It will hopefully not reflect the exhaustion, craziness, and stupidity that I personally experienced, or the games, unnecessary food items (that we're still eating), and fights Husband and I had over 3am bedtimes, the dramatic and over-the-top lead-up, and expense of the whole thing.
Once the theme was chosen, the invites were slightly easier to make. I copied a picture from the internet, and used a Marvel font generator to put the details in. I printed both out, glued them onto black cardboard, and voila. Ben then had a chance to write the names of his friends he was inviting :)
The hallway was decorated as "Gotham city". I had made a giant Batman symbol out of black and yellow cardboard, cut little bat symbols out of black cardboard, and punched even littler stars out of the leftover yellow cardboard, using my neighbour's star puncher ('cause there was NO way I was going to cut out a million stars with scissors!).
My original idea was to have the bats (11 of them in total, for my 11 year old boy) dangling from the ceiling with fishing line and sticky tape; and to have either yellow ribbon or crepe paper come down in a triangle from the Batman symbol to the top of one of the buildings, which were made from cut up pieces of thick cardboard, and covered in a black plastic table cover.
But time and inclination ran too low.
I started adding 'windows' to the 'buildings', too, but 15 minutes and a sore back later, I really couldn't be bothered continuing, so it turned into the small area of Gotham who could afford their electricity... and the rest who can't.
Or, there was a blackout ;)
As I'd looked up other "superhero" types of parties, there were many that had (watch while I sound smart for a second) onomatopoeias all over the walls as decorations. So, of course, I did that, too. And the party kinda turned into a semi-rainbow party as well, so I made them out of various coloured wrapping papers.
There was also:
POW, OOOF, KAPOW, POP, CRUNCH, AAARGH, KABOOM, WHAM, PLOP, BAM, BOOM, and ZAP.
Just in case people forgot who the party was for, I felt that I really needed giant letters on the table to spell his name. Luckily he has a short name, because this was not the most economic way to inform people of who's party it was.
But it looked pretty, <cough-handsome-cough> anyway :)
Buntings seem to be a thing at the moment, but considering I didn't want to sew pieces of coloured fabric together, I bought rainbow coloured cardboard dividers, cut them up, and threaded ribbon through a hole punched into them! It will now conveniently be used for every single birthday party we have until the kids move out of home.
Here it is hung up across the front of the dessert table:
And what's a party without balloons? Well... still a party I suppose. But sticking with a semi rainbow theme, I taped up four bunches of rainbow balloons in our lounge room onto the air conditioning ducts, to brighten up the main party area a bit more :)
More decorations that I wanted to have/make included:
* A spiderweb (made perhaps from wool or string), hanging in a corner, or across the ceiling, with a Spiderman dangling from it.
* A 'telephone' booth, made from cardboard that I already had from a mattress box, but didn't have a clue as to how to construct it in a manner worthy of actually doing it in the first place.
* A sky/city backdrop for the dessert table (the reason for this became clear as another parent later helped me hold up a blue plastic table cover to hide the incredibly messy kitchen, because, of course, I faced the dessert table toward the kitchen, why???)
As guests arrived, there were two things already set up for them to do. A mask creating station, and a guessing competition. The masks were made from a simple template, printed on cardboard, cut out, and placed near a variety of stickers that I'd collected during the lead-up to the party. Once the kids had finished theirs, they came to get a piece of elastic measured and attached.
The guessing competition is something I've done before, both at Ben's Pokémon party, and Tamara's Disney party. It's basically lollies into a jar (I had previously used baby food jars), and a sheet with an area to write down the guesses. As you can see, I tried to incorporate the Heroes vs. Villains theme.
Everyone loves riddles, right? I honestly couldn't believe how engaged the kids were with the riddle part of the party.
Though I had originally wanted to dress myself up in a green jacket and green hat (that I would have drawn question marks all over, of course) to read them out, I instead made 'Riddler' cards with green paper and cardboard, and held those up as I riddled the kids. Up for grabs if they were guessed correctly, were glow sticks!
