Having a theme for your party helps make planning games, food and decorations easier. Almost anything can be turned into a theme: numbers, colors, days, objects, places, activities, characters and so on-- the possibilities are endless!
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Alvin and the Chipmunks
Angel / Heaven
Arts & Crafts
Baby Doll Shower/Tea Party
Black and White
Colors (pick a color)
Decades (50's, 60's 70's 80's)
Game Show Party
Glitz and Glamour
Halfway to ____________
King of the Castle
Knights and Ladies
Letters (pick any ABC)
Peace and Love Party
Queen of Hearts
Secret Agents and Spies
Teddy Bear Picnic
Under The Sea
Video Game Characters
The Amazing Race reality television show is like a huge scavenger hunt with challenges and clues along the way. Instead of receiving a list of objects to find or places to go to at the start of the game, clues are given throughout the game that lead each team to a particular destination where a task, challenge or clue is waiting to lead the team to the next destination. Hosting your own Amazing Race type of party can be a bit of work but is well worth the effort and will leave your guests amazed and happy.
In creating your Amazing Race party it is a good idea to be familiar with the terms and rules of the actual Amazing Race television show. The television show has several teams of two people racing around the world. The amount of people you have on your teams and the distance you want to travel is totally up to you.
In The Amazing Race, Route Markers are uniquely-colored flags that mark the places where teams must go. Most Route Markers are attached to boxes that contain clue envelopes, but some may mark the place where the teams must go in order to complete tasks, or may be used to line a course that the teams must follow. When creating your Amazing Race, Route Markers may not be practical or necessary.
When teams start a leg, arrive at Route Markers, or complete certain tasks, they normally receive an envelope that contains their next clue. As the creator, you can make these clues as easy or as difficult as you want. You can make them riddles for participants to figure out or make them poetic. Route Information clues instruct the teams where to go next. Such a clue usually provides only the name of the team's next destination; it is up to the teams to figure out how to get there.
Besides route information, clues can be for tasks or challenges. Be creative in thinking of tasks or challenges for the players. There are several different kinds of tasks or challenges you can use in your Amazing Race: Mental Tasks (tasks that require mental skill and the ability to solve different problems including puzzle solving, riddles, trivia quizzes and brain teasers), Physical Tasks (tasks that require running, jumping, climbing etc. as in a relay or treasure hunt) and Mystery Food (an Amazing Race will not be complete without having these around. Some ideas include raw vegetable shake, jalapeno peppers, raw eggs, etc.).
Here are some examples of Amazing Race challenges you can incorporate into your next party:
Riddles: Nothing beats a hard to solve riddle, especially if the players would need to solve ten difficult ones!
Word Hunt: Create one that would fill an entire paper. It will make the players go crazy in finding hidden words!
Picture Puzzle: Print out a picture (it could go with the theme of you party or an abstract art) in a huge paper and paste it on a cardboard. Randomly cut it into different pieces and you’ve got an instant puzzle for them to solve!
Send me a text message: Have a rule that the players aren’t supposed to bring their phones and wallets during the race, this would mean that they have to convince strangers to lend their phones and send a text message.
Surf a site: Open a website that contains a password to the next challenge. This would also involve the help of strangers or creative access to a computer with the web.
Refill the bottles: position small soda bottles (could be 5 bottles per team) a few yards away from the nearest water source (bathroom or wash station). The task is to refill the bottles using only their bodies or clothing from the source to the small bottles.
Gold coins hunt: Hide toy gold coins around the perimeter of the race and the challenge is to find 20 or so coins before moving to the next round.
Raw vegetable shake: Combine in a blender some raw vegetables (bitter gourd, okra, etc.), water and blend thoroughly. Instant vegetable shake! Make one tall glass serving per player.
Mixed Ingredients: Think of foods that when combined together would be gross, although edible to eat. For example, combine Jell-O, corn chips, mashed bananas, gummy bears, canned sardines and mix well. Top with chocolate syrup mad you’ve got an exciting menu!
A Detour presents the team with a decision between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons. Typically, one task is less physically demanding than the other but is tedious or requires some amount of time or thinking to complete, while the other is usually a more physically demanding or frightening option that, depending on the team's ability, may take less time to complete. The decision about which task to attempt lies solely with the team. A team may choose to switch tasks as many times as they wish with no penalty other than the time lost in attempting the tasks and travelling between task locations. Unless otherwise instructed, teams can work together to finish a Detour option. Once a team has completed one of the tasks, they are given the clue to their next location.
