Monday, January 14, 2008

Egyptian Party - Mammoth Post!

Well, we had Emily's Egyptian birthday party on Saturday from 3-6pm. It was (I think) a great success. Emily had a fabulous time and I think all the guests enjoyed it too. Maisie, bless her heart, told me on the way out that "Emily's parties are always fantastic!" :-)) We didn't know Jackie last time we had a children's party - in the run up to the big day, she thought I was completely mad, as she reckoned that two hours was the absolute maximum you could hold a children's party for without them being bored rigid. Think she's changed her mind now, lol, since she tells me her children have declared it the best party they've ever been to :-)) One of my New Year resolutions was to start giving myself credit where it's due - and I do do a good party if I say so myself.

Blogger has shrunk all my photos again, but they are clickable. We had the big dining room walls completely covered in our hand painted and stencilled sheets, jewelled swirly things hanging down from the ceiling, two lovely blow up Egyptian figures, some gold and blue helium balloons and masses and masses of ordinary blue and gold balloons, plus Egyptian music in the background.

Emily was dressed as Cleopatra and looked completely gorgeous. The guests were invited to come in fancy dress and they all did us proud - we had a harem girl, another Cleopatra, two noble Egyptian ladies, a mummy, a desert nomad and one guest not in costume (although to be fair that's because she didn't realise the date until 24 hours beforehand, lol). I really wish we'd taken a group photo when everyone arrived, but with so much going on we just didn't think of it until it was too late.

I'd set up a story to the party, that Cleopatra was desperate to find Tutankhamun's tomb and its hidden mysteries, but that she'd heard he'd buried seperate treasure (which turned out to be the party bags) outside the tomb and that the secret to that lay in a golden box of knowledge. Via various games and activities, the kids had to journey to the tomb of Tutankamun's chief advisor and from there to find the golden box.

We played a variation on "pin the tail" where the children had to mark the location of the pyramids on a whiteboard drawn map whilst blindfolded - that was to prove to the gods that they were worthy egyptians before the quest began. I told them the quest was top secret and they had to creep out through the village without waking anyone - which involved a game of "Cleopatra's Footsteps". But alas, they were too noisy and woke up half the village. The only way to get rid of the villagers was to pretend to be mummies and scare them away - cue the old favourite loo roll mummy wrapping game, lol. I was very keen to avoid the horrible, horrible "choose a partner" thing, so we devised a team choosing method by using different gemstones in a model sarcophagus - the children each picked a stone and were then teamed up with whoever else had the same stone. For the mummy wrapping we had two teams of three and a team of two plus me to help them.

Pretending to be mummies obviously did the trick as they were then able to proceed to the advisor's tomb - but because it was going to be so dark in there, they had a practice game first of Dark Drawing. Turned out all the lights and everyone was blindfolded too, and had to follow my drawing instructions on their bits of paper. Very funny results :-) Once "inside the tomb", they had to search really quickly for the golden box (which wasn't there, but they didn't know that). There was eerie music playing in the tomb and nobody wanted to move when it was silent (basically, musical statues). Finally, Cleo found a secret doorway guarded by a statue of Anubis (our very cute blow up Anubis). He demanded to see their sacred pyramid amulets - but oh dear, nobody had one. So the next activity was a craft-y one, where everyone decorated and assembled little miniature pryamids from templates we'd prepared.

Anubis was suitably fooled by the replia amulets and let them through the doorway. As he vanished, he dropped a package, and the children then played a dice and cocktail sticks game to see who won it. Inside the secret passageway they found hundreds of (imaginary) gold boxes and had to sort through them in a hurry by tossing them to one another. That was a fun game called Treasure Catch which involved throwing a beach ball to one another; if you missed you knelt down, if you missed again you sat down and so on. But alas, none of those gold boxes were THE gold box. Disheartened, they had to leave the tomb...but on the way out, Cleo stumbled over a strangely shaped and mysteriously wrapped gold package - yay, pass the parcel time!

Inside the pass the parcel, apart from a prize, were laminated sheets with the key to hieroglyphs on them, plus sealed egyptian envelopes, one each. A note explained that in order to find the golden box, the children must first each find a treasure stone, hidden in the Egyptian desert (i.e garden). Inside each envelope was a clue, written in hieroglyphs, about where a single stone was. The children got into pairs using the gemstone method again, got their coats and shoes on, grabbed torches and went outside to search, ably supervised by Jon while my Mum and I got the party feast ready. Once everyone had found their stones, they had sparklers and glow sticks to play with for a few minutes until tea was ready.

