How to play Swedish Kubb or Viking Chess

Kubb is a great lawn game that hails from Sweden. It’s easy to set up and start playing in your yard or garden, and you can play with just two players or plenty more, in teams. It’s perfect for picnics, wedding lawn games, team building games and birthday parties and can be played by most ages. In this post we’ll talk you through deciding who can play, the equipment you need, and do an illustrated run through an example game.

What ages can play Kubb?

Kubb is pretty much all ages and we’ve played some great 3 generation family games. I’d probably put a lower age limit on Kubb at around 6 or 7 – younger than that and you might have some heavy wooden blocks flying at someone’s head (and heads that are closer to the ground), but you know your own kids!

When it comes to older players who might enjoy a game of Kubb at their birthday party, there is no running around or leaping about, but there is a little bending down to pick up clubs at the start of each turn. It’s less strenuous than a game of bowls, boules or botch, which is so popular with the elderly folk around the world. So I’d say: encourage Grandma and Gramps to have a go, and possibly provide a chair on the sidelines for when it is the other team’s turn, so they don’t have to stand about too long if they don’t want to. Then treat them like the grown ups they are and leave them to it.

How easy is it to play Kubb?

While Kubb looks as easy as bowling or skittles, there is a surprising amount of both skill and luck involved, which is what makes any game super fun to play. I first learnt to play it on a visit to my cousins in Sweden (hej där Sverige!) and I’m pleased to say the South African contingent were able to hold their own! It’s no fun to play a game that only involves skill, or that sports jock guy or tennis champ girl is just going to wipe the floor with you. A bit of luck makes things more entertaining.

What equipment do you need to play Kubb?

Like croquet, this game does involve some layout if you want to get started. You need a nice wooden Kubb set, and then you are all set to go. Once you have got your hands on a set, it is one of those games you can play pretty much anywhere where there is a nice stretch of relatively flat lawn or even sand.

Kubb sets are made of wood and are not too difficult to make for yourself if you have the skill and tools. You can find various how-tos on the interwebs, or if you are in a country lucky enough to have direct access to good old Ikea… head online and you’ll probably be able to find a set. Various peeps make Kubb sets for sale like this one on Etsy as well as people get to know what it is. If you just want to use one to try it out or for a wedding, birthday party or team building event, then you can also hire one.

A set consists of:

  • 10 knights (rectangular blocks)
  • 6 clubs (cylindrical batons)
  • 1 king (like a knight, but with a crown on top)
  • Wooden stakes, or other markers, to peg out the corners of the field and measuring string (optional)

Setting up a Kubb game

Once you have a nice Kubb set, you can head outside and set up a game. The field needs to be roughly 5m wide and 10m long. You can measure this out with special stakes and string provided in the Kubb set, or if there aren’t any, pace it out and put a pebble or something to mark the four corners.

Each team lines it’s 6 knights up along their baseline (the short edges of the 5 x 10 rectangle you have just marked out). They should be more or less evenly spaced.

How to play a game of Kubb

The aim of the game is to knock over ALL of the knights in the other team’s half of the playing field, and the king, in one turn.

IMPORTANT: Avoid hitting the king until the right time. He’s like the king in chess or the black ball in snooker. Hitting the king ends the game immediately, so if you hit him by mistake in the middle of your turn, the game ends, no one wins, and you have to start over.

TEAM ONE, first turn:

Team one attack!

Team 1 stand on the baseline behind their knights, and throw all 6 of their clubs at the knights on the other team’s baseline. The team can decide how many clubs each team member is going to throw, but they must throw all six.

You have to throw underarm and straight. No sweeping the club around your body like a frisbee or baseball bat, and no overhand or overhead throws allowed. Think of your classic bowling alley roll movement and it’s something like that. This ups the challenge level, because… well, you’ll see… and scream… the club will turn over and over and sometimes cartwheel right over that knight you were just inches away from hitting! It also stops any overly exciting clubbing of the opposite team, which is important, even if the word ‘viking’ sounds like an invitation to do battle.

Important safety note: the other team should stand away from their baseline to avoid being in the line of fire!

So in the illustration example, team one threw all 6 clubs, and hit knights 2, 4 and 5. Only 2 and 5 fell over, so 4 sadly does not count.