A Roadblock is a task that only one team member may perform. Normally, once the racer completes the Roadblock, the team receives their clue to the next Route Marker. Early seasons allowed teams to distribute the Roadblocks between the team members as they desired, which allowed one team member to do nearly all the Roadblocks. This was changed in Season 6, which limited a single teammate to a maximum number of Roadblocks s/he could complete, thus forcing his or her partner to perform roughly half of the Roadblocks, as well.
Pit Stops are the final destination in each leg of the race, and where all non-eliminated teams go after checking in. Each Pit Stop is a mandatory rest period which allows teams to "eat, sleep, and mingle" with each other.
In the Amazing Race TV show teams are eliminated after rounds of play. As the creator of your game, elimination rounds are not necessary. If you were to eliminate players after certain rounds, you would have some pretty bored guests while they wait for the rest of the party to finish the game!
To prepare your Amazing Race, create an outline of how the race will go from start to end. Include the things needed for each station. Visualize the route and consider the possibilities of transportation. The number and size of your teams may be dictated by your transportation needs. To save the hassle of having to arrange the transportation, your Amazing Race can take place at a mall or shopping center so that all of the destinations are within walking distance. You can also choose to have Detours, Road Blocks or Pit Stops.
It is a good idea, where possible, to ask the stores and business that you are planning to include in your Amazing Race for permission. Download a sample follow up letter for businesses here
to be given after you have asked their permission to include them in your Amazing Race party. You may need to solicit the help of several people to facilitate the activities at many if not all of the destinations. Some business owners are happy to be the helper but many are not. Keep in mind that businesses are more likely to be cooperative if you are not interfering in the running of their business or better yet if you are purchasing their service or product as part of your game. A thank you note or card to the business after the party is also a great idea.
Click here to Download a sample Amazing Race
that was done at a shopping center. There were 6 teams with 3 girls on each team. Each team was given colored tee-shirts at the start of the race. This helped the shop owners more easily identify them. There were 14 clues. To save having to have too many helpers the list was divided in half and helpers were assigned 2 different locations, one in the first half of the game and one in the second half. Because the entire game was in a mall area, the clues were given to each team in a different order to avoid all 6 teams showing up all at once at one location. For example, team one had clues #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and so on and team two started with clue #2, and then went to 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1 and team started with clue # 3, and then went to 4, 5, 6, 7, 1, 2 (although they had no idea that the order was mixed up).
It is surprising what is available at seemingly normal stores. In this Amazing Race the music store had a gallery with fancy string instruments, like a watermelon ukelele, the outdoor store had a climbing wall at the back of the store, the dentist office gave the participants dental floss that they had to use at another location, the craft store had a craft room where the participants were allowed to make a creation before moving on, and the golf store even had a putting green!
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Everyone loves a carnival and turning your backyard into a carnival is fun and easy with a little imagination. Appliance stores are usually very nice to give refrigerator and other large boxes away for free. With a little acrylic paint you can turn a box into a fishing booth, dart board, mini golf or bean bag toss booth. Other fun booths you can make include a basketball shoot (using a basketball of sorts and a hoop or bucket), hockey or soccer shoot (you would need a net of sorts and a stick and puck or ball), ping pong toss (guests try to get a ping pong ball in a bowl), tennis ball toss (guests try to knock down a pyramid of clean tin cans, soup cans work great), ring toss (guests try to get canning jar rings on soda cans or bottles), and a cupcake walk (like musical chairs where the guests walk around a table with numbers taped on it or footprints on the floor with numbers on them and when the music stops the guests touch a number. The person running it picks a number and the participant who has their hand or foot on the number that was called wins a cupcake of their choice. If the party is a birthday party you can have this separate from the other activities so you can sing to the birthday child and then play the game for everyone to get their cupcake). You can also set up a photo booth with dress up costumes and give each guests their photo with a thank you card after the party. Another fun booth is a craft table where your guests get to make something to take home. Face painting is another fun carnival activity that is easy and inexpensive. Download a face painting idea sheet here
. You can even set up a laser tag area if you have at least 2 laser tag guns or a “bounce house” if you have a trampoline or big pillows.
