The Goofy Voice game for kids parties


Recently I was watching ‘The Voice’ on TV with my teenage daughter and it gave me an idea for a kid’s party game. The game does not involve any singing but does involve the kids trying to ‘disguise’ their voices whilst reading or acting out a popular story or fairy tale.

The set up is simple, in that the party guests are split into small teams. The size of the small teams will depend on the size of the overall party, so if there are 12 guests in total then 2 teams of 6 would be a good number. For a party of 18, 3 teams of 6 could be used. Also teams of 4 could be selected if you think 6 is too large a number for the stories that you want to have acted out.

Each team then takes turns in reading or acting out a fairy tale, each of the ‘players’ takes on one character for example ‘Little red riding Hood’, Grandma, Wolfe etc. The hostess should select stories that have multiple characters and the story can be changed slightly to allow for a fairer distribution of the speaking parts: selecting scenes from the story can do this rather than having the kids read the whole story.

The children reading the story will try to disguise their voices and the other team(s) (that are blindfolded or have their backs to the performers) try to match a story character to a person by listening carefully to the voice.

The game can be played in quick rounds, with the story and characters changing each round or a whole story could be acted out. The ‘guessing’ team(s) does not speak, but waits until the end of a round and then gets together to make a team guess. Alternatively you could ask the kids to shout out names as they think they know the correct answer but this variation will be a little chaotic (but fun). At the end of each round the teams reverse their roles so the guessing team becomes the acting team and vice versa.

For parties where the kids are not all known to each other, have each child read something in their ‘natural’ voice first. Also for these types of parties (where the guests do not know each other that well) I would advise using nametags as the team guessing needs to match a name with a voice.

As the hostess you will find that some of the guests are shy and some will push themselves forward so a little flexibility is needed in preparing and organizing this game, but when the guests get the basic idea this game will be fun even if a little disorganized and fragmented.

This game is also ideal for incorporating into a themed party, for example a ‘princess party’, where popular princess stories can be acted\read out. Preparation is key to these type of games and having multiple stories or scenes drafted out ahead of time should allow you the flexibility to mix and match stories\scenes depending on how the game is going over. In it’s simplest form each guest can read out a small nursery rhyme in turn and the guessing team just tries to match the reader with a party guest (at the end of the round).

Team building games for teenagers – Perspectives


Recently I spent an enjoyable week as a chaperon at Yosemite with my 14-year-old son’s middle school science camp. During this time several team-building activities were organized with groups of 15 teenagers. The following describes one of those activities and would make an entertaining party game (outdoors) for kids of all ages.

The theme of this game is ‘perspective’ and the idea is that the party is split into small groups of 3 and each member of the small groups has a restriction, i.e. one cannot see (blindfolded), one cannot talk and the third shouts instructions in order for the blindfolded person to retrieve an object.

The basic set up goes as follows: Have one person blindfolded (person 3), and then have another (person 2) with his back to the blindfolded person (this person is the ‘voice’ and can never look around at person 3). Have the other person (person 1) stand in front of person 2 looking at person 2 and able to see past person 2 to person 3. Person 1 is the ‘eyes’ and can see everything but can never speak and only communicate by gesture to the ‘voice’, person 2. Person 1 and person 2 cannot move and they are about 6 feet apart looking at each other. Person 1 can see person 3 but person 1 can only make signs\gestures to person 2 who then has to shout instructions (left, right, forward etc.) to person 3 (blindfolded) who has to find an object that the host has placed on the ground.  Person 3 (blindfolded) moves around and just obeys instructions, from person 2 (the ‘voice’), until he\she finds the object or someone from another team finds the object first.

The game starts by the 3 team members standing in line (as described above) and the host then quietly places an object (i.e. a ball) on the ground,. Only person 1, from each team, can see the ball. All the teams play together so there is a lot of shouting as person 2 (the ‘voice’) tries to give person 3 instructions, based on the gestures he\she sees from person 1 (the ‘eyes’).

A good strategy is to have person 1 and person 2 agree signs\gestures, for example move forward 5 steps, stop, turn around etc. If the game is played a few times the teams should work out a suitable strategy.

