Monday, 12 September 2011

How to hold a kids' army party

Earlier this year I did a post on how to hold a Harry Potter themed party for kids. Well, it's been party time again in the HOM household. So for any parent who has a little boy madly in love with all things military, here's how to hold an army themed party.

I should preface this by saying that I'm sure you could chuck a lot a more money at a party like this, but my philosophy when it comes to kids' parties is to do them for as little money as possible. In fact, it's a kind of challenge for me. How fun can you make a party without spending a lot of money on it?

This party was organised in under one week. I did it as a joint party with another mum, which made it even more cost effective and easier to run. The boys in question turned 6.

This is key. You don't want to be doing this party in your house. AT. ALL. You could do it in your garden if you have a reasonable size one (ideally one that you have neglected so it's somewhat overgrown). Or you could do it in a park. But ideally, you want to find a wood or nature reserve. We are fortunate enough to have a lovely, safe nature reserve near us that is entirely free to go into and is perfect for little boys to charge about it. Doing this party in mid-winter might be too cold, but it doesn't really matter if it rains and you're doing this party - because part of the fun is getting wet and messy.

I used MS Paint to create a camo background with simple text that said: Army recruits - your country needs you! with the details of the party following. It was emailed to everyone due to time limitations. Guests were advised to wear military/khaki/brown coloured clothes that they didn't mind getting wet or dirty.

What you will need
A dad or two dads to be drill sergeants on the day. Rather conveniently, my husband is ex-military but I think all blokes quite enjoy pretending to be soldiers every now and then, after all men are just little boys grown up. Of course mums can be drill sergeants too (that's our day job) but if you're going to act as drill sergeant, your life will be made easier if you have a helper who can get things ready while you're with the kids.

Lots of water balloons. These are cheap. However, filling them takes a long time and is a pain in the butt job. But this is the most onerous part of the party - the rest is easy.

A camp stove (not essential but useful if you want to have hot food)

Camo netting (not essential but adds to the effect - I got some fairly cheaply off ebay) or kids army tents. Again - I wouldn't rush out to buy these if you don't have them but if you do, it adds to the scene if you put them up.

Face paint (green/black/yellow)

How to run the party
Before our guests arrived, we created two 'camps'. Lucky for us, the location we chose already had one den that had been made with logs and leaves, so we just used that and added camo netting. The other we created in woods using ferns and fallen logs.

We set up the camp stove and created a basic 'mess area' where the kids would eat.

Upon arrival, we painted the kids' faces using the black, green and yellow paint to give them a camouflaged look. You can do this really fast with very little skill. We then sent the kids over to the mess area for a snack (cookies and bananas - energy food!) while we waited for everyone to arrive.

The kids then chose a red or yellow disc out of a small army print bag (the discs came from connect 4 and the army bag we had lying around the house). This put them into their respective teams for the day.

The drill sergeants then gave them a welcome talk along the lines of:
Welcome army recruits. The country is in peril and needs your help. You are here today to train to become an army private and to help save England from baddies. Throughout the day, we will be getting you fit, teaching you the skills you need to survive while on an army mission and to learn what real combat is like.
Your first task is to go to your respective camps and decide on a name for your team and use the sticks and natural things placed nearby to create some protection for your den as you will be needing the protection later this afternoon. HOWEVER, for this task you only have 15 minutes so you need to work fast. When you hear the whistle, report back here. Team captains to tell us their team names at that time.

The camps were basically already made - but they got to add a bit to them. After they'd done this, they returned to the base for basic training.
Basic training
The drill sergeants said:
To be a good soldier, you have to be fit. You need to be able to outrun the enemy and have the stamina to keep marching for days. It’s time to get some fitness in now.
The kids then had to do star jumps and push ups with lots of running back and forth in between, trying to see which team could get through the exercises first.

Assault course
Hot on the heels of the basic training was the assault course. Again, thanks to the marvellous location we had, we had a ready made assault course that involved climbing a stile, running around trees, leopard crawling along a ditch and under fallen trees and back to base. The kids got filthy and absolutely loved it!

After having a quick drink (my suggestion is buy squash and bottled water and have a jug made up and ready to go so kids can grab something to drink whenever they get thirsty - much cheaper than individual boxes of juice), we moved onto the scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunt
The drill sergeants said:
There are times when you will be behind enemy lines, cut off from your own men with no food or shelter. As a soldier, you need to know how to live off the land. We have created a list of items you need to find – each of these can be used to help you survive while in the bush. You have 15 minutes to find the items and return to base. When the whistle goes you must come back. Latecomers will have points deducted. Points will be awarded for all items found.

(I will say that we ended up not really bothering to do the point scoring but it's certainly an option if you want to make it more competitive)
In case you're wondering, the horse poo is to help fires burn for longer. But obviously little boys plus poo = hysterical giggles.

They returned to base camp for some grub - hotdogs cooked on the camp stove, served in camo napkins (who needs plates!) followed by crisps and a small pudding. 

After refuelling, we moved onto the next game:
Missing in Action
For this game, we bought a bag of cheap army men from Poundland and hid them in the woods. The drill sergeants then said:
While you were out looking for survival items, your fellow soldiers came under fire. Many are lying wounded and missing in action in these woods. Go find them and bring them back to this area. Points awarded to each team for each man found.

The kids then searched for as many soldiers as they could find in a time limit (the soldiers were then popped into party bags). After each game, the winning teams got given a sweetie.

Then we moved onto the last game - War!
The kids went to their respective camps where they put on 'ponchos' (bin bags) and found a tub of 'hand grenades' (water balloons). They drill sergeants gave each child one grenade at a time and they had to attack the other team while leaving some armed team members to stay and guard the camp. Let's just say everyone loved it and got very wet!

That was it - we made some simple cupcakes, which everyone took home with a party bag. We got camo bags and filled them with a army mask, 'grenade' throwing toy, parachute man, a small airplane, the army men they found in the woods and a bag of sweets. 

All in it cost us roughly £80 which we shared between two of us. You could spend less if you gave smaller party bags - like just an army whistle and mask. 

That's it. Hope it helps any other mums out there!


Baby monitors online said...

What an excellent idea, it just shows that kids party's don't need to cost much. The army party looked like so much fun! I love the ideas you came up with for the games.

Thrift Queen said...

I love this idea. My son wants an army party for his 8th birthday and I've been trying to think of something cheap yet fun. Thank you for sharing!

Jinty67 said...

Great ideas, thank you. My daughter wants an army themed party for her 11th birthday. This is it in a nutshell. Thanks so much.

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