A Minecraft Birthday party for my 8-year-old daughter

Lexie turned 8 this month. When asked what type of party she wanted, her answer was simple: Minecraft.

modloader-for-minecraft-02-700x406For those of you who don’t know, Minecraft is video game that allows players to build and construct a world out of textured cubes. Players can play in an open world where they can build and explore or opt to play in survival mode where players are required to build certain things such as a shelter to protect themselves and to hunt for food.  It is a VERY popular game.

Originally the idea was just to have Minecraft invites and a Minecraft cake at a party location as we have always done Lexie’s parties away from the house. But two years ago when Jase was in second grade, we started doing his parties (Lego and How to Train Your Dragon) at home so it seemed fitting that Lexie should get to do hers at home too now that she is in the second grade.

She was excited and had so many ideas of what she wanted to do. A quick look at Pinterest brought a plethora of ideas on everything from decorations to food to games and activities. It would be easy to go all out on this party.

minecraft inviteInvitation – Since I use to design invites on Etsy, I already had a Minecraft invitation done. Lexie had me change up the animals on the card. We then printed them out at Wal-mart. We invited her whole class plus 6 other friends. Thankfully everyone didn’t show up. We had 12 kids including my own two.

IMG_1824Decorations – Decorations for a Minecraft party are easy. You want everything to be square so square plates and bowls were in order. Decorating in lime green and brown would be an obvious choice but we pretty much just stuck with lime green. IMG_4272My husband also 3D printed some Minecraft Ore Cubes which he added lights to so they would glow. And Lexie insisted we have lava. (A red plastic table cloth cut to fit the floor of the arch between our living and dining room.)

Food – It was easy to get ideas online for food to serve based on Minecraft. I made my own food tents to let everyone know what they were having to eat.

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Snack Bar – sorry the apples and watermelon were not out when I snapped the photo.

Snack Bar – We offered Minecraft themed snacks: carrots (Cheetos), sticks (pretzels), apples (sliced apples), melon (watermelon), IMG_4269water (blue jello), lava (red jello), obsidian (Oreos), cookies (chocolate chip cookies) and of course the drinks: Creeper juice (apple juice), potion of swiftness (bottled water) and potion of healing (Root beer).

 

 

IMG_1312Candy Bar – As part of their goody bags, we let each kid fill a snack size plastic bag with candy. Here is what we had: gold (Rolos), fish (Swedish fish), coal (Nestle Crunch bites), redstone (cherry Lifesavers), Diamonds (blue rock candy), Emeralds (green rock candy) and TNT (red licorice). I also had some mini-candy bars wrapped with a “Thank You for coming to my party” message.

IMG_1307Cake – You can’t have a party without cake. I looked at many online before coming up with this cake. It is two boxes of chocolate cake mix baked in 9” x 13” pans and then cut and stacked to resemble a Minecraft scene. We used Minecraft figures that the kids already owned for decorations. Since I wasn’t going to write Lexie’s name on it, my husband 3D printed her a Happy Birthday sign which she painted herself.

Games/Activities – Again, Pinterest offered a lot of ideas on games. It was tough to narrow it down.

Making Necklaces – My husband 3D printed some Minecraft swords and pick axes. We had the kids color them with markers. Add a bit of string and poof, you have a necklace. It was a simple activity but the kids loved it. (As a second craft, while we waited for all the kids to arrive, they decorate their own goodie bags using the markers or some Minecraft items I had printed out.)

Feed the Tamed Wolf – Lexie came up with this as a version of Pin the Tail on the Ender Dragon (which we had seen online.) I simply printed a large tamed wolf  (photo above with decorations) and some bones (with the kids names on them). The object is while blindfolded to land the bone perfectly on the wolf’s open mouth.

IMG_4273Creeper Bean Bag Toss – Again, something from Pinterest. It is simply a cardboard box painted green with a Creeper face cut out of it. The kids tossed bean bags through the openings to earn points. (The smaller eye holes were 20 points and the mouth was 10 points.)

IMG_4274Creeper Tower Block – This was made out of floral foam blocks that I bought at the Dollar store. I then drew Creeper faces on them. We stacked the blocks and had the kids shoot arrows to knock them down. (We had covered each block with Modge Podge to help protect them from the arrows.) The bow and arrow was from the Dollar Store too. This was the hardest game because most kids couldn’t shoot the bow and arrow. I probably would change this game to either a bean bag toss or get a better bow and arrow.

Creeper Tag – Lexie insisted on having a game called Creeper tag. I had to hone her ideas down into something that would work for a party game. In the end, we took the blocks from the creeper tower game and placed them at one end of the yard. The kids had to retrieve them without being tagged by one of the “creepers.” If you were tagged, you became a creeper.

IMG_1347Enderman Pinata – One of the best things about having a party at home is the option to have a piñata. I made my own – something I started with Jase’s Lego party. I simply take a 24 can soda box and cover it with crepe paper streamers. My husband created a wooden Minecraft sword for the kids to whack the Enderman. As always it was a hit.

The party went well. All the kids had a blast. Lexie declared it was her best birthday ever. Whew….