Selecting a suitable event for a Sweet Sixteen or other major celebration


Time and time again the following question is asked: -

What should I do for my daughter’s sweet sixteen celebrations?

What I advise people is that planning any celebration is not rocket science but it is definitely a 2 stage process: -

A) Decide the celebration event

B) Plan the celebration event

The first stage, decide the celebration event, can be broken down into steps as follows: -

Step 1: Balancing the budget

If you are thinking of planning a special event it is worth noting the budget as the first step. If money is no object then move on but for most people there are some ideas that just won’t fly (like taking all your friends and family to Hawaii!). Whilst you can get creative in hosting a special event within a given budget, the amount of money you can spend is an important factor in the decision process.

Step 2: Types of event and number of people

A Party is only one type of celebration, the other main types are: -

1)     An unusual experience, that is something such as sky diving, bungee jumping, etc. that you would not typically do.

2)     An event that is common but pleasant, that is something like going to the shopping mall, cinema or spa etc.

3)     A party, inviting people to come together, which might include music, games and dancing.

All 3 of the above event types can be mixed and matched and can include a trip or hotel stay (depending on the budget).

The reason why type of event and number of people are together is that certain events, such as an unusual experience are more suited to small numbers whilst others, i.e. a party, are suited to larger numbers. As with budget this is a balance, in that a typical choice would be between taking 5 of your closest friends to the spa followed by a dinner and movie, or hosting 30 of your wider acquaintances in a rented room with music, dancing and games.

Step 3: The short list

As you discuss and consider the type of celebration, together with balancing the budget and number of people, you will eventually narrow the choice down to 2 or 3 suitable events; this will be your short list.

Step 4: The decision

Deciding on a particular event when you have narrowed the choices down to 2 or 3 is the final step. But only stay in this step when you have made a decision that you will only choose one of these events. If you find yourself thinking about events outside of your ‘short list’ or questioning the budget then go back to step 1 and start the process again.

Moving on to planning the special event

Make the decision as to the type of celebration event as early as is practical so that planning the special event can take place. In most cases it is the next stage, event planning within budget, that will turn any event a wonderful celebration. The most difficult event to plan is the typical party, as the other special events (trips, outings etc.) are narrower in focus.

Concluding remarks

Separating the decision, as to what event to host, from the actual planning of the event is key to a successful celebration planning process. That said some event ideas can and should be discussed in the selection stage in order to help with the event type decision but when the real event planning stage is entered it is important that the type of event together with guest numbers and budget are all well defined.


Make your own celebrity mask party game


Here is a simple and inexpensive party idea that combines a masked party with some games of identity. To begin with the host needs to make masks of famous people, animals or objects. These masks are simply made by printing a picture of the person (object or animal) from the internet, ideally on a piece of thin card. Two eyes and a mouth are cut and the mask can be attached to your party guests with a simple ribbon being loosely tied around their head.

The first activity is “Who am I? and it is played by each guest not knowing which mask they have on. To place the mask on the guest’s heads, simply have all the masks face down on a table and then tie them on without letting the guests seeing their own mask.

The idea of this simple game is for the quest to go around the room and ask 2 questions (and answer 2 questions) from each other guest. The questions should be ones that can only be answered with Yes or No and the object of the game is to figure out which mask you are wearing. Questions such as “Am I  a person?” “Or Am I male? “will narrow down the possible answers. Eventually each guest should be able to figure out which mask they are wearing.

The masks should be made to suit the party guests and could include cartoon characters as well as characters from fairy tales.

Another interesting variation on this game is to “pair up”. This game is well suited to younger guests (8 and under). This game is similar to the first in that each guest does not know what mask they have on but they do know that in the room they have a “twin”. In this version there is no talking and the guests need to keep their eyes closed until everyone is ready and then the host begins the game. None of the guests are allowed to talk to each other and they need to find their twin as quickly as possible. This involves each guest looking around the room for an unmatched mask and that will be their match, as the pairs match up the game gets easier. It is also better played with a large party, (20 or more). 

