Or… Why I Won’t Becoming a Kid’s Party Planner Any Time Soon
We are Geeks. We are aware of our Geekiness and shameless about it. So when N said that he wanted to have a Hobbit/Middle Earth party theme for his birthday, I said, “No problem!” And I did an excited dance in my head because the potential FUN of having a Hobbit party was, for me, at least, unlimited. So yeah, I’m that kind of Geek.
So N and I checked my new favorite Go To Spot for ideas when I’m not feeling inspired: Pinterest! Not much there when we started our research in February. We relied on my previous favorite Go To Spot: Google. That produced some ideas. And so began my folder-filling adventure. As tech-y as I may be, I still have a good ol’ fashioned folder for ideas and notes. I use Evernote to be mobile about it.
First we found the cake. Looked easy enough. Saved the info and moved on.
Then we needed activities – not as easy for pre-teen boys as I would have thought. But we finally found the jackpot – archery! Yes! We would get simple archery sets for the kids. We have 2 parties (friend & family) and that adds up to about 25 kids, give or take a few. More Googling commenced and resulted in my wanting to ditch the whole archery set idea because the costs were ridiculous.
But one caught my eye – a DIY archery set. N and I looked over the photos and instructions, here. He was confident that “we” could do this and by “we” he meant me. Luckily, a friend who had already made them assured me that I could, indeed, handle it. So, we had our BIG THING.
More activities and stuff for the inevitable goody bag – a treasure hunt (a tradition of ours) that could be done either outdoors or in (or both), making dragon eye magnets, a gold ring, and a small bag of “gold.” All of these went into a cloth drawstring backpack that they would decorate themselves. All told, the price was affordable to do and there was plenty to do ahead of time and plenty to do with the kids themselves on party day.
It’s a very good thing that the following facts held true:
- We started weeks before the 1st party
- We made a prototype/tried everything out first
- I’m getting good at using tools
- I have a Lowe’s card that gives me an automatic discount
And so we began!
We started with the bows. We made 25 of them, using PVC pipes, twisted mason line, pipe insulation, duct tape and spray paint. We discovered a very handy tool to make this part easy, a PVC pipe cutter. Almost the best $5 I’ve spent on a DIY project.
Here’s how they came out:
It was then time to make arrows. A LOT of arrows. 80 arrows, in fact. This was very time consuming but definitely worth it, because each kid got 3 arrows and we had extras for when some arrows ended up in trees and gutters. *sigh*
This is what 80 nearly-done arrows look like:
All that was left to do to them was cover them with 9″ fabric circles and keep them in place with cable ties. We worked on all of these with an assembly line process and snuck in a discussion about Henry Ford.
I ordered the backpacks and plastic gold coins from Oriental Trading about 3 weeks in advance. They arrived a week before the party. We bagged up coins in small favor bags. I made sure the fabric markers I have on hand weren’t dried out and THAT was done.
Next up were the treasure hunt maps. We have a wide, not deep, backyard that has been transformed over the years, via the Power of Imagination, into a Toy Story “Find Woody” adventure, numerous Star Wars universes, a Superheroes battleground and, now, Middle Earth. We made a map of our backyard and hoped the kids would ‘see’ what we saw. Printed those maps onto parchment paper (from Staples) and they came out great! Mind you, Minas Tirith was the trampoline, Helm’s Deep was the hammock but yeah, we had Middle Earth to explore now.
We made rings out of a coil of metal from the jewelry making department at Michael’s and a wire cutter but if I’d been paying attention a month ago, I would have just ordered plastic gold rings from Oriental Trading. Oh well. We tied the rings up with leather cording. N assured me that boys would indeed wear these. Alrighty! Here’s how they came out:
We’d found another cool craft for the kids to do and, with fingers crossed, I hoped the boys wouldn’t mind that nail polish was involved. They made dragon eye magnets – I can’t find the link anymore for where we got the idea from but it involved some basic household (if you have girls, paper clip, foil, craft glue) stuff and a few things (glass beads, small magnets) that we bought at Michael’s.
None of the boys flinched. I was impressed!
The big thing – besides the awesome bows & arrows – for the smaller, friend party was going into Gollum’s Cave to answer riddles. Now THIS was interesting – we weren’t sure it would work and, at first, it didn’t when we tested it out. We got help from Dad and a bigger fan and voila! Gollum’s Cave was done! I didn’t get a picture of the outside of it but frankly, the outside was boring. The fun was inside. And we had a great, suitably creepy shot of Gollum blown up at Staples and poster-puttied onto scrap foam board – he got stuffed into the cave and sufficiently wigged the boys out.
I put the cake together on the days of each party. Bilbo is in his Lego form. Also shown are the folded & sealed maps for the treasure hunt. The cake, and Bilbo, elicited many Oooohs and Aaahhhs. Which is why it’s always cool to put together a fun cake.
The kids decorated their bows with Sharpie pens and colored duct tape. And then we let them loose in the front yard! Only 4 arrows, between the 2 parties, became casualties. Not bad…
N said both parties were great – “the best ever, Mom!” even. And I agree, they were a lot of fun to put together and to watch unfold. All of the kids brought their enthusiasm and imagination, which made it all come together.
A few folks have suggested, after many years and many home parties, that I should become a kid’s party planner. And I’ve actually considered this, I really have. But I don’t think it will work because of a few factors.
First, when it comes to planning a party with my child, I know what kind of stuff he – and his friends & cousins – like to do, are willing to do and, perhaps most importantly, will NOT work with them. I don’t know if I’d be able to nail things that closely with kids and families I don’t know.
Second, this party was a LOT of work. Yes, I’d get paid if I did it as a job but I would need to charge a lot for the amount of time I put into this. And I’m fairly certain I’d price myself out of a job.
Party time is over for us, for now. There have been whispers about how we can reuse the cave for Halloween… or for another Star Wars party… or… well, maybe we should just keep it “in case.” I don’t think I could do this very often or I’d need to take a vacation pretty regularly.
Maybe there’s a place for ‘here’s some ideas, good luck!’ kind of planning. Even a Geek like me could handle that.