I love so many parts of putting an event like this together. I love making it authentic. I love it being an educational tool. I love it being one part social gathering and another part an organized program. My girls' ideas in the planning process have been brilliant and, in the end, we hoped to plan something that would be a treasured and enlightening experience for children and their families.
Johanna and I have had the basic details planned for some time but most of the costuming, decoration, and finished program came together in one week. One week.
When the evening came upon us, as I predicted, I was running around costuming my kids and pharaoh at the last minute. Thankfully we had a few planned activities for guests as they arrived.
Here are the details:
One stop for our Egyptian guests was a friend's table of memorabilia from visiting Egypt as a soldier. Real photographs of him in front of the pyramids and other sites, Egyptian money, little souvenirs, and stories to be told. (Two things I love about this photo: Johanna comfortable right at the front of the table and pharaoh in the background starting a fire. Where are his servants??)
Another stop for guests was the beautiful pyramid backdrop. (Thanks to my talented mother-in-law for all of the evening's artwork.) Children and families kept returning to this spot throughout the night. So many shots were taken here, including expecting-Cleopatra and her husband, Howard Carter.
From the pharaoh's throne, the traveling Egyptians were welcomed and invited to feast.
Kids gathered on my Egyptian-inspired pillows to eat like an Egyptian (I stripped the house of pillows earlier in the week to cover with theme fabric), they ran and played over "the Nile" (a long piece of blue fabric at the foot of our hill), and played to the beat of ancient Egyptian music. It was simple and enjoyable.
(I couldn't help but add this photo. I love it. Pharaoh looks deep in thought with one of his subjects.)
Johanna knew quite well what the Egyptians ate and so that became the offerings to the pharaoh: wheat and barley breads, cheeses, figs, dates, grapes, dried fruit, and grape juice. You even got to tear off your own bread portion.
As I mingled with camera in hand, I was so impressed with the detail in the costumes and the pride within each family.
Some came as scribes, noblewomen, and soldiers, complete with authentic props.
Others put many hours into detailed wigs and homemade collars. I loved seeing the work that went into their part.
One of my favorite parts of the program was Howard Carter visiting.
Dressed in an overcoat and bowtie and playing the part of Howard Carter, a wonderful friend and knowledgable Egyptologist mesmerized the children with the discovery and excitement of King Tut's tomb. With hands raised they eagerly answered questions and listened closely to his tale of Tut's tomb. He even gave each child a handout of how they can read and pronounce hieroglyphs for their own love of Egyptology.
Then a real archaeological dig was on. (We didn't plan this whole evening authentic with headdresses and pharaoh's throne to just bury cheap trinkets to bury-no way.)
Seventeen laminated images of real items found in the Valley of the Kings in 1922 were buried, one treasure per child (over 3 years old) to dig and discover for themselves. That was magical.
And the children were thrilled with their discoveries! "Can we keep them?" I was asked over and over. Please do and remember this evening.
And to close a most magical evening, the children gathered once more, this time before the pharaoh. Here he presented each child with a personalized cartouche amulet. And there to explain it's significance was Mr. Carter. There was a stillness as they listened and then waited to hear their name as pharaoh passed them their very own.
(These were so thoughtfully made by a friend for the children. What a special way to remember the night--how the children treasured these!)
As families said their goodbyes one at a time and children chased fireflies, the sun had almost completely set. The light of the oil lamps and fire still flickered. There was still music in the air. It wasn't the ancient instruments we had been listening to, but the sound of happy children. The night had come together just right--not exactly as we had planned (undone costumes, pharaoh's crook and flail we left inside, etc.)--but perfectly right in the end.
This is an evening I hope that will stay with us for a very long time, from the learning and making and loving of Egypt to the culminating festival to celebrate it.
the sleepy time gal