How to throw an Egyptian themed birthday party

How to throw an Egyptian Themed Birthday Party

Walk the aisles of any party store and the selections are the same: overpriced plastic renditions of the latest Disney craze. But what would happen if I helped my child see there’s more to the world than someone else’s fairy tale?

What interests your child? Start there.

Ava’s Egyptian-themed birthday party came about in a round-about way… but it’s always been about what she loves.

About six months before her 5th birthday, I noticed she would often ask to read a book on gemstones that her Grammie gave her. She poured over each drawing, asking me to list which gemstone was which. Soon, she knew our birthstones by heart – ruby and moonstone.

Looking to build on her interest in Geology, I introduced her to Archaeology… the art of digging up artifacts from historical sites. We took several books out of the library about ancient Egypt in particular.

How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

Observing her continued fascination with the “dig,” I asked her if she would like to do some sort of dig for her birthday party and she enthusiastically agreed.  It would be a gemstone AND an artifact dig, she decided.

Oh, and she really, really wanted to camp out.

From there the plans took off.

How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

TIP: As you read along you’ll see lots of tips, tricks, and a few printables. I put everything together (with several improvements) in an easy to download guide so you can recreate this party for your own family:

Egyptian Birthday Party Resource Kit

The Location

A beach and campsite about 30 minutes from Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Lake Oologah, otherwise known as “Egypt by the Nile.”

The Invitations

How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party | DIY Invitation

Most of our invitations were done with a Facebook Event page one month before the party. We also handmade invitations for a handful of Ava’s closest friends. I found a Hieroglyphic Key online and let Ava use it to draw the word “party.” I then color copied and cut out her designs. We glued it to card stock along with  more specific details (found on the inside).

We also included the hieroglyphic key on the back of the card so her friends could have fun drawing their own names.  We dropped these off at our friends’ homes 2-3 weeks before the party.

The Dig

How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party | DIY Artifact Dig

Ava and I spent one afternoon on a blanket at our local arboretum making artifacts out of polymer clay. I brought a cookie sheet and after each artifact was formed, we placed it on the sheet. When we got home we baked our treasures to harden and protect.

We made lots of gemstones, pendants, beads, as well as some items inspired by real Egyptian artifacts we found in library books, such as a King Tut, a sphinx, a statue of a cat, a hippo, and more. Ava got into making tornadoes and bowls, too… the photo above only shows half of the artifacts we made!

I decided to photocopy our inspiration pictures and glue them on a sheet of paper. This became a guide to go with the bigger artifacts so that the children could read up on what they’d dug up.

Oh, and no worries if your children make “unidentifiable” shapes – we invited the children to imagine what these more indistinguishable items might have been used for (that’s the job of a good archaeologist after all!).

DIY Archeological Dig | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

On the day of the dig we gave the children baskets I purchased at the local thrift store. They used them both for sifting the sand from the artifacts as well as to store their finds. While we could have done the dig by the beach, we did it up by our campsite while the “birthday cakes” were cooking (more on that later).

DIY Archeological Dig | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

DIY Archeological Dig | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

The Favors

Since our Egyptian-themed favors were a little unusual, I included a description with them. You can see it rolled up and attached to the goodie bags with raffia.

DIY Goody Bags | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

DIY Goody Bags | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

Licorice Root 

This was fun because the kids were all “why is there a stick in my favor bag”… but I explained to them they could chew it or pop it in a pot of hot water to make tea. Just like they do in Egypt (Ancient Egyptians treasured licorice root for its natural sweetness, rich flavor and restorative properties).  I found these for 10 cents each at our local Renaissance Fair, but I bet you could find them at a good spice shop – call around or browse online.

Tattoos

Did you know that Egyptian woman are credited with having some of the earliest tattoos in the world, from over four thousand years ago!? These peace sign tattoos were sent in by Ava’s Uncle G. Perfect timing! 

Egyptian Trail Mix & Sesame Candies

A mix of Egypt’s favorite snacks: almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, dried apricots, and golden raisins.

Honey Sticks

Ancient Egyptians thought honey could cure a toothache. Pharaohs were even buried with pots of honey.  Archaeologists, excavating their tombs, found pots of honey, thousands of years old. The honey was still fresh!

Glow Sticks

Last but not least, every archaeologist needs a little light! The glow sticks will help guide the children on future adventures! (Be careful to identify these as non-edible, since they look a lot like honey sticks.)

Party Favors | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

Ava helped assemble the goodie bags the night before, at our campsite…though there was still a bit of work leftover after she crashed out in the tent!

Party Favors | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

The Food

The Menu | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

egypt-1

Authentic Egyptian Menu | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

The menu was camping meets Egypt…. it had to hold up in hot weather and be refreshing. Thankfully that’s the goal in Egypt, too, where temperatures can soar up to to 104F during the day.

Popcorn

Though mentions of “corn” in the pyramids probably referred to barley, popcorn is now a popular treat in East Africa, often served with coffee.

Nuts & Fruits

Roasted nuts such as almonds, pistachios, and dried seeds are sold from pushcarts all over Egypt. On hot days a juicy slice of watermelon and dried figs or apricots cool off the weariest wanderer.

Hibiscus & Pomegranate Tea

Hibiscus from Upper Egypt is considered among the world’s finest and is particularly wonderful with another beloved Egyptian fruit – the pomegranate.

Basboosa [Recipe]

A traditional semolina cake made with orange blossom water, lemon juice, rose water, and ghee. The texture is unusually moist thanks to an overnight soak in lemon and rose water syrup.

Orange Campfire Cake (see below)

Oranges grow up and down the Nile, making Egypt one of the world’s greatest producers of the fruit. In honor of this yummy crop, each family baked a cake inside an orange to share.

