We interrupt this blog to bring you a commercial. Sort of.
A few years ago I started a family tradition which I now have to keep up. It's not too strenuous, most of the time. As a general rule, we celebrate children's birthdays with a family activity, a homemade cake, and a dinner (also home cooked) of the birthday child's choosing. I also allow the birthday child to choose one box (bag, in Poland) of whatever sugary breakfast pulp they like. This works well, and everyone is satisfied.
Somewhere along the line, I decided that a 10th birthday merited a real invite-your-friends party. At that age, the child is old enough to participate in the work and planning, as well as old enough to remember the event. At the same time, the child is still young enough to have a real "kid's" party with gimmicks, games, costumes, or whatever seems fun. Because I only have four children (three when I invented this idea), and there are several years between them, the planning and expense is not a burden. None of my kids have had a problem understanding that this one birthday is exceptional, and will not be repeated.
But this is one of the years I have to do this. In fact, next month K. will be ten years old. We discussed all kinds of ideas for her event, and finally decided to hold the party at home, and have a theme party based on the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. I'll let you know later how the party goes, but this is where my commercial come in.
While searching for party games and ideas, I ran across this very interesting site. Joe Dean has planned and organized themed events professionally, and has put together some packages of great ideas for various themes (pirates, medieval, etc...). That's interesting, but the best part, I think, is the complete treasure-hunt packages he has designed. He has set them up for various levels (from non-readers to adults), and each treasure hunt can be adapted for whatever space you have available (a home, a church, a park, or a whole town or city). He explains how to adapt the hunts for longer or shorter versions, too.
These are not free, but they are reasonably priced, and you have the instant gratification of downloading an ebook. (Great if you are pressed for time at the last minute.) You can also reuse and adapt the same treasure hunt for different occasions. Because most of our birthday guests will be Polish-speakers, I selected a medieval treasure hunt for non-readers (no translation needed). I will be able to stage the treasure hunt indoors or out, depending on the weather.
He also has some "games" or "adventures" that are meant to be played while viewing a movie, such as "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe," and "Indiana Jones." That looks fun too, and might be great for a rainy-day event or a sleepover.
Of course, you could do all the work of designing your treasure hunt clues yourself, and for some people that would be half the fun. But these come ready made with logic and deduction puzzles, and all you have to do is add your locations. Maximum fun for minimal work. In my humble opinion, that's well worth the price.
Pictures and reports of the success of the party will be forthcoming, after April 17th.