Take your guests to each booth yourself or better yet, solicit the help of other parents, siblings, neighbors or friends to run the different booths and let your guests go wherever they want. Make tickets for each booth and give them to the guests with their invitation or as they arrive. This will help encourage them to visit every booth. After they have been to each booth you can let them try their favorite ones a second or third time.
Have prizes of candy or toys at each booth, (prizes aren’t necessary at the photo booth, bounce house, face painting, craft or laser tag). Treats like cotton candy and popcorn as well as upbeat background music are a fun addition and help create a carnival atmosphere.
A fun party for kids or adults is to have a crazy dinner where the guests pick their courses from a menu with silly made up names for each food item and different utensils. Prepare your menu and then think up silly names for each item. The names for the menu items can be as creative as you wish and can either help the guests guess what they represent or they can be totally random and unrelated to make for a complete surprise. Have several courses and have each guests pick several items for each course. A sample menu can be downloaded here
and below is the sample menu answer key and a list of other possible utensils with silly names.
Sample Menu Answer Key:
Mutt Warmed Over-----------Hot Dog
Kay Delight---------------------Maccaroni and Cheese
Starchy Death------------------Funeral Potatoes
Sword in a Saber---------------Knife in a napkin
Scared Streakers---------------Chicken Strips
Possible Utensils for a Crazy Dinner:
Potato masher–spud fauna
Chop sticks–branches of Asia
Can opener– jaws of life
Slotted spoon–leaky shovel
Measuring spoon–quantifying dollop
Ladle–spade of plenty
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Kids like slumber parties but they don’t really sleep and parents and kids can both end up cranky or sad. A slumberless party is a great alternative because it combines the fun of a slumber party without the headaches that can come with sleeping over. A slumberless party can start just before dinner and go as late as the host can stand, I suggest ending the party around 9:30 or 10:00pm at night.
Decorate a plain pillow case with fabric markers for a fun activity at a slumberless party. The pillow case can double as a goodie bag at the end and are a fun memento of the great party.
Another fun slumberless party activity is Bedtime BINGO. BINGO can be played for as long or as short as you want and is fun for both large and small groups.
Pass the Parcel is another fun game to play at a slumberless party. Make or purchase stuffed animals (they can be inexpensive at a dollar store or on clearance after holidays like Christmas, Valentines or Easter) and wrap them up in different layers or in a box with several layers of paper around it. Play music and have the guests sit in a circle and pass the parcel around the circle. Stop the music and when the music stops the guest holding the parcel gets to open a layer of paper. Play the music again and have the guests continue to pass the parcel. Other sleep related things that can be wrapped up for Pass the Parcel include small pillows, sleep masks (the masks for your eyes when you sleep), pajamas or night shirts.
Have the guests arrive in their pajamas and slippers. At some point in the party divide the guests up into partners and have them style each other’s hair. Give them new clips, scrunchies, ribbons, brushes and combs. You could even have manicures and facials.
After every guest is sufficiently dolled up, have a fashion show. To make a runway, use a red plastic tablecloth from the dollar store. Cut it so that it is about 3 feet wide and tape it to the floor using masking tape. Make a stage with the tablecloth that the runway runs in to. Tape white Christmas lights along the edge of the runway and on the stage. Behind the stage you can tape another plastic tablecloth to the wall or attach to existing curtain rods and include more white lights. Put on music and announce each model describing in detail what they are wearing. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures. The photos can be printed up and given in Thank you cards for your guests after the party.
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Video Game Characters
Kids love parties based on their favorite video games. Any video game character can be used as a theme and traditional games can be altered to incorporate the theme. For example, “Duck, Duck, Goose” can be changed to “Mario, Mario, Luigi” and “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” can be changed to “Pin the Mustache on Mario.”
Another fun game for a Super Mario theme is Hit Bowser, a bean bag toss game. Enlarge your favorite bad guy on a cardboard or posterboard using the grid copy method and have the guests throw bean bags or balls at it to knock it down.
Make Mario, Luigi or Princess crowns for each guest and have them hunt for chocolate gold foil wrapped coins.
Finish off the party with a Kupa Trupa pinata and every guest will leave happy.