The children at our New Year's Eve party are getting older. When we started the tradition of having our friends and their children over for an early supper, the children were toddlers and babies and it was easy to stick them all on a couch in our basement and put a Dora The Explorer tape in the vcr to entertain them while we ate a quick dinner. Back in the early years, people arrived late afternoon and left well before early evening.
But now the older kids are almost 12 and watching movies in the basement is perhaps not as much fun as it used to be. This year, Janet suggested that we come up with some sort of craft project or activity to make the evening more fun for the kids.
I thought long and hard about what we could do with 13-16 kids that would involve little parental supervision (giving the parentals time to socialize) and little mess (that I would have to clean up after everyone had left). The activity had to be easy, fun, mess-free and able to accommodate 13-16 kids of varying ages.
That's when I remembered the String Maze. My father and mother made me a string maze for one of my birthday parties when I was growing up and I remembered it very fondly. All it requires is large amounts of string, a small prize for the end of the trail, and a lot of preparation time.
I enlisted Henry's help and we got to work the afternoon of the party.
We started out by putting a series of obstacles around the basement to give the string trails something to attach to (or around, or through). We used chairs, Josie's wheelie backpack, a pop-up house, the art table, the couch... you get the picture.
After we finished the first few string trails, the rest were really easy. There was a lot of high-stepping and stomach-crawling:
When the basement started looking like the web of a ferocious, giant spider, Josie gathered up her belongings and retreated to the stairs.
It wasn't easy, at this point, to move around:
We ended each trail in the mudroom, which would serve as the starting off point for the maze:
Once everyone had arrived (minus Ethan & Reed who had to come late), it was time to begin:
The children peeled off their string and got to work, following and untangling their string until they reached the end and their reward:
We might have made the maze a little too complicated for the youngest member of the party, but I still think he had a good time crawling around under the string:
The parents sat on the steps and cheered the children on.
Half-way through, the room was starting to look less crazy and the kids were holding massive amounts of string in their hands:
The boys found mini-basketballs at the end of their mazes and the girls found notebooks and pens:
The entire activity didn't take too long - perhaps 45 minutes tops - but the children really enjoyed the chase.