To make the above ‘pairs’ game more suitable for an older audience have the pairs not identical but matching a theme, for example the King and Queen of England. The problem for the guests will be to figure out who is ‘paired off’ and who is isolated. This game can be made quite difficult for example an astronaut and the moon would be a pair, as would Cinderella and a glass slipper.

Customized Apples to Apples party game


The game Apples to Apples is one of the most popular card games to have been designed in recent years. It was named “Party game of the year” by Games magazine in 1999. The game rules are described elsewhere on the internet so I will not repeat them here.

It is as simple as it is entertaining to ‘customize’ a game a “Apples to Apples” to suit a given party. All that is required is to make a special deck of your own ‘Red cards”, which are the nouns.  You do not replace the game Red cards but in addition to the standard Red cards each player is given 2 (or more) special Red cards. These special cards could have well known people (teachers, politicians, film stars) to the group or places such as the High School cafeteria. In this way a Green card adjective of say “”scary” could be matched with one of the special cards.

It is up to the host to decide the number of special cards to be made and how many each player should get. Also there could be a rule that each player can only play a limited number of special cards during the game, in order to stop them being over played.

There is no strict way to incorporate special custom Red cards into your game of party Apples to Apples but you can experiment and your guests will appreciate it.

One variation of this game is to have each of your guests create 2 or 3 custom Red cards at the start of the game then mix them together and give them out. In the original game of Apples to Apples there is the concept of the wild or blank card.  These customized cards as similar to blank cards only they are prepared to suit the party. Certainly each of the party guests could be named as a Red apple card but please be respectful as the game should always be played in good humor without embarrassing anyone.

Homemade natural face cream recipes for a DIY Spa Party


Making your own facial skin care creams and lotions is a great party activity that lends itself to the popular Spa Party theme. Here are some natural, and easy to make, facial cream recipes that your guests will enjoy creating and applying on themselves to relax and rejuvenate.

Honey for hydrating the skin

This is the simplest to make, all you need is to cleanse your skin first then rub a tea spoon of honey all over your face. Leave it for 10 minutes whilst you relax, then rinse it off with warm water. It is reported that the honey will draw out skin impurities and it is a natural moisturizer.

A Tea face cloth using White tea

This recipe is for a warm relaxing ‘tea cloth’ that contains natural antioxidants. You need to use “White tea” and brew this in a pan. You need enough to soak as many face cloths as you have guests. Simply warm the white tea in the pan, do not boil as this will decrease the nutrients, and then soak a face cloth in it and apply to the face.  After 10 minutes rinse the liquid off with warm water. This relaxing tea soaked face cloth should also help deflate the bags under your eyes.

A Tea face cloth for oily skin

This recipe is similar to the above White tea one, but it involves Black tea. Simply soak a face cloth in warm Black tea and put it on your face for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes rinse the liquid off with warm water. The Black tea is said to be useful for treating oily skin.

An Egg face mask

This is simply made by separating the white of the egg from the yolk and applying the white of the egg to your face. Leave this on for about 10 minutes and you should feel your skin tighten. After 10 minutes simply rinse the liquid off with warm water.

Other skin care recipes

If you search the internet there are many homemade skin care recipes using simple ingredients and making them will create an affordable, enjoyable and relaxing DIY Spa party.

Make your own Headbands game for a themed party


There is a great party game for kids called “Headbandz”, which is sold on Amazon. This game is similar to 20 questions, in that a picture is placed on a headband, such that only others can see it and the wearer has to guess what is on his or her headband by asking questions that can only be answered with a Yes or No.  This game is ideal for a 5 to 8 age group party and is easily adapted for teenagers and upwards.

All you need do, to adapt this concept, is to have someone ‘crafty’ make a set of custom headbands that are either themed based or specific to the party guests. For example lets say you are having a high school party and all the guests attend the same high school. In this case just have pictures of the teachers as the object on the headband. The idea is that each player has to guess with the ‘least questions’ possible, which teacher is on his or her own headband. This usually starts with is the question “Is the person a male?” and then the field can be narrowed with, “Do they wear glasses” etc. Other headbands can be custom made for a party theme, for example Hollywood stars or celebrities. Objects can also be incorporated, for example “Harry Potters broomstick”, although these will harder to guess. This game can be used for any party theme in an entertaining way, it just requires some research and preparation.

