Around The World -9yr- Home Airline
Valerie in Germantown, MD, USA
We just held an Around-the-World party for my daughter's ninth birthday, and it was a smash hit with all the kids!
INVITATIONS: The invitations had a border with flags from various countries and Happy Birthday" in the languages of all those countries (including Japanese and Arabic). It said "Join us for an Around-the-World Adventure in honor of Niamh's 9th birthday! Which of these countries will we visit? There's only one way to find out. No need to pack anything but your imagination! See enclosed ticket for details" Then I enclosed a fake airline ticket with the gate number and terminal name being our address. It even had a bar code on it making it look very authentic. When each child arrived for the party they were greeted as if approaching an airline ticket counter at the airport.
DECORATIONS: The living room was decorated with a banner of flags from around the world.
ACTIVITIES/FOOD: We "checked" their bags (presents) and put them in the cargo hold downstairs. Each passenger was given a passport with their name in it a small plastic "carry-on" suitcase with a "Niamh Air" luggage tag and an envelope with the imaginary tour company's logo saying "Thank you for touring with us. Your travel documents are enclosed". Inside the envelope was an airline boarding pass with their name and seat assignment a train ticket a cruise ticket a bus ticket and some fake U.S. dollars. After receiving their materials they were invited to sit down in the "departure lounge" and decorate their carry-on luggage with travel-related stickers and to draw a self-portrait to be pasted into their passports. When everyone had arrived my sister and brother-in-law (dressed for the occasion as pilot and flight attendant) announced that it was time to board their flight. Everyone had to line up and go through security. They even rigged their cell phone to set off an alarm and planted a swiss army knife on my son saying they'd have to confiscate it because no weapons were allowed aboard the aircraft. Then they took the kids downstairs to the plane where we had seats numbered.
While they entertained the kids downstairs with airline talk and passed out pretzels and bottled water (I'd made water bottle labels with the Niamh Air logo saying "Thank you for flying Niamh Air") my husband and 3 of the other parents did a quick scene change for our first surprise destination Japan. I had purchased posters of scenes from Tokyo Venice London Egypt and Ireland and taped paper that was cut out to look like a window pane over top. We hung this on the wall with a real curtain valance over top so that in each country we visited it looked like you were looking out the window at the scene. I also made each country's flag out of white garbage bags and colored vinyl tablecloths. In Japan we set the table low on paint cans and covered with a white cloth. I set out some Japanese rice bowls I had and chop sticks at each place and decorated with other Japanese accessories and paper lanterns. We contacted the pilot via walkie talkie to let him know they were cleared for landing. When the kids came upstairs we stamped their passports with a Japanese flag sticker and exchanged one of their US dollars for fake Japanese yen. The kids sat on cushions on the floor around the table and practiced eating candy sushi with their chopsticks. We were going to have a chopsticks relay race but they had such a hard time with the chopsticks that we decided just to let them enjoy their candy sushi and swedish fish before departing for the next destination. They kept the chopsticks in their carry-ons as a souvenir of their visit.
Between each country the kids went back downstairs to a new mode of travel. On the cruise ship they were served tropical drinks with little umbrellas and each got a pair of sunglasses. On the train they were given reading material "courtesy of NCS Express Rail". They had another flight and the flight attendant showed them the flight safety card and went through evacuation procedures. On each leg of the journey my sister punched a different shaped hole in the appropriate ticket. Upon entry into each new country the passport was stamped again with the flag sticker of the country they were entering and currency was again exchanged so that at the end of the party they had currency from six different countries. We played music from each country and greeted them in the native tongue. Next destination was Egypt where they had to decode the pile of hieroglyphics bookmarks to find the one with their name on it. This was their souvenir from Egypt.
After Egypt we had lunch in Italy (pizza breadsticks and veggie platter) on a table decorated with checkered tablecloth and Italian flag napkin rings. The kids were divided into two teams while they ate and played an Italy vs. France trivia game to see which country got to keep the Mona Lisa. In the end I told them they had all played well so they ALL got the Mona Lisa and handed out Mona Lisa magnets I had made for their Italy favors. Next was a royal tea party birthday celebration in England. The table was set with silver tea service and fancy cookies and red and blue cupcakes with little Union Jacks in them. Each place had a crown and placecard with names like "Lady Elizabeth" and "Sir Gabriel". And of course the birthday girl was "Princess Niamh". Instead of serving tea we had pink lemonade and apple juice and the sugar bowl was filled with red and blue M&Ms and the creamer filled with Skittles. The favor from England was a British English Phrasebook and Glossary containing common British vs. American terms and a section on Cockney Rhyming Slang. My husband is British so he gave the kids a lesson in rhyming slang and everyone had to sing "Happy Birthday" with a British accent! Next was Ireland where they had a treasure hunt for the leprechaun's gold (gold chocolate coins which they divided amongst them and kept as their Ireland favor).
Each clue was a different color of the rainbow and rhymed. My husband greeted the kids wearing a silly green white and gold St. Patrick's Day clown wig and feather boa. This produced many giggles. Our last destination was Mexico where we hung a sombrero on the wall and had a pinata filled with candy and mini maracas and played the Mexican Hat Dance. During the cruise my sister and brother-in-law made sure to take pictures of each of the kids behind a cardboard stand-up cutout with three caricatures all dressed in costumes from a different country.
THANK YOU NOTES: We will be making the photos into postcards to be sent to each child. The postcards will double as thank-you notes from my daughter for her presents. Both kids and parents had a fabulous time and one little girl even asked if I could come to her house and give her an Around-the-World birthday party too. She wants to visit France. Parlez-vous Francais?"