Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How to Throw a Survivor Themed Party

Party Planning is my middle name.

Okay, so it's not. And thank goodness, because that would be a long middle name (you hear that, Chef Oliver??).

However, I have always loved hosting. Something about weeks/days/hours of planning and the frantic hustle to hide your clutter before guests arrive gets my blood boiling. Over the years I have hosted many dinners with friends, themed and non-themed Board Game nights and wedding receptions, and [my personal favorite] birthday parties. I've decided to dedicate a section of my blog to the various parties I have planned, complete with instructions on how you can recreate and revamp these ideas into your own fabulous events!

Today's featured party is the Survivor Party:

A year or two ago, my husband and I discovered the life-changing television series known as Survivor. Having never seen it before, we happened upon a new season premiere one night and were hooked. A few months after the finale, a new season started and we watched every minute of it, too. We started a Netflix account and watched previous seasons until we had seen every last episode. At some point along the way, my son caught an episode and became transfixed on the survival part of the show... he loved the challenges, fishing and clue solving. When his 7th birthday rolled around, he knew he wanted a Survivor-themed party.

Survivor, of course, is not a theme in which you can just pop into Party City and stock up on pre-printed decorations and supplies. I was being forced into creativity (a position I love to hate and hate to love)... I had to take matters into my own hands. Alas, here is my recipe for a perfect Survivor Themed Birthday Party (in this case, targeted to 1st graders).

I printed my own invitations using Survivor images from Google (read: sunsets, tropical images, and the Survivor logo). I then wrapped the invites in scraps of burlap and tied them off with tiki necklaces ("Immunity Idols") I found on Oriental Trading, with special instructions to each guest reminding them to wear their idols to the party. (Note: have back-up necklaces for kiddos we forget theirs).

Tiki Torches:
Every Survivor needs a torch for tribal council. I spent a week creating these custom torches for each guest using the following original recipe.

1 Styrofoam cup
Currogated cardboard
Bamboo rods (I found a 10-pack at Tuesday Morning)
Red/yellow/orange tissue paper

I started by poking a hole through the bottom of the cup, just big enough to insert the bamboo. Adhere with a hot glue gun. I cut sheets of currogated cardboard large enough to cover the cup, and glued to the outer rim of the cup. When dry, glue cut strips of tissue into cup to hide the cup and create the torch's "flame". I also used jungle-print strips of paper and glitter glue to label each guests torch.

Check out Oriental Trading and your local party store for luau/tiki/jungle/island themed decoations such as leis and wall hangings. Put a want ad on craigslist and ask for leftover party supplies.

I purchased an inflatable palm tree cooler and filled it with juice boxes. I also bought party pates and cups with the Survivor logo printed on them.

Knap sacks/Buffs:
I used burlap and twine to sew basic pouch-style knapsacks for each guest. Pre-fill these bags with items they will need for "challenges" (read games below), and they serve as favor bags after guests have collected all of their prizes. I also included a Survivor buff in each knapsack for the guests to wear during the party-- you can make your own out of bathing suit fabric, or print the Survivor logo on to iron-on transfer paper and adhere to bandanas.

The cake:
I can't take full credit for this cake. I did a google search and was inspired to make this design after seeing another cake. I did my best to create an island, included a small shelter and flag (using pretzel sticks and fruit roll-ups), and surrounded it with Pirouline cookies and twine.

Face paint:
Certain episodes of Survivor encourage participants to decorate their faces/bodies with warrior paint before challenges or ceremonies. I used basic face paint and created fun designs on the kids (with their parents permission).

The first game I invented was inspired by the food eating challenges. I collected gummi versions of eyeballs, bugs, and other gross looking edibles, and stuck them on skewers. Guests went up against eachother (2 at a time) and raced to finish the candy skewer first.

I also lead a "Survivor Auction". Each guest had an equal amount of play money in their knap sack (toy dollars and change). I explained to them that I had a collection of prizes that I would "sell"... if they wanted something, they needed to make a bid on that prize. They could bid eachother out until they were out of money, or no longer wanted to raise their bid. Also, like Survivor, the auction would end at any time without warning. The prizes I offered were candy, small toys, and Survivor trading cards. Be sure to offer every guest a small prize just for playing to keep it fair.

Often on Survivor, there are challenges in which other Survivors, or their family members, have to answer a series of questions about one particular Survivor. We played this group game after the auction. In each guests knapsacks, I included a small chalkboard and stick of chalk (found on Oriental Trading). I asked a several questions about our guest of honor (my son, the birthday boy) such as, "What is his favorite color?" and "What grade is he in?". The guest with the most correct answers won a prize. You could also do this game before the auction, and give the winner extra cash for the auction.

Finally, we played a version of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" that was pirate-themed and featured a treasure map. I found this at the Dollar Tree, and thought it matched our deserted-island party theme.

Cake & presents:
I always end my kid's birthday parties with cake, then presents. After present time, let the kids "challenge" eachother with Wii sports games (one-on-one bowling/tennis/etc.), or just play until parents come for pick up.


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