Grandpa Fantastic’s summer fete: kids’ party inspiration

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Every year, Grandpa Fantastic holds a summer fete in the garden. I know. But this is the man who made a wooden balance bike “as a small challenge” so nothing, really, should surprise.

It’s not a single handed effort. Almost everyone in the village chips on to run a stall. I ran the bunting game (yep, it’s a thing, see below), Tom and his cousin manned the coconut shire, his aunt   organised the bottle fishing game (ditto), his uncle corralled kids into guessing how many fish were in a boat etc etc.

It’s all very amateur, very hand made, very low tech and very, very brilliant. And it got me thinking. Since every stall or game was cobbled together by a WMBNEAGOTOP (well meaning but not especially artistically or technologically gifted ordinary person), there’s no reason you couldn’t use the same ideas for a children’s party.

Mostly, they require (or could be adapted to use) household items plus a bit of Blue Peter spirit. They are, almost entirely, free to organise. They are absurdly straightforward and unflashy. And the kids (including a posse of visiting city kids – accustomed to fun coming attached to several screens and a eye-watering price tag) LOVED it.

Even better, you can style it as ‘vintage’, should the parents in your area be of the frighteningly competitive variety.

1) Guess how many xxx in the xxx 

This being a seaside village, we used a boat and some ‘fish’. You could use ANYTHING. Marbles in a jar? Washing up bowl and cutlery? Scuttle and coal? Recycling bin and empty gin bottles? I’m not judging. Whatever’s closest to hand in your house…



2) Face painting

You don’t need to be Van Gogh. Actually, that could add an unnecessarily dark edge the party.


3) Coconut shire

We had ‘proper’ metal stands, dug out from someone’s garage. But you needn’t. You could sit them on a garden wall, upturned plant pots, your husband’s head if he’s recently left you feeling so-inclined…


4) Hook the bottle - A metal loop (a curtain ring would do) hangs off a make-shift fishing pole. Can you hook the loop round the neck of a wine bottle? Don’t tell me you don’t have any of these hanging around…



5) Bunting competition. A line hangs in the garden and a pile of plain paper bunting triangles have been pre-cut. The kids all decorate their own triangle and write their name on the back before it is added to the line. The best one is then picked at the end and awarded a prize (see below)…


6) Horse racing. You need a bit of carpentry savvy for this. Grandpa Fantastic cut the horses out of wood and then painted them with a number. They sit at the top of a bit sheet of wood with a grid painted along it. Each child gets a horse. A dice is rolled. Say it lands on six. The child with horse number six moved on one square. Then the dice is rolled again. The first horse passed the finishing line at the end of the board wins.

So the moral might be dodgy. But the fun lasts for HOURS. Kids, it turns out, are natural betters (just don’t tell Betfair…)



And finally: the prizes. Scones. Nuff said.