It occurred to me that I never posted anything about the last birthday party I put together. Considering how hard it was for me to find/come up with ideas for a Percy Jackson party, I thought I’d share what we did.
Printed on that same parchment-looking paper pad I bought 3 years ago for birthday invitations was:
Sons and Daughters of the Gods!
Please join us in the celebration of John’s 8th Birthday
Camp Half Blood
March 13, 2010 at 3:30
Please note that Camp Half Blood has moved to the Isle of Lemnos (currently <our address>)
We will practice warrior training (including monster evasion tactics), and Ancient Greek. Dionysus will provide the drinks, Demeter will provide the pizza.
Please send an Iris message letting us know whether you’ll be able to attend or if you have been sent on some other Quest. If you are out of Golden Drachmas, you may call (or text) xxx-xxxx to be connected to Emily, daughter of Hera, Goddess of Motherhood.
If Zeus throws rain and lightning bolts our way, we will reschedule for a sunnier day. We’’ll be outside, so make sure you’re dressed warmly—even demi-gods can get cold.
This was dressed up with a double Greek key motif (that pattern that you instantly recognize as Ancient Greek) and printed in Perpetua Titling font. Honestly, a lot of parents were confused by the invitation – you really have to have read the books to get it, but they were able to get the important details out of it.
As guests arrived, they “consulted the Oracle” (a bucket labeled “Oracle”) to find out who their Greek God parent was. They pulled out a name tag that said
Hi! My name is and my Dad/Mom is <God/Goddess name>!
The kids were always excited to find out what their parent was the god of. All the gods had multiple options, and I always chose the most exciting option – Apollo could have been music, archery or poetry. Guess which one I chose? They were occupied discussing what powers they must have and comparing notes on their newfound heritage while all the guests arrived. I wanted to give everyone a laurel wreath to wear, but that just didn’t happen.
Next, everyone got to decorate their shields. I bought 16″ cake circles from a craft store with my 40% off coupon, then spray painted them black. Add two bottles of gold craft paint (a little goes a long way, so squeeze some out onto little paper plates instead of passing bottles around) and a bunch of cheap paint brushes, and you have an exciting craft. Tip: Write their names on the back with a gold metallic marker BEFORE they start painting. When they were done painting, it was on to:
Medusa Freeze Tag – On one piece of paper, draw a picture of a snake (or Medusa’s head). Make more pieces that are blank, so that there’s one piece of paper for each player. Each player chooses a piece of paper; the player who gets the one with the picture of the snake is Medusa, while the other players are demigods. Medusa tries to freeze the other players by touching them. When a player is frozen, he freezes in whatever position he was in when touched. Other players, the demigods, can try to “rescue” frozen players: to unfreeze them, they must crawl between a frozen player’s legs. The game continues until Medusa freezes everyone — the last player to be frozen then becomes Medusa, and the game starts all over again. This was surprisingly more fun than I’d expected – I mean, I thought it would be fun, just not THAT much fun.
Next, Capture the Flag. I just used squares of fabric that I had lying around for the flags, and hooked them onto opposite sides of the fence. Since we only had two girls, we played shirts vs skins.
While they were playing Medusa tag and Capture the Flag, we grown-ups let the shields dry and attached zip ties through holes in the shields to make handles.
Then it was time for battle training – Ambrosia Shooters (not as grown-up or intoxicating as it sounds). I made marshmallow shooters out of PVC pipe for everyone (basically blow guns with handles and a bend so they are less likely to aspirate marshmallows), and attached bags of mini-marshmallows (ambrosia, food of the gods) for ammo. These did NOT turn out as well as I would have liked, but the kids had a good time battling each other and fending off ambrosia with their shields. I think it would have been better if I could have stepped down the end of the shooter to 1/4″ pipe so that the kids got better distance.
Battle Practice - the dead, the wounded and the fighters
Boring pizza and chips for dinner (did I mention I was pregnant during this and not up to my usual standards?), followed by the world’s coolest Percy Jackson cake.
Greek key motif on the sides. Magical items include Persephone’s pearls, Poseidon’s trident, Zeus’s lightning bolt, scorpion from the Pit of Tartarus, Medusa, Hermes’s winged shoe, the Minotaur’s horn and Thalia, the girl who was turned into a pine tree. I made enough for everyone to have a magical object. They tasted awful, since they were made of royal icing, but the kids loved them. Royal icing is ridiculously easy to make, and if you pipe shapes onto waxed paper, you can paint them with food coloring after they dry. It is then pretty fragile, so be careful of thin lines and joints. You can (and should) make them days ahead of time, and make extras in case they break.
This was the end of our party, but I had other ideas I didn’t use. I originally planned the party later in the day so that we could go outside and play with glow in the dark necklaces/bracelets while the sun went down, then we could look for constellations in the sky once it was dark. I was also going to teach them, or at least show them, how to write their names in Greek. Bobbing for olives sounded cute, but I didn’t think too many 8 year olds liked olives that much. If I could have found enough cheap orange t-shirts, I’d have made Camp Half Blood shirts for everyone. I couldn’t think of any blue food I wanted to make, but it would have been appropriate – Percy’s mom had a thing for serving blue food (you know, blue like the ocean?). I’m trying to get away from sending bags of candy home with kids, but I could have gathered blue candy to give them. Trident, trident, lightning bolt (like duck, duck, goose) would have been fun, too.
If you like these ideas and want more details, just ask, I’m happy to tell you more!