An action packed and unique highland games party is easy to throw with this guide. Celebrate a birthday, a holiday, or throw one just for fun. With food suggestions, highland athletic events, a list of performing art competitions, and decorating tips, you simply can't go wrong! Get the party rolling with...
As guests arrive, get the Celtic spirit going with Braveheart face painting. Your guests are going to feel like "warrior poets" and true "Scotsmen", plus they will add to the feel of the party becoming a part of the theme.
You will need blue face paint, one or two willing face painters, brushes and a styrofoam plate. Baby wipes make cleanup a breeze. Here are some Braveheart face painting templates that will make authentic looking Braveheart war paint.
Your main decorating colors should be blue and white-the colors of the Scottish flag! Buy some balloons, streamers and paper plates in these colors then add some plaid and greenery and you are all set.
Give your teenagers a slower childhood like the ones their grandparents enjoyed with an afternoon tea party aided by the peaceful and beautiful music provided by Tea Time with Teen Day.
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Irish stew, Scottish haggis with crackers, English crumpets, and American cheeseburgers-yum, yum...this hardy meal will please both athletes and spectators alike.
Apple pie is a great American dessert option or if it's a birthday party, opt for a cake decorated as an American flag.
Haggis can be bought in a can, heated and served with crackers. If you don't have time to make crumpets, a pancake-like bread, buy some English muffins and serve with jam.
This is a fast paced party so it is probably best to have the cheeseburgers ready before the party and kept warm or warmed up in the oven. Keep them simple and only provide ketchup and mustard.
These food choices were inspired by one of our favorite Veggietales SillySong! American fare you may wonder? Well Americans from Celtic descent are one of the largest ethnic groups in America making the USA a "Celtic" nation for the purpose of this party.
Encourage your guests to dress in kilts or at least in tartans or plaid by offering a prize for the best dressed clan. Be sure to mention this and that there will be competitions in your invitation so people come prepared. If you keep organized, your party will be a hit. A suggested itinerary is provided below for you to use and/or tweak to fit your party:
1:00 p.m. Party begins with Braveheart facepainting
2:00 p.m. Competitions
Arts - Visual Arts, Performing Arts and Language Arts
Athletics - Highland games
4:00 Dinner and Awards ceremony
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There are a lot of activities for this party so they are separated into three groups: athletics, arts, and activities
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 a favorite competition. In the original caber toss you 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 4 foot tall. Only very strong Scots can do this. To make this activity work for average competitors, substitute a 5 foot pole. This makes it much easier for children.
The Hammer Throw is also a very fun event. In the hammer throw the contestants try to throw a hammer the farthest. A safer alternative to this game is to use a rubber mallet instead of a hammer. Make sure there are no people, buildings or animals in front of the person who was throwing. To throw the “hammer” hold the hammer as a baseball bat and, as you swing, let it fly!
The Weight Throw is mounds of fun. In the weight throw you again try to throw a weight the farthest. Originally the weight is 30 pounds. For this backyard game, we suggest a 15 pound weight. We used a cast iron tractor piece. Cast iron is the perfect choice 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!
The athletics we have adapted for this backyard highland games include:
The caber toss, hammer throw, weight throw and sheaf toss are all authentic highland games that are easily altered to fit any group of contestants.
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. 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 include drumming, piping and fiddling.
This brings us to the last two performing arts categories: singing and dancing. 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. If you dance, awesome! If not invite someone who does. Clogging, Irish Step Dance and simple jigs are fun to watch as well as 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.
Shoot the English Knight is an archery contest and a fun way to end your highland games party. The equipment for this activity are bows and arrows and a shooting target which resembles an English knight.
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.
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