At the end of their turn, team one can take the fallen knights (2 and 5) over to their side of the field. They can place them wherever they like. They can be nasty and put it just behind the king, but it must be at least one club length away.

TEAM 2, turn 1

The start of team 2’s turn.

Team 2 in this example now have 7 targets and only 6 clubs, so you can see the game is getting more complex. They can stand and throw from the baseline, OR from wherever a club has fallen on the field.

If a club has fallen outside of the field, then they have to go back to the baseline with it (so if someone in team one had a really bad bounce and the club landed on their own side, team 2 could not throw from the other side of the king).

Team members take turns to hit as many of the knights on the other side as they can, until they have thrown all 6 clubs.

In the example below, team 2 are annoyingly good and knock over one knight for each of their 6 club throws. Sadly, they are still not allowed a go at the king to win the game, because knight 2 is still standing when they run out of clubs.

Strategically, putting a knight right behind the king should make life hard for the other team, but in this example the one club fell just the other side of the king. This means team 2 can stand right there and just pick off knight 5 behind the king, without much danger of accidentally knocking him over.

Team 2 are annoyingly good, but can’t win in one turn. Ha!.

Team 2 then take any fallen knights over to their side of the field, and position them in a way to make the other team’s life as difficult as possible for their turn.

TEAM 1, second turn:

Team one now have another go. There are more targets to hit, but two clubs can be thrown from a bit closer, and the knights might be close enough together for a lucky double hit.

Team 2 have moved all the fallen knights from their turn over to their side of the field. Team one have their work out for them!

THE GAME CONTINUES UNTIL…

The game continues until one team have only 5 or fewer knights to knock down on the other side, and one club left to get the king. If they hit all the knights in the other team’s half of the field, and the king at the end of their turn, they win!

If they miss the king, or have hit all the knights on the other side, but don’t have a club left to hit the king with, the other team still have a chance to turn things around. It can get pretty tense, I tell you!

final rule: The king has to be hit and knocked over with a club thrown from the baseline. This is the one time you can’t throw a club from wherever it landed on the last team’s turn.

How long does a Kubb game last?

How long is a piece of string? So much depends on the skill of the players, and factors like invisible unevenness in the grass that can make the clubs bounce sideways. It is impossible to say for sure. Games can last for 5- 10 minutes, with super skilled players on one team only, but that’s rare. On the other hand, games don’t tend to go on so long that you miss your dinner.

Kubb is a great game to play at a wedding while the bridal couple are off having their photo session, or at a picnic or birthday party, because you can play several quick rounds and keep mixing up the teams, or play a championship league of teams, tallying up scores on a chalk board, and go for the best of 3 or best of 5 games. Sometimes you have one epic, longer game.

As with any great game, no two games are alike, and you never know when grandma will get her eye in and her elbows warmed up and give you a surprise run for your money (I speak from hard experience here)! Best of all, people with experience are not necessarily at such an advantage that it makes much difference. The average Jo with no special sporting ability stands a good chance of winning too if they get their game on, while the sporty types will find it just challenging enough to be fun for them too! Win win!

We hope you find this useful and clear. If you have any questions, or more information about Kubb, please let us know in the comments! If you’re keen to have a go before making or buying yourself a set, give Simply Sparkles a call and hire one!

Ideas for a Romantic Valentine’s Day Dinner in Your Back Yard

The cost of a romantic restaurant dinner for two can be a bit daunting, especially if you’ve only just caught your breath after holding it for all 65 days of January! Wearing masks in public places in 2021 can be a passion-killer. So why not create a special atmosphere at home? In the Southern Hemisphere, we’re lucky enough to have summer Februaries, so we can organise our very own romantic dinner under the stars! Read on for Simply Sparkles‘ great ideas for the month of love!

What if it’s cloudy, or the wind is up? No candles then, my friend! This was a difficult lesson for me to learn when we moved to the Cape. I LOVE candles for creating romantic atmosphere. My husband proposed to me in a gorgeous outdoor restaurant where they had over 300 candles in the garden (you read that right – it helped that they made candles too).