Some of the riddles included:
Which month has 28 days?
What five letter word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it?
The more you take, the more you leave behind. What am I?
What breaks every time you name it?
What gets wetter the more it dries?
And the answers for those of you staring at these in complete confusion:
1. All of them! Just one has only 28 days.
3. Footsteps (though some of the kids -eventually- also said "distance", "kilometers", and "meters". They all got glow sticks)
5. A towel! (though, I also accepted a "sponge")
We also played a favourite party game that I've organised for previous parties, too: BINGO.
I had created BINGO cards with various heroes, villains, and their logos on them. The kids were all given a plastic shot glass full of Smarties to use as their tokens, which the got to eat after the game was finished. It's amazing how the games that require lots of focus and patience tend to be the ones they enjoy the most!
I had also printed out all of the individual pictures, to hold up and stick onto the wall when called out:
When Ben and I were discussing which games we should play, he said that he would love a Captain America shield piñata. I was stoked when I saw and bought a round one from a closing down sale at Sam's Warehouse. I removed the original decorations, and with cardboard, and a blue streamer, I'd re-decorated it to look like the shield.
Of course, I had wanted to make frilly streamers around the edges - but since I still hadn't managed to do that when Husband called out that it was time for the piñata, I quickly wrapped the blue streamer around the edge, to cover (most of) the original cardboard :)
The kids didn't seem to care - it's still a piñata! We taped it to the washing line, and all the kids managed to have a turn before the stick broke and we had to find something stronger. Again, I was impressed at the patience and engagement of the kids during this! Patiently lining up, and waiting their turn, but still on edge because at any moment, lollies will burst out everywhere and they will need to race against each other to collect a share for themselves!
Lastly, I'd also made some imitation Thor hammers, that were going to be used in a game similar to newspaper hockey, but the kids were just as happy hitting balloons around with them without any rules, teams or expectations.
They were made from glad wrap/aluminium foil cardboard rolls, empty tissue boxes, and duct tape. One week and a 4-year-old constantly playing with them later and they are still going strong!
Other games that I'd either thought would be cool, or even half organised and prepared for, included:
* "Saving the animals from Mr Freeze" - which was an ice cream tub filled with frozen water, and cheap plastic animals. I would have somehow either hung it up, or just have it on the ground or on a chair, for the kids to shoot at (with water pistols) with water until the ice melts, and the toys fall out.
* "Shoot the Villain" - which was silly string guns that the kids would use to shoot at a villain hanging from the washing line or stuck against a wall, eg. An idea that I'd had early on, was to have a helium balloon that they'd have to shoot - but that may have been a bit hard, as it would always keep moving! But hey, that could have been part of the fun, too!
* A "spider web" game, where I would have made (between the washing line poles or a window/doorway frame, eg) a masking/sticky take 'spiderweb' that the kids would stand at a distance and throw toys or pieces of scrunched up paper towards, to hopefully have them 'stick' to the web.
* A dress up game, where kids roll a dice, and when it lands on 6 (or to make it harder- two dice, and roll the birthday boy's age - 11), they get up, race to the telephone booth that I had imagined I'd created, and choose a costume to put on. Perhaps a couple of hero costumes, and a couple of villain costumes to choose from, that I would have collected bits and pieces for from second-hand shops, etc.
* Similar to "Pin the tail on the Donkey" or "Pin the logo on Superman", etc, I wanted to create a funny version called "Pin the logo on Invisible Woman" - which would have needed no set-up, just a few printed out pieces of the Fantastic Four logo. And it would have been the game where everyone wins!! Or, where everyone loses.
If you didn't already know, I collect bottle lids. I don't know why I still collect them - it's just become a habit. But I have hundreds... Seriously.
* I had two ideas of bottle lid games:
1. A treasure hunt game, where each child needed to find a particular colour lid (which I would have stuck hero/villain logos onto), or a bunch of the same kind of logo lid.
