There are a lot of activities for this party so I've separated them into three groups:
The athletics provide the action while the arts are included for entertainment. The activities follow dinner as a way for the party to wind down and end as you see fit.
The caber toss is my favorite of all the athletics. In the caber toss you originally take a 19 foot pole and try to throw it end over end, landing in a 12 o’clock position. This is obviously very difficult for a person who is 3 foot tall.
Only very strong Scots can do this. To make this activity work, we watered it down to a 5 foot
pole instead. This made it much easier for children.
The hammer throw is also a very fun athletic. In the hammer throw you try to throw a hammer the farthest. To suggest a safer game we used a rubber mallet instead of a hammer. We also made sure there were no people, buildings or animals in front of the person who was throwing. To throw the “hammer” we held the hammer as a baseball bat and, as we swung, we let the hammer go!!
The weight throw was mounds of fun. In the weight throw you again try to throw a weight the farthest. Originally the weight is 30 pounds. This game was also watered down to 15 pounds. We used a cast iron tractor piece. Cast iron is a very easy weight because even a small amount of it is surprisingly heavy. Do three counts. One...between the legs. Two...off to the side. Three...between the legs...and up into the air!
In the sheaf toss you try to throw a burlap sack filled with straw over a stick with a pitchfork. Whoever gets the burlap sack over the stick and the farthest wins!
Whenever possible, promote a love and appreciation for the arts. A competition for the visual, performing and language arts is a perfect fit for this party. The arts make up a culture and this party is a celebration of the Celtic culture.
The Visual Arts - Craft Competition
A craft competition is fun. Warn your guests ahead of time so they can bring a handcrafted item. Set up a table to display these items.
Any craft or work of art can be entered but some Celtic crafts that may be more likely to win include:
- Crocheting or sewing a Tam O' Shanter (men's bonnet)
- Celtic knot tying
With the items laid out for display, a voting box can be provided and the item with the most votes wins.
The Performing Arts - Music, Singing And Dancing
Music, singing and dancing all fall in the performing arts category and provide plenty of entertainment for your guest whether they are watching or performing. Some particularly Celtic instrumental talent includes:
- Drumming - Provide a snare drum for a drumming stroke competition.
- Piping - bagpipes would be ideal! Other piping instruments include a practice chanter, a fife or tin whistle.
- Fiddling - a violin is fun. If your family doesn't own one, invite someone who does.
That brings us to the last two performing arts categories:
- Singing- Usually Celtic songs are sung. Danny Boy is popular and difficult enough to win a prize. Some other songs you could sing include: You Raise Me Up, Auld Lang Syne, Go Lassie Go, Scots Wha Hae, When Irish Eyes are Smiling, A Man's a Man, and I'll Tell My Ma.
- Dancing - If you dance, awesome. If not invite someone who does. Clogging, Irish Step Dance and simple jigs are fun to watch and attempt.
The Language Arts - Poetry
Any Robert Burns poem is a perfect fit. My Hoggie is easy to memorize and a cute poem to recite. As with all these competitions, let the experts as well as the novices perform. Lots of people and children especially will enjoy trying a new instrument. Give thirty seconds or a minute to each novice person. Enough time to let them try and yet not bore the audience.
Save these activities for after dinner and after the awards ceremony.
- Tug of war - to separate the teams, make an even number of plaid sashes for the teams to wear. Like red for one team, green for the other.
- The farm walk is when the participants are all heavily weighed down with weights, whoever walks the farthest before falling wins.
- Shoot the English Knight
Shoot the English Knight is an archery contest and a fun way to end your highland games party. The equipment for this activity are:
- Drawing of an English knight,- draw your own or print one out, and
- Straw bale
Your target is the head of your English Knight that has been affixed to a straw bale. If like us you use real archery equipment, treat this like a shooting range and remind the participants of "gun" safety.
These activities are intended as a way of winding down after a long afternoon of sports and performances. Your party can end after these events or you may want to continue visiting into the evening in the living room or around a campfire.