We dutifully present a Middle Ages-inspired festival complete with a tournament for the brave, ceremonial craft-making, and a fire-breathing cake. Let the fun begin!
Turn your invitation into a royal proclamation of festivities. Using a font such as Lucida Calligraphy, print each invitation on parchment-style paper (found at craft stores). For a worn look, tear the edges of the paper, then roll each invitation into a scroll and tie it with ribbon. Let the birthday child hand-deliver the invitations, or mail them in paper towel tubes (seal the ends with packing tape).
Before the knighting ceremony can begin, squires must extract a mini Excalibur to reveal their noble name. Plus, don't forget the Knight's Code of Honor, Rule #1: Never leave the castle without proper garb and your family crest.
Raise a glass and shout "huzzah!" for the birthday child with easy-to-make goblets. To make these supping vessels, simply use glue dots to attach acrylic jewels to plastic glasses.
Fair damsels and young squires are transformed into ferocious beasts in this fast-paced game of chase. Divide the guests into 2 teams. Each team forms a line, with the players holding the waist of the child in front them. The first in line is the dragon's head; the last, with a bandanna dangling from the back of his pants, is the tail. At "Go," each dragon's head tries to be the first to grab the other dragon's bandanna tail.
Let teams of brave crusaders display their skills on a backyard obstacle course filled with • derring-do! Four stations -- for jousting, storming the castle, rescuing a distressed royal, and moat jumping -- provide the fun.
You Will Need:
• 2 (12-inch-diameter) Sonotubes, each cut to a 4-foot length (available at lumberyards and home improvement stores for about $9 each)
• Utility knife
• 24 ounces of light gray acrylic paint
• Large sponge
• 6 ounces of dark gray acrylic paint
• Colored electrical tape
• 2 pool noodles
• 2 balloons
• 2 plastic balls
• Dolls and action figures
• 2 laundry baskets
• 2 toy dragons
• 2 plastic buckets
• 2 stick horses
At least one day before the party, create 2 castle towers from the Sonotubes. Using the utility knife (a parent's job), cut crenellations along the top of each tower. Paint the towers with the light gray acrylic paint. Let them dry overnight, then sponge dark gray bricks onto them. For jousting lances, wrap the electrical tape in a spiral around each pool noodle.
Day of the Party
Create the obstacle courses, one for each team, by setting up challenges across the playing field.
Joust the Target: Use string to tie the balloons from tree branches at knight-shoulder height.
Storm the Castle: Place a plastic ball next to each tower.
Rescue a Fair Damsel or Gent: Place dolls and action figures (one for each player) under an overturned laundry basket, then place a toy dragon on top.
Jump the Moat: Fill the buckets with water and place them on each course.
At the Party
1. Divide the knights into 2 teams. The first player on each team should mount a stick horse and grasp a lance.
2. At "Go," each gallops toward his balloon, strikes it with his lance, and gallops on to the castle tower.
3. The knight then dismounts and storms the fortress by grabbing the ball and throwing it into the tower.
4. Once back on his trusty steed, the knight must rescue a fair damsel or prince by knocking the dragon from atop the dungeon with the lance, then grabbing a grateful partygoer.
5. Finally, the brave knight must jump over the moat before racing home to hand off the lance and horse to the next knight on the team. The first team to finish reigns victorious. (Serfs -- also known as grown-ups -- will need to quickly retrieve the ball from the tower and return the dragon to his post after each knight meets his challenge.)