This type of game also makes a great ‘ice breaker’, in that when the guests have all arrived give out the ‘Headbands’. Then have each of the guests ask one question to every other guest, as they walk around the room, in order to guess the object or person on their own headband. The guests simply ask each other a question, and then move on to the next guest until they have guessed their own headband.

For preparation simply look at the original game to see how it is played then research themed-based objects or people to guess and make the sets of headbands. You will need to prepare a couple of complete sets of headbands to be able to repeat the game, should it be successful.

What’s the difference between a themed party and a fancy dress party?

Alva Vanderbilt at Fancy Dress Ball

Today many party hosts are opting for a party theme, such as Pirates, Great Gatsby, Princess, the swinging 60’s etc. Some of these themed parties are really just fancy dress parties called themed parties. This blog lists the differences between hosting a themed versus a fancy dress party and addresses some of the issues with planning and presenting a genuine themed party.

What is a fancy dress party?

A fancy dress party is one in which the dress options are stated but the party activities do not follow the style of dress. For example lets say you want to host a traditional kids party, with vintage party games such as musical chairs, and have everyone dress as either a Pirate or a Princess. This is a simple fancy dress party, in that there is no connection between what the guests wear and the other components of the party.

What is a themed party?

A themed party is one in which all of the party components (including costumes, games, food and décor) follow a basic concept or idea. For example let’s t say you want to throw the popular Great Gatsby themed party. The guests would need to dress in period costumes, the party décor would include components of the 1920’s and the food, games, dances etc. would also be representative of those of the period.

The problems with hosting a ‘true to theme’ party

Some themes will have issues with food and games, for example Pirates probably played games that are most likely inappropriate for today’s party activities! Also the food Pirates ate (including hard tack biscuits) would not be considered party food today. This is not an issue as the elements of a themed party do not need to ‘replicate’ the original elements of the theme but they only need to convey the essence of the theme. In this way for a Pirates themed party (as opposed to Pirates fancy dress party) some treasure hunting games need to be included and the party food should include a ‘fish stew’ or something else ‘sea like’.

The essential differences between a themed and fancy dress party

When you take into account that the themed party only needs to include elements that capture the essence of the theme (rather than try to accurately reproduce the actual theme elements) it is the party activities (games and dancing) that really differentiate a themed from a fancy dress party. If you are going to have 1920’s style dancing, 1920’s casino party games, 1920’s popular food included in your Great Gatsby party then this is a themed event. If you are having traditional food, dancing and modern games with the Great Gatsby party then this is a fancy dress party.

In conclusion, what does it matter: The impact of planning a themed or fancy dress party

The only reason it matters is that if you are looking to host a themed party, as opposed to a fancy dress party, you will need to do more research and planning around the games, food and dances. Also, after researching themed games, food and dances, you might well decide that a fancy dress party is more appropriate and the plan accordingly.

The bottom line is that a themed party takes more planning and preparation and in the end might not be appropriate for your guests, in which case plan the fancy dress party from the outset and select the most appropriate food and activities for your target audience.

The Great Gatsby party theme


Illustration – Club posters by Mads Berg, via Behance

The Great Gatsby theme is becoming one of the most popular for today’s parties, whether New Year, Sweet Sixteen or other memorable events the Great Gatsby theme seems to fit the bill. The appeal of the Great Gatsby theme is that it incorporates all the exciting elements of the roaring 20’s together with the decadence, elegance and decor of that bygone Art Deco period.  This period in history is looked upon as being filled with all night parties complete with flapper girls, jazz music, party streamers, gambling and cocktails: not to mention the gangsters and their ‘molls’ from this crime ridden prohibition era.

In order to recreate the atmosphere of the Gatsby era and the roaring 20’s, in a party, a number of elements are key but that said you do not need to live in the Hamptons or have a large budget in order to host your own memorable Great Gatsby themed party.