In the Cape, it would be inconceivable. 300 candles is more likely to make you the epicentre of this year’s out-of-control bush fire than a great romantic.

I own obscene numbers of pretty lanterns now, in an attempt to beat the Cape Doctor winds, but there are times when even lighting candles is just too much work. Enter my new obsession (drum roll please) … fairy lights!

You see, you just can’t do a romantic dinner without the right atmosphere, and the right atmosphere, dear reader, involves lights. Starlight, moonlight, fairy lights, candle light – it’s ALL about the lights. Flowers next, and pretty crockery, etc, but lights are critical. There are songs about this. For a reason.

Lights make a small space look inviting, and a plain wooden table or roof beam look like something truly special. Lights improve the look of everything else: the food, the flowers, the silverware. Everything glows and sparkles happily when you have the right lighting.

A word to the wise: YOU look more inviting too, when the lighting is right. A movement sensor spotlight or a fluorescent bulb over the garden might be practical, but it is horrible for your smouldering romantic gaze, and will make fresh flowers look like cheap plastic. Romance is never particularly practical. Valentine’s day requires some finesse. And fairy lights.

a romantic night at the movies (outdoors)

Why not hire or borrow a projector and hang up a white sheet tightly across a piece of string to create your very own outdoor movie theatre? Drag your mattress outside, or use a picnic blanket or inflatable camping mattress, throw pretty cushions all over it, and you can drape yourself fetchingly next to the champagne bucket and get cozy with a great film or series.

Make easy finger food like sliders or wraps or nice things in little bowls on a tray or wooden board, to dip and feed your beloved, so that you don’t have to keep pausing the film and dashing inside to check the oven or get fresh supplies. An ice bucket similarly keeps the drinks cold and close by. If you don’t have one, take a pretty salad bowl and use that. The only real requirements for an ice bucket is that is is clean and attractive – no, the plastic mop bucket will NOT do!

romantic silver service at home

Get out the lovely table linen, the special wine glasses, the candlesticks (or fairy lights), the lovely roses in glass vases, and serve up that gorgeous 3, 4, 6, 12! course dinner that would make your grandmama’s fictional butler proud!

It’s not too difficult to achieve if you’re a reasonable cook and do some forward planning. If you are not a reasonable cook, cheat. Ask a nice restaurant for a takeaways or head to Woolies for ready-made. If it’s good quality, served attractively (NOT in the box!) then you can have your fabulous cake and eat it without breaking a sweat.

I strongly suggest something you have made before and feel pretty confident about. Unless you like being sweaty when you romance someone, this might not be the time to experiment too wildly. Of course, if you have been married for millions of years like me, then go ahead and experiment because you’ll both enjoy the change and have a good laugh at the disasters (it’s a relief to get past the frantically impressing each other phase).

If you don’t know each other very well, your beloved will hopefully be impressed by all the trouble you’ve gone to and what a marvellous cook you are, or will be too full, or too polite, to protest much if you aren’t. When all else fails, you can’t go too far wrong with some advice I got from a cookbook once: if your dinner burns: dim the lights, pour lots of wine, and give the dish an impossible French name. But you see, first the lights!

Chat to Simply Sparkles if you’d like to hire lighting, stands, or one of our pretty champagne buckets or a drinks trolley to complete the atmosphere.

romantic exotic moroccan picnic for two

Another fun take on the outdoor dinner, is a more casual and colourful moroccan picnic. Take a carpet or pretty blanket and your coffee table outside, or put a suitable piece of wood on bricks – you basically want a low table. Put cushions down instead of chairs, get lots of pretty tea lights, lanterns, fairy lights etc. strung overhead on string with pretty stands or from trees, or hang a pretty patterned cloth from some simply wooden poles to create a canopy, and voila! You have transported your love on a magic carpet ride, for MUCH less than the price of a genie’s lamp.

You’ll need strong colours – pinks, reds, turquoises, etc. and colourful flowers like bougainvillea in oranges, pinks and yellows, to get the mood going. Coloured glass is a great way to go: for drinks and vases. If you don’t have any, then you can cheat with old glass jam jars painted with gold craft paint in pretty patterns.

