Running a kids birthday party out of your own home can be an effective way of including all the buddies and the desired theme, without breaking the bank. It can also be REALLY dauting and just a bit TERRIFYING!!
The following instructable is based on a party we planned and ran for my 8yr old son and about 10 of his mates. It was pretty cheap and a reasonably low level of effort was required for an at home party.
It was an interesting experience and we learnt a lot about crowd control with a gang of 8yr old hooligans :) The number one thing was not to sweat the small stuff. Kids don't care if something is crooked, or doesn't look perfect (I iced my own cake) so you can save yourself a huge amount of stress and money by aiming for fun rather than pinterest perfect.
Step 1: Planning
The more time you spend on your planning, the easier the party becomes. I'm not normally a list kind of person, but with so many things to think about and remember, I'd recommend breaking out your notepad and pen.
The following is a list of the key things you need to think about and plan for:
- Invitee List
Step 2: Theme and Invitations
Choosing a theme was pretty easy - the child in question was absolutely obsessed with Ninjago at this point in his wee life, so that was that! It was an easy theme for us, because we had plenty of reference material - lego kits, books, movies and the inexhaustable resource that is the internet. Use what you have and don't forget Google - you can print a lot of stuff off for free instead of buying new. Pinterest and Etsy are great for ideas too.
The hardest part was whittling the list down to a manageable amount of kids. Don't feel pressure to invite everyone your kid can think of. They honestly have a better time when it is a handful of kids - just their close friends!
We found free printable invites on the internet that looked like nijago lego figures - easy peasy! You can find plenty that let you personalise them, as well as ones you just have to enter the name.
Step 3: Food
We opted for an afternoon party so were serving snacks instead of a meal. We went for a selection of healthy snacks and downright terrible party food. Again we asked the boy what food he wanted and accomodated where we could. None of our guests had food allergies.
We tried to stick to the Ninjago theme (asian/ninja/lego) but where we couldn't, we thought up ninja names for our food - a bowl of red liquorice became 'The Snake Pit' and pepperoni sticks 'Spinjitsu Sticks'. We found the lables online and filled them out ourselves.
- The Anaconda - sliced cucumber with eyes and a snake tongue. We surrounded the 'snake' with other snacky veges.
- Ninja Cookies - bake your own or just use plain commercial cookies. We made shortbread cookies and my husband iced these up as a simple ninjago character head. He used a plain coloured icing with mini M&M eyes and liquorice strap eyebrows.
- The Snake Pit - a bowl of red liquorice straps
- Spinjitsu Sticks - pepperoni sticks
- Dragon Teeth - bugle shaped crisps
- Fortune Cookies - from our local asian grocery!
Step 4: Food: Sensei Sushi
The only labour intensive food we prepared was the sensei sushi. The kids loved it!
6 cups Ricies/Rice Crispies
4 cups mini marshmallows (or chopped up marshmallows)
3 tbsp Butter
Fish shaped candy
Melt the butter and marshmallows over a low heat. Stir in Rice Crispies until well coated. Press into a greased/lined tray with a spatula coated in butter (this is sticky stuff folks!) Cut when cool into desired shapes.
Decorate with candy - the strap candy will stick to the rice crispie square without any additional 'glue' . I cut rounds and rectangluar pieces. The rounds I wrapped in strap candy then chopped gummy candy up into small pieces and pressed it into the centre like makizushi or rolled sushi. The rectangles I strapped a gummy fish or a striped strip to the top like a type of oshizushi or pressed sushi.
Note: You can actually make rolled 'sushi' with this recipe but I found the method above to be easier and not quite as messy!
Step 5: Decorations and Props
It is very easy to go all out on props, which in turn can be really expensive.
We decided on a ninja headband and a sword for each child, which doubled as the take home gift at the end of the day! We used a roll of ribbon for the headbands, and used an online ninja name generator and a sharpie to personalise a headband for each boy.
We also had Sensei Wu style moustaches for group photos - again found these online and printed them off. We cut them out and taped a wooden skewer on the back so you could hold them up unhindered :) These moustaches were also used for the games!
Dercorations were limited to print outs of the ninjago characters and balloons decorated with the ninjago eyes.
Another couple of ideas for decorations are bunting - again you can print them off and get your kids to paint them! we also considered karate belts instead of headbands, but in the end the ability to write the ninja names on the head bands won out!
Step 6: Games
In order to manage a bunch of rowdy boys we planned indoor and outdoor games. The outdoor games were designed to burn off a bit of energy! We took the kids out and played hide and go seek and capture the flag, which were both a great success.
The inside games required a bit more planning.
- Laser Maze. Choose a narrow section of corridor and tape ribbons of crepe paper at all angles across the hall. The kids took turns trying to get through the maze without breaking any of the 'laser beams' I used masking tape so the wall didn't get damaged and the beams were easy to replace when they had been broken.
- Pin the moustache on Sensei Wu. Again everything you need can be printed from the internet - or hand drawn if you are artistically inclined! Blind fold and spinjitsu your player before sending them forth to moustachio Sensei Wu.
- Ninja statues - musical statues using ninja poses. When a child got caught out they had to die a spectacular death then crawl to the side and watch. We played this several times!
- Balloon pop. The Ninja head balloon decorations doubled as a game to end the party. The boys worked together to get the balloons down from the ceiling (held on with handy masking tape!) without using their hands, then they had to pop their balloons by sitting on them - such fun! We ended up blowing up more balloons and running this game a couple of times too!
We planned to have a break for snacks half way though the indoor games, and cake at the end of the party. this gave the kids a chance to catch their breath and refuel.
Step 7: Cake
The birthday was a plain chocolate cake iced to look like the ninjago Character Zane - the Ice Ninja. I made a large oval cake and cut the shape of the ninja out of it. The icing was plain buttercream icing (none of my kids like fondant). We iced the whole thing white, except the hands that we left uniced, then added yellow icing where necessary and used liquorice straps for the remaining decorations. Lego ninjas helped hold the candles up around the edges. Very simple and the boys were all impressed!
Step 8: Finally....
Keep it simple. Kids are easy to impress and don't need you to spend a gazillion dollars or 6 weeks of your time for something that they will think is as awesome as something you whipped up on the cheap.
Rope your friends/family in to help with crowd control and the games - you don't want to be stressing out at a birthday party :) Get out there and have fun!
Second Prize in the