Decorate your own shield — a knights’ party

For Pim’s ‘knights’ themed birthday party last week, we had the idea of letting the boys decorate their own shields. I always like to do something a bit creative with the kids to offer some ‘downtime’ before the more active games we played later. My husband had made 8 shields out of thin beech plywood, with bands (from cheap winch straps), and rivets. He used a round plate to make the design, and an electric jigsaw to saw out the shields. I was impressed by how fast he made them, by the cool-looking end results, and by the sturdiness of the shield! Oh, and the materials we used were really cheap — I think we didn’t spend more than 10 euros for the 8 shields together.

Shields in the making

The finished shields

I printed some different images of coats of arms like dragons, lions, and unicorns, and bought carbon paper (didn’t know it still existed, but it does!). As a first party activity, each boy transferred a drawing onto their shield using the carbon paper. Taping the printed paper and carbon paper to the shield helped to keep everything in place. The magic of tracing the drawing and automatically transferring it to the shield kept them interested! Afterwards, they used markers to colour and personalise their shields. I was so impressed by their concentration — they loved this activity and were so serious, and so proud of the results!

Transferring the design using carbon paper

Colouring and decorating

Of course we couldn’t resist sewing 8 tunics for the knights the night before the party (including a tiny one for Ava!), and to get a few plastic party helmets to go with the outfit. (Swords were forbidden — for obvious reasons…)

Baby knight

Games (or ‘knight’s challenges’) included: Obstacle course in the kids’ bedroom (under the bed, over the bed, jump 10 times, somersault, etc.), pin the fire to the dragon’s mouth (like pin the tail to the donkey), mastering the yoga warrior pose, and killing the piñata dragon (finally they were allowed to use a sword!). All the kids got a score card around their neck, and each time they had surpassed a challenge they earned a sticker. Only with a full card did they earn their official ‘knight certificate’, which, printed with a Medieval type font on brownish paper and with burned edges, looked impressive enough!

Pin the fire to the dragon

The party bags (do you remember the stamp we made?) and the knight certificates

It was a fun party and the kids loved it! We were pretty exhausted though. I’m glad I don’t have five overactive 5-year-old boys in our house every day!

xxx Esther


Comments (23)

Courtney in London
March 10, 2012

I LOVE all your ideas. I’m so impressed you were able to accomplish so much in one afternoon! And those knight’s shields are amazing! What a cool idea. (And I think it’s always nice to let kids take something home from the party that they were personally involved in making.) Well done you!

March 10, 2012

This is so cool I wish my daughter will grow all into knights and I can replicate your party. Amazing!

Esther in Amsterdam
March 14, 2012

Haha, yes, that would be great!

March 10, 2012

so creative and well done, love it!


March 11, 2012

This is brilliant! My son is only 9 months old, but I’ll have to remember this for when he’s older. One thing you should look out for: assuming the “obvious reasons” you mention for not along swords are fears of injuries, I urge you to look into foam rubber sabers. I’m a fencer, I don’t now how widely available they are outside of the fencing world, but they were all over the place in fencing when I was competitive (admittedly about 10 years ago). They called them wacky wackers I think and they were insanely fun… and nearly impossible to hurt anyone with. I don’t know where in Europe you are (came here from an outside link) but I know I saw a toddler with one in Scotland 5 or 6 years ago, so it’s not purely American. Anyway, awesome idea, I’ll definitely be back here!

Esther in Amsterdam
March 13, 2012

Hi Meagan, I’ll look out for the rubber savers — might be fun for outdoor play in the summer! Thanks! xxx

March 11, 2012

You are so talented Esther…will need to keep these ideas up my sleeve for my son Thomas!

March 11, 2012

The baby knigh is so cute….

Esther in Amsterdam
March 13, 2012

🙂 xxx

Emilie in Paris
March 11, 2012

I love these shields they are absolutely excellent. Everyone must have had such a good time!

March 12, 2012

I love this idea — The shields are genius!

March 13, 2012

You are so creative!! Such an excellent idea.

March 13, 2012

Very impressive! You are very talented! What a wonderful idea, I’m sure everyone had a brilliant time!

March 13, 2012

Thanks a million for sharing … my 4 year old has requested a knight’s party in 2 weeks time 🙂 What did you do for cake by the way… I’m dreaming up a castle but worried it’s over complicated…. For a sword he currently has a foam off-cut “dressed” in a pair of old tights and no damage to baby sister so far!

Esther in Amsterdam
March 13, 2012

Hi Catherine, well, for cake I went for the easy, fast and super successful solution: cake decorating! Shop bought cakes, with chocolate sauce, vanilla sauce, creme chantilly, all sorts of sprinkles, small candy, etc. (all shop bought — I didn’t have time!) We just put everything on the table in small bowls and let the kids spoil themselves. Fun!! Good luck with the party!! xxx

May 15, 2012

What an amazingly fun and child-centered party! I love how you’ve thought of just about everything that will just thrill the kids! Love!

July 8, 2012

Why oh why is this on Pinterest (damn you Pinterest!) AFTER my daughter’s Viking birthday?! My dad would have LOVED to make those for us! 😛 We ended up making balloon swords and dragons from youtube tutorials – big fun, but not as cool as those shields…

February 12, 2013

[…] out of plywood to be decorated at the party (very much inspired by Esther’s stickhorses and knight […]

October 20, 2015

[…] wife came across this cool blog where a couple made wooden shields and the kids painted them. I enlisted my Dad, and we went to work (and shopping at the local hardware store). We largely […]

February 5, 2016

[…] up with the real knightly training activities.  First up was to make our own shields.  This tutorial is great if you want to make the kids something sturdy.  Since our party favors were dollar […]

January 25, 2017

Thank you for all the ideas. I’m doing the theme of Medieval with a group of home schooled children and I’m going to use all your ideas – just wonderful – thank you for sharing!

Esther in Amsterdam
January 25, 2017

Enjoy! 🙂 x

September 8, 2020

Hi. I love this idea! What thickness wood did you use?

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