Freeze edible flowers like hibiscus or rose petals in ice cubes to put in your drinks, and use rose geranium or rose water infusions in your food for a delightful mood. A moroccan tagine or other lovely spiced dishes you can eat with your fingers would also set the tone nicely. You can go the whole hog and feed each other by hand, just have a finger bowl and napkins close!

a romantic dinner dance under the stars

Nothing says ‘romance’ quite like a dancing (under pretty lights). I read somewhere that all a woman wants is a man who can dance and make her laugh, and I was lucky enough to get that, as it was certainly what I wanted.

You don’t need much to get your date swooning in your arms, not even all that much dancing skill. All you need is a relatively flat surface: grass, your deck, your kitchen tiles, and some nice music and atmospheric lighting.

Now is not the time to confess your love for death metal, but you don’t have to go all Celine Dion either if it will make you ill. Just something that keeps it light and lovely. There are Spotify playlist suggestions if you get lost, or phone a friend. You don’t have a good sound system and your phone sounds all tinny? No problem – you can hire a sound system too!

It’s all quite simple, really. Mark off an area with a canopy of pretty lights, or surround it with lanterns and candles. Eat, drink something fabulous, and then offer your date your hand and ask him/her to dance. Hold them lightly (sweaty bumping and grinding is NOT romantic, and neither is heading straight for a bum grab) and if you can sway more or less to the beat, you’re well on your way. Stepping out and doing a twirl, and you’re up to Next Level. Only do the tip and dip if you are 100% sure you can hold your partner and get them back up again, or you are 100% sure they can do advanced yoga or gymnastics and gracefully end in a backflip. Test your abilities with a willing (and forgiving) sibling or friend if necessary.

Chat to us if you’d like more advice and ideas on creating an atmosphere that simply sparkles. We have a wide range of romantic lights for hire, and pretty stands to help you create that magical canopy or dance area. Ask about our new drinks trolley and our pretty ice/ champagne buckets, or show us your Pinterest dream board and we’ll see what we can do help you create a truly romantic Valentine’s Day within your budget.

How to keep the joy lights on during lockdown

So shoe! … it’s a pretty rough time to own a party light and sound hiring business right now, and my GP husband is at home in quarantine after his first coronavirus exposure. And yet, while group parties are illegal, wedding bookings have been cancelled, and disco lights are not classified as an essential service (shocking!), we still like to keep the home fires burning, or at least the fairy lights sparkling. Here are some ways we are enjoying ourselves as a family at home.

Celebrating has not been banned

We’re fans of celebrating anything and everything. Sometimes that just means getting out the pretty table cloths and draping fairy lights across the table, and giving everyone something sparkly to drink. With an umbrella in it, if you have those in the cupboard.

We need variety in our daily lives and routines and celebratory mealtimes can be a great time to change things up and prevent time from becoming a drab blur. If you don’t have any birthdays or other celebrations at this time, you can always celebrate every Thursday midnight week-o-versary of the coronoavirus lockdown (in South Africa)…

If you can’t be with your loved ones, make a date for a celebratory dinner video call. Set a pretty table, light some candles, pour your self a glass of wine, and video call! You can toast each other and all.

Love in a time of coronavirus

Our 17th wedding anniversary is coming up this week, so we will light our wedding altar candles and sacrifice some of our not-so-panic-bought egg stockpile and some frozen berries to make a fabulous pavlova, as we do every year in honour of the two-tier berry pavlova that was our wedding cake (made by my late mother-in-law). We will get out loads of the stockpile of fairy lights and pump up the music and make a dance floor out in the garden (or shove the furniture out of the living room if it rains).

We can’t even go to the shops for two weeks, but we will pick whatever greenery and flowers are in the garden, and make pretty flower arrangements. I grow a pyracanthas berry bush in the garden for the red berries it produces in autumn, just because they were in my wedding flower arrangements. OK and because the chickens think they are yummy, but that doesn’t sound as romantic.

If you go into quarantine closer to the end of the 21 day lockdown and find yourself with only two minute noodles and dried peas left in the cupboard, well, that’s a bit tougher, but as one cookbook recommended, you can always add curry, give it a French name and serve it by candlelight…

As a friend who, along with her husband, was one of the first to contract coronavirus and got pretty sick around their wedding anniversary said, if nothing else, you will be reminded of your ‘in sickness and in health’ vows like never before!

