Many of us have a soft spot in our hearts for make-believe. Kids — and adults — can create fond memories with dress-up sessions and historical play-acting, so why not teach history at the same time? History is a fascinating subject made unnecessarily difficult for many kids. Throwing a ‘history party’ is both fun and educational . . . kids learn facts while thoroughly enjoying themselves. How about an ancient Rome party? Even children with little interest in history will find this a fascinating time period. What little boy wouldn’t want to dress up as a Roman soldier or gladiator or even emperor? What little girl wouldn’t jump at the chance to be a Roman empress or other influential lady?
If you’re throwing a party on a budget, don’t worry. Although renting costumes or hand-creating simple togas and tunics could enhance the scene, kids will still enjoy this venture into ancient Rome even if costumes are absent. The biggest scene-setter will be the table. And for another budget tip: Have kids print out Roman coloring pages or perhaps pictures of things associated with Rome and Italy in general. Magazines and travel books such as old National Geographics would also work well. Not only will your ancient Rome party be well decorated, but kids will enjoy cutting out pictures and will learn many new facts in the process. If any decorations *are* in the budget, check out your local party store and see if you can find grape-themed plates, napkins, and cups.
Depending on your budget, party food can either be simple or a little more advanced. There are a few ancient Roman recipes scattered across the Internet — for my spur-of-the-moment party, I made honey cakes. The flavor left much to be desired but I still enjoyed it and took pride in the fact that I had recreated a recipe from ancient Rome. Pressed for time, I sat out cold-cuts of meat and slices of cheese. Doesn’t seem Roman? Not in and of itself, but the display was “Romanized” by adding Latin descriptions of the food in question. For instance, the meat was labeled “caro” and the cheese was labeled “caseus.” Turn even the simplest party appetizers into an ancient Rome learning tool! Budget is not a problem.
Music is another great way to hold a history party. I enjoy international music and so had several Italian CDs on hand (unfortunately, Latin is hard to come by, unless in the form of Gregorian chanting, etc). Latin and modern Italian music can be found on the Internet. You might want to introduce Italian music and explain to kids how modern Italian language differs from classical Latin. Anything can be turned into an exciting history lesson — this is the beauty of holding a party on a budget.
What about games? Fire little boys’ imaginations by teaching them how to be a Roman soldier or a gladiator. (If they insist on a costume, a large men’s t-shirt, preferably red, will have your little boy well on his way to becoming a Roman soldier). Online costume stores offer plastic swords and shields, and renting costumes is a possibility as well. But if budget currently makes these options difficult, it can fun and entertaining to make your own weapons.
Have kids help . . . as you are crafting each piece (from cardboard, wood, whatever you choose to use) explain what the different parts of the weapon were called, how they were used, and how they came together to make the finished piece. You might be surprised how many facts adults can learn as well! For girls who don’t enjoy play-fighting, finding some websites on jewelry in ancient Rome is another idea. Compare then with now; does the child see any ancient jewelry she likes, and would she be interested in trying to recreate it by hand? Bead kits are a favorite with many little girls. Work this into your budget by either buying a little at a time or using beads, buttons, etc, that are already lying around the house.
An ancient Rome party will not only teach kids about a beloved historical era but will also provide some great family memories. I have included just a few ideas. Each family can create their own unique spin; families on a budget should have no problem using their imaginations to throw a party their kids will never forget. What are you waiting for? Get creative!
–Roman Theme Party Ideas and Supplies, http://www.questexperiences.com/quest2/products/romanparty.asp, Quest Experiences.
–Italian Party Decorations, http://www.partycheap.com/Italian_Party_Decorations_s/400.htm, Party Cheap