Yesterday was Jack’s birthday party with his friends. His obsession du jour is LEGO, so that was his chosen party theme. I sure would like him to someday choose a theme that has party goods and games designed just for that theme so I have much, much less work to do. But no, for this party I had to do weeks of research to find LEGO-y games suitable for a group of eight-year-olds, then figure out what supplies would be needed, what prizes were appropriate, and have those ready for party time.
Is it any wonder I have high blood pressure and anxiety issues?
To make the LEGO heading for the invitations, I arranged LEGO pieces into letters and photographed them on a white background and okay, I’m totally kidding because I didn’t do that at all. I have a very cool program (check out Lettering Delights if you want to kiss every one of your spare pennies goodbye) that has a LEGO-like alphabet. I used that. It’s awesome.
The games we played:
- Guess the number of LEGOs in the jar: I emptied a new box of 221 LEGOs into a big vase, and I didn’t have to count them. Yay, smart-thinking me! The guesses were pretty funny, though—the boys all estimated there were less than 100, so no one even came close to the right number. Prizes went to the closest three guesses.
- LEGO tic-tac-toe tournament: I drew lines on the plastic tablecloth with a Sharpie and we had two games going at a time. We gave several 2x2 LEGOs in a single color to each player. As each kid lost a game, they chose a prize. The final champion got two prizes. The boys really liked this game, and played at least two tournaments. By the way, I got the funniest reaction when I drew on the tablecloth—the boys all freaked out, and kept asking, “Why’d you ruin the tablecloth? What a waste!” I’m all, IT COST 99 CENTS, GUYS. Later I noticed one end of the tablecloth had been shredded, and I was making a big deal about WHO RUINED MY EXPENSIVE TABLECLOTH? which freaked them out a little at first and then, remembering the cheapskate I am, they just thought I was a big weirdo.
- Building contest: I bought another box of plain LEGOs for the party, and we dumped them, along with the ones in the big vase, out on the table. The boys teamed up and built whatever they wanted for three minutes. Prizes went to the tallest, coolest, and ugliest creations. Victor and I were the totally unbiased judges.
- Brickmaster says (Simon says): I wrote up a list of commands in advance (my favorite was “for Jack only—Brickmaster says give Auntie Lori a kiss!”—Jack dived into the couch cushions, so Loveliest Lori had to pull him out to kiss him, much to his embarrassment). We ended with “Brickmaster says SAY ‘IT’S TIME FOR JACK TO OPEN PRESENTS!’”
For prizes, I made up little trading cards of LEGO scenes. The photos were easy to find on the Internet, and I had them printed four to a 4x6 photo sheet. There were about 12 different ones; here are examples:
It kind of surprised me that these trading cards were a hit. Short of giving handfuls of random LEGOs (booooring!), I wasn’t sure what other LEGO-themed prize the boys would be excited to get. Glad I thought of this one.
After opening gifts, the boys gathered around the table to sing and eat cake. The cake was another fun party element. We placed LEGO characters around it, along with candy LEGO pieces along the top and sides.
I love this picture, how Cameron (far left) is helping to blow out the candles and Theo (next to him) looks like he’s telling him he shouldn’t. (BTW, that’s half of a Darth Vader helmet on Jack’s head, not shiny, long hair.)
The real surprise came when we cut into the cake.
I stole this rainbow cake idea from Sherilee, who stole it from this blogger. It was surprisingly easy. Rather than a plain white cake, I got golden vanilla mixes, which were a little bit off-white and didn’t really affect the colors, but tasted better (in my opinion) than white cake. I used icing color paste to get the vibrant colors. While the whole thing was a bit labor-intensive, it wasn’t any more difficult than any other layer cake. Also, it might look a little lopsided here, but I assure you it’s just the angle of the cut, or at least I’m pretty sure it is. The whole thing actually turned out quite straight, thanks to my very cool $3 cake-cutting tool.
After the cake was served to the party guests, what was left was getting wobbly, so I knocked it over before it fell. I like the stripes on the knife here:
For the next party agenda item, the boys gathered in the family room to watch Up on DVD. We served hot dogs and chips to those who were still hungry. Within 15 minutes, half the group went up to the playroom to play the Wii, and by the end of the movie there was just one boy left watching. We’re showing Up at the school for next weekend’s movie night, and it will be more likely to hold their attention without new toys and a Wii nearby.
Once the boys were occupied with these less noisy activities, we grown-ups settled down for our own party. John and Loveliest Lori came up from Salem, and Scott and Christina joined us too. I made my tortilla soup—another very labor-intensive food, but totally worth it—and we enjoyed delightful conversation in the semi-quiet dining room. It was nice that the day was fun for us too. The rum wasn’t so bad either.
Everyone was gone by about 6 p.m., and I went straight upstairs for a nap. It was an exhausting day, but a very, very good one. Happy birthday, Jack! Thank you for giving us a reason to clean the house and have people over. We kinda love ya.