On the invitation, we specified that the Party was 2:30-5:00, followed by a “dueling hour” from 5:00-6:00 for all who wished to stay. To my surprise, most did, and this structure worked well: the serious duelists had a good chance to duel, and everyone could enjoy a good, active party, whether they knew anything about Yu-Gi-Oh or not.
For back yard activities, we did the following:
-“Yu-Gi, Yu-Gi, May I Cross Your Field [of play]?” – direct adaptation of “Farmer, Farmer, May I Cross?”
-“Trap, Trap, Spell” – direct adaptation of Duck, Duck, Goose
-Crab Turtle Race – from a relay race called “Backlash,” in which players stand back to back in pairs, link arms at the elbows, and each hold a balloon while walking across the yard. Our seven year-olds did not have long enough arms to link at the elbows and hold a balloon with two hands, and the balloons kept getting blown away, but the kids enjoyed it anyway. (Advance prep: inflate and tie six helium-quality balloons and put them in a garbage bag.)
-Make your own Yu-Gi-Oh card. This took some preparation ahead of time, but was the highlight of the party. In advance, I printed a downloaded Yu-Gi image and added “Jaron’s Birthday”, then printed it on post card blanks (two images per card). We made up funny names for monsters (Mystic Meercat, UFO Tomato, Armadillo Assailant, etc.), created special effects for some, and then printed them on return address labels to stick on the cards. (I can’t print small enough manually!). We printed an extra set of the names, cut them apart and numbered them, and put the card blanks in the same sequence. During the party, the guests lined up and each in turn picked a name out of the hat and posed as this monster. (We had extra names and allowed guests to make an alternate choice if desired.) My husband pulled the card blank (with name, effect and ATK/DEF points already on it) from the set and did a quick outline of each child as they posed. (Shadow-casting would also work.) Once all kids had posed as their monsters, they were given stickers (small stars, Yu-Gi stickers, etc.), markers, etc. and allowed to decorate their cards. Afterwards, we laminated each card in an ID-card pouch. Kids could use them in the dueling hour, and then take them home as a party favor.
We followed these activities with the piñata, cake, and opening of presents. At that point, parents arrived to pick up the non-duelists, and the others stayed for the dueling hour. They organized themselves with amazing efficiency and dueled or traded. We had them switch partners after fifteen minutes. Most were out the in back yard playing again before the hour was done, but they all had fun.
For goodie bags, I bought a deck and gave each child two Yu-Gi-Oh cards, plus a bubble gum rocket, a couple of swizzle sticks, etc., and their laminated card. Guests with all levels of interest in Yu-Gi-Oh enjoyed the party, and many were proud of the cards they had made.