say that I will be using this list for my son’s party. And if anyone from Marks and Spencer is reading this, please re-release the book – it is timeless (even if the photos suggest otherwise!).

To note this blog is not sponsored by M&S!

  • Livs
    Posted at 17:27h, 15 December Reply

    I might play the chocolate game this evening by myself

    • admin
      Posted at 20:38h, 15 December Reply

      I already am – I am just playing a simplified version, i.e. without the cutlery!

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