Basboosa Cake | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

Orange Campfire Cakes

Oranges grow really well on the banks of the Nile – so well, in fact, that Egypt is one of the world’s greatest producers of oranges. I thought it’d be fun to help the kids celebrate this amazing fruit by doing a little campfire cake.

How to bake a campfire cake:

We cut the tops off the oranges, hollowed them out with grapefruit spoons, and added vanilla cake batter inside (from a box is fine – the batter from one box will fill 10-12 oranges).

We then popped on the top, wrapped the oranges tightly in foil and cooked them on the hot embers for 30-35 minutes (cooking times will vary depending on how hot your campfire is).

It really helped to have the foil precut and have a couple of adults help hollow the oranges. The pulp makes a great mixed drink for the adults (just add rum and ice!).

Orange Campfire Cakes | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

It’s hard to overcook these cakes since the orange skin protects the cake batter – so even if it burns, the cake inside is still moist and tender

Orange Campfire Cakes | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

How to cook Orange Campfire Cakes | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

Orange Campfire Cakes | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

Orange Campfire Cakes | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

kids-eating-camfire-cake

Orange Campfire Cakes | How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

Lesson Learned:

Birthdays don’t have to be expensive look-a-likes in order to be memorable. 

In the end, Ava’s Egyptian themed birthday party was incredibly fun. Many parents echoed the sentiment, saying it was the best party they’d ever been to. Cooking the cakes in oranges was a definite highlight, though the artifact dig was a close second. 

In all honesty, there was nothing super complicated about this party. Decor was handmade or picked up at the library or thrift store… even the goodie bags were just brown paper lunch bags. The table cloths didn’t match. But everything went together in a shabby-chic sort of way… and the theme was love.

Best of all? Ava had a blast.

I may have peaked with this party planning thing… until Ava has her next awesome idea!

 

Here’s an instant download with everything we used for the party: 

 

Egyptian Birthday Party Resource Kit

 

This download includes the Dig Guide, Goodie Bag Content Description, Egyptian Menu, along with basic instructions, decor ideas, and invitation ideas. The documents have been updated and improved to have papyrus looking paper and other fun details.

How to throw an Egyptian-themed birthday party

(Whole drawing) Procession of figures with offerings; part of a wall-painting from the tenth tomb at Gourna, Thebes. Made during an expedition to Egypt organised by Robert Hay between 1826 and 1838.

(Whole drawing) Procession of figures with offerings; part of a wall-painting from the tenth tomb at Gourna, Thebes. Made during an expedition to Egypt organised by Robert Hay between 1826 and 1838.

You may be surprised what happens when you ask your child about their interests:

Their birthday party may take a turn for the better!

What do you love about the best birthday parties you’ve been to (kids or adults)?

What did they do right? What did they do differently?

* Photo of Nofretete by Philip Pikart.

 

P.S. I’m happy to spread the Egyptian love… which means a GIVEWAY!

HOW TO WIN:  If anyone can use our painted Egyptian sheet that we used for a backdrop behind or buffet, I’ll be happy to mail it to you! If more than one person wants it, I’ll give it away to a random commenter. Just leave me a comment as to why you’d like it!

Good luck :)  

 

Opt In Image
Hungry for more?
Be notified when National Geographic releases my memoir.

Simply fill in your details below.

Comments

  1. WOW! What an amazing party idea. I plan to use many of your ideas during our class unit on Egypt. I teach in a kindergarten through second grade Montessori classroom and I know my students would love to use your beautiful backdrop during a class party. Thanks for your consideration. I can’t wait to do get started with our Egypt unit!

  2. Cléo Paiva says:

    I do not speak English (I speak only Portuguese and Spanish), but it could not tell you that your blog is wonderful! (Thanks google translator) :)

  3. What a wonderful, non-commercial, even educational, themed birthday party! I’m sure having Ava help with so many of the preparations made for a lot of the fun of anticipation for her. Congratulations on your creative parenting!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Yes, having her involved was one of the best parts – it really made the birthday so much more than “just a day”… but a series of crafting and bonding times for us. I highly recommend getting kids involved and starting a couple of months ahead of time, if possible, so it’s not a rush or stressful… :)

  4. Happy Birthday, Ava! What an amazing adventure – fun right from the get-go! It’s a great theme for kids, and it brought back a great memory of one of my sons at that age. We lived in Germany and he eagerly awaited each Sperrmüll day when everyone put their bulky trash items (furniture and such) on the curb for pick-up. He would always find “treasures” and drag them through the front door saying, “Can you believe someone is throwing this away?” He also declared that when he grew up he wanted to drive a Sperrmüll truck (!), so I introduced him to “ancient Sperrmüll” – mostly Egyptian. He remained interested in Archaeology for several years – burying GI Joe mummies and other “artifacts” in the backyard – and declaring he wanted to be an archaeologist when he grew up. :)

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Oh my gosh – how funny! When I lived in Paris they had a similar thing. When I was about 15 years old I found an amazing art deco mirror with a lady painted on it… she represented spring. It’s in my daughter’s room today!

  5. What a wonderful idea! I almost wish my children were still your daughters age, so that I could plan such a fun birthday party. No grandchildren in sight, but I will download the Resource Kit, to be prepared :)

  6. Keith "Uncle G" Glennon says:

    What an amazing birthday party. I think I would of jumped right in to the dig myself. FUN!

Trackbacks

  1. […] since Ava’s Egyptian-themed birthday party this summer, she’s been obsessed with all things Egypt. Naturally, when I asked what she […]

Speak Your Mind

*