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This party could be adapted for smaller children, older children, teens, or a neighborhood potluck. First, the theme here is space. For smaller children, you could add Buzz Lightyear or Martin the Martian. For older children, you could add Star Wars or Star Trek. I am going to just give you the basics and let you add your own spin. Through the article, I will give you suggestions on how you could add to these ideas and how to adapt the games and food.
The first thing you will need to do is find a venue. You could check a local neighborhood park. I am assuming you live in the city where looking at the stars is somewhat limited by the city lights, but you can, with a telescope or spotting scope, see some of the bigger stars and constellations. If you don't have a telescope, I would try Craigslist for one or Freecycle. A lot of people have bought them for their children and then their children tired of them and they just might let go of them. You want a large area with lots of grass for spreading out blankets. If everyone is willing to travel, you might be able to find a quiet country road where you might get permission to hold your party. Your local state park might be a great place to check.
Now it is time to set up a time and a date. You will want everyone to show up just at sundown or dusk. Try to plan your party on a night that will have little cloud cover so that you will be able to set up telescopes and spotting scopes. Most nights, every one can see the moon and if that is really all you can see, it will be fine I have some fun activities in mind that will keep everyone in the space mood.
Since it is getting darker later in the day, your food should be simple since most people will have eaten right about dusk. I would plan on donuts (Krispy Kreme are the best) and apple juice or a fruit based punch. Any simple dessert can be dressed up with glow in the dark stars and planets which you can get at the dollar store and can go through the dishwasher when you are done. If this is a birthday party, a birthday cake can be dressed up with stars and planets and a Buzz Lightyear or Star Wars characters that have been run through the dishwasher so they are clean. Go ahead and raid that toy box. This is a great place to use those Happy Meal toys that got used once and then were put into the toy box. If this is a neighborhood party, you could always turn it in to a barbecue potluck with you providing hot dogs and hamburgers and others bringing side dishes and drinks.
Decorations are simple, make some cardboard stars and planets and hang them in the trees. You can make shooting stars with holographic paper that you can pick up at any store that sells scrapbooking paper. Silver tablecloths can be bought at any party store and are pretty inexpensive if you buy a roll. Use duct tape to tape the tablecloths to the tables. Star stickers can be used to decorate them. Here is some color pictures of the planets that you can print and mount to cardboard to help with your decorations.
Watching the stars is a wonderful experience and really makes you wonder what could be out there. For younger children at the party a Planet coloring page would be great. Print one out for every child and provide lots of crayons. Here is a website that has free coloring pages.
http://www.coloringcastle.com/planets_coloring_pages.html Why not make it a contest to see who can color the best. For the prize take a glow in the dark star and with a Sharpie pen write a big number one. Glue with hot glue a pin back on back and they can wear it. For smaller children here is a fun craft project you can do that uses recycled materials
A good old fashioned game of flashlight tag can be fun for the kids right before you get down to stargazing. Just make sure you have enough flashlights for everyone, include a few for the adults that will be sure to want to play. Cheap flashlights and batteries can be bought at any Dollar store. For more fun, divide everyone into teams and turn the game into Steal the Flag. Take two large pieces of paper and draw a planet on each, say Earth and Mars. In the dark, have each team try to sneak up on each other's flag. Anyone that gets tagged by a flashlight is out. You might want to have a referee for this game. The team that captures the others flag wins. This works best if you plant the flags on either side of a playground so that people can hide behind the playground equipment.
The next game is made with a half a sheet of plywood. Take the board and paint it white. Now paint big black circles for each planet. At the Dollar store, get yourself some of the sticky balls that come with a paddle or take some sticky back tape and put in in stripes around a tennis ball or other small ball. With paint or colored Sharpie pens, put in the planets one on each ring. Put the looped side on each planet and all around it. With two 2 by 2's and a couple of small hinges make legs for it so it will stand up. For smaller children, I would make the strips pretty big, but for other children or adults the strips can be smaller. Give each planet a number value and when the kids are playing, add up each score. The child with the highest score wins.
For the next game, you will need a old Frisbee that you can cover with glow in the dark stickers. You will also need about 8 packages of the long glow sticks that children wear as necklaces. Hook them together to make big circles. Activate the glow sticks so they glow on the grass and let everybody take a turn trying to throw the Frisbee into the circle. The most hits wins.
Hope you all are having a wonderful spring and make this summer a memorable one.
Editor's Note: It might be a good idea to plan your Stargazing Party around an eclipse, meteor shower, or other celestial event. Here are some websites that can give you information on what to expect in the night sky for a specific time and place.