Sunday, February 17, 2013

Skylanders Party Planning - Part 1, Dollar Store Finds and Paper Straws

So my youngest is turning 7 in a few months and has asked for a Skylanders theme for his party.  My reply - "Awesome!  What's a Skylander?"  You see, he doesn't actually HAVE the Skylanders game or anything.  Chalk it up to the magic of school friends with more video gaming privileges...  Anyway, I am not one to back down from a challenge, so I took to the internet to learn about the Skylanders and hopefully find some ideas that I could translate into a fun, affordable party without too much video game violence.

I was pleased to learn that Skylanders seems like a pretty cute and creative game - yes there is fighting and battle and stuff, but it's pretty mild.  The game boasts lots of bright colors and tons of characters and details to pick from and incorporate into a party.  On the inspiration front, while there are no Skylanders mass market party pieces yet, there are a few great blogs featuring real parties with really creative ideas.  I've used them for inspiration.  Please check them out - they are amazing:

Plucking Daisies
Great creative game ideas and tutorials
Wine and Glue
Clever ideas for a sweet table / candy buffet / candy party favors
Amy's Party Ideas
Beautiful design elements and creative use of printables

It's still early days for me, but I am deep in the planning process.  My kids and I worked together and came up with some great activities - some from the blogs above and some we made up ourselves, each one based on a different element.  Here's our plan...

Collect crystals from each element by completing the challenges at each station.  We may make collection of crystals the key to "unlock" a treasure hunt.  The treasure would be the favor bags.  Still not sure about this. 

Jet-Vac’s Air Lift:  Keep the balloons in the air by blowing.  No hands.  

Zook’s Bamboo Rocket Launch:   Launch foam rockets.  Try to surpass a minimum distance.  Since Zook likes to speak in Haiku, try to write the game sign blurb in Haiku.

Wrecking Ball’s Tongue Grabber:  Snag crystals with sticky hands. 

Slam Bam’s Ice Crystal Smash:  Freeze crystals in ice balloons.  Remove balloons before party.  Have guests smash ice orbs to release the crystals.

Trigger Happy’s Target Practice:  Toss coins into a gold bin.

UNDEAD  (Do they have to call it "Undead"?  Wouldn't "Ghost" or "Spirit" be better?)
Chop Chop's Shield Fling:  Try to toss shield (Frisbees) through a wall (crepe paper streamer curtain - will serve as a backdrop for the food table later.

Flameslinger’s Fire Arrows:  Try to hit a suspended target (large round disc) with flame arrows.

Dino-rang’s Boomerang Toss:  Try to get boomerang to come back to you

With these details in place, I have started buying supplies when I see them and let me tell you - I hit the jackpot at the Dollar Trees.  And I say "Trees" plural because I have gone to several different ones in my area and each one had something different / awesome / perfect for this party.  Details below...

Pink sticky hands to look like tongues!
Green rocket launchers to look like bamboo!
We can paint to rockets red to match Zook's!
Boomerangs!  May paint them brown to look more like Dino-Rang's...

Frisbees to use for a shield toss - will mod-podge on an image or Skylanders logo...
Coins to Trigger Happy's coin toss - will paint them shiny gold!
Archery sets for Flameslinger's Arrows - will affix red and gold cello shreds to make the arrow look like shooting flames!
Green balloons for the Chompie stomp - the exact approach is to be determined...  And white and blue balloons for the balloon blow!  These actually came from Five Below.
So as of right now, I have almost all of the supplies needed for 7 of our 8 games, and I've only spent about $40.  Score!

And lastly - this was found at Target - they are catching on to the paper straws and pennants party trends.  I love the color assortment here, although I will swap out the pink for lime green.
Stay tuned for more details as the party comes together!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Making a Princess Theme Work for Girls and Boys

For my daughter's 4th birthday, she asked for a Princess-themed party, which is lovely and all, but what about her little boy friends?  I tried to think of a way to make that theme work for both genders and came up with...  A Royal Ball!  Instead of girly pinks, we went with a jewel tone palette to please the princess and her princes.  Vibrant blues and purples and golds struck just the right regal tone.