Dance like nobody’s watching (except your weird neighbour)

If you’re starting to go a little nuts trying to work from home with your young kids and your sick spouse, or just your needy cats, it is a good idea to shake off some of that stale energy and release some happy hormones (endorphins).

Crank up the volume on some great dance hits (through-the-ages if you have children) and even if you have to use a disco light app on your phone, or a music video, get yourselves dancing.

Try learning crazy new dance moves with a youtube tutorial for extra giggles. It’s rare you get to dance with so little social inhibition, so go wild!

Social distancing silent disco

I have a friend who is keeping herself happy by having the occasional silent disco, which is awesome, especially if other people in the house have out-of-sync moods or music tastes right now. All you need is some space, a playlist, a phone with headphones and you are all set. Fill your head with your tunes and dance like crazy. You can dodge the judgemental teenager’s looks by simply closing your eyes.

I am going to apply this to my blogging work too. As I type right now, I have gone into silent disco mode to mentally escape the dining room ‘home office’. My daughter is in the living room listening to Trevor Noah on full blast so she can hear him over her dad grinding barley in the kitchen because he is making his own beer out of desperation at this point. We’re only on day 5 of lockdown , so thank all that is holy for headphones!

Glow in the dark Easter egg/scavenger hunt

Easter falls smack-bang in the middle of our coronavirus lockdown, so we want to keep it special for the kids. This one requires a little equipment, but I’m always surprised by how many people have at least one UV torch… We happen to have saved those glow in the dark Easter eggs that Woolworths sold years ago (perhaps they still have them and they are even still for sale??) and we use them every year when we usually go camping around this time. Well THIS year, we’ll be doing that in the garden at home, of course.

If you don’t have the glow in the dark eggs, you can cut up neon paper into Easter egg shapes (your supermarket might still have some in the stationary aisle, if not taped off and guarded by a burly policeman).

For little kids, it’s enough to put a treat or a silly activity inside the eggs, scatter them about, give them your UV torch and let them have fun. For older kids, you can do something more challenging, like putting a clue inside each egg giving the clue for finding the next one, with a reward only at the end. At this stage, even the 13 year old will be grateful for silly activities too, like having to do a moonwalk accross the lawn, or piggy backing a younger sibling to find a clue hidden higher up. Basically, make it last… we’ve all got the time!

Break the monotony of mealtimes

We always love to eat together as a family every day, and the internet is abuzz with advice on maintaining your routines during the lockdown. I understand the drive to avoid everyone turning into zombie-apocalyptic types who drift aimlessly around the living room in increasingly unhygienic pyjamas while eating raw cookie dough. BUT, I think we also crave some novelty and a break in the routine when all we see for weeks is our homes and the same (oh how lovely, but still the same) people.

What we like to do is use mealtimes as especially good times to add some variety. Check out your options. We have cosy movie night dinners with mattresses on the lounge floor as if it’s a sleepover . We’ve done eating and singing around the fire pit, eating on the veranda by candle and fairy-light, and eating in the dining room instead of the kitchen. I’m planning a picnic on the lawn for our next lunch.

We are super fortunate to have a garden, but even in an apartment, you can do things a little differently. Try out an interesting recipe, use the good table linen, learn to fold paper napkins and try learning toasts in other languages. Mix up a fancy cocktail with twirls of orange peel on the glass rim. Whatever. It will cheer you up and remind you of what is important in the world.

Parents, make a picnic on the floor, make the kids a camp out by putting your tent up in the garden, or if you don’t have a garden, make a camping spot by putting blankets over a table and giving them their dinner there around a nice lantern as a pretend fire. Let their imaginations do the rest, while you and your partner have a nice candlelit dinner for two in another room for a change.