Party tea was by candlelight - lots of fun. We had the normal party type food, and on the table we'd put lots of Egyptian ornaments too. Emily's birthday cake was marbled chocolate and vanilla; she decorated it herself with edible gold glitter, with a sarcophagus ornament on top, surrounded by nine candle and two sparklers. We also made some scrummy vegan fairy cakes which turned out to be even nicer than the proper cake was, lol. Party tea was mostly ably supervised by Nana, since I had to rush out into the garden to find a missing stone and then upstairs to find a missing prize, lol. Pictures don't look dark because of the flash but it was *very* dark!

After party tea, it was time to find out what the deal was with these treasure stones they'd so eagerly collected. The gods instructed the children to break open the stones, which they very much enjoyed doing. Inside each was part of a rhyme which, when they worked together to assemble it, gave a clue as to where this gold box was. They rushed off to get it and brought it back. Inside the box were ten questions with a choice of four answers each (it was 40 matchboxes glued together and sprayed gold). Each child had a question to answer - if they chose the correct answer, they found the next question in that drawer. If they chose the wrong answer, they got a small gold stone instead, and they were allowed up to four gold stones between them. Finally, when the last question was answered correctly, it revealed a final poem giving the very last clue to the location of the treasure itself. They rushed off to get the party bags and I think everyone loved them too.

I was very pleased with myself over the timing of the party, lol, because despite some games taking longer than I thought and some not as long, we finished at exactly four minutes to six, just long enough for everyone to rush back downstairs with their bags and say their goodbyes before parents arrived to collect them all.


We had been due to attend an adult friend's birthday party at 8pm, but he cancelled it a couple of days beforehand as he wasn't feeling well. Instead, we stayed up until late on Saturday evening playing charades with Nana and Gramps, which Emily loved, yet again. Must make time for more games evenings, as the ones we've had since Christmas have been so lovely.

On Sunday morning, after all that excitement, Emily went to karate and received her green belt! Very proud of her :-))
Also on Sunday, Nana and Gramps did a fantastic job of clearing up after the party for us, and moved most of the furniture back into the room, just leaving one of the handpainted sheets up per Emily's request.

Today we've attempted to get "back to work" after what seems like a hugely extended break that lasted all of December and half of January. Ahem. Had to take Grandad to the doctors this morning first, though. Priorities.

This afternoon we did do some work. Emily asked (?) to do a KS2 Science Sats paper we had. She sat the first test in well under the 45 minutes allowed, and got 36 out of 40 (and that was with me marking very, very strictly and not giving her a mark for a couple of things that I *knew* she knew simply becuase she hadn't put it quite right). Scaled up to be out of 80, that put her well into the level 5 bracket, which considering the average at age *11* is level 4, was very chuffing indeed. Emily then asked to sit the second test paper straight away. I said no initially, but then gave in when she begged (strange idea of fun, this child). So she did the second one. As I knew it would, her concentration lapsed by then, and she did make several very silly mistakes in that one. She knew she had, and got very upset with herself, bless her. I marked it anyway, and even with very strict marking again she ended up with 29/40, giving her a total of 65/80, which *still* put her in the level 5 bracket age just 9 and a few days.

Guess we're doing OK with science then, which is a) a relief and b) quite amusing considering we'd long since abandoned the national curriculum science and have been doing our own thing for ages.

This evening Emily has gone out with Jon to his normal psychic circle. She's starting a new drama/theatre arts class with Mei Lin, Jasmine and Alex, so either Jon or Jackie will take all four children along to the class, come back to the psychic circle, go and pick them up again at 9pm and then to Emily's delight she gets a couple of hours of late night playing with the girls before Jon leaves to come home. Should work well :-)

Kibbies Severus and Voldemort are still desperate to gain their complete freedom. We're still taking them out for half an hour or so a day but then "catching" them and bringing them back in. They absolutely LOVE bubbles, so Emily takes her bubble mixture outside every day, lol. Emily has also been taking a lot of video of all five cats recently. Here's Voldy having a cuddle when Emily got back from karate (she's still got her pink hair extension in, lol, don't know how much longer it can possibly last!)


Lucy said...

The party sounds great. You are so imaginative. So far I haven't got passed knowing we'll need balloons when the time comes.

Anonymous said...

Wow that's some party!!

Anonymous said...

Oops wasn't done, note to self don't type in word verification before doing the comment to avoid that in future!

Emily looked beautiful as Cleopatra, and well done on the green belt!!

Nikki said...

Thank you Lucy and Liza :-)

Sarahs Home said...

You certainly know how to throw a party. I have my daughters 9th next month and have no idea what to do.