 

Adding a Lego-twist to an army-themed birthday party

After Jase’s birthday party in 2013, I decided that we were done with throwing a party and inviting the whole class to some sort of party place. As Jase gets older, I want to scale back his parties. So we started talking about doing one at home or maybe something with just a few friends at another location.

When we first brought this up, Jase was really into army stuff, so we started talking about an army themed party. I did some research online, and we came up with an obstacle course and a shooting/target practice game.

(Disclaimer – we started thinking about this WAY early. As in months before the party which of course means the theme changed as his interests changed.)

Jase 9 invitationIn February, my son saw The Lego Movie and loved it. Suddenly, he wanted a Lego Movie invitation which of course meant the theme was shifting from army to Lego. But he didn’t want to change the activities so we just added Lego bricks and figures to our original activities.

Obstacle Course

CIMG2822This was quite easy to add a few Lego touches to. We started off with a balance beam (adding “Lego bricks” to hold it over the “lava”). After that was the climbing wall which of course resembled a Lego brick. The only other Lego touch was more “Lego bricks” as they leapt over the “lava” in another section. (We also had a tunnel, hurdles, a swing over a “river” and a rope area to jump through like tires.)

Shooting Practice

CIMG2854My husband built a shooting board which I printed out micromanagers from The Lego Movie. Using a laser, the kids would shoot at the micromanagers. Lights and a twirling devise would activate when they hit the target. (My husband had all sorts of plans to have this game outside and have it count the number of hits but because nothing is ever as easy as it seems, we had to go with this incarnation of the game. The kids were still impressed.)

Piñata

CIMG2825I decided to make my own Lego piñata. After reading a few blogs, I choose one of the easier methods that did not require Paper Mache. We used an empty Moutain Dew box that I covered with tissue paper. The bumps on the Lego were just plastic cups covered with tissue paper and then hot glued on. It looked very good but only lasted for about six kids before it broke.

Cake

They simply don’t sell a Lego cake anywhere here in San Antonio. (Ok, some bakery might make me one, but I want an inexpensive cake – and one I don’t have to bake/decorate myself.) So after finding nothing, we decided just to order a cake from the grocery store and have Jase decorate it with some of his Lego figures. He and Lexie had a good time doing that and everyone thought it was cute.

Water Balloon Fight

CIMG2876The big finale of the party was a water balloon fight. Every kid got 10 water balloons to start. (There were 12 kids total at the party). After they used their balloons, they could come and snag a few more in our “reserves” pile. I think we originally filled around 150 of them. The fight lasted longer than I thought it would as the boys held onto their balloons until they had a good shot. Then they broke out the water guns that I had bought in lieu of goodie bags and had a blast chasing each other around the yard.

All in all, I think it was a great party. Several of the boys claimed it was the best party ever. The birthday boy was happy, so I guess that is what matters most!

School parties: Deciding to be my child’s class room rep/coordinator (or not)

This Thursday is Valentine’s Day, and I have parties to attend at each child’s school.

At the beginning of each year, the teachers always look for one or two parents to be in charge of the class parties. With the kids at separate schools, I can only pick one class to be the room rep for without being driven crazy in the planning area. Last year, I was the room rep for Jase’s kindergarten class and since this is Lexie’s final year of preschool, I opted to be the room coordinator for her class.

In preschool, that position has a lot more responsibility. There are six (yes, six) parties throughout the year – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter and the End of the Year. Then there is also a school-wide party during Fiesta (which is a 10 day-long party here in San Antonio.) Yep, her preschool likes to party!

In Elementary school, they get two – Winter and Valentine’s Day. They had the Winter party in the classroom, but the Valentine’s Day party is in the gym. This will be the second year having the party in the gym where each grade level attends during their normal gym time. (This means Jase’s party is at 8:40 in the morning. Those poor teachers who have to deal with the hyped up kids for the rest of the day!)

Last year, we did a CandyLand theme. This year’s theme is a carnival.  All five first-grade classes (about 120 students) will be in the gym at the same time plus their parents (and some younger siblings). There will be games in one gym and crafts and snacks in the other. It is fun but a lot of work. It will actually be nice to just enjoy the party this year rather than worry about running it.

As for Lexie’s parties, I don’t mind being in charge. Jase attended her preschool for three years (three-year-old preschool, four-year-old preschool and their Gift of Time class for five-year-olds not entering kindergarten). After all that time, of course I know how to throw a preschool party.  I actually have it down to a formula. We get an hour for each party. CIMG0838We do a craft (love those self-adhesive foam kits – photo on the left is Gingerbread houses from Christmas), we play games (bowling, tossing games, bingo), and of course, we eat. Sometimes, there are other things added on – a book exchange at Christmas or an Easter Egg hunt at Easter.

The hard thing with preschool parties you never know what will take a long time and what the kids will hurry though. The kids can hurry through the craft and then eat their snack really slowly. The best idea is to have extra activities planned if needed. I usually like to bring an additional game though a holiday themed book also works.

Now next year, I don’t plan to be the room rep for either class. At the elementary school, kinder and second grade have their parties at the same time (at least for the Christmas party), and I don’t want to have to choose which child’s party to run or to attend. Instead, I think I will be a spectator once more and just bounce between their classes. It is more fun and relaxing for me that way.