All the little lords and ladies adorned themselves with handmade capes (thanks, mom!).

We had a station set up to decorate foam crowns and tiaras.  When ordering the supplies, I found a set at Oriental Trading Company that contained blue, green, and yellow to work for boys.  Also found some great self-adhesive jewels at OTC - it was nice to not have to fiddle with glue and drying time.

Guests were allowed to select their very own magic wands.  The boys used them to duel and the girls used them when they danced about to baroque music.

The centerpiece of the whole event was a cardboard castle that I made and painted myself.  I loosely followed the tutorial here:  Mr. McGroovys's Fantastic Cardboard Rivets  Unfortunately, I found Mr. McGroovy too late and I didn't have time to order the rivets, so I modified the design so that I didn't need them or any other fasteners (I did take his advice for painting it and it was amazing - definitely check it out- it's so easy).  The center arch of the castle is held in place by slits that I cut into each tower.  One advantage to this approach is that I was able to break it down and fold it flat before and after the party.  We kept it to play with for a long while after the party and the kids loved it.  We wouldn't have been able to do that if it wasn't collapsible.

My mom had the brilliant idea to fancy it up with the Dollar Store shield, silk flowers and ferns, and curtains for the windows and entry.  The kids had so much fun bursting through the curtain to dance or fight or whatever else they were pretending to do.

We decorated a plain white arch to serve as the entry to the yard - hot glued flowers and ribbons.  And mom whipped up a game of pin the tail on the unicorn out of felt and silky fringe (she is so talented). 

She also made the felt banners you see here and there in the yard.  All in our jewel tone palette and featuring images specific to my daughter's interests at the time.  We mounted them on bamboo tiki torch poles that she had painted gold.  (In retrospect, an awl might have been helpful to dig the poles a little deeper into the ground.  By the end of the day, they were listing dangerously.)

Mom also revamped a thrift store chair with teal velvet and rhinestones - Voila!  A throne for gift opening or photo ops!  Mental note:  Next time do not put photo op throne in direct sun...

This was also the party with the infamous Sacked-By-The-Huns-Castle-Cake.  Good times!

Pennants and Picture Display

Yep, I hoped on the pennant bandwagon.  There is something so cheery and fun about them, so I decided to make some for our playroom. 

I used a quick and dirty method with minimal sewing.  I made a template by cutting a triangle out of a cereal box.  I then parked my butt in front of the TV with said triangle, my scrap fabric bin, and a pair of pinking shears from Joann's (coupon!) and pinked my way through a stack of colorful calicos.  Once that was done, I laid out a few lengths of ribbon and pinned the triangles at fairly even intervals.  I then ran the whole thing through the sewing machine.  I didn't even take the time to match the thread to the ribbon.  I kind of like the contrast.  The whole process took me an episode of True Blood.  Once done sewing, I mounted a few clear small Command hooks and swagged my banner around the playroom.  I love them in the playroom and I also love that I can use them for parties as well.

Under the pennant banner, I mounted a wire for displaying artwork.  I don't know why it took me so long to do this - I guess I was nervous about putting a hole in the window trim and then not liking the wire.  No worries now - it was well worth the risk.  I bought a picture hanging kit at Lowe's.  The kit consists of a spool of thin wire and some tiny brass hook screws.  There's other stuff in the kit, but I haven't used that part.  I simply screwed the hooks in by hand, threaded a length of wire through each end and wrapped the tails around a few times.  Easy peasy.  Add a couple colorful plastic clothes pins from the Dollar Store and Voila!  Instant extra art display area does double duty as playroom decor.  And because our playroom was an addition and still has the windows that look into the family room, we can put artwork facing into both room for double the display space.