Parties need games, and lots of them. A Greek Myth theme fits nicely with the format of a Quest, so we based all of our games on the need to fulfill a Quest.
Quest: Earn three Drachma in order to play the Game of the Gods
[I found that it was cheaper to use pennies or nickels than it was to purchase fake gold coins. The Game of the Gods is what I called Left-Right-Center. It is a great party game for this age group --fifth grade. I got the idea of using LRC from Small Hours and Little Wonders.]
Boys had to win Drachma in a series of challenges given to us by characters in Greek Myths.
Dionysus Challenge #1:
A cookie is placed on each player's forehead. Holding his hands behind his back, the player needs to try to eat the cookie. If it drops, the player may pick it up and start over.
[Our winner got his cookie by very slowly and carefully raising his eyebrows and twitching his cheeks until the cookie was on his lips.]
In teams, the boys had to transfer rubber snakes from one bucket to another, while blindfolded and using only chopsticks (you can't look at or touch Medusa's snakes!).
The Sphinx Challenge:
Using the book What a Beast, by Sophia Kelly, my son read humorous descriptions of mythical beasts. The winner was the guest who correctly guessed the most beasts.
The boys sat in a circle. One boy wrapped yarn from a ball around his ankle (loosely), and then tossed the ball to the boy who followed him alphabetically. The winner was the first boy who could not wrap the yarn because the ball ran out. What a tangled web! (See their togas in the picture below...they did such a great job with their costumes. You can even spy Eros's wings.)
Dionysus Challenge #2:
We split up into two groups. I gave each group a brief myth for them to act out. Three judges (my two young party-helpers and myself) voted on the best skit to win. I wasn't sure how the boys would like doing an activity that involved reading, but they loved putting on the skits. For this challenge, I chose the stories of Daedalus's wings and Theseus vs the Minotaur. Both stories related to the labyrinth, and I wanted the guests to be familiar with the story so they'd better appreciate the labyrinth challenge which comes later in the quest. Kid-friendly versions of the myths can be found online.
Toilet paper togas! Need I say more?
Teams worked within a time limit to dress one team member in a toga that would stay on by itself.
We hid symbols of each of Hercules 12 Labors in the yard and teams competed to find the most.
I got the idea for using the 12 Labors from this site.
Our gang had to find a lion, a hydra, a stag, a boar, a sponge and dustpan (to represent cleaning the stables), birds (we hid ten), a bull, mares (we hid 17), a belt, cattle (we hid nine cows), an apple, and Cerberus, the three-headed dog. Most of what we hid were toys we had (we have toys of Cerberus and the hydra, believe it or not), but pictures would work, too. The apples had to be picked from our trees (took the boys a while to figure that out). A list of Hercules' labors can be found online or in the book Oh My Gods, by Megan Bryant.
Dionysus Challenge #3:
My helpers (my daughter and niece) hid a cookie in a plate of whipped cream for each boy. Hands behind the back, the first boy to find the cookie with his mouth was the winner. The boys quickly realized that the 'real' winner was anyone with a face full of whipped cream!
Find the toy minotaur hidden in the labyrinth!
After the challenges, all of the boys had enough coins to play Left-Right-Center. It was lots of fun. We followed the game with cake and presents. The boys then played outside in the labyrinth until pick-up time.