Keep the joy lights on

No one needs reminding that these are hard times. Much harder for some than others. As a family with a doctor in it, we are particularly aware of this right now. We all need to do what we can to help, firstly by staying home at this time if we are not essential workers, and then by reaching out to help the community in any safe way we can. In the meantime, it’s not just frivolous to keep yourself and your loved ones cheerful and having fun. It’s essential at a time when otherwise fear and anxiety can lower your immune response, and make you less likely to be able to come up with creative ways to help where and when help is needed. Stay healthy and stay safe, and try to keep the joy lights on.

http://www.sacoronavirus.co.za

Dance party game ideas for any theme for adults or kids

Party games can provide loads of fun to break the ice and get a dance party moving. These ideas contain some classics adapted to dance parties, and ideas on how you can adapt them to various popular party themes pretty easily by tweaking names, decorations, props or prizes.

Games don’t have to be just for kids – they can really liven up a bachelor/ bacelorettes, a baby shower, 30th or a 60th 60s disco! Just crank up the humour a level to suit your guests, and make the prizes appropriate to the group – adults enjoy cheeky forfeits or having to drink something interesting, teens enjoy silly dares, and almost anyone likes a small chocolate….

Musical Islands

This is a bit like musical chairs, but with some kind of ‘island’ instead of the furniture.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • sound system – preferably with a remote or cellphone soundtrack plus blutooth
  • dance lights
  • islands made of paper (one fewer than the number of players and just big enough for one person’s feet. e.g. A4 sheet of paper). This is where you can tweak for your theme, e.g. neon paper for a glow in the dark party, or pictures of plants for a Plants vs Zombies party, sparkly mats for sophisticated bridal shower party fun, etc.
  1. Place the ‘islands’ on the floor – one fewer piece than the number of players. Everyone is instructed to stand OFF the ‘islands’.
  2. When the music starts, everyone has to dance – nice and actively, no bouncing bums on the spot!
  3. When the music stops, everyone has to rush to get onto an island. Whoever is caught without an island is out, and one more island is removed.
  4. This continues until you have a winner! I’ve found this works best if you have small prizes like a mini chocolates (or something theme-related) and you play the game a couple of times – it doesn’t take long, and its more fun to have a few gos than just one person winning a bigger prize.

Costume Catwalk

If you are having a themed party for any age, you can have a best outfit catwalk show on your dancefloor. I’d recommend doing this simply for fun at a younger children’s party, and only having a best costume and best catwalk act winner from tweens up, as the little ones get hurt feelings, while older kids and adults enjoy vying for the top spot.

Everyone has to dances in a circle and you have a judge or panel of judges to vote on the best outfit. Each contestant has to exaggeratedly model their outfit accross the centre of the circle and spin it out a bit, so it’s not just a passive thing.

Fun songs for older adults are ‘I’m a Barbie Girl’ (there’s an updated ‘Im not a Barbie Girl’ too!) or ‘I’m too sexy for my shirt’, or ask people to whisper to the DJ what they want their entrance song to be. Mine would definitely be ‘All about that base’ by Meghan Trainor!

Knights, knaves and horses

This is an old medieval theme game which you can adapt to other themes, using your imagination, e.g. ‘moms, dads and babies’ for a baby shower, or ‘Elsa, Anna and Sven’ (with appropriate actions) for a Frozen party theme.

This was a popular dancing game with older teens when I was one, and we were divided into boy and girl pairs, where the boys had to do the ‘heavy lifting’ and be the knights, knaves or horses. We’ve played a version very successfully with tweens at a birthday party too, and didn’t make it a gender thing for our kids – I think it was actually more fun, as each pair also had to figure out who was going to do what, with much resulting hilarity.

instructions

  1. Basically, there is a ‘caller’ in control of the music, a bit like for musical chairs, and you need an odd number of players, e.g. – 7/ 9/ 11….
  2. Everyone has to dance until the music is suddenly stopped – and then the caller says either ‘Knights!’ ”Knaves!’ or ‘Horses!’
  3. Everyone has to quickly find a partner and perform the appropriate action.
  4. For ‘knights’: one partner must kneel with one knee up, so the other person can sit on their knee.
  5. For ‘Knaves’: the one person must piggy back on the other.
  6. For ‘Horses’, one person gets down on all fours, and hte other one stands over their back.
  7. Anyone caught without a partner, or doing the wrong action, or the last pair to hook up, is out, and you start up the music and continue until you have a winning pair.
  8. If you have an even number of players, you just have to speed it up and pick on whoever gets it wrong or is too slow- a bit more like musical statues.