2. A "fling/throw/hurl that same logo lid into the bucket" game.
* One of my favourite party games (Yes, adults can enjoy this, too!) called "the Name Game", which is a game similar to charades, with 3 rounds.
Round 1- you use words (without using a word in the character's name) to help your team guess who it is.
Round 2 - you use one word.
Round 3 - you use actions to help your team guess who it is.
As you can see, I went a bit wild with my ideas! We would have needed to have a 5 hour party to be able to fit everything in!
I don't often make a big deal out of party bags, but considering I was very proud of these bags, I wanted to write about them!
In the lead-up to the party, I'd randomly decided that I wanted to make play dough from scratch. And it was honestly one of the simplest things to do, and I became an unstoppable play dough making machine. So unstoppable, that I kept making more - colour after colour, dividing them equally into little zip-lock bags (purchased at any discount shop). I'd somehow ended up with a bazillion packets of them - all lined up in order of colour, of course ;)
I wrapped them in a ribbon, added the play dough recipe, and placed them into the party bag awaiting to be handed out on the day of the party, along with two 'games' that I knew we wouldn't have time for the party, but I still wanted to kids to be able to do them! A matching (hero to his/her villain) game:
Upon many internet searches for cool things to do for a party like this, I stumbled across superhero lollypops! Having heaps of blue cardboard already, I just needed to print out superman logos and stick them onto the lollypops to make Superman pops. And, of course, the usual chocolates, lollies, and trinkets:
The dessert table that I imagined I'd actually have the time and energy to create, was going to be amazing. There was going to be a "heroes" side and a "villains" side, with enormous amounts of food and really cool ideas put into practice. There'd be individually crafted 'hero' and 'villain' cupcakes (all different, of course), honey joys to be 'the thing' crackles, cake pops iced to resemble grenades, shortbread men, covered to look either like 'Sandman' or 'Hulk'... It really would have been ridiculous.
I had made some rainbow jelly (which I forgot to take out of the fridge because the games run overtime, and parents arrive ready to pick their children up and we hadn't even cut the cake yet!), but I managed to make some 'Venom' biscuits, which were remembered at the last second. They were white chocolate spiders on wagon wheels :)
I also had a similar outrageous idea for lunch: Hand. made. everything. Totally unrealistic that I thought I'd be able to achieve such a crazy idea.
In the end, it was a lot simpler, and (I think) much better.
Lunch was a mixture of spring rolls, sausage rolls, nuggets, and (okay, this one was home-made by Husband) quiches - as per the request of Ben. Everyone helped themselves to what they wanted, and it saved so much time just tipping everything out of their bags/boxes, and throwing it all into the oven.
For dessert (though this wasn't the initial intention for these characters), I had printed out a sheet of various LEGO heroes and villains, cut them out, and sticky taped them to toothpicks. I chose the most colourful (and recognisable) 12 of each side (heroes & villains), and poked them into chocolate cupcakes, with basic chocolate icing! All exactly the same. Which made for much less drama and mess (which there was quite enough of anyway)!
The birthday cake was also really simple. It needed to be, because in the midst of all the crazy party planning and setting up, I had made this Tiffany & Co. cake.
Ben, just like Husband, enjoys reading comics about the Marvel character: Deadpool. I personally find comics hard to read (similar to movies with subtitles - I spend more time reading the words, and less time looking at the characters and what they're doing), so chose a funny scene from one of the comics with the whole Deadpool family in it.
This was printed out on edible paper, and stuck around the bottom tier of the cake in a comic-like fashion. Well, at least it was supposed to look comic-like!
Through the hard work, late nights, and stress involved in organising this party, many kids left declaring that it was "the best party in the world"! I secretly want to interrogate them so that I can know exactly which part deemed it worth of being the best party, so that I can keep that part in for next time! But I am glad that all guests seemed to have fun, and that Ben had a good time celebrating his birthday with friends :)