Street party time in Croydon is nearly here, last minute plans are underway and the excitement mounts.
As adults gathering together with our friends and neighbours we are pretty much guaranteed a great time. However, children have a low boredom threshold, and once they've had their fill of sausages on sticks and jelly and ice cream they're going to be looking for something to entertain them - which could mean trouble if they're left to their own devices!
Kids love dressing up – it's not too late to organise a fancy dress competition, perhaps with a Royal or red white and blue theme. You could also have a homemade 'Jubilee Crown' competition (think Easter Bonnet with Jewels!)
And isn't it something of a tragedy that many children these days think a party means McDonalds, Whacky Warehouse, bowling etc? In the spirit of the Jubilee we have the perfect excuse to re-visit the games that Her Majesty herself would have enjoyed as a child, all with no batteries required!
Pass the orange/balloon
Everyone gets in a large circle. The first person is given an orange to place under his chin. He must pass the orange to the next in line but neither may use their hands. If the orange drops, those two people are out of the circle. This continues until there are only two people left. When the orange drops the next time, a vote is taken as to who dropped it and the winner gets the prize. As a variation on this passing the balloon held between your knees is popular amongst older children (and let’s face it, adults too!)
'Old school' sports day
This is where we really step back in time, to where children were allowed to be competitive, and maybe even lose occasionally – remember those days?! Three laps/lengths of the street should do it – first egg and spoon, then the sack race (can you still get sacks? Improvise with garden sacks or pillowcases for the little ones), followed by the bean bag on the head (easy to make but you could always use books or even packets of chocolate buttons - dual purpose!) for the final lap. You can add or substitute your own favourites. Then of course there HAS to be the three legged race! It's probably compulsory to have an adult version of the games, which the children may well think is even MORE fun!
Oranges and Lemons
Certainly a game played in Royal circles! Get two adults to make an arch with their arms that the children can snake under in a circle. Then you best remind the adults of the rhyme, and teach any children who don't know:-
"Oranges and lemons" say the bells of St. Clement's
"You owe me five farthings" say the bells of St. Martin's
"When will you pay me?" say the bells of Old Bailey
"When I grow rich" say the bells of Shoreditch
"When will that be?" say the bells of Stepney
"I do not know" say the great bells of Bow
"Here comes a candle to light you to bed
"Here comes a chopper to chop off your head"
Get the children into pairs, and as you reach the final line, the adults drop their arms to ‘catch’ a pair. The last pair in the game wins!
If they're not getting worn out, bring out more old favourites, Musical chairs/statues, Blind Man's Buff, Simon Says – and maybe plan in advance which adults will supervise each game, so one poor parent doesn't get stuck with the lot while everyone else gets merry! The whole idea of the street party is friends and neighbours and children getting together for some good, old fashioned fun.
And if you look carefully, you might even spot the odd teenager cracking a smile – just don't tell his mates, ok?!