The following suggestions are taken from several accounts of successful Great Gatsby themed parties and convey the essential ingredients of what is needed to put on this, or the roaring 20’s, style of party

The Great Gatsby party theme decor

To begin with only a splash of the following decorations needs to be strategically placed around the room(s)or outside  in order to capture the essential ambiance of the period:-

Movie posters or photographs of 20’s movie stars, for example Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, Gloria Swanson or Charlie Chaplin, can be placed on the walls and these need only be printed from the internet.

The lighting should be darkened to give the overall impression of either a moonlight terrace or a ‘speak easy’ style establishment. If you are lucky enough to be on an actual moonlight terrace then that is the perfect setting.

There should be candles providing much of the lighting, just place them in jars, as well as some old fashioned style lamps if you have them.

Large plumes of feathers should be used instead of flowers and if you have potted plants then place string lights around the base of them. This applies to both indoor and outdoor areas. Ferns and palm style plants typify the period floral arrangements.

If you can get large stick candles or candelabras, place these on the dinning or buffet table(s).

The Greta Gatsby party theme food and drink

There should be an area which represents a small Art Deco style bar, complete with large champagne or cocktail glasses, filled with marbles.  For the teen version of this party Ginger ale and root beer should be served together with other sodas. For adults then the famous ‘Mint Julip’ drink together with White Lady, Champagne and Cocktails should be served.

For refreshments both Italian and Chinese foods were ‘in vogue’ during the 20’s also salted nuts, popcorn, olives, shrimp cocktails and typical party food was also served. Deviled eggs, sandwiches (similar to a Victorian Tea Party) as well as fruits are also good choices, and in keeping, with this theme and period.

The Great Gatsby party activities

Set up some Casino party games

A dance area with informal lessons in the Charleston and Black Bottom (20’s dance). Find one or two of your party guests who can dance and ask them to be dance teachers for part of the event.

Hold an Auction party game


The Great Gatsby party dress code

Ladies: Either elegant gowns or flapper style outfits complete with a headband, feather and strings of long fake pearls.

Men: White shirts and bow tie (tuxedo optional).

Other considerations for a successful themed party

Have an area with some 20’s props, Art Deco ‘arch’ or banner (need not be expensive) where pictures can be taken. Have someone designated to take photographs of your guests.

A game of 20 questions for a themed party



The game of 20 questions is a classic Victorian parlor game that is a kind of group trivia pursuit activity. The rules of 20 questions are simple, in that one person thinks of an object or activity (such as an Apple or ‘Washing the dishes’) and the rest of the party has to guess what it is by asking no more than 20 questions which can only be answered with a Yes or No.

The game is described elsewhere on the internet, in some detail, but this type of game makes an entertaining addition to any themed party.

All the host needs to do is research some facts on the party theme and then ask the questions herself during the party and have the guests try and guess the answers using the 20 questions format.

By way of example, let’s say you are hosting a ‘fairy tale’ themed party and you want the guests to guess various fairy tale stories. The story has to be well know to the audience (let’s say the first answer is Cinderella). The guests then need to ask questions such as “Does the story have a princess in it?” or “Does the story have a witch in it?” or “Does the girl marry the prince?” As the host you might want to assist the younger party guests in forming their questions as they will be tempted to shout out random answers of stories.

An alternative to this format, that is similar, is to give the party ‘clues’ about the object or activity. For example, in the case of guessing the fairy tale story, you could tell the guests – ‘This story involves a girl’, followed by’ This girl visits her Grandmother’ etc. until the party guesses: Little Red Riding hood.

For teens and adult parties using 20 questions

This format also works for teens and older themed parties, for example The Victorian Tea Party, The Great Gatsby or Vintage Hollywood. All that is needed is some prepared themed facts about people, places and customs which can then form an interesting 20 questions game.

For teens and adults the more obscure the question the better, one example I use in my Victorian Tea Party experience is the following question of Victorian etiquette:-

“In rising from a chair a lady must never – Do what?”

The sort of questions, that follow, could be:-

Does it involve her making a noise? – Answer No (thank goodness!!)

Does it involve her using a hand gesture? – Answer No

Anyway I am sure you can come up with your own themed obscure questions that will amuse the guests.

The correct answer to the above question of Victorian etiquette is:-

Use the arms of the chair to ‘push herself up’.

If your guests guess that answer, then they are playing the game well.