Pass the Ball

For this you need a smallish ball, orange or balloon (or try something to do with your theme, but preferably something round and smooth and not too hard or too small). A neon balloon or tennis ball is ideal for a glow in the dark party.

You also need great music and dance lights, and someone who is the referee.

instructions

  1. Everyone has to dance in a circle and keep moving!
  2. One person is given the ball.
  3. Everyone has to keep passing the ball around the circle, but without using hands or feet and without dropping it, or you have to start all over again.
  4. Its most fun if everyone tries to carry on dancing as it goes, but the embarrassing positions people get themselves into tend to leave everyone a bit helpless with laughter…
  5. Kids can be offered a treat each as a reward for completing the task, and adults can be offered a drink. They may need one!

Simon Says (and variations)

For a straight dance party, get your lights and music going, use a mic, and call out some disco moves to test everyone in a game of DJ Says: e.g. “DJ says, ‘Do the twist!'” or “DJ says, ‘Do the floss!'”

If you’re doing a 60th or 70th dancing – through- the decades party, you can look up major dance moves from each decade. Just be prepared to do a demonstration before the game starts, just in case memories need jogging!

Just remember the basic rules – you call out ‘Simon says’, and they must DO the action, but if you don’t say ‘Simon says’ and just call out the action, and someone does it, then they are out. Picking up the speed and switching back and forth between ones you’ve already done tends to get everyone confused in the end!

Have a few particularly tricky ones for those last older kids or adults in the game, to get them a little flustered and get to a winner.

With younger kids, play it really straight and be prepared for more than one round, to give a small prize to more than one kid (consider using the winner of each round as the caller for the next one).

Last person standing is, of course, the winner here!

Dance Charades

Basically play like normal charades, and choose words, film or song titles, character to match your party theme.

Make a set of charades cards and print them out. You want to get people dancing, so you can have dance moves for a particular decade, dancing to mimic a particular pop star (or another character suited to your theme, eg dance like Easter bunny vs Easter chicken or do an egg roll dance, a superhero (Spiderman, Batman, Black Panther) or Disney princess (Meredtith from Brave, the Little Mermaid, Mulan, Elsa…) , and everyone has to guess who you are or the name of the dance move.

Adults and kids might enjoy dancing like a particular animal and everyone has to guess what animal. Ideas: camel, alpaca, sloth, elephant, tiger, kangaroo, duck, wolf…. (depending on the age of kids, you can get more or less exotic mixes of animals – for younger kids, it might be best to stick to common local or zoo animals. For older kids or adults, you might try some weirder challenges like the sloth or a reindeer).

You can either get the whole group guessing and each person takes a turn (recommended for younger kids, to take the competition stress away), OR, for older kids and adults who enjoy the competition, set it up like a proper charades game. Write your characters or animal names on small cards and divide your guests into two teams. You give the first volunteers from each team a card and they have to get their team to guess. Whoever guesses gets the next card… and so on until you have the first team to finish.

Ministery of Silly Dances

This would work well along with other ideas for people over 40, who will know all about the Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks skit. If you like the idea and want to try it for kids, I’d either suggest watching the skit with them first, or if they are doing a ‘Mr Men and Little Miss’ book theme party, you could play with doing silly dances for Mr Silly at the Nonsense Land Disco (Which I just made up, but it ties in nicely with the Nonsese Land’s trophy for the silliest idea in the story).

The game is simple. Someone is the representative of the government Ministry of Silly Dances, and everyone has to have a turn to apply for a government grant to develop their silly dance. The silliest dance wins the grant, which is the game prize.

It helps enormously if the government representative is able to set the tone the way John Cleese does in the skit and make suggestions to improve the silly walks presented, which the ‘grant seeker’ then has to try to copy as well. Bonus points for coming up with dreadful academic names for individual moves.

I’d suggest offering a particularly juicy prize to the adults, like a bottle of wine, and giving everyone a few minutes to come up with their individual walks before the public attempt. For the Mr Men and Little Miss party, you could get creative with a trophy or offere a conventional party game prize.

For an end of year office party involving anyone in a university or other company that has to frequently deal with government grant applications, this is deeply therapeutic and gasp-for-breath fun!

Music with silly lyrics can make this even more fun. This is very easy to organise if you have a smart phone and speakers with bluetooth capability. Chat to us at Simply Sparkles if you’d like to use our equipment, and we can show you how easy breezy this is!

Interpretive Dance Pictionary

A bit like with charades and Ministry of Silly Dances, this involves lots of silly fun for adults and teenagers, where you give people standard Pictionary game cards, and ask them, instead of drawing, to try to explain the word or phrase with interpretive dance. This works well if you or a friend are prepared to demonstrate, and you have a fun group of friends who don’t mind being very strange for a laugh!

You can make this game even better if you have someone operating disco lights and party sound using bluetooth and a cellphone with Spotify or iTunes, so contestants can quickly hunt for a good backing song for their dance and use smoke machines, lasers or strobes to add to their dance’s atmosphere!

Keep in Touch!

Please let us know how your dance games went, and any variations or new ideas! We’re always looking for ways to help our party lights and sound hire clients have more fun, and share these ideas with them as part of our service.

Contact us if you would like advice for your party set up or if you’d like to hire lights, sound and other party accessories. Delivery is free in Somerset West and Strand! We’re here to help make your party Simply Sparkle!

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Stage lighting fun

We wouldn’t necessarily recommend trying this at home… but some madness possessed us and we offered to help with the lighting and sound for this year’s school concert. It was a crazy ride, as we are kitted for parties rather than stage lights and sound, but hey. We love playing with our equipment, and it saved our kids’ small school a whopping, cough! splutter! R23 000 for a pro. I think the pros totally earn their fees, but that just wasn’t a cost they could realistically recover.

In the end it was a load of hard work, a ton of fun, and totally magical.

Our top tips after the experience?

  1. Martyrdom be damned. Ask for all the help you can get: find those reliable friends of yours and get them roped in. We had one lovely friend make my family a backstage takeaway dinner so we could eat a proper meal on the day of the concert. The kids loved the backstage picnic and it meant I could support my kids before they also went on stage . It was their big night, after all. Another friend with a bakkie helped cart our heavier stage props home so we didn’t need to be up until midnight for any reason other than being totally over excited. And we borrowed about seventy billion extension cables (true story – see no.2).
  2. You can’t have too many extension cables. Seriously. You need looooong ones, short ones, ones with multiplugs in… the more options you have, the more you can get equipment set up safely, with fewer trip points.
  3. You can’t have too much tape. Tape down ALL your loose wires. If the performers and stage hands can trip over your cables, they will, so once you get all those many, many extension cables in, tape ’em down. Go wild with the tape. Pretend you’re OCD if you have to.
  4. Make it super clear who can and who cannot touch, or otherwise hang out anywhere in the vicinity of, your equipment. There will be fewer heart attacks and less shouting. Trust me. Everyone wants to push the smoke machine button. Everyone. And you need it warmed up for the big impressive whooshes, not worn out on odd little smoke fart puffs at random moments in the show.
  5. Set your priorities (while admiting the limits of what you have). We decided that our priorities were basically: everyone needs to see and hear their kid on stage. Everything else is a Simply Sparkles sparkly bonus. Sounds simple, but it wasn’t really, because our lights are party lights, not stage lights (apart from the spotlight), we ended up investing in some outdoor floodlights to give a bit more oomph. Then once that was taken care of, we could play with the icicles flashing, the fairy ligths going on , the smoke, the disco beat lasers, etc. and have fun.
  6. Find out what the people you are helping have in mind, and try to give them that. This is something we do for all our clients: try to work out what party dream or vision is. Put otherwise: what will make it feel like a party to them. For some, it’s the disco ball that makes it a ‘real’ dance party. For someone else, it’s the strobe, smoke and lasers. It’s the same with a stage production. Try to find out what would be the secret ingredient of making the person on stage feel like a rockstar, or the director feel like their vision is a reality, and work out how you can give it to them. It’s far more fun to wave a magic wand and make other people’s wishes come true than it is to impose your ideas on other people.
  7. Relax and have fun. After all the planning and prep is done, you